Reports To: Board of Directors

Location: Oakland, CA

Schedule: Full Time

Compensation: Commensurate with Experience

Job Summary:

The Chief Executive Officer will lead First Place by: strengthening the organization’s financial position; improving fundraising and financial management processes; assuring delivery of exceptional programs that support youth transitioning to independence; and increasing leadership team depth and capability through talent acquisition, training and retention activities. The CEO will manage the big picture but always with an eye on practical impact, program quality and strong direct services workflows.

The CEO will be the chief advocate and fundraiser for the organization, with an ability to speak prominently and passionately about First Place, its youth and policy positions. Advocacy is a key part of this role; however, work on advocacy and policy must always be founded upon the strength and stability of its on-the-ground youth services programs. The CEO’s top priority is assuring that programs for youth are effective and that First Place for Youth is financially strengthened for that purpose. Attention will turn to national expansion, policy and advocacy to the extent that First Place has strong programs, infrastructure, cost management and funding streams.



  • In partnership with the Board, provide an assessment of the state-of-play of in-process opportunities and challenges that need to be immediately addressed; provide vision and
    strategic planning, ensuring the concerns of the Board, staff, partners and youth being supported by First Place are considered;
  • Convey compassion and understanding of the unique circumstances of youth being served; maintain an organizational climate that attracts, retains, motivates and develops a multicultural, diverse, high-quality staff and Board; create an environment that embraces
    decisiveness, collaboration, transparency, open communication and accountability.


  • Ensure that day-to-day operations and services are professionally and efficiently organized and administered; ensure proper administration of contracts, including compliance with relevant employment laws and other legal requirements.
  • Maintain the organization’s fiscal health; ensure that the organization adheres to a sustainable financial plan based on a Board-approved annual budget; ensure 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.
  • Explore opportunities for growth and new programs; focus on strengthening and creating new partnerships/relationships that support First Place; continually improve First Place’s value proposition for government entities, funders, affiliates, partners and prospective partners and youth.


  • Maintain the high quality, cost-effectiveness and high leverage of First Place’s programs and services; continually evaluate existing programs and seek ways to improve delivery efficiency without compromising quality;
  • Collect and leverage evidence of impact from First Place programs, through input from First Place youth, and from other programs that serve youth; identify unmet needs, and gaps in services and advocacy; continually upgrade programs by deliberately embracing experimentation and innovation in ways that also consider financial impact;
  • Continue to foster a strong service orientation that is innovative, compassionate and professional; remain current with innovations in the field of service, ensuring that staff is trained in new approaches; share First Place’s ongoing thought leadership in the field.


  •  Function as the organization’s “Fundraiser-in-Chief” viewing all board, staff, programs, clients and partners through a fundraising lens; understand the actual and prospective funding communities for First Place; create strategies to secure sustained funding and engage staff and board members in solicitation activities;
  • Personally drive fundraising solicitation, especially with major private, government and business donors; develop fundraising alliances; lead and direct all fundraising efforts; appeal to donors, creating special and donor cultivation events for First Place;
  • Continually explore new and creative marketing strategies that expands First Place’s revenue base; develop corporate sponsorships, and governmental & nonprofit partnerships;



  • Listen to staff concerns and continue the process of building a team that will be focused on program quality, program funding and program expansion; develop staff recognition and engender a collaborative environment; and upgrade personnel competencies required as
    the First Place expands;
  • Manage, supervise and evaluate staff to ensure that they are well-suited to addressing challenges and opportunities for First Place as it advances on its growth strategy; ensure that a performance evaluation and review system is in place emphasizing well-defined
    goals, clear responsibilities and levels of accountability for all staff; and encourage staff
    opportunities for growth within the organization; hire, train, retain and change staff in ways
    that improve services to youth and strengthen the organization.


  • Maintain, promote and provide visibility for First Place, by serving as a credible, articulate and effective spokesperson, in person and in writing; to reinforce and build positive understanding of and reputation for the First Place’s work; ensure that First Place is recognized for its leadership and outcomes, including cost savings from reduced welfare and other social expenditures
  • Serve as a spokesperson and advocate for the organization’s clients and issues with the government in California, in other states and nationally; when appropriate, help influence government policy as it relates to funding for First Place and other programs supporting foster care youth transitioning to independence, and the research that underpins First Place programs;
  • Actively cultivate positive relations with leading funding, political, social services, public policy, and youth and family care constituencies;


  •  With the Board Chair, coordinate the efforts of various Board committees and task forces; ensure that all committees achieve objectives; encourage Board members’ involvement in
    First Place’s full range of activities, including all fundraising (including: personal giving, and identifying, cultivating, soliciting and thanking individual, corporate, foundation and
    government funders);
  • Implement Board policies, program goals and objectives; provide ongoing communication to the Board and sites on critical matters related to First Place;
  • Help identify and recruit new Board members, whose talents, commitment, and fundraising abilities are congruent with the needs and mission of First Place.


The CEO will be an experienced leader possessing the following key qualifications and

  • A mission-driven individual with a belief in and commitment to First Place, and an affinity to working with foster care youth transitioning to adulthood.
  • Proven senior-level managerial and operational experience, problem solving, and financial experience in the nonprofit sector; executive experience in similarly sized public or private sector organizations that provide services in a supportive housing environment would be advantageous.
  • Experience in evolving and expanding an organization while safeguarding service quality; demonstrated ability to build, upgrade and align essential resources including earned
    revenue, fundraising support, administrative infrastructure, and talent acquisition;
    demonstrated track record of implementing growth strategies that include mergers, alliance
    partnerships, organic growth, focused programmatic changes and new services; a history
    of managing different types of organizational change would be advantageous.
  • A track record in attracting financial support from individuals, government sources, foundations and businesses; outstanding oral and written communication skills, including excellent public speaking skills for formal and extemporaneous presentations
  • Ability to develop effective, productive relationships with government agencies, politicians,businesses, nonprofits, community leaders and advocates from a variety of communities;experienced facilitator and catalyst for new ideas; leader/influencer.
  • Decisive and resourceful, with the organizational sensitivity to gain the support and confidence of the Board and staff at all levels; a team builder, collaborator, confident and competent, with strong skills in management and leadership; one who trusts and
    empowers the leadership team; understands the subtleties of recruiting, motivating,
    directing and retaining a diverse group of personalities with different work styles.
  • A grounded visionary and lifelong-learner who can see the real-world needs of youth based on data and trends, and shape programs that are effective, highly leveraged and
  • An individual with outstanding human qualities; one who is straightforward, shares
    information easily, listens as well as offers advice, and respects the abilities of others;
    someone who imparts trust and integrity, and guides others in a similar vein.
  • A leader that deeply values diversity, equity and inclusion as a way of being.
  • An individual possessing a sense of humor, and an ability to maintain balance and


Core Competencies

Required of all staff for successful performance at First Place


  • Intentional use of data to improve performance
  • Possesses strong drive, initiative and motivation
  • Detail and Results orientation
  • Demonstrates good work habits
  • Resiliency in persisting through setbacks
  • Demonstrated success, with the ability to think strategically while executing tactically within a resource-constrained environment.


  • Seeks and utilizes resources to inform and contextualize own work
  • Thinks interdependently, framing the goals of one department/project within the entire vision
  • Synthesizes information to make astute recommendations and/or decisions
  • Prioritizes goals for success.


  • Creates an environment that maximizes the return on investment in others
  • Collaborates to set and achieve goals that comport with First Place’s mission, strategic plan and desired measurable outcomes
  • Creates and utilizes development opportunities to address individual needs and capacity to accomplish performance objectives
  • Creates and identifies opportunities for recognition of success
  • Provides supportive environment to learn from mistakes.


  • Courageous, strategic, clear and direct communication that resolves discrepancies and overcomes challenges and obstacles to organizational success
  • Ability to respectfully ask questions, challenge, and communicate both positive and difficult messages to subordinates, superiors, peers and youth
  • Sound judgment regarding the appropriateness of guarding confidentiality to protect the privacy rights of colleagues or youth
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills.


  • Asks questions in order to learn and encourage dialogue
  • Willing to make mistakes and to be accountable for own work
  • Speaks about issues truthfully and without blame
  • Leads by example, displaying behavior that respects the mission, youth and First Place
  • Holds high expectations for self, one another and for our youth.

For more information please contact:
Kevin Redick
(415)762-2646 or
Steve Oppenheim
(202) 803-6673 or
Mark Oppenheim
(415)762-2640 or
m/Oppenheim Executive Search
San Francisco, CA