Boston CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to ensure a safe and permanent home for court-involved children in Suffolk and Middlesex Counties. Boston CASA is seeking a visionary Executive Director to lead the organization into a successful new chapter building on its nearly thirty years of demonstrated success. Since 1982, Boston CASA has made a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children in our community.
The organization fulfills its mission by recruiting, training and supervising volunteers from the community who are appointed as a child's guardian ad litem (GAL), to protect and promote their “best interest.” Boston CASA advocates are appointed by juvenile court judges to be the eyes and ears of the court in complicated abuse and neglect cases. CASA volunteers work to be a unifying force on behalf of children – gathering information, communicating with all parties, and ensuring that all children involved with the child welfare and court system have a caring and consistent adult speaking up for them and making sure they are receiving the care they need and deserve. Read a few success stories here.
Boston CASA staff, volunteers, and Board have as a primary goal advocating for children and youth involved with the Child Welfare system. This advocacy takes many forms, and includes:
- Facilitating access to all the necessary educational supports for our children and youth, paying particular attention to children of differing physical abilities, and children from immigrant and linguistically isolated families.
- Identifying needed and necessary therapeutic supports and interventions.
- Supporting young adults who may become involved with the juvenile justice system through discriminatory policing tactics or disproportionate discipline in schools.
- Advocating vigorously to reduce the impacts of systemic and generational poverty that may have resulted in restricting access to quality and affordable housing, adequate nutrition, and equal educational opportunities.
One of the core values for CASA is a strong commitment to the issue of racial equity and social justice. For this reason, we interact with colleagues, community partners and our CASA families through a social justice lens that reflects the dignity and respect due to all people. By so doing, we commit to identify and call out those systems and practices that perpetuate oppression and structural inequities.
The search for a new Executive Director provides an opportunity to bring new energy, vision and creativity to an organization poised to expand its reach and impact through its proven successful program. The Executive Director will partner with the Board of Directors, staff, the Juvenile Court Department, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) and community partners to refine the strategic vision and lead the implementation of the organization’s strategic plan. CASA strives to partner with community organizations and other non-profit groups that provide needed services to similar youth groups in an effort to impact positively children’s lives, and to bring about needed change. This position calls for a leader with outstanding strategic fundraising and management skills, strong communication and interpersonal skills, an enterprising spirit and a strong commitment to Boston CASA’s mission.
The Executive Director reports to a Board of Directors and oversees a staff of 11 full-time employees. Its annual budget is approximately $1 million.
Background and Current Situation
CASA volunteers come from all walks of life and have a variety of professional, educational and cultural backgrounds. They are selected on the quality of their objectivity, competence, and commitment, and undergo a rigorous application, screening and training process.
For many abused children, their CASA volunteer is the one constant adult presence in their lives, as foster parents, social workers, lawyers, teachers and mental health providers can frequently change. A child with a CASA volunteer is more likely to find a safe and permanent home, is more likely to succeed in school and is half as likely to re-enter the foster care system. Read more here about the evidence of effectiveness of a CASA in a child’s life.
The CASA model was first introduced in 1977 when a Seattle Juvenile Court Judge, concerned about making drastic decisions with insufficient information, conceived the idea of citizen volunteers speaking up for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom. From that first program has grown a network of nearly 1,000 CASA and guardian ad litem programs that are recruiting, training and supporting volunteers in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
Boston CASA was created in 1982 and initially funded by the Suffolk County Juvenile Court. In January 2012, Boston CASA became an autonomous non-profit and hired its first Executive Director. Since 2012, Boston CASA has grown exponentially, increasing its staff from one to eleven and its operating budget to $1M (FY20). Currently, 188 volunteers are assigned to serve 287 children. CASA also operates a Transition Age Youth Program (TAY) which began in 2014 to support older youth aging out of the foster care system in Massachusetts.
For more information about Boston CASA, please visit its website here.
The Role of the Executive Director
The new Executive Director will inherit a highly regarded organization on the brink of making a substantial leap in its size and impact. Raising the profile of the organization, increasing its revenues, diversifying the sources of that revenue, strengthening its management and engaging in strategic partnerships will be key priorities for the incoming Executive Director. More specifically, the new Executive Director will:
Provide strategic and visionary leadership.
- Provide overall leadership for the organization, and identify and address areas challenging Boston CASA’s evolution and growth with tact and diplomacy.
- Thoroughly understand Boston CASA – its history and culture, its governance structure, staff, Board, funding streams, programs, outreach, community network, political landscape and constituencies. This includes, but is not limited to, an understanding of the relationship between and among Department of Children and Families, the Juvenile Court and Boston CASA.
- Interpret, own and implement current staff work plans with an eye focused on scale, organizational development and financial sustainability; ensure that goals and objectives are clear with regular check-ins to assess progress or impediments; through collaboration with staff, prioritize and balance workflow with intended outcomes.
- Stay abreast of developments and trends in the foster care/child welfare arena; consider and introduce ideas that advance Boston CASA’s agenda.
- Maintain a climate that attracts, retains, motivates and develops a diverse and professional staff, volunteers and Board; create an environment that embraces collaboration, innovation, accountability, transparency and diversity of opinion.
Raise the profile and visibility of the organization.
- Expand the public’s understanding of Boston CASA’s brand and work so that its mission, values, outcomes and stories are consistently and effectively conveyed through the website, social media, and printed collateral.
- Conduct public speaking and community outreach with the goal of building support for Boston CASA; serve as an empathic advocate and knowledgeable spokesperson on issues related to foster children.
- Assume an active working role with various local collaboratives that move system-change activities forward; develop and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with other nonprofit organizations, community leaders, the Juvenile Court and state and local government to deepen the services and partnerships necessary to fully support the needs of foster children.
Increase the resources of the organization.
- In collaboration with the Development Director, create an annual fund development strategy; review all current fundraising activities and segmentation by donor type to determine how resources are being allocated; refocus, if needed, to ensure energies are prioritized on activities with greatest ROI.
- As Fundraiser-in-Chief, personally drive the cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of new and existing major donors and grants; ensure appropriate staffing is in place to support fund development strategy; provide coaching and support to Board members to assist in their fundraising activities.
Improve infrastructure and operations to support program growth and impact.
- Ensure that Boston CASA’s day-to-day operations and programs are professionally and efficiently organized and administered and are geared towards the mission objectives of the organization; ensure proper administration of contracts, including compliance with relevant employment laws and other legal requirements; maintain and strengthen the organization’s infrastructure including IT systems, financial controls and related business processes to sustain and improve service.
- Review current organization structure to assess that senior management has the appropriate training and resources to effectively lead their teams and advance operational and strategic goals; provide continued assessment of staff to ensure advancement, productivity and performance.
- Review all internal communications, systems, controls, processes and procedures; ensure that Boston CASA maintains a solid operational foundation; provide leadership toward implementation of continuous improvements in the organization’s processes and technology that ensures effective delivery of donor/volunteer centric services.
- Maintain the organization’s fiscal health, make sure it adheres to a sustainable financial plan based on a Board-approved annual budget and that financial performance positively tracks budget and operating plans; foster an atmosphere of transparency and accountability in matters relating to the organization’s financial condition.
- Establish metrics and dashboards ensuring programs meet objectives and that data is captured and analyzed for program evaluation purposes.
Nurture and facilitate Board development and learning.
- Become familiar with Boston CASA’s governance policies; develop, recommend and implement policies, fundraising and program goals and objectives; provide ongoing communication to the Board on critical matters related to Boston CASA.
- With the Board Chair and Executive Committee, coordinate the efforts of regular and ad hoc committees; develop meeting agendas, schedules, retreats and other activities with the Executive Committee; ensure that all committees achieve objectives; encourage Board members’ appropriate involvement in Boston CASA’s range of activities.
- Assist the Board in identifying and recruiting new Board members whose talents, backgrounds, commitment and interests are congruent with the needs and mission of Boston CASA.
The Executive Director will be an adaptive and inclusive visionary who possesses the following key qualifications and characteristics:
- A commitment to the mission of Boston CASA.
- An understanding of the needs and challenges of children involved with the court and DCF. This knowledge and skill set could possibly be derived from work as a non-profit leader in a related field, or from work as a current or former CASA, a public official or a non-profit board member.
- Demonstrated knowledge and/or expertise in the successful operation of a non-profit organization. This knowledge could be related to program structure, operational and fiscal management, and/or fund development.
- Some demonstrated ability to develop a strong partnership with and to attract financial support from individuals, foundations and businesses.
- The ability to be decisive and resourceful, and to demonstrate the organizational sensitivity to gain the support and confidence of the Board and staff at all levels.
- A team builder and collaborator who is both confident and competent to build trust and to empower the senior management team; a leader who understands the subtleties of recruiting, motivating and retaining a diverse and multi-disciplinary team of staff and volunteers.
- Someone who is creative and can identify and convey the synergies and mutual benefits that come from collaboration; someone who is a contributor who balances the priorities of diverse stakeholders, partners and collaborators (e.g., DCF and the Juvenile Court); and someone who is politically savvy.
- Outstanding communication skill, both oral and written.
Nominations and applications including a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, and your resume (in Word or PDF format) should be submitted to:
Mary E. King Executive Search
At Boston CASA, we do not just accept difference - we celebrate it, support it, and thrive on it for the benefit of our team and the communities we serve. Boston CASA is an equal opportunity employer and as such, we do not discriminate against any team member or candidate because of race, creed, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, pregnancy, or any other basis protected by law. We encourage all to apply because we believe a diversity of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.