Case Study: Communities in Schools of Atlanta

Communities in Schools - executive recruiting case study Executive Director

The Client

Communities In Schools of Atlanta (CISA) was established in 1972 and has become the nation’s largest community-based dropout prevention organization, reaching 1.3 million children and families in 26 states and the District of Columbia. Communities In Schools of Atlanta (CISA) operates as a part of a network of 38 local CIS affiliates in Georgia. The organization has a staff of 27 talented professionals, four AmeriCorps members, and a number of dedicated volunteers. A 16- member Board of Directors and a Leadership Council of 11 members oversee the organization. The operating budget for CIS of Atlanta in FY 2014 was approximately $2 million.

The Challenge

 CIS Atlanta retained Sterling Martin Associates to search for their new Executive Director to succeed the ED who had announced her retirement from the organization after nearly 15 years of successful leadership. The Search Committee was seeking candidates who could oversee all of CIS Atlanta’s day-to-day operations and build credibility with the existing staff of 27. The new ED needed to ensure financial sustainability; maintain a credible presence as a “go-to” resource and ensure that the organization would be managed within the Board’s policies, applicable laws, and regulations.

The Solution

Led by Managing Partner David Martin, the Sterling Martin team developed a national outreach campaign to nearly 300 senior executives in the nonprofit sector where candidates were likely to exist. In cooperation with the Search Committee, we further developed a set of key criteria for the position that included: strong nonprofit leadership experience – an executive presence with an inspirational nature; an ability to build externally-focused relationships; experience executing a strategic plan; a track record of success in fundraising from all sources; and people management, assessment, team-building, and motivational skills.

Our placement was Frank Brown, Esq. who brought over 15 years of professional experience to the organization. Frank came to CISA from the Butler Street Community Development Corporation (BSCDC), the “Butler Street Y”, where he had served as the first Executive Director. Frank had been engaged by the organization to rebuild a historical brand and well-known organization in Atlanta. Shortly following his arrival, however, Frank discovered that BSCDC had not filed 990 returns for several years and had lost its tax exempt status. In spite of these difficulties, Frank managed to develop partnerships with future funders lead efforts to renovate a historic building which enabled the organization to provide services to the city’s homeless population.

Frank started his career after earning his law degree from the University of South Carolina. He served as Legislative Counsel for Sen. Arlen Specter, where he handled judicial nominations, immigration, civil rights, Dept. of Justice Appropriations, and minority outreach. After serving five years, Frank made a move to New York City where he was hired as the Deputy Director for External Affairs at Boys and Girls Harbor, a major youth development nonprofit that provides educational and social services to over 3,500 children. He subsequently served as Executive Director of the Oasis Community Corporation, a nonprofit that provides needed after-school services to children and families in NYC public schools. Frank led a staff of 200 employees, and developed and executed a strategic plan which grew the organization’s annual budget to approximately $2.8 million (up from $1.5 million when he arrived). During his tenure, he expanded the organization’s programmatic footprint and developed relationships with several notable foundations.

Frank left Oasis when he was recruited to Points of Light as the Director of Civic Engagement and Activation. Frank led the organization’s granting programs and partnerships for the National Days of Service, managed the distribution of grant funding to more than 50 grantees, and was able to establish new partnerships with nonprofit organizations and for-profit corporations in order to provide new opportunities for service and volunteers with Points of Light. He left Points of Light to seek a return to an executive-level position and found himself at the Butler Street Community Development Corporation where he remained until Sterling Martin Associates contacted him about the CISA opportunity.

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