Frustration vs. Focus


What? Are you kidding? We can’t do that! Spend money on an executive search firm?

The Retreat, an organization that provides shelter and support to victims of family violence on the East End of Long Island, was grappling with this all too familiar dilemma.

But could the organization retain the staff, board and its current level of service if nothing were to be done?

The Revolving Door
Tracey Lutz, the Executive Director, had hit a point of total frustration. She had been struggling for more than seven years, with a “revolving door of Development Directors” and was spending more and more time doing the development director’s job and less and less time running the agency.

A board member who knew Michael Jaffe realized that it might be time to bring in outside help. Was it possible that Mersky, Jaffe & Associates could find someone who lived near their community who was qualified? Even more basically, could The Retreat engage a consultant and spend what they barely had?

The Board of Directors needed education about the role of a development director, the importance of support staff, and the types of compensation that were going to be required to hire as well as retain the ideal candidate. The organization needed to change.

They hired Mersky, Jaffe & Associates. Michael Jaffe and Neda Birbrower, a Senior Associate at MJA, conducted thorough interviews of staff and board members to learn about the nuances of the people, culture, work environment as well as provide coaching around organization-specific issues.

The Ideal Candidate
As the word – and job description – spread, MJA identified a candidate—Mary Slattery, a woman who was not even in the market for a new position. But a former supervisor encouraged her, even though she was not a trained development professional. Her background in PR, marketing, special events planning, multi-tasking, learning on the job as well as relationship management made her the lead candidate for this unique position.

So how was she convinced to take the job? Thanks to MJA coaching and acting as a go-between in the process, she thought she was the only candidate in the latter stages of interviewing – feeling very desired. Michael and Neda talked her through the long and sometimes daunting process that is part of hiring with board involvement. Then, one day after a lunch meeting, she was invited to see the shelter and that was it. She knew she was supposed to be there.

Just last month, the Retreat held its annual fundraising event—and with Mary’s leadership doubled its net income.

And Now …
In the 15 months since Mary Slattery joined The Retreat, MJA has facilitated a strategic planning process as well as conducted workshops on development with the board and key staff members. Their self-image is strong and solid, brimming with potential. This contagious, positive energy helped develop new and stronger existing relationships with donors. According to Tracey Lutz, they have been “more successful and much more focused than we ever had been in the past.”