Organization: Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc.

Location: Chicago, IL

Express Interest

About Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc.:

Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc. (Ada) is driven by its mission to empower, educate, and employ people to change lives and strengthen communities.  The agency was founded as a settlement house in 1919 by Ada Sophia McKinley, a schoolteacher and social reformer, who saw the need to assist veterans returning from World War I and African Americans migrating from the South.  Now approaching its 100th anniversary, Ada is one of the largest human services organizations in the country with an annual operating budget of $40 million, nearly 600 employees, serving more than 6,000 people annually at over 75 locations.  Services are provided 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, primarily in Illinois/Chicago with additional sites in Indiana and Wisconsin.  The vision of Ada S. McKinley is for all people have the opportunity for education and employment.

Ada is approaching its 100th anniversary with a powerful mission for the organization’s future: To empower, educate, and employ people to change lives and strengthen communities.  Our Agency’s defined culture is also key: “One Ada” – Teamwork, Innovation and Excellence, in preparing for another century of growth and leadership.

The agency has three primary areas of services:  Child Development & Youth Services; Employment and Community Support Services; and Behavioral Health & Clinical.  Services rendered daily include: tutoring, mentoring and college placement, foster care, residential, youth and family counseling, employment training and placement, and head start programs.

Initiated by the late Silas Purnell, Ada’s Educational Services Division has operated a successful College Preparation and Placement Program for more than 40 years, which has provided college-readiness services to first-generation, urban high school students. One of the most influential college placement programs in the country for students of color, the division has placed more than 65,000 youth at over 400 colleges and universities. During the 2015 to 2016 school year, 100% of Ada’s students graduated high school and 98% were placed in college. From 2014 to 2016, Ada more than tripled the scholarship dollars awarded to its students from $5.2 million to $16 million. In addition, Ada awards its college-bound students with first-year living and learning essentials through Trunk Scholarships each year. Ada’s trunks equip students with the supplies they need to adjust and reach success in their new environment. Today, the Revie Sorey Trunk Scholarship Celebration is Ada’s premier fundraising event.

In partnership with the Department of Children and Family Services, Ada’s Child Welfare services meet the needs of over 150 children each year who require placement in licensed foster homes. In addition, the Head Start and child care area serves over 400 children annually.

Through its Behavioral Health and Clinical Services (BHCS) Division, Ada provides mental health counseling services to more than 3,000 behaviorally challenged, mentally ill or at-risk children and their families. BHCS has a clinical staff well-versed in treating problems caused by mental illness, substance abuse, violence and gangs in neighborhoods and schools, or by the personal trauma of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Racially diverse, approximately 72% of BHCS clients are African American and 25% are Latino. Families served by BHCS come from some of the most economically depressed neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago and 90% of their households are below poverty level.

Through its Employment and Community Services (ECSS) division, Ada assists over 1,600 people with disabilities and low-income individuals with employment opportunities and increased independence through the delivery of a range of Day Habilitation programs. Janitorial Services, one of the largest employment areas, employs nearly 200 workers. ECSS operations 14 residential care facilities through Chicago for persons with developmental disabilities, including Community Integrated Living Arrangement and Intermediate Care Facilities for Developmentally Disables sites. As a leader in this space, ECSS provides housing and individualized support to 130 adults with disabilities through its Residential Services area.

To learn more about Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc., please visit its website:

The Opportunity:

A newly created position, the Vice President, Child Development & Youth Services (VP) is a dynamic leader, institutional innovator and key member of the senior executive team. This position is charged with overseeing Ada’s Education Services, Head Start and Childcare Division and Child Welfare Services; expanding partnerships with Chicago Public Schools and the Department of Children and Family Services, universities and a range of civic collaborators; coordinating cross-pollination and collaboration between numerous programs and administrative departments; and assuring compliance across Ada’s Child Development & Youth Services division. Reporting to the CEO, the VP is expected to significantly advance Ada’s programs and profile as a key player within Chicago’s education and human services community.

A key component of this role will be partnering with the Leadership Team to ensure Ada becomes a premier hub and partner for other agencies throughout Chicago in its next chapter.  Additionally, the VP will help develop systems to achieve the organization’s strategic goals, working closely with senior leadership, staff and faculty to implement “best practices” to increase effectiveness, efficiency, deep collaboration and consistency across the organization.

Specific areas of responsibility include:

  • Strategic development, administration and expansion of the Ada’s extensive, diverse Child Development and Youth Services programming. This includes supervision of the Director of Child Development Programs, the Director of Child Welfare Services and the Director of Educational Services to advance the CEO’s vision of a deeply collaborative and innovative culture;
  • Creation and execution of data-informed, results-oriented initiatives that help Ada achieve its strategic goals;
  • Leadership in enhancing Ada’s partnerships with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS);
  • Development and maintenance of collaborative working partnerships to drive attendance, provide exceptional education and youth development opportunities, and attract contributed support from institutional and individual donors;
  • Development and implementation of assessment and evaluation protocols appropriate to program initiatives, including compliance with CPS and DCFS requirements;
  • Fiscal responsibility of multiple programmatic areas including oversight of department budget planning and management;
  • Full participation as an executive member of the agency’s “Strategic Operations Team” the department heads who shape the Ada’s programmatic and budgetary direction, external messaging and internal cohesion; and
  • Mentorship, coaching and guidance to mid-level staff, and active collaboration with senior administrators at Ada’s program sites and with key partners.

Candidate Profile:

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

An Action-Oriented Leader with Strong Execution Skills

The VP is a tactical and results-oriented leader with the ability to set priorities decisively, delegate responsibilities, assure accountability and allocate resources to ensure results. S/he will strengthen an empowered team that will work with him/her to implement the course of action for achieving the vision for Ada’s next chapter. The VP brings experience affecting change in a complex organization and a proven record of converting strategy into effective execution, offering creative, practical ideas to achieve the Ada’s strategic direction. S/he possesses a strong data and analysis orientation and a proven ability to use metrics to drive programming and operational decisions. An ability to leverage the expertise of the staff and hone the organizational systems and processes will be key for success. S/he will understand and approach complexities with ease and be able to creatively overcome obstacles to achieve the organization’s goals.

A Strategic & Visionary Leader

The VP will be a strategic and visionary leader with a solid understanding of the strategies needed to advance Ada in a complex and dynamic community, from mission delivery to market growth. The VP will naturally inspire the staff and key stakeholders to push the One Ada vision forward in a collaborative manner. A transformational leader, s/he will galvanize others with creative ideas to adapt, strengthen and when appropriate, diversify Ada’s programs and partnerships to address the changing needs of the community. S/he will share the agency’s vision, clearly defining and then projecting the Child Development and Youth Services Programs’ value proposition to a range of constituents throughout Chicago, including program partners, human service agencies and program participants. S/he will be a results-oriented leader who is experienced at articulating and implementing a plan for increased impact in the organization’s next chapter. The VP will have the drive and passion to continue to develop new and unique opportunities to serve the mission.

Building Relationships and Using Influence

The VP will have the ability to establish rapport and cultivate relationships across all levels of the organization and empower a diverse staff and external constituents to deliver results. The VP will be inclusive, allowing for the building of consensus and recognition of teamwork. An engaging and supportive leader, s/he will have a track record of motivating and inspiring other to achieve impact through creativity and leveraging individual strengths to meet organizational goals. It is imperative that s/he foster an atmosphere of collaboration and partnership across the organization. The VP will be a catalyst for change and growth who inspires others to think entrepreneurially and inject new ideas. S/he will understand the need to learn the history and culture of Ada and appreciate the complexities it faces today before making recommendations. S/he offers creative, yet practical ideas to achieve the strategic direction of Ada, doing so with a deep understanding and commitment to the legacy and nuances of the organization. This individual will foster trust and collaboration among team members and will possess the ability to manage through change with flexibility and poise.

Passion for the Mission

The VP will embody the values and mission of Ada and as a result, will inspire and motivate others. An empathic, confident leader, the VP will treat others with respect. S/he will embrace the history and culture of Ada, 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. The ideal candidate will have a vision for the social services landscape and will have an eye consistently focused on the future and how to best adapt the organization 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.


Koya Leadership Partners has been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please email Marissa Martin and Chartise Clark 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, institutions of higher education, 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