Vetted Solution Recruits CEO for Leader Dogs for the Blind

January 26, 2024 – Following an extensive, national search process, Washington, D.C.- based Vetted Solutions has placed Melissa Weisse as its new president and CEO of Leader Dogs for the Blind. She replaced Susan Daniels, who in May of 2023 announced her intention to retire. “After an extensive, national search process, we are delighted to welcome Weisse as our new president and CEO,” said Kathie Davis, chair of the board. “Weisse is an inspired, results-driven and values-driven leader who has a diverse background of experience and an excellent reputation of leadership in the nonprofit sector and field of blind rehabilitation. She is an industry thought leader with a proven track record of revenue and program growth. The board looks forward to Weisse realizing the future vision and potential for Leader Dogs for the Blind and the entire community we serve. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Susan Daniels for her leadership.”

Ms. Weisse is an industry-respected non-profit executive with over 20 years of experience in fundraising and senior management leading staff and services that support people who are blind or visually impaired. She has served as the chief philanthropy officer at Leader Dog since 2008. During this time, Ms. Weisse has grown total philanthropic revenue at Leader Dog by 121 percent and estates revenue by 164 percent enabling greater client service provision She also led the largest capital campaign in Leader Dog’s history, raising $14.5 million for the renovation of its world-class canine development center. Ms. Weisse is one of just 117 people worldwide to hold the designation of Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE), the highest accreditation for professional fundraisers.

Prior to joining Leader Dog in 2003, Ms. Weisse worked for Christie’s London as a private client advisor managing an international portfolio of high-net-worth individuals. She sits on the American Foundation for the Blind board of trustees. Ms. Weisse is also a member of Lions Clubs International.

In her new position with Leader Dogs for the Blind, Ms. Weisse is charged with effectively developing and maintaining relationships with a variety of external stakeholders including but not limited to, the professional disability field, governmental agencies, corporations, national and international organizations focused on the vision impaired, donors and other relevant associations and organizations. She will provide executive leadership on all revenue generation and resource development programs and activities and provides hands-on support where needed.

“I am honored to be selected as the organization’s next president and CEO and to work with our clients and community around the world to advance our important work,” Ms. Weisse said. “I am looking forward to advocating for the Leader Dog mission with our clients to promote greater inclusion and access for people who are blind or visually impaired.”

Related: Vetted Solutions Recruits CEO for National Association of Personal Financial Advisors

At Leader Dogs for the Blind, dogs are trained as specialized service dogs, and represent key partners in helping this important organization fulfill its mission. The organization, located in Rochester Hills, MI, provides a number of services to their blind or vision impaired clients on a global basis. The non-profit employs approximately 200 full time employees and involves over 1,000 loyal volunteers. The organization operates an $18- $20 million annual budget with 100 percent of the organization’s revenue coming from philanthropic sources to include individual donors, corporate partners and foundations.

Non-Profit Consultants

Vetted Solutions, a specialist in conducting non-profit, government, and association sector recruiting assignments, focuses on recruiting board members, CEOs and senior staff positions for prominent and well-known organizations nationwide. Recent searches that the firm has conducted include executive director for the Association for Creative Industries, chief operating officer for the American Society of Microbiology, executive director for the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, and executive director of the American Academy of Optometry.

Vetted Solutions Places CEO of National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
After a national search, Washington, D.C.- based Vetted Solutions helped to place Victor Stagnaro as chief executive officer of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF). Mr. Stagnaro has been with NFFF for 13 years, serving as managing director and, previously, director of fire programs. As CEO, Mr. Stagnaro will be based in the organization’s Emmitsburg and Crofton, MD offices. He will spearhead both the NFFF and its affiliate organization, the First Responders Center of Excellence. He will be expected to guide all family and fire service efforts during a time when line-of-duty deaths honored at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial continue to increase due to occupational health threats and behavioral health-related deaths.

Jim Zaniello, the firm’s president and founder, has worked for more than two decades in positions ranging from non-profit executive director to publisher of a leading tool for non-profit executive search. He is also known to have an intimate understanding of the complex demands of the executive office through his own experience as executive director at several associations and non-profits.

Past Search

Vetted Solutions recently assisted in the recruitment of Kathryn A. Dattomo as the next chief executive officer for the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), a Chicago-based association dedicated to fee-only financial planning. Leslie M. Stokes, vice president of the search firm, who has worked for various associations throughout her career, served as interim CEO of NAPFA while the search took place. “Kathryn’s strategic drive and her long, distinguished career in the association management community make her the perfect choice to lead NAPFA into the next phase of its development,” said Jeff Jones, chairman. “We’re thrilled to welcome Kathryn aboard.”

Building on a solid financial and operational foundation, NAPFA wanted a CEO who will lead and manage the recently adopted 2022-2025 strategic framework that will drive advocacy; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and professional excellence. Ms. Dattomo brings extensive experience in association management, including strategic planning, non-dues revenue, marketing communications, education programs and member engagement. Previously, she served as chief development officer at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), where she led the Neurosurgery Research & Education Foundation (NREF), industry relations and marketing communications.

Related: Vetted Solutions Assists in the Recruitment of New CEO for CEDIA

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

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