October 18, 2022 – The Moran Company, an executive recruitment firm that specializes in the non-profit sector, has helped to place Claas Ehlers as chief executive officer, a newly created role, for the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement (CLM) in Newtown, CT. The non-profit works to teach social and emotional learning. Scarlett Lewis, who founded the organization shortly after her six-year-old son, Jesse, was murdered during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, has stepped down from the top leadership role and continues to serve as chief movement officer. Senior search consultant Gretchen Kunkel led the assignment for the search firm.
Filling the CEO role was a critical step in CLM’s plans to increase impact, said the Moran Company. Mr. Ehlers was selected after an extensive national search. He previously served as CEO of Family Promise, a national federated non-profit addressing family homelessness. In his five years in that position, following more than a decade in other roles at the organization, Family Promise tripled the number of people receiving services, expanded strategic partnerships, significantly increased revenue, and established itself as a national leader in housing and homelessness.
Choose Love will look to Mr. Ehlers to drive similar growth. “Choose Love is a proven curriculum that has had tremendous impact,” said Ms. Lewis. “We have a simple goal: To involve as many people as possible in our programs to reduce anger, alienation, and violence.”
“Claas’ experience and background in organizational growth will increase our impact and make Choose Love a lifespan solution that builds a culture of love, resilience, forgiveness, and connection in our communities at a time when it is needed the most,” Ms. Lewis said.
Changing the Future
Mr. Ehlers said he was excited about his new job and the organization. “Already, millions of people have gone through the curriculum and learned literally to ‘choose love,’” he said. “My work has always focused on changing the future for children. I look to help transform Choose Love and accomplish that same goal on a much larger scale.”
CLM was seeking a seasoned, highly skilled, and collaborative leader to take the organization and movement to the next level, said The Moran Company. In his new role, Mr. Ehlers is charged with working with the board and founder/chief movement officer to further develop the organization’s platform as a leader within the character and social emotional development (CSED) industry and the choice for creating safe and more loving schools, homes, and communities.
With an eye for growth and future sustainability, Mr. Ehlers is expected to provide overall leadership for strategy and operations, staff and organizational development, financial oversight, and revenue generation. Responsibilities of the role revolve around leadership and vision, revenues and operations, personnel management, and board relations. Among his duties, Mr. Ehlers serves as spokesperson for the organization.
The Choose Love Movement’s mission is to create safer and more loving communities through CSED programs that are suitable for all stages of life. CLM is operated under the guidance of a 12-member board of directors, managed by 14 full-time and part-time employees, and delivered by over 125 trained ambassadors worldwide with countless volunteers helping spread the message within their schools, homes, and communities. Since its inception in 2013, three million children from more than 120 countries have used CLM’s programs across more than 10,000 schools.
The Moran Company, based in Leawood, KS, specializes in searches for non-profit leadership, including executive directors, fundraising/development directors, hospital foundation directors and other senior executives.
Bill Moran founded the search firm in 1996. He has worked on more than 60 non-profit searches over the past 12 years. He has spent another 10 years as senior fundraising staff and 12 years as a fundraising consultant serving more than 100 clients.
Ms. Kunkel has 25 years of experience addressing a broad array of family and community health issues, including children’s and women’s health, community development, early care and education, food systems and food insecurity, healthy eating and active living, and public health. In 2004, she helped found KC Healthy Kids, a non-profit organization advancing children’s health by increasing opportunities for healthy eating and active living. From 2008 to 2018, she served as the organization’s second president. Before that, Ms. Kunkel served as associate executive director of the Center for Community Solutions, a research and advocacy non-profit organization, and the director of community health services at the Center for Health Affairs, a metropolitan hospital association, both located in Cleveland.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media