November 18, 2021 – The Moran Company, an executive recruitment firm that specializes in the non-profit sector, has been called in to help find the next chief executive officer for Lawrence, KS-based Cottonwood Inc., which serves individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Ann Graff, senior search consultant, is leading the assignment. “The CEO reports to the board of directors and works in partnership with them to ensure that the organization fulfills its mission and creates strategies for future sustainability and success,” said the search firm.
Cottonwood’s CEO is expected to serve as a decisive, credible leader who attracts and retains top-notch, diverse talent, said the search firm. The individual must maintain a work environment that fosters employee empowerment and commitment to the organization’s mission and purpose. He or she should support an open and healthy culture of collaboration, diversity and mutual respect.
The role also requires that the leader foster solid relationships and support the operating and foundation boards in their roles for the organization. He or she must keeps the boards fully informed and engaged regarding the status and activities of the organization.
Strategic planning is a critical aspect of the job, said The Moran Company. The CEO will work with the board to design and implement a plan to set strategic direction, long-term goals and annual objectives. The leader must also recognize the importance of collaborating with allied agencies and work to identify/strengthen strategic opportunities to the benefit of all. The CEO also holds primary responsibility for managing costs/investments and ensuring sustainable, diverse funding streams, among other duties.
An undergraduate degree is required for the role; a master’s degree in social work, human services management, business administration or a related degree is preferred. Candidates should also have an affinity for the mission of caring for individuals who are developmentally disabled. Demonstrated program experience with persons with intellectual disabilities is preferred.
Cottonwood Inc. wants a seasoned non-profit executive, with 10 years of progressively responsible management experience with prior operations and program development experience, said the search firm. Demonstrated ability to think strategically and to make effective decisions in difficult and complex situations is essential. The non-profit’s next leader should also be open to receiving and integrating feedback.
The ideal candidate will be a demonstrated leader of high personal and professional integrity, who is sensitive and committed to maintaining and enriching Cottonwood’s mission, values and culture. He or she should be a skilled people manager and team builder. The ability to foster strong collaborative teams and actively engage with staff is essential. The leader must maintain Cottonwood’s positive working environment.
Excellent interpersonal skills are required, said The Moran Company. Previous success in establishing relationships with the community including public funders, civic leaders, charitable agencies, fundraising sources and donors is a key criteria. Prospects should also have the ability to develop and maintain trusting relationships.
Established in 1972, Cottonwood Inc. is a multi-faceted non-profit. Over the years, Cottonwood has earned a reputation for excellent services and care. In 1995, the Developmental Disabilities Reform Act established Cottonwood as the Community Developmental Disability Organization (CDDO) for the Kansas counties of Douglas and Jefferson. With a total team of about 200 people, the organization has a $15 million budget. The non-profit’s services include: targeted case management; health supports, such as wellness monitoring and health care coordination; Cottonwood Industries/work services, including developing skills in light assembly, kitting, packaging, bulk mailings, shredding and collating; and JobLink employment services.
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. Graff has a total of 35 years of executive-level experience in the non-profit sector. During that time, she spent six years as CEO at a community action agency and 14 years as CEO of a large non-profit organization serving individuals with developmental disabilities. Starting as a direct support professional, Ms. Graff’s career has included direct supervision of residential services, case management, human resources, expansion of services and more. She has worked closely with a variety of people experiencing low income, developmental disabilities and other challenges. Throughout her combined 20 years as a non-profit CEO, Ms. Graff learned firsthand how critical it is to partner closely with clients, community stakeholders, funding sources and boards of directors.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media