Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
America’s Promise Alliance invites nominations and applications for the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). This position calls for an entrepreneurial CEO who will lead both the organization and its Alliance of 450 member institutions from the nonprofit and business sectors to realize the organization’s recently adopted strategic vision to become a voice and powerful advocate for America’s young people.
America’s Promise Alliance was born from The Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future, a convening of 3,000 participants, including 5 Presidents and 1 First Lady, 25 governors, 9 lieutenant governors, 92 mayors, 122 business leaders, 7 cabinet members, and representatives from 145 communities across the United States, held in Philadelphia, PA, in April 1997. That extraordinary event brought together thousands of leaders from across the country to refocus the nation’s attention on the needs of children and youth. Attended by Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford (with Nancy Reagan representing President Reagan), and chaired by Retired General Colin Powell, that gathering challenged America to make children and youth a top national priority.
As America's Promise Alliance prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2022, this a prime opportunity for the next CEO, in partnership with the Board, staff and Alliance partners, to build on the organization’s rich legacy to prioritize the voices and needs of the nation's young people at a crucial moment in our national consciousness.
The ideal candidate will be a visionary public and organizational leader with a track record of successfully building and stewarding leader-to-leader relationships and external partnerships, and generating resources. In its next leader, America's Promise Alliance seeks a CEO who is passionate about the role that the organization can play in shaping the national conversation around our collective obligations to young people while elevating youth voices and driving measurable results through its impactful work. This person will serve as an inspirational and effective communicator both internally and externally; be committed to and adaptive in their development of people and teams; and advance the creation of efficient operational structures across the organization. The new CEO will need to work closely with a deliberately evolving mix of Alliance leaders and partners, trustees, directors and staff to build a powerful “collective leadership platform,” the centerpiece of the Alliance’s new vision, as identified by the Board. It will be essential for the new CEO to develop strong partnerships across all sectors for continued innovation and development while championing the Five Promises that are foundational to the Alliance’s identity and purpose.
America's Promise Alliance has retained the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller to assist with this important search. Inquiries, nominations, and applications may be directed to the search firm in confidence as indicated at the end of this document. For more information about America’s Promise Alliance, please visit the organization’s website at: www.americaspromise.org.
America’s Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest alliance dedicated to children and youth, started with a simple idea. Businessman and former Michigan Governor George Romney believed the nation faced “vitally serious social problems” that threatened our children’s lives and our future. Reversal, he wrote, required an urgent, “full-scale mobilization of the entire nation.” In 1995, Governor Romney shared the idea of a presidents’ summit with Harris Wofford, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and Bob Goodwin, CEO of Points of Light Foundation.
Governor Romney died before his dream could become reality. At his funeral, Lenore Romney, George’s widow, asked Wofford if he would pursue her husband’s plans for a national summit. Wofford made a promise: “We will make it happen.” Faithful to Romney’s vision, the organizers reached out to all the living presidents: Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Nancy Reagan representing Ronald Reagan.
Drawing from their deep roots in citizen service, the Points of Light Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service served as the lead conveners of the 1997 Presidents’ Summit. In support of the animating idea of the Presidents’ Summit as a means to mobilize Americans from all walks of life and scores of communities to answer the call on behalf of America’s children, four additional national organizations—Communities In Schools, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the United Way of America, and MENTOR—joined the team to comprise the six founding organizational members of the Alliance.
The official title — the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future — reinforced both what was at stake and that the cause was bigger than any single administration or party. As Ray Chambers and Harris Wofford, two of the Summit’s architects, described it, “the power of an apostrophe” — Presidents’, not President’s — made all the difference.
Admission to the Presidents’ Summit came at a well-advertised price. All participants—communities, states, nonprofits, businesses—agreed to make a concrete, quantifiable commitment to improve the quality of young people’s lives through one or more of the Five Promises. Impressive commitments were made by corporate America, nonprofits, and the public sector. The commitments marked a clear transition in the business community’s view of its own role in improving the lives of the nation’s young people. Many of those original commitments were not only met and exceeded but have greatly expanded over the past 23 years.
Retired Gen. Colin L. Powell became America's Promise's Founding Chairman—leading the movement that arose from the Presidents’ Summit. Both General Powell and his wife, Alma, who succeeded Gen. Powell as America’s Promise’s Board chair, are highly respected as advocates for children and as leaders who transcend partisan politics. That respect, in turn, aided the effort to enlist Alliance partners that would be essential to the cause.
The challenges facing today’s children and youth are too complex and interrelated for any one sector or organization to solve alone. Success requires participation from a range of stakeholders working together in coordinated and collaborative ways. America’s Promise Alliance embodies this collective approach; today, the Alliance consists of 450+ national organizations, 250+ state and community partners, and more than 17,000 individuals who share the belief that children and youth are a national priority and are committed to working collaboratively to ensure that all young people thrive and receive the most fundamental resources to enable their success.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., America's Promise Alliance operates with a team of 20 staff and an $8 million annual operating budget. With hundreds of national partners and their local affiliates, America's Promise Alliance is uniquely positioned to mobilize Americans to act. As an alliance, America's Promise inspires action through issue-oriented campaigns such as Grad Nation, which has made improving the nation's graduation rate a top priority, and Every School Healthy, which aims to extend the promise of a healthy start to more young people and raise awareness of the integral connection between education and health via research, publications, and convenings that inspire partners and thought leaders to individual and collective action.
THE FIVE PROMISES
The central belief of the Alliance is that every young person should have the opportunity to succeed, and that every adult should take responsibility to make that happen. The collective work of America’s Promise Alliance focuses on the Five Promises we must make and keep to young people to prepare them for adult success. These promises, which emerged from the 1997 Presidents’ Summit, serve as America’s Promise Alliance’s north star and the organizing framework for the effort of hundreds of communities across the country. America’s Promise recognizes that historical and systemic inequities create barriers that keep too many young people from realizing their potential.
Every Young Person Needs:
CARING ADULTS — parents and family members, teachers, mentors, coaches and others who believe in, challenge, and nurture young people.
SAFE PLACES — spaces at home, in school, in the community and online where youth feel safe and have opportunities to learn, explore, and grow.
OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE — to share time and talents with others, build character and competence, and contribute to the civic life of their community.
EFFECTIVE EDUCATION — to develop knowledge and real-world skills so they can fully participate in our economy and our democracy.
A HEALTHY START — the right nutrition, exercise, and medical care starting with children's first years so they can thrive in school and in life.
THE ROLE OF THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER: KEY OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
The CEO will work collaboratively with the Board of Directors and staff to transform America’s Promise from its current focus on program implementation to a more mature and vibrant organization capable of leading a strengthened Alliance of leaders and organizations to achieve greater impact and fulfillment of the Five Promises.
In this context, the successful CEO will be expected to specifically address the following opportunities and challenges:
Lead America’s Promise Alliance in the realization of its vision to become a voice and powerful advocate for America’s young people
America’s Promise Alliance was founded on the belief that each and every young person deserves to fulfill their potential, that every adult is responsible for helping to make that happen, and that our promise as a nation will be fully realized only when America keeps its promise to all of its young people. Additionally, America’s Promise Alliance endeavors to engage youth leaders and amplify youth voices, encouraging young people to pursue leadership opportunities in their schools, communities, workplaces, and in the work of the Alliance and partner organizations. This engagement of young leaders and tapping into youth voice is particularly critical as the nation faces major crises – the COVID-19 pandemic, the ensuing economic fall out, and a reckoning regarding systemic, structural racism.
Build a premier collective leadership platform that identifies and brings together highly motivated Alliance partners, funders, and youth to lead a newly invigorated Alliance in tackling the greatest challenges facing America’s young people
The CEO will work with partners and stakeholders to develop a strengthened Alliance where partners work in breakthrough ways to address the most critical issues facing young people today, through move-the-needle campaigns and strategic initiatives rooted in evidence-based practices, education, and partnership development. With a strengthened Alliance and a robust collective leadership platform, America’s Promise will be positioned to lead, enable, and inspire our partners by offering them the best evidence-based practices, resources, and connections through a powerful national platform that can sustain and scale community impact.
Develop an effective and comprehensive strategy for sustainable resource development
In partnership with the Board of Directors and with support from the resource development team, the CEO will be responsible for the creation, adoption, and implementation of a three-year fundraising and revenue generation strategy focused on raising the necessary funds to invest in the collective leadership platform model (as described above). The new CEO will be expected to build and grow diversified sources of revenue, including: individual (major) donors; corporate sponsors and “shared-value” partnerships; generated revenue from new business lines that could include consulting and/or contract revenue; and investment in unrestricted, core operations of America’s Promise. Consonant with this three-year fundraising strategy, the Board of Directors has established a goal of launching and leading at least two national public awareness/move-the-needle campaigns over the next five years, which will necessitate growth in financial and human resources to sustain these new and existing initiatives, calling attention to critical issues affecting America’s youth.
Refine, distinguish, and amplify the America’s Promise Alliance’s brand and identity in a manner that honors the Alliance’s rich history and founding commitments while also clearly communicating the vitality and impact of ongoing work
America's Promise Alliance’s CEO will be the public face of the organization and should prioritize growing its external presence and brand recognition. America's Promise is widely recognized by its signature campaigns, such as Grad Nation, that marshal the reach and resources of its Alliance partners to address specific issues of individual, communal, and social import affecting America’s youth. As America’s Promise Alliance embarks on an ambitious vision to launch several new signature campaigns over the next three to five years, the new CEO will work to amplify the capacity of the Alliance as it partners with funders, nonprofits, and corporations to share and disseminate big ideas, with a specific emphasis on revenue-generating relationships.
Strengthen operational infrastructure and foster an internal environment that is collaborative, inclusive, and committed to continuous improvement
In concert with the organization’s senior leadership team, the CEO should work to ensure that America’s Promise Alliance’s strong culture of collaboration and mutual support persists. In particular, it will be especially important for the CEO to present a strong and unifying vision that resonates with and continues to inspire the staff of America’s Promise Alliance who are deeply invested in its mission. Furthermore, America’s Promise Alliance seeks a leader who is committed to consistency in the values of compassionate, inclusive, supportive and people-centered leadership internally as well as externally.
Embrace and enhance America’s Promise Alliance’s commitment to oppose all forms of racism and discrimination with a strong focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging
America's Promise Alliance is committed to empowering, advocating on behalf of, and collaborating with those working to improve the lives of children and youth from disenfranchised and marginalized communities. America’s Promise recognizes that consequences of racism, discrimination, persistent poverty, violence, stress, isolation and other forms of trauma and disadvantage are real. But in all communities, there is human knowledge and talent often unrevealed. The next CEO should be a champion for and leader of efforts to engage that knowledge and talent in all aspects of the Alliance’s work, internally and externally.
DESIRED ATTRIBUTES AND QUALIFICATIONS
The next CEO of America’s Promise Alliance will provide inspired and sophisticated external leadership, clear operational direction, and forward-looking thought leadership to cultivate buy-in and support for America’s Promise Alliance, serve as a credible resource for—and convening authority on behalf of—Alliance members and partners, and drive the demonstrated impact of America’s Promise campaigns and initiatives.
In support of these overarching aims and goals, the next CEO America’s Promise Alliance will be a:
- Values-driven and generous leader who exhibits a clear and unyielding commitment to embodying and advancing the core values of America’s Promise Alliance as reflected in the Five Promises and the fundamental belief that every child in America should have the opportunity and support to reach their full potential, and is a leader who attracts other leaders because they want to work with her or him.
- Visionary thinker and entrepreneur who embraces change, is open to examining many different views and ways of working together, and is excited by the opportunity to reimagine legacy programs while designing and launching new campaigns and initiatives.
- Goal-oriented and priority-focused chief executive who is informed by data, measurement, and evidence-based practices that drive the achievement of specific strategic objectives through campaigns that move the needle towards tackling the greatest and most urgent challenges facing America’s young people with impact at scale. The CEO will work closely with the Board of Directors to define and refine the organization’s strategic objectives and the evaluation of progress towards accomplishing those objectives.
- Prolific fundraiser with a demonstrated track record of securing significant, sustained, and diverse revenues from various sources. The CEO will partner with members of the Board of Directors, resource development team members, and others to secure sustainable unrestricted funds to support the core operations of America’s Promise and designated funds to support signature campaigns and research initiatives.
- Persuasive and inspiring communicator who can effectively serve as the “chief brand officer” and spokesperson for America’s Promise by consistently and professionally articulating the vision and goals of America’s Promise across audiences and mediums. The CEO must be willing to spend a significant portion of his/her time (~70%) outside of the organization representing the organization, building relationships, and securing resources.
- Savvy coalition builder who has the ability to recruit, retain, and align Alliance partners, funders, corporate partners, foundations, youth leaders, government leaders, community leaders, and major leaders in the child and youth serving sector in support of a shared vision and commitment to individual and collective action on behalf of America’s children.
- Compelling team-builder, manager, and mentor who can effectively cultivate, develop, inspire and lead a high performing team of senior leaders and staff who exemplify the individual and organizational values of collaboration, support for others, honesty, optimism, trust, and respect for one another.
- Experienced and credible executive with the skill, competence, and attention to detail necessary to provide accountable oversight for the operational and financial management of a complex organization, including establishing, evaluating, and reporting on key metrics of organizational and financial performance to the Board of Directors.
In addition to these attributes, candidates are expected to meet the following qualifications:
- Minimum of a BA, ideally with an MBA or related advanced degree
- At least 15 to 20 years of overall professional experience (10 years or more of prior national nonprofit experience; work with children and youth a plus)
All inquiries, nominations, and applications should be directed in confidence to:
Ericka Miller, Partner
Ernest A. Brooks III, Senior Associate
1300 19th Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036
Electronic submission of materials is encouraged via: www.imsearch.com/7548
America's Promise is an equal-opportunity employer with a desire to reflect the population we serve with a diverse workforce.