Executive Search

Leadership transition presents a critical moment for contribution to future success by the staff and board of any non-profit organization. Handled properly, such a transition can honor and recognize the contributions of valued leaders, affirm organizational culture, and set a path for exciting, mission-driven service for years to come. It is with that goal in mind that the DeVos Institute Executive Search Process has been designed.


Our process fuses three key strengths:

1) A deep understanding of the practical management needs of non-profit organizations;

2) An awareness and sensitivity to the role of culture in the identification of leadership; and

3) Decades of strategic planning focused on what is required for operational, financial, and programmatic success.


As experienced arts managers ourselves, we have a nuanced understanding of the operational requirements for success in the arena of non-profit management. We do not approach the search process primarily as consultants; we approach it from the perspective of a team which has personally administered dozens of non-profit institutions in a hands-on capacity – from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., to an Asian-American modern dance company, to a school for the arts in Harlem, to the first opera house on the Arabian Peninsula – and many, many more. In addition to our team’s previous professional experience, we regularly function as interim leadership for non-profit organizations in transition – partnering with boards and staffs as team members during periods of sensitive re-calibration. This lived experience is brought to our service as partners in Executive Search.


An outgrowth of our work with hundreds of executives and leadership teams over the years – including our administration of the premier training program for arts and culture managers in the world and our leadership of the largest, most comprehensive, and most diverse capacity-building program in the nation – we have developed a proprietary framework for analyzing the relationship between a chief executive, a board, a staff, and the community of service. This framework offers deep insight into the behavioral characteristics and cultural sensitivities that – in addition to one’s experience – produce every available confidence that the chosen candidate is a right-fit, culturally, for the organization’s values, management needs, community of service, and strategic trajectory.


Through our work consulting over 150 non-profit cultural and civic organizations on an annual basis on every concern from human resources to fundraising, we have a profound and up-to-date awareness of what is required for cultural organizations to excel in today’s quickly-changing environment.

A unique, and recommended aspect of our search process is the development, or refinement, of a strategic vision at the outset of the process. While wholly optional, we have found this planning aspect a vital value-add to the search process, especially for new institutions. This short-form plan is authored by the Institute in conversation with your board and key stakeholders and produces a coherent summary of needs in the areas of programming, marketing, board & community engagement, and revenue development, inclusive of earned and contributed streams. It is augmented by a top-line implementation plan that illustrates the key capacities required of incoming executive management and seeks clarity regarding the role of the executive in relationship to a Board. This process is designed to strengthen and focus the executive profile and provide candidates a thorough understanding of the organization’s vision and practical needs from a leader. This optional process begins immediately upon contract and lasts approximately two months, simultaneous to the necessary preparation for the launch of a successful process.


Our full-service search process encompasses deep stakeholder engagement; an insightful and nuanced position profile; national (an international, where applicable) broadcast and recruitment; a fully facilitated interview and selection process; reference checks, negotiation and offer logistics; and personalized efforts specific to your organization's context. 

To request information or schedule an informational call, please contact Syrah Gunning, Executive Search and 
Development, at segunning@devosinstitute.net.

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