Organization: Easterseals National

Location: Chicago, IL

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About Easterseals:

For nearly 100 years, Easterseals has been the indispensable resource for people and families living with disability, including physical, emotional, intellectual, social and educational disabilities.

Through the work done in communities across America through its network of 73 Affiliates, Easterseals is changing the way the world defines and views disability by making positive, profound differences in people’s lives every day so that individuals with disabilities can live, learn, work and play in their communities.

Easterseals serves approximately 1.5 million individuals with disabilities and their families. From therapy and early intervention services, to camps and employment placement, the organization helps children and adults with disabilities, caregivers, veterans and seniors be at their best.

Easterseals works to remove physical, cultural, attitudinal and legal obstacles so individuals with disabilities have every opportunity to live meaningful and productive lives, on their own terms.

Easterseals offers hundreds of home and community based services and supports categorized into five distinct support areas: Live, Learn, Work, Play and Act.

  • LIVE: Hands on comprehensive, vital programs and support to help people reach their full potential;
  • LEARN: Programs designed to help children and adults learn—and often relearn—basic functions, master skills needed to develop and thrive, and be sharp and active across the lifespan;
  • WORK: A range of training, placement and related services helping people prepare for the workforce;
  • PLAY: Fun, healthy programs for children, adults and caregivers to relax, connect with friends and engage in constructive activities; and
  • ACT: Involvement opportunities for our vibrant community of friends and supporters.

The Easterseals National office serves to support the work of the Affiliates and acts as the national face of the organization. With a budget of $78M and a staff of 59, the National office priorities are to support advocacy, branding/marketing, corporate partnerships, fundraising, network collaboration, and technology on behalf of its Affiliates and the organization as a whole. Easterseals National is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois with an office in Washington, DC.

Each of the Affiliates has its own CEO, and each provides a variety of services. Each has challenges for state funding of its services.

Approaching its centennial, Easterseals is at a critical point in its history. The next President & CEO of Easterseals National will support the high-level aspirations of the Easterseals Affiliates to ensure a successful future.  The ability to envision, clearly define and then project Easterseals National’s value proposition to its Affiliates, Board, staff and other key stakeholders is a key component of the role.

A Stage Set for the Future:

Over the past several months, Easterseals has done extensive work with The Bridgespan Group, a nationally acclaimed global nonprofit consulting firm that collaborates with mission-driven leaders, organizations, and philanthropists, on a Strategic Vision Initiative kicked off with the objective of aligning the network around a common vision and shared goals to guide the rest of the strategic planning process.

Several months were spent gathering input on the goals and vision for the network, and the value of the National office. Significant input was collected from Affiliate CEOs, Affiliate leadership staff, National and Affiliate Board members, National staff and external experts on trends in the disability landscape. From all that input, the high-level aspirations for the network were determined:

  • Impact: Across the network and for each Affiliate, to ensure that a much higher proportion of the total needs within each community for Easterseals’ target populations were effectively served by Easterseals and others; to enhance the quality of all of Easterseals’ services; and to identify and take advantage of new business opportunities that can have a positive impact on individuals with disabilities.
  • Sustainability: To ensure the National office and all Affiliates are operating sustainable business models that enable Easterseals to achieve the highest possible level of impact.

In order to achieve these goals, stakeholders agreed that Easterseals would need to become a more high-functioning and high-impact network than it is today. This vision for the network includes, among other things:

  • Affiliates that are penetrating local markets either directly or by connecting people to other providers; leveraging innovations from peer Affiliates to improve service quality and sustainability; and defining and measuring outcomes to ensure delivery of high impact programs.
  • A National office dedicated to serving Affiliates by building Easterseals’ thought leadership and name recognition; advancing a public policy agenda to promote the mission; providing high-quality support services to Affiliates and connecting and coordinating them; and identifying key trends, threats, and business opportunities for the network as a whole. 

The Role:

In partnership with the Board of Directors, the next President & CEO is responsible for the successful implementation of the priorities for the National office identified in the Strategic Vision Initiative and by the Board.  Responsibilities include: assuring the organization’s relevance to the communities it serves and to the community at large, strengthening the Affiliate network in advancing the mission and vision of Easterseals and accountability for the management of day-to-day operations of the National office.

Creating a strong foundation for both Affiliates and the National office will be key to the next President & CEO’s success. Key metrics will include establishing financial sustainability, strong leadership, outcomes measurement to drive quality improvement of programs, and the joint promotion of the Easterseals brand and policy agenda. Additionally, s/he will work with the Board and Affiliates to determine the fundraising processes which align the needs of the Affiliates with those of the National office.

In addition to envisioning, defining and projecting Easterseals National’s value proposition to its Affiliates, Board, staff and other key stakeholders, the top priorities of the next President & CEO of Easterseals National include:

  • Advocacy: Easterseals National should be the leader of a national advocacy campaign;
  • Brand: Easterseals National should be the leader of a national brand campaign;
  • Corporate Partnerships: Easterseals National should acquire more robust partnerships that directly benefit Affiliates;
  • Fundraising: Easterseals National should provide support for fundraising programs benefitting the Affiliates and supporting the National office, including redesign of existing direct mail and planned giving programs to better support Affiliates;
  • Network Collaboration: Easterseals National should increase collaboration among Affiliate leaders to share data, knowledge, best practices and to identify collaborative business opportunities.
  • Technology: Easterseals National should leverage technology to enable all of these priorities.

Other key responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Cultivate a strong and effective relationship with the Board of Directors and Affiliates to assure open and transparent communication, with an emphasis on clear and measurable goals;
  • Define the strategic business direction in annual plans, strategies, goals and budgets;
  • Develop a public policy/visibility program which assures that Easter Seals, Inc. is representing the needs of the Affiliates and various constituencies served, with reasonable business development goals as an outcome;
  • Formulate and execute comprehensive marketing, branding and fund development strategies that will result in direct impact upon the Affiliate network;
  • Facilitate effective collaboration among the Affiliates that assures efficient and effective program development through network sharing, consultation, and partnership;
  • Work with Affiliates to ensure that programs evolve to meet community needs and key initiatives of the organization and its Affiliates and that consumer expectations are being met;
  • Develop a budget and operating plan that assures the organization sets financial priorities based upon its mission to serve the Affiliates, ensuring that the operations support themselves and are within the resources of Easter Seals, Inc.;
  • Maintain an effective office of finance which promotes and ensures the organization’s financial stability and sustainability; utilize metrics to ensure sufficient reserves; have a diversified revenue base; have processes to predict and monitor organizational growth; communicate effectively to the Board on financial position; take a lead role in supporting fundraising efforts; ensure the Board is actively involved in fundraising;
  • Work with volunteers and Affiliates to define and implement the most effective organizational structure, with an emphasis on achieving stated organizational priorities;
  • With the Board of Directors assistance, work with the Affiliates to determine the organization’s values, mission, vision, and short and long term goals, and communicate this mission to all stakeholders;
  • Involve representatives of key influencers in determining direction;
  • Take a collaborative approach in working with other organizations;
  • Based upon approved priorities, recruit and/or retain qualified staff to implement stated objectives;
  • Create an environment for high performance, growth and learning of staff; provide for internal communication systems; ensure the organization is staffed with competent employees;
  • Work with the Board of Directors to enable the Board to fulfill its governance functions and facilitate the optimum performance by the Board, its committees and individual Board members; and
  • Advocate and help educate the public about issues for individuals and families of disability; provide external communications program which results in public acceptance and support of such individuals and families; promote and respond to diversity of stakeholders.

Candidate Profile:

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

Strategic & Visionary Leadership

The President & CEO is a strategic, visionary and results-oriented leader who is experienced at articulating and implementing a plan for increased impact in an organization’s next chapter.  S/he will envision, clearly define and then project Easterseals National’s value proposition to its Affiliates, Board, staff and other key stakeholders. In addition to identifying the strategy and vision, s/he will also have an understanding of the strategies needed to implement the vision. A transformational leader, s/he will offer creative ideas to adapt and diversify the Easterseals Nationals’ offerings to address the changing needs of its Affiliates and other stakeholders. The President & CEO will naturally inspire the Affiliates, staff and Board to see where the national disability sector could, and should, be going and push the organization forward in a collaborative manner to lead the charge. The President & CEO has the drive and passion to remain at the forefront of the sector and continues to develop new and unique opportunities to serve the mission.

Leading Through Influence and Relationship Building

The President & CEO will be skilled at building effective relationships at multiple levels within a complex environment, including with a large network of Affiliates. S/he will have a high level of emotional intelligence and be able to build trust in order to develop productive and fulfilling relationships with Affiliates, Board, staff, donors and other key partners and stakeholders moving forward. S/he will be a strong leader, communicator and collaborator who is skilled at listening to and learning from constituents. S/he will have the ability to develop a powerful sense of shared purpose in others and motivate them to engage the opportunities and challenges ahead. S/he is also a persuasive negotiator able to achieve consensus amongst differing opinions. The President & CEO will possess a strong sense of confidence and a style that will resonate within the Easterseals community and beyond.

An Ambassador for Easterseals

The President & CEO will be an inspirational and charismatic leader who will serve as the chief ‘Ambassador’ for Easterseals. An articulate, informed and passionate public speaker, s/he will represent Easterseals as a thought leader in the disability sector. S/he will bring outstanding communication and presentation skills to effectively articulate and convey Easterseals’ mission and its priorities to a range of constituents including the Affiliates, staff, Board, donors and other key external stakeholders. S/he will be skilled at building strong brand recognition and awareness. The President & CEO will demonstrate leadership in the field of development and a high capacity to lead successful fundraising initiatives on behalf of the Affiliates and the National office. S/he will have a fundamental understanding that successful fundraising for the organization is a core responsibility. S/he will embrace Easterseals’ desire to develop more robust corporate partnerships which directly benefit the Affiliates and the organization as a whole.

A Seasoned Executive

The President & CEO will be a confident leader with a track record of success in transformational organizational management. S/he will be successful navigating in an environment with multiple, and sometimes competing, priorities. S/he will bring experience building and leading teams of the highest degree of professionalism and guiding team members’ growth and development.  S/he will also have experience retaining talent in an organization. S/he will have an abiding commitment to a diverse and inclusive team environment, one that is able to establish priorities, goals, and timelines to achieve quantifiable and qualitative outcomes. S/he will understand and implement best nonprofit management practices and planning, including compelling communication messages and effective marketing strategies, and most importantly, ensuring that overall day-to-day operations are aligned with strategic goals. S/he understands the importance of a robust partnership with the Board and will ensure fiduciary responsibility and sound financial management practices and accountability to the Board. S/he will also possess the knowledge and ability to ensure that the Board is achieving its primary responsibilities of best practice governance. The President & CEO is entrepreneurial when thinking about how to best leverage technology and a shared services platform to advance the work of the Affiliates and the organization as a whole. S/he will be a strong verbal and written communicator capable of leveraging multiple media platforms to advance the organization’s mission and articulate its value proposition to a wide range of constituents.

A Passion for the Mission

The next President & CEO brings a sincere passion for Easterseals’ mission and an understanding of the importance of rebuilding trust with Affiliates, Board and staff to move the organization ahead.  S/he is innovative with the goal of helping Easterseals expand its brand and reach and deepen its impact.  S/he is a strong, collaborative leader with a dedication to the mission and the ability to build a sense of shared purpose throughout the organization. It is imperative that s/he leads by example and always stays true to the values of Easterseals. Moreover, the ideal candidate is an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.

A Master’s Degree in Administration, Public Policy, Business Administration or a related field is preferred.


Alison P. Ranney, Michelle Bonoan and Anne B. McCarthy of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search firm that works exclusively with mission-driven clients. To express your interest in this role please email Alison, Michelle and Anne directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

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 about Koya Leadership Partners, visit