Organization: Hephzibah Children’s Association

Location: Chicago Area, IL

Express Interest

About Hephzibah Children’s Association:  

Hephzibah Children’s Association (HCA) is Oak Park’s oldest social service agency—founded in 1897 when a village resident named Mary Wessels opened her home to two young boys. A postcard addressed to a friend is the only remaining record of Hephzibah’s beginnings. It reads, “I have begun my work. I have two boys, ages six and seven.”

Later, when a local orphanage was destroyed by fire, Mary took in more than a dozen orphans and made it her mission to care for “society’s most vulnerable children.” With Mary, these children found safety, sustenance, comfort and love. She called the fledgling children’s home Hephzibah, after her mother. The name, which means “comforting mother” in Hebrew, was a perfect expression of Mary’s founding mission to create a nurturing haven for children in need.

Today, more than a century later, Hephzibah’s mission is a multifaceted one. Hephzibah helps children thrive and families flourish through a continuum of internationally recognized programs that include short-term and long-term group homes for neglected and abused children, foster care and adoption services, comprehensive services for children and families in crisis and award-winning after-school day care services on a sliding scale for families of all income levels.

The Oak Park, IL-based agency’s programs include two group homes: a short-term diagnostic center for abused and neglected children and a residential program for children ages 3 to 11. The agency also supports more than 70 specialized foster homes throughout the state, assists families in crises, offers after school care for over 500 children, and provides Head Start and early Head Start programs for preschoolers from low-income families. Specific programming includes:

  • The Diagnostic Treatment Center at Hephzibah Home where abused and neglected children undergo a period of stabilization and evaluation, is the only diagnostic shelter for children between the ages of 3 and 12 in Illinois.
  • The Residence at Hephzibah Home provides a stable home and family environment with long-term therapeutic support for severely traumatized children.
  • Foster Care is an award-winning program ensuring that there are licensed foster families available to open their homes and their hearts to children in transition.
  • An Award-Winning Day Care program offers a nurturing, enriching day care experience for Oak Park children after school and during the summer months. Hephzibah conducts this programming in the Oak Park Elementary School District 97.
  • Family Services when families begin to fracture from social pressures such as joblessness, chronic illness, mental instability, homelessness or substance abuse, children are often the first to suffer.
  • Camp HepSIBah is an annual sibling camp that reunites brothers and sisters living in different group, foster or adoptive homes. Each summer, more than 50 siblings enjoy traditional camp experiences while creating shared memories that will last a lifetime.
  • Academic and Cultural Enrichment launched in 1999. It is a comprehensive educational initiative to help these children succeed academically, because education is their ticket to a full and promising life.

Mary Anne Brown, Executive Director of Hephzibah Children’s Association for more than 40 years, has announced she will retire on June 30, 2017. Under Mary Anne’s leadership Hephzibah expanded from a day care center with an annual budget of $100,000 to a nationally recognized child welfare agency with a full complement of interrelated services and an annual diversified budget exceeding $9 million dollars. Mary Anne has built a strong foundation and the organization is well poised for its next leader who can continue the trajectory and guide its success.

For more information on Hephzibah Children’s Association, please visit

The Opportunity:

As Hephzibah Children’s Association (Hephzibah) enters this exciting next chapter in its history, the Executive Director (ED) will provide leadership and direction to fulfill the organization’s mission. A clear vision and thoughtful strategic direction setting, developed collaboratively with the Board, will be one of the major priorities for this ED.

Reporting to the Board of Directors (Board) and accountable to the community , the next ED will embody the mission and core values of Hephzibah bringing it to life for the children and families served by Hephzibah, as well as for internal and external stakeholders.

In partnership with the Board and the Executive Leadership Team (ELT), the ED is accountable for setting the direction of the organization, executing the strategic plan and establishing the overall fundraising strategy.   The ED further manages the balance between risks and opportunities for Hephzibah through the effective stewardship of resources. The role provides leadership and oversight of the organization’s operations, culture, values, talent and financial performance, and owns and protects the mission.

As the primary spokesperson for Hephzibah, the ED engages donors and other constituents, partnering with the Director of Development on efforts to build the organization’s fundraising capacity. In addition, s/he will develop and foster positive relationships and linkages with key external stakeholders, including regulatory and oversight agencies, Oak Park Elementary School District 97, service providers and the broader community .  The ED will maintain and communicate the vital connection between funders and program outcomes.

Key metrics for success include:

  • Ensuring the organization remains true to mission. This includes attracting, retaining and mentoring staff that have a passionate commitment to the mission and core values;
  • Maintaining a focus on proactive, strategic planning that allows Hephzibah to identify and take advantage of, or respond to, emerging trends and needs;
  • Cultivating relationships with key stakeholders, including Board Members, staff, children, families, donors, community partners and the Department of Children and Family Services;
  • Engaging and energizing Hephzibah’s external stakeholders to garner new opportunities for generating revenue and community partnerships; and
  • Partnering effectively with the Board and Committees to maximize their efforts and maintain a focus on Hephzibah’s mission, including expanding their role in fundraising to meet the needs of the agency.

Candidate Profile:

The ED will be passionate about fulfilling Hephzibah’s mission. S/he will have the character and confidence to work comfortably in a highly visible role and to interact effectively with a broad range of constituents.

The ideal candidate will have the following personal qualities and characteristics:

A Passion for the Mission:

The ED will embody the values and mission of Hephzibah and as a result, will inspire and motivate others. An empathic, confident leader, the ED will treat others with respect. S/he will embrace the history and culture of Hephzibah, which is integral to gaining credibility with the Board, staff, children, parents and community. S/he will lead by example, understanding that at times, empathy is an essential quality. S/he will have a vision for the social services landscape and will have an eye consistently focused on the future and how to best adapt Hephzibah to its changing environment. S/he will have a collaborative spirit and will be a charismatic leader who treats others with respect. S/he will be an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.

Expertise in Development:

The ED will work in a collaborative manner, building relationships and promoting Hephzibah. S/he will be a proven or emergent fundraiser coupled with a deep understanding that successful fundraising and the development of partnerships with allied organizations are fundamental responsibilities. S/he will work in close collaboration with the Board and ELT to identify, approach and cultivate partners and donors to help advance the organization’s objectives. S/he will be politically adept and can articulate Hephzibah’s impact and vision to a wide range of audiences and constituencies. The ED will inspire, broaden and deepen support from donors, including corporate leaders, high-net worth individuals and key stakeholders.

Building Relationships and Using Influence:

The ED must be able to build and sustain excellent relationships at multiple levels internally and with the various external constituencies including the Board of Directors, DCFS, and the range of partner agencies and institutions, including District 97 Elementary. It is imperative that s/he is an excellent and persuasive communicator with exceptional written, oral, interpersonal and presentation skills, and the ability to foster an atmosphere of collaboration and partnership across the organization. The ED will be a dynamic, energetic and credible leader, which will be conveyed both internally to the organization and externally to the broader community and can deal effectively with people of different philosophies, backgrounds and cultures.

An Action-Oriented Leader with Strong Execution Skills:

The ED will have the ability to set priorities decisively, delegate responsibilities, assure accountability and allocate resources to ensure results. S/he will strengthen and retain an empowered team that will work with him/her to implement the course of action for achieving the vision. S/he will have a demonstrated understanding on how to run a financially sound organization. A tactical executor, s/he will have a strong data and analysis orientation and a proven ability to use metrics to drive decisions and achieves strategic objectives. An engaging and supportive leader, s/he will have a track record of motivating and inspiring other to achieve impact through creativity and teamwork and of leveraging individual strengths to meet organizational goals.

The ED must have an advanced degree from an accredited school of business, social work, or another human services field.


Marissa Martin and Turner Delano of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role, please submit your materials here or email Marissa and Turner directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Hephzibah Children’s Association is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women and LGBT applicants.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search firm that works exclusively with nonprofits. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit