Organization: Cradles to Crayons

Location: Chicago, IL

Express Interest!

About Cradles to Crayons and Launch in Chicago:

Cradles to Crayons (C2C) is thrilled to be launching an operation in Chicago in January 2016. C2C is known as a high-quality, reliable and vitally important resource for children and families lacking basic supplies and as a powerful engine for civic engagement, especially with children, families and corporate groups.

C2C was founded in 2002 by Lynn Margherio, with the mission of providing children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school and at play. C2C creates customized packages, called KidPacks, for each child based on their age, size and preferences using high-quality donated goods. Headquartered in Boston, MA, C2C also opened a Philadelphia location in 2006.

“The best thing is that it’s so individualized. It comes clean, sorted, and looking beautifully. It’s exactly what that child needs.” – HeadStart Program Partner

C2C supplies these items free of charge by engaging and connecting communities that have with communities that need.




Cradles to Crayons meets a critical need for children living in poverty stricken homes. Families living in poverty are often forced to choose between necessities – buying groceries or purchasing a winter coat for their child, paying rent or buying a new backpack and school supplies. Cradles to Crayons is able to provide relief to families by providing the basic needs items their children require to thrive – at home, at school and at play.

While meeting the immediate needs of low-income children, Cradles to Crayons also sets a foundation for lasting change by providing meaningful, tangible volunteer opportunities to thousands of individuals and families and hundreds of corporations each year.

Supported by technology and documented procedures, Cradles to Crayons has created an efficient, large-scale and highly targeted model for collecting and distributing new and gently used children’s items. C2C is at the cutting edge of volunteer management and has become the largest volunteer opportunity in markets it currently operates.

Its innovative and highly effective model has led to C2C receiving distinguished awards such as Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builder award for being an innovative grassroots organization and Lynn Margherio was a recipient of the Lewis Hines Professional Service Award for her exceptional service to young people from the National Child Labor Committee.

Known for its fiscal transparency and responsibility in use of donor funds, Cradles to Crayons earned the highest possible rating from Charity Navigator for the seventh consecutive year. Only 2% of charities rated have received at least seven consecutive 4-star evaluations, differentiating C2C from its peers and indicating that C2C outperforms most other charities in America.

“Congratulations on being the most organized and worthwhile volunteer project I have ever been a part of! This was by far the most ‘well oiled’ machine!” – C2C volunteer.

Since its founding, Cradles to Crayons has supported more than 900,000 children living across the Commonwealth and in the Greater Philadelphia region. In 2014, Cradles to Crayons served more than 160,000 children.

Cradles to Crayons has been putting in place the necessary governance, systems and supports to expand from a two-site operation to a five-site operation by the end of 2018. Chicago has been identified as the next market.

In order to launch effectively in the Chicago market, Cradles to Crayons established 4 guideposts for its Chicago launch, including:

  • Identifying three or four high-impact non-profit partners;
  • Identifying 15,000 – 20,000 square feet of affordable warehouse space in a neighborhood convenient for volunteers;
  • Establishing a Founding Board; and
  • Raising $2 million in commitments (first two years of operating expenses). An interim goal of $1 million in commitments, which is imminent, will enable C2C to sign a warehouse lease in Chicago.

Over the last year, the CEO and the National Expansion Manager have cultivated strong partnerships with Chicago community, philanthropic and business leaders and have made significant progress against these Guideposts.

Cradles to Crayons – Chicago hopes to serve 6,000 children in its first full year of operation and 14,000 children in its third year and to engage thousands of Chicagoans to join its movement.

For more information on Cradles to Crayons, please visit


The Opportunity:

Executive Director, Chicago is a newly created position. Reporting to the CEO/Founder, s/he will help successfully launch Cradles to Crayons in Chicago and be a key member of and contributor to the National Leadership Team.

On a fundamental level, the Executive Director, Chicago will have the following responsibilities:

National Leadership Team

  • Fostering a “One Cradles” approach, that values and facilitates collaboration across the organization, sharing resources and best practices;
  • Enhancing relationships with known supporters and actively seeking out new sources of revenues and donors to benefit the organization overall;
  • Maintaining and enhancing the overall distribution strategy by ensuring fidelity to the program and fundraising model, achieving key metrics and aligning with National standards;
  • Collaborating with the National Leadership Team on the selection and development of scalable systems to ensure operational efficiency and real-time information for effective decision-making; and
  • Determining programmatic direction, carefully evaluate opportunities for new programs and ensure satisfaction with current programs.

Chicago Launch

  • Implementing a C2C model that has been proven in Boston and Philadelphia;
  • Collaborating with the CEO to develop and advance C2C’s strategic priorities and partner closely with a strong, high profile and civic-minded Local Board on external engagement in Chicago;
  • Leading the strategic growth and development of the organization to establish itself within the Chicago community;
  • Providing inspirational leadership and management of staff across all functions;
  • Building an initial team of 5 employees who will work collaboratively to manage the day-to-day operations;
  • Representing the organization in the community, in conferences, leadership groups and other key settings on issues and solutions related to child poverty, civic engagement and philanthropy;
  • Engaging corporations to build holistic partnerships and drawing upon resources from the corporate community such as volunteer hours, product support, financial support, and pro-bono support;
  • Training, building and mobilizing volunteers (family supporters, teens, college students and adults) in the Giving Factory and throughout Chicago to support its mission; and
  • Raising and growing an approximately $1 million annual budget through a combination of individuals, corporations, family philanthropy, foundations, galas and event sponsorships.

In addition to a close partnership with the local Board of Directors, the Executive Director, Chicago will be regarded as a spokesperson and champion of the C2C brand, engaging the community in new and exciting ways to increase donations to serve more kids.

Candidate Profile:

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

A Passion for the Mission

The Executive Director, Chicago must be passionate about the issue of childhood poverty and the overall mission of Cradles to Crayons. S/he must appreciate the importance of driving social change through civic engagement in a dynamic and high growth environment. Comfortable developing relationships in the corporate boardroom, this leader will also embrace the ‘hands on’ nature of the mission and this leadership opportunity.

Ambassador for C2C Chicago

The Executive Director, Chicago will be a high-energy, charismatic leader who will serve as an ‘Ambassador’ for C2C – Chicago. As the lead fundraiser, s/he will inspire, broaden and deepen support from key donors and corporate partners in order to maximize the impact of C2C – Chicago. S/he will have executive and appealing, mission-driven presence who can articulate and convey C2C’s mission and priorities to a range of external stakeholders (volunteers, donors, sponsors, community, nonprofit partners and the general public) to inspire action. S/he will have a proven or emergent background in building assets coupled with a deep understanding that fundraising and development of partnerships are fundamental responsibilities.

Entrepreneurial Mindset

With understanding that the C2C model is supported by technology and documented procedures, the Executive Director, Chicago must have the entrepreneurial ambition to drive social change through community engagement. S/he will have demonstrated experience working in a highly adaptive model during a period of change and expansion. S/he must be agile and versatile, with an ability to switch gears from fundraising with corporate donors to leading a group of volunteers in the Giving Factory on the same day. S/he will have a track record of motivating and inspiring other to achieve impact through creativity and teamwork and of leveraging individual strength to meet organizational goals.

Executing for Results

The Executive Director, Chicago will be a creative thought leader and problem solver with a solid grasp of the bigger picture beyond the current state. Understanding that at the heart, C2C – Chicago is running a supply-chain operation, s/he must be business-minded with general management skills to ensure seamless operations across all functions. S/he will lead a performance-driven team to ensure the right KidPacks are delivered timely to the right children and the fidelity of the program model.

A Bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree is preferred. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of seven to ten years of executive leadership experience.


Alison P. Ranney, Anne B. McCarthy and Anny K. Chou of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials to All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Cradles to Crayons 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 and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. 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