Children's Voice Jan/Feb 2007

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Executive Directions
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Executive Directions

By George W. Swan,
Board Chair, CWLA


The year 2006 was a busy one for CWLA's Board of Directors. In February, CWLA President and CEO Shay Bilchik decided he would leave the League at the end of the year, placing the Board on the fast track to find a qualified successor.

Throughout the year, we worked very closely with search firm SpencerStuart to find the right person to continue CWLA's 87 years of working on behalf of children and families, and to take the initiatives and direction Shay instituted during his seven years as CWLA's ninth leader to the next level.

The Board is immensely grateful for the leadership Shay provided during his tenure. He spearheaded the League's strategic planning process, culminating in the September 2000 publication of Making Children a National Priority, CWLA's strategic plan for 2000-2010. He also strengthened CWLA's organizational structure, enhanced communications, and encouraged cross-functional teaming.

Shay carried CWLA during a very difficult financial climate in recent years and was able to successfully stabilize the organization. Financial regrowth and expansion are now on the horizon for CWLA, and the Board is looking to the League's 10th leader to provide strong, goal-oriented leadership during this exciting time.

To clearly pinpoint the expectations and priorities for the next President and CEO, we began by surveying staff, current and past member agencies, and Board members. With this information, the Board outlined three critical competencies necessary for CWLA's next leader:

Member relations. Representing a membership base of some 800 public and private agencies, CWLA's President and CEO will promote the open exchange of data, resources, and ideas, and be a conduit for that information by developing a customer service orientation and proactive approach to handling member relations, emphasizing communication of the programs and services offered by CWLA and the areas of expertise of its staff, and fostering an environment that enables member agencies to network and collaborate.

Financial savvy. The President and CEO will secure and enhance CWLA's financial position by leading the development and implementation of a long-term strategy to further diversify revenue streams beyond membership dues, evaluating and improving current programs and services to justify membership costs and compete with like organizations, and gaining consensus from key constituencies on the strategic priorities for the organization to narrow CWLA's focus and maximize resources.

Political savvy. In a political environment that has been less supportive of child welfare and family issues than in the past, the President and CEO must lead the call to action on behalf of its members at the federal, state, and local levels by collaborating and setting joint priorities with organizations to ensure resources and effectiveness are maximized, building consensus and shared perspective among the membership base on the most relevant and high priority issues, and leveraging both the national and local media to create awareness of CWLA's mission.

At press time for this issue of Children's Voice, the Board had narrowed its search to a handful of highly qualified, diverse candidates from across the country. Each possessed most or all of the experience we have been looking for, including a track record of increasing responsibility and successful leadership in the business, academic, government, nonprofit, or child welfare fields; prior organizational management responsibility; prior success working with a volunteer board and a large membership organization; a record of success developing fundraising strategies; and experience developing and guiding public policy and legislative strategy for an organization at the federal, state, and local levels.

By the time this issue hits mailboxes, the Board expects to narrow its search to one outstanding candidate who will lead CWLA into a new era. We hope you will embrace this new leader with the same excitement and anticipation as CWLA's Board and staff, and look to future Executive Directions columns in Children's Voice to learn more about our new leader's vision for CWLA and the child welfare field.









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