Are you interested in the permanent ED position? No. For reasons of both ethics and efficacy, I never apply for the permanent executive director position when I am in the interim role. This allows me to be completely impartial during your search, and to build trust with staff, board, partners, and the incoming ED.
Do you also lead the search for the new ED? I generally recommend that organizations engage one of the many excellent search firms in the area to do this. I am happy to collaborate closely with your search firm and committee during the search, or not, depending on your organization’s needs and desires.
Shouldn’t we look for an interim ED who has experience with our cause? Experience with your cause can be nice, but transition experience is by far the most important qualification in an interim ED. Your organization’s needs are slightly different during an executive transition, and therefore your interim ED will need a slightly different skill set than your permanent ED. Many boards and staff can actually benefit from working with an interim ED who focuses primarily on management and takes a collaborative approach to programming. In any case, I will always be up front about what skills I bring or don’t bring, and will refer you elsewhere if I feel that someone else could serve you better.
Can you describe your process? I try to remove my own opinions and ego from the equation as much as possible, taking an open and curious approach to each new client. I focus on management and facilitation, maintaining or creating stable business practices on which an incoming ED can build and providing space for important conversations. I typically structure my engagements in four phases, which can flex or overlap depending on the situation:
- Orientation (~5-10 hours, may take place prior to my official start date)
- Discovery (~1 month, concurrent with day-to-day management)
- Implementation (remainder of contract, concurrent with day-to-day management)
- Exit/Handoff (<1 month, usually concurrent with day-to-day management)
During the first two phases, I’ll be getting to know your organization so I can make recommendations about where best to focus our efforts during your transition; during the final phase, I’ll provide a formal exit report and any desired onboarding for the incoming ED. Each client is unique, and I will create a specific proposal and scope of work tailored to your needs and timeline.
Can you refer me to other interim EDs? Yes. I belong to an exclusive network of other experienced interim executive directors working in the San Francisco Bay Area. If I am not available, or am not a fit for your organization, I would be happy to help connect you with other interim EDs, and give you some tips on how to select a good match for your needs.
If you still have questions, feel free to contact me for a complimentary phone call. I’d be happy to discuss the specifics of your situation and provide a little free advice.