The Hawkins Company Assists Los Angeles Urban League with CEO Search

December 11, 2023 – The Hawkins Company, a Los Angeles-based executive recruitment firm, has assisted in the recruitment of Cynthia Mitchell Heard as its new president and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League (LAUL). Michael A. Lawson recently announced he is retiring as CEO. Yonnine Hawkins Garr, Todd Hawkins, and Adrienne Montgomery led the assignment. Ms. Heard will become the first woman to assume this leadership role since Katherine Barr, the LAUL’s president in the late 1920s until 1931. “I am thrilled that the Los Angeles Urban League has selected Cynthia Heard as the president and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League,” said Mr. Lawson. “I know that the Los Angeles Urban League will grow and thrive under her leadership and her vision. It has been an honor to serve our community under the vision of John Mack. I know that Cynthia will continue the legacy of John Mack and the Los Angeles Urban League presidents and CEOs on whose shoulders we stand. Congratulations!”

A competitive, nationwide search for the new president and CEO was led by a formal search committee formed from the LAUL board. The LA Urban League also publicly thanks the National Urban League for its support in reviewing candidate qualifications as part of the search process.

“Cynthia Mitchell Heard’s visionary leadership and deep understanding of community needs mark a new era for the Los Angeles Urban League,” said Elliot Hinds, chair of the LAUL board of directors. “We chose her to propel our organization into a future that richly connects black and other underrepresented Angelenos to the vast and exciting opportunities that exist in our vibrant city.”

Ms. Heard is recognized as a strategic and visionary leader, with strengths in organizational and program development, innovative fundraising solutions, fiscal management, and the implementation of effective processes and systems. She also is known for her collaborative leadership style, which includes mentoring. Ms. Heard’s appointment is an elevation from her role as LAUL’s chief operating officer. She brings more than 30 years of experience working in non-profit organizations, including previous executive-level leadership roles at the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles and Children Uniting Nations.

Related: How Executive Search Boosts Venture Capital Funds

Founded in 1921, the Los Angeles Urban League is a leading organization dedicated to empowering African Americans and others in underserved communities achieve their highest true social parity, economic self-reliance, power, and civil rights. The League promotes economic empowerment through education and job training, housing and community development, workforce development, entrepreneurship, health, and quality of life.

Experienced Recruiters

Established in 1984, The Hawkins Company is a management consulting firm specializing in executive recruitment. While recognized for its expertise in diversity recruiting, the firm is a general practitioner that focuses on achieving the executive level staffing objectives of private, public, educational and non-profit clients. Early on, The Hawkins Company focused exclusively on private sector recruiting. Over time, it was requested to conduct searches for government agencies and became nationally recognized for its ability to apply private sector search strategies to meet the recruitment needs of public sector clients. Today, its client base includes educational institutions and non-profit organizations. The firm has conducted over 700 national, regional, and local executive searches for CEOs, COOs, CAOs, CFOs, and other officers, directors, senior managers and professional staff.


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Joining The Hawkins Company in 2013, Ms. Hawkins Garr serves as a vice president for the firm. Ms. Garr began her career in the mortgage banking and finance industry, becoming a skilled real estate commercial and residential lender, eventually working in real estate development, construction, as well as real estate asset management. Her executive-search work focuses on financial services, economic and community development, construction, facility management, asset management, and human resources. Ms. Hawkins Garr has co-led many of the firm’s senior-level assignments.

A part of The Hawkins Company since 2018, Mr. Hawkins serves as a vice president for the firm. With a vast and varied background in community engagement, brand management and advocacy strategy, his role at the firm is twofold. He concentrates on creating new development opportunities, widening the firm’s public engagement and outreach. He also conducts executive searches for entrepreneurial enterprises at the C-suite level, as well as for community-based non-profits and has developed a specialized expertise in recruiting fund development executives.

In her role as search consultant with The Hawkins Company, Ms. Montgomery conducts search assignments for CFO and CEO roles and she has been instrumental in executive placements in non-profit, healthcare, and government organizations. She also helps to expand and scale the firm’s market presence, creating more opportunities while safeguarding its commitment to the increase of equity and diversity in executive roles.

Related: The Hawkins Company Recruits Chief Race & Equity Officer for the City of San Diego 

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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