The First Year in the Life of a New Executive Director
Board members, staff, advisors, and donors in family philanthropy.
How can your board develop a transition plan to maximize your new or incoming executive director’s prospects for success? What is the board and board chair’s role in orienting the new CEO? What tips do successful freshman CEO’s have for developing strong board/staff relations; setting boundaries; learning more about the community and causes served by the foundation; and understanding and coping with family dynamics? Join this conversation with two recent first year graduates to hear their lessons learned, as well as insights offered from NCFP’s CEO Guide, “The First Year: The Complete Guide for New Family Foundation CEOs.”
John Hicks is the executive director of The Siragusa Family Foundation. He is a third generation family member and had served on the board of the foundation since 1992, including the last six years as chair. While born and raised in Chicago, he most recently has relocated from Tucson Arizona to take over the position of executive director. He has worked in real estate and investment management and is a longtime volunteer with several youth and community organizations. The Siragusa Family Foundation was created in 1950 and is governed today by 3rd and 4th generation family members. Annually, it grants approximately $1.2 million to over 85 organizations in the Chicago area.
Laura McCargar was appointed as President of the Perrin Family Foundation (PFF) in June of 2016. Laura joined the foundation in 2011 as a Program Officer, where she played a central role in designing the foundation’s youth-led social change grantmaking and the oversaw the development and implementation of capacity building initiatives designed to strengthen, promote and expand youth organizing across Connecticut.Laura’s work in the philanthropic sector and her deep belief in the power of youth-led social change is informed by her experience as a youth worker and organizer.
Prior to joining the Perrin Family Foundation, Laura was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship from Open Society Foundations to engage in research and organizing around the previously little known role that alternative schools and adult education programs play in Connecticut’s school-to-prison pipeline. From 2002-2010, Laura served as the founding Executive Director of Youth Rights Media, a New Haven-based nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering youth to use media and organizing strategies to create community change.
Adam Simon is the founding Executive Director of the Aviv Foundation, an emerging family foundation dedicated to empowering disadvantaged children to break the cycle of poverty and to promoting deep engagement with Jewish learning, texts, values, and tradition, all within an open and inclusive framework. Aviv prioritizes an evidence-based investment strategy, and seeks to create relationships with organizations and partners based on trust, transparency, and impact.
Adam worked at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation from 2008 to 2016, most recently as Senior Director. He led efforts to help the Jewish community recruit, develop and retain exceptional professional and volunteer leaders by delivering best-in-class trainings, facilitating networking opportunities and coaching organizations to invest in their most valuable asset—their people.
With a professional background in both the for-profit and for-impact sectors, Adam has built grassroots service initiatives based on Jewish values, served as the Director of Hillel at Northwestern University, and managed warehouse operations at a company involving hundreds of team members and hundreds of thousands of industrial supplies.
Sharmila Rao Thakkar, MPH, MPA is a philanthropy and nonprofit consultant at SRT Advising & Consulting, LLC in New York. Prior to this role, she was appointed the first non-family executive director of The Siragusa Family Foundation in Chicago after also serving as the foundation’s executive vice president and senior program officer. She provided expertise on and directed the operational, programmatic and administrative functions of the organization. She guided the board's funding decisions, engaged the next generations in their leadership development, and provided strategic direction on grantmaking and other grantee outreach and community partnership initiatives. Sharmila has represented the foundation on several committees and at conferences/seminars, where she has shared the foundation's experiences and lessons learned in its growth and development as a multi-generation family foundation.
What participants said:
NCFP consistently and brilliantly presents the very best education to family foundations and donor advisor funders. Though I actively participate in educational opportunities with many organizations in the philanthropic center it is those offered by NCFP that drill deeper into issues, savor the nuances of family grantmaking and produce products that motivate and inspire in an all embracing understanding of families and the dynamics that challenge them.
The Family Philanthropy Webinar series is a wonderful resource, allowing us to "attend" sessions from all over and to share materials with other members of our foundation. The transcripts of the sessions are also a valuable resource. Thank you for these Webinars.
NCFP webinars are an effective way for me to be stimulated and educated. I always expect excellent presenters and up to date information from NCFP, and have not been disappointed with these webinars. The recent one discussing women and philanthropy was very timely as women grow in their capacity and leadership roles in philanthropy. Thank you NCFP!
The National Center has been an indispensable source of wisdom, tools, and best practices for my clients on matters ranging from advancing intergenerational leadership transition strategies to building effective websites to creating discretionary grant making guidelines.
These webinar events are the most valuable as part of our SECF membership... we access current experts on the topics pertinent to family foundations...and we remain in our office!.... no travel expenses or conference fees... and we can access this information at a future time for our Board. A win-win for all of us who are so busy but are eager to stay current and networked.
I have attended many of NCFP's webinar and always walk away with new ideas that expand my knowledge of family philanthropy. The content is always amazing, well-structured and full of different perspectives. I especially love the stories told by presenters of their families journey within philanthropy and how they are impacting communities.
Creating Effective Next Gen Boards was by far the best webinar I have experienced. The material was well put together, well presented, easy to follow, and very engrossing! The youth on the webinar were very articulate and experienced and provided a unique insight into the benefits and pitfalls in involving 8 year-olds and up in family philanthropy, i.e. the younger we start, the better and easier it is for everyone! Thanks for this webinar!
I have participated for years in the Family Philanthropy Webinar Series, which has been a tremendous value-add for our subscription to NCFP Friends of the Family! This just keeps getting better and better with each passing month, and I'm so very impressed with the caliber of presentations and the organization behind them! Best webinar series in the field!