Association of Child Life Professionals

Association of Child Life Professionals Logo

Chief Executive Officer

The Opportunity

The Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP), located in Arlington, VA, is conducting a search for its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Founded in 1982, ACLP advances the field of child life by establishing and maintaining standards of practice, providing professional development opportunities, and overseeing a rigorous credentialing program. ACLP advances the credibility of the child life profession by fostering research and promoting the standards of child life practice on a North American and global level. ACLP’s next CEO will take leadership of a stable, healthy organization with an active and engaged membership. The executive will have the opportunity to help develop ACLP’s next strategic plan and guide the future direction of the association.

ACLP: An Overview

ACLP’s vision is that every child and family have access to comprehensive services provided by a child life professional as an integral part of their health care experience. The association has a budget in the $3 million range and a staff of 13.

About ACLP’s Members  

ACLP is the leading membership association for child life specialists, a group of professionals dedicated to supporting children and families in health care settings and other challenging environments. ACLP’s membership is composed of more than 5,000 individuals representing approximately 600 organizations worldwide. Its members include Certified Child Life Specialists, child life assistants, university educators and students, hospital administrators and staff, school teachers, therapeutic recreation specialists, and professionals in related fields.

About ACLP’s Work

ACLP organizes professional development opportunities for child life specialists and facilitates the exchange of knowledge and resources through face-to-face networking and online learning communities. ACLP offers the rigorous, examination-based Child Life Certification program, with a continuing education component that ensures a high standard of professional competence among those bearing the Certified Child Life Specialist credential. ACLP also collaborates with academic clinical training programs in an effort to support and strengthen the development of strong clinicians.

Structure of ACLP

ACLP is led by a 13-member Board of Directors. The Board is supported by an active network of volunteers who serve on ACLP committees, work groups, and task forces.

The CEO Role

The CEO will ensure the continued success of the mission and vision of ACLP. Through a strong partnership with the Board of Directors, the CEO will collaboratively develop and advance the vision and priorities for the association. The CEO will cultivate a culture of inclusiveness, diversity, and equity in support of the association’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Action Plan, and they will be accountable for driving excellence across all of the association’s programs, policies, procedures, and standards.

Strategic Planning and Vision

  • Partners with the Board of Directors in setting strategic direction and ensuring that the organization stays on course; sets and monitors key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Researches and recommends to the Board new initiatives relating to health care, associations for health care professionals, and/or industry trends (e.g., issues that will potentially impact the profession, the association, and its membership).
  • Identifies related nonprofits, funding sources, media outlets, vendors, and other organizations with which ACLP could partner to advance its mission.
  • Cultivates and sustains strategic long-term relationships that raise ACLP’s public profile and strengthen its financial position.


  • Integrates a personal understanding of, respect for, and commitment to the history, ethics, and values of the association and child life profession.
  • Acts as the lead representative of the association to the Board of Directors, providing information to enable the Board to provide strategic vision, counsel, fiscal oversight, and other areas of governance.
  • Develops a climate that values and utilizes evidence-based data to drive growth, innovation, and quality outcomes (e.g., membership programs and services).
  • Provides leadership for achieving the goals outlined in the DEI Action Plan. Fosters a culture that supports the values and objectives outlined in that plan.
  • Identifies and analyzes long-term needs of key stakeholders and develops policy and programs to meet those needs.
  • Is accountable for outcomes in all areas of the association, with a continual movement toward excellence, including:
    • Leading cross-functional team collaboration
    • Ensuring integration, alignment, and achievement of association priorities
    • Establishing ethical standards and expectations
    • Modeling integrity in leadership
    • Providing advice and counsel for organizational policies (e.g., human resources, operations, Board governance)

Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability

  • Creates and implements operational and grant budgets with Board input and approval; demonstrates fiscal responsibility; ensures the accuracy, integrity, and timeliness of all financial accounting and reporting; reports variances to the Finance Committee in a timely manner.
  • Works in alignment with the Finance Committee to ensure that all association assets are soundly administered, based on an intensive and comprehensive understanding of all aspects of fiscal management for a professional organization of its size and scope; assures that the association meets all reporting deadlines for annual audit and government reports.
  • Monitors organizational structure and operations to maintain lean, efficient, and cost-effective operations, ensuring an appropriate return on investment for all key stakeholders.
  • Jointly, with the designated officers, negotiates and/or approves contracts and agreements with external businesses, consultants, and other organizational entities in accordance with association policies; conducts official correspondence of ACLP.

Communications and Marketing

  • Serves as ACLP’s primary spokesperson. Represents the association in the media and in communications with other organizations.
  • Identifies and pursues opportunities to increase public awareness of the child life profession. Positions ACLP as a leader in discussions that relate to the field of child life.
  • Provides oversight for the integration and maintenance of an up-to-date marketing and communications plan for the association.
  • Maintains branding guidelines for the association to ensure that the quality of the “brand” of child life and ACLP is consistently communicated to both internal and external stakeholders.
  • Provides transparent, consistent communication to the membership on key association initiatives, programs, and financials.

Program Management

  • Ensures that ACLP offers programs and services that meet or exceed the membership’s expectations, utilizing the best available evidence to reinforce the association’s responsive culture.
  • Provides oversight for the association’s credentialing/certification program and its academic endorsement programs.
  • Collaborates with the Board, members, and staff to continually monitor, assess, and enhance those programs.

Candidate Profile

Professional Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in business administration, health services management, or related/relevant field highly desired.
  • Proven team leader with at least 10 years of experience working within the association environment; Certified Association Executive (CAE) desired (or should be obtained within the second year of employment).
  • Experience in certification and credentialing highly desired.
  • Demonstrated passion as an advocate for children and families. Knowledge of the child life field or a health care background a plus.
  • Experience building and strengthening partnerships (for both fundraising and programmatic purposes).
  • Experience serving as an effective, visible advocate and spokesperson for an organization.
  • Financial experience with budgeting and tax liabilities for 501(c)6 and 501(c)3 organizations; oversight of budgets of $2 million or more preferred.
  • A track record of effective planning and operational management.
  • Experience with technologies for association management and credentialing programs.

Personal Qualities

  •  Analytical approach; the ability to identify, evaluate, and respond to complex management and personnel issues.
  • Emotional intelligence that promotes problem solving, flexibility, and decision making.
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with the Board of Directors, staff, association partners, and other related stakeholders.
  • Knowledge, interest, and willingness to speak to matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion and its impact on individuals, the profession, and the association. Formal DEI training or certification a plus.
  • An engaging, charismatic, relational executive. Someone who leads with a sense of integrity.


A competitive compensation package will be offered to attract an outstanding candidate.

To Apply

To apply, please send a cover letter and current résumé (Microsoft Word® format preferred) to [email protected]. The cover letter should outline how your experience fits the requirements of the position as this will be an important factor in considering your candidacy.

ACLP is an equal opportunity / affirmative action employer committed to inclusion and cultural diversity in the workplace. Employment selection and related decisions are made without regard to sex, race, color, age, disability, religion, national origin, sexual preference, genetic information, or any other protected class.  

Additional Information

For more information, contact:

Sterling Martin Associates
1025 Connecticut Avenue | Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036

David S. Martin | Managing Partner
[email protected]
(202) 257-1627

Stacy Saltzer| Senior Executive Recruiter
[email protected]
(330) 666-5059