The Obama Foundation Taps Diversified Search to Find Chief People Officer

This prestigious non-profit organization regards the role as a linchpin for delivering on its mission of inspiring and empowering people to become agents of change. The position provides an ideal opportunity for a sophisticated, business-savvy, innovative, forward-thinking leader to help advance the organization to the next stage of its development, says the recruitment firm. Let’s take a closer look at this important search just getting underway.

September 11, 2020 – Diversified Search has been retained to find the new chief people and administrative officer for the Obama Foundation in Chicago. Managing directors J. Veronica Biggins, Denielle Pemberton-Heard and Judy Boreham will lead the search, assisted by senior associate Dianne Downey.

To achieve its mission of inspiring and empowering people to become agents of change, the Obama Foundation is setting its sights on its own workplace as it strives to provides an inclusive and equitable platform. The chief people and administrative officer will serve as a central point for this progress, critical not only for the growth of the foundation but the maturation of its workforce, strategic plan and goals.

Reporting directly to the president of the foundation, this executive will serve as a functional leader responsible for strengthening overall human capital management, including firmly embedding the foundation’s equity philosophy and ensuring it permeates, and informs, all aspects and decisions made by the Obama Foundation; organizational development; talent management; training; professional development; performance management; retention; employee relations; compliance and risk management; and benefits administration and HR policies and processes for about 200 employees, contractors and consultants.

Diversified Search said this is an “ideal opportunity for a sophisticated, business-savvy, innovative, forward-thinking leader to help advance the organization to the next stage of its development, particularly by translating business plans into HR strategies, with attention to any necessary organizational and cultural changes.” The primary objective will be to support an organization that attracts the best people, ensures they are highly engaged in the mission, work and culture of the organization, and helps them develop in their careers and abilities.

Qualifications and Personal Attributes

The Obama Foundation wants a senior human resources leader with a proven history of assessing, hiring, managing, coaching, and retaining diverse and high-performing teams, said Diversified Search. The non-profit seeks a transformational leader with a proven and successful track record in change management, particularly with regard to developing cohesive, but distinct programs, that employ multiple strategies. Candidates should have the ability to interact effectively with people from different racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, disability, geographical and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The Obama Foundation is hoping to attract a collaborative leader who can influence across generations and lines of authority within a mission-based organization. The organization is seeking an energetic, forward-thinking, and creative individual with high ethical standards and an appropriate professional image. A decisive individual who possesses a strong strategic focus as well as an operational, implementation-focused, and detail-oriented perspective is desired. A results-oriented person who measures both the qualitative and the quantitative aspects of a business is also preferred.

Carrying on President Obama’s Goals

The Obama Foundation is a non-profit corporation established in 2014 to carry on President and Mrs. Obama’s lifelong goals to empower emerging leaders, build stronger communities and create lasting change at the local, national and global level. The foundation oversees planning for the future Obama Presidential Center, as well as a range of domestic and global programs.

Related: Koya Leading CFO Search for Barack Obama Foundation

Headquartered in Philadelphia, Diversified Search is the largest U.S. female-owned and founded firm in the executive recruitment industry. It has offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Diversified is the U.S. partner of AltoPartners, an international alliance of 58 independent executive search firms that spans 35 countries across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

Diversified Search Recruits Board Members for the March of Dimes Foundation
Dale E. Jones and Andrew Wheeler of Diversified Search have placed Honest Company CFO Muhammad Shahzad and former Kids2 CFO Lorna Street as members of the board of trustees for the March of Dimes Foundation, a non-profit fighting for the health of mothers and babies. In their roles as trustees, they will share their unique skills and knowledge to address the country’s urgent maternal and infant health crisis.

Diversified Search has worked with more than 300 educational institutions and not-for-profit organizations over a 40-year span. Its non-profit practice recruits leaders for associations, foundations, arts and culture organizations, religious groups, workforce development entities, as well as professional and social service concerns.

Respected Recruiters

Ms. Biggins, who leads Diversified Search’s board practice, brings more than 15 years of search experience to the firm—including several years working in the White House. She served as assistant to the President of the United States and director of presidential personnel under Bill Clinton. She also served as vice-chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and as chairman of the Czech Slovak American Enterprise Fund. Her background includes 20 years’ experience with NationsBank (now Bank of America) and its predecessor, The Citizens, and Southern National Bank.

Ms. Pemberton-Heard is the general counsel and managing director for Diversified Search, based in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. She joined Diversified in 2018 following 15 years as group counsel, programming and business affairs at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Before PBS, she served as group counsel for Thales Inc., a French-owned communications concern, and as vice president, legal and business affairs at Time Life. She has also held in-house positions at Discovery Communications Inc.

Ms. Boreham is managing director and partner at Diversified Search. She has a strong practice in the human resources field and additional experience in finance and operations functions across all industry practice groups. Her clients include global Fortune 100 corporations to small, emerging companies looking for senior executives for critical positions. She is often called upon to advise on succession planning and organization design issues as these clients expand. Ms. Boreham is frequently invited to participate as a panelist on a range of human capital issues and has developed and led key conferences on talent management topics.

Ms. Downey, a vice president, has been with Diversified for over 25 years and works primarily in the healthcare services practice, in both the provider and payer sectors. She has worked on numerous senior executive searches, including those for president and CEO, COO, CFO, and VP of operations, as well as senior leaders in health care value and transformation. Clients she has represented include The Kendal Corp., Kaiser Permanente, University of Maryland Medical Center, Novant Health, Ascension Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Independence Health Group and Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.

Related: Phillips Oppenheim Recruits Director for Obama Presidential Museum

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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