Organization: Make-A-Wish® Greater Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Express Interest

About Make-A-Wish® Greater Los Angeles:

Make-A-Wish creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. The world’s leading wish granting organization seeks to bring every eligible child’s wish to life because a wish is an integral part of a child’s treatment. Research shows children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight their illness.

Make-A-Wish serves every community in the United States and its territories through 62 chapters nationwide. Since its founding in 1983, the Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles chapter has granted nearly 10,000 wishes for children throughout Los Angeles County. Annually in Los Angeles, the chapter grants about 315 wishes locally with support from donors, corporate partners and a cadre of 500 volunteers. The chapter also supports approximately 300 wishes per year on behalf of other chapters for children from around the globe whose wishes involve visiting Los Angeles.

The History of Make-A-Wish

During a long nighttime stakeout in the spring of 1980, U.S. Customs Agent Tommy Austin tells Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Officer Ron Cox his problem. His wife’s friend, Linda, has a young son named Chris Greicius who is losing his battle with leukemia. The seven-year-old boy yearns to be a police officer “to catch bad guys”. Running into bureaucratic hesitation at Customs, Austin asks Cox if maybe DPS can do something.  Cox takes the request to DPS spokesman Allan Schmidt, who asks DPS Director Ralph Milstead. He gives Schmidt carte blanche to grant Chris’ wish. Just days before Chris passes away, he is granted his wish to be a police officer and the idea for Make-A-Wish is born. A community comes together to make Chris Arizona’s first and only honorary DPS officer complete with his own uniform and badge, a tour of a patrol car and following his passing, a full police burial.

Since then, Make-A-Wish has granted more than 300,000 wishes for children with critical illnesses nationwide and the organization has expanded across the US and globally in nearly 50 countries. Each US chapter, including Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles, operates as an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with its own Board of Directors, staff and volunteers. Now in its 35th anniversary year, Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles granted 12 wishes in its first year, including the chapter’s inaugural for 11-year-old Gary from Ventura who wished for a VCR of his very own. This year, the organization stands ready to grant its 10,000th wish and to reach nearly 520 eligible children awaiting their wishes.

For more information on Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles please visit

The Opportunity:

The new President & CEO will be a committed, charismatic, and visionary leader responsible for Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles’ consistent achievement of its mission, programs, outcomes, administration, and financial objectives. This is an exciting opportunity for a thoughtful and experienced nonprofit leader to leverage Make-A-Wish’s national brand to achieve deeper impact and sophisticated growth in the Greater Los Angeles community. This motivated and ambitious leader will build and develop the Los Angeles Chapter, working with a dedicated and committed team, a strong fundraising board, and a National Office that provides centralized services and support, all committed to the success of this Chapter.

Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles is well positioned to embark towards a new era of growth, and the President & CEO will have the vision and hands-on leadership capabilities to explore the possibilities for furthering the impact of the organization. This organization is governed by an enthusiastic and engaged Board of Directors who have been key in guiding the organization through its growth over the past decade and have served to provide a well-stewarded foundation for the future. The Board has been highly supportive and integral to the financial growth and stability of the organization.

Position Summary

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the President & CEO will be responsible for managing the overall business operations and enhancing the internal processes and infrastructure that allow Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles to continue to grow in support of its mission. This leader will help forge new partnerships to amplify Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles’ visibility, impact, and financial resources. The President & CEO will establish, cultivate, and maintain strong working relationships with the medical community, staff, volunteers, key stakeholders, and will develop and enhance relations across a network of corporate partners, foundations and other partnering organizations. The President & CEO will set the tone for a culture of transparency, excellence, and accountability, with a collaborative and mentoring leadership style that will provide a platform for staff to realize their full potential. This leader will have oversight for a staff of 23 and an operating budget of $5 million.

The President & CEO will be instrumental in developing the strategy to increase the organization’s fundraising potential and activities. This will include the opportunity to develop a comprehensive fundraising plan with new and innovative approaches, while strengthening current development initiatives through thoughtful cultivation of partnerships, managing all major donor relationships (individuals, corporations, and foundations), and working closely with the Board of Directors.

In partnership with the Board of Directors, the President & CEO will assure that the organization has short- and long-range strategies to achieve its mission and goals with consistent, realistic, and timely progress and a fiscally responsible business plan. This professional will cultivate a strong and transparent working relationship with the Board of Directors and ensure open communication about the measurements of financial, programmatic, and impact performance against Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles’ milestones and goals.

Core Competencies:

The ideal candidate will be a strategic and results-driven leader with a proven track record of success in fundraising, high comfort leading finance and operations, excellent relationship-building capabilities, and impeccable communication skills. This leader will also be integral in shaping a positive and spirited internal culture and will address opportunities and challenges in this area as the organization grows and evolves. S/he will have the business savvy and good judgment to establish the necessary trust and credibility with the Board of Directors, staff, medical community, volunteers, and other external partners.

S/he will inspire quality performance and enhance morale with the leadership capacity to build, nurture, and retain a strong team of professionals that is focused on excellence, accountability, and efficiency. The new President & CEO will be flexible in adjusting as priorities emerge and change, and will be a nimble problem-solver, able to balance multiple tasks efficiently and effectively. The President & CEO will have a high level of business acumen and judgment, with the ability to make practical, realistic, data driven, and timely decisions. S/he will understand, analyze, and interpret complex problems and utilize appropriate approaches to achieve sustainable solutions with the sophistication to be creative in identifying and developing new strategies to ‘get things done.’

This individual will have proven track record of success in similar roles of progressively greater responsibility in nonprofit environments, including a minimum of five years in a significant leadership role. A Bachelor’s degree is required.

Additionally, the successful candidate will have the following professional competencies and personal characteristics:

Strategic Leadership & Management

  • Focuses key stakeholders on mission critical, long-term initiatives through effective strategic planning
  • Challenges and inspires the organization to consider the “big” picture
  • In conjunction with stakeholders, translates strategies into concrete action plans
  • Executes short- and long-term plans, and uses tangible metrics to insure success
  • Possesses contextual intelligence and is able to balance strategy, execution, and accountability
  • Possesses a track record of hiring, developing, and retaining top talent
  • Develops the full potential of skill sets into capable executives and leaders by creating individual professional development programs and measuring success
  • Creates real opportunities for intellectual and role advancement for the team
  • Implements effective succession planning for the President & CEO role and other key positions
  • Courageous and decisive – builds consensus and makes tough decisions
  • Leads via influence and shares leadership by empowering team members

Passion for the Mission

  • Demonstrated track record in the nonprofit sector (staff or board member)
  • Communicates a real passion for the Make-A-Wish mission and/or children’s issues
  • Finds joy in a nonprofit role and shares that uplifting attitude with stakeholders
  • Creates internal and external advocates for the mission of nonprofit organizations

Fundraising/Development Expertise

  • Demonstrated development/fundraising experience
  • Entrepreneurial thinker who is creative about raising money
  • Courageous about making big “asks”
  • Experience creating partnerships with external constituents

Operational Expertise/Business Acumen

  • Experience managing a significant profit and loss (of comparable size)
  • Financial acumen: ability to read and react to profit and loss statements, balance sheets
  • Sets financial goals and holds the team accountable for specific results
  • Transparency: shares information across the organization and with the board
  • Operated in a business-like setting

Relationship Building, Collaboration, & Communication

  • Articulate communication skills and exceptional interpersonal skills
  • Dynamic public speaker with immaculate presentation skills
  • Team-oriented: the mission, rather than an individual, is the priority
  • Ability to build relationships and effectively work with multiple stakeholder groups (wish families, employees, volunteers, media, donors)
  • Values constituents and creates meaningful opportunities to engage all stakeholders
  • Champions a culturally diverse work environment

Board Relations

  • Builds an effective, powerful, high-impact board and develops strong relationships
  • Measures board members’ success and provides effective feedback
  • Demonstrated experience working with a board of directors and key business leaders
  • Ability to successfully promote Make-A-Wish to potential board members and engage them in the mission


Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. This search is being led by Michelle Bonoan and Medelene Beasley. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume here, or email Michelle and Medelene at the following:

Michelle R.S. Bonoan
Managing Director

Medelene Beasley

Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles is an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to providing equal employment opportunity for all applicants and employees regardless of race, color, religion, creed, gender, national origin, ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, age, citizenship status, physical or mental disability, medical condition, or status as a veteran.  Employment decisions are based on merit, qualifications, abilities and business needs.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with mission-driven organizations, educational institutions, 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, visit