Succession Planning

May 7, 2013

In the Summer of 2012,  Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools  officially transitioned from its founder and original executive director, Jane Wholey, to its current executive director, Thena Robinson-Mock. Far from a transition that happened overnight, Rethink’s transfer of leadership came after substantial planning and a six month period of overlapping, shared duties for the outgoing and incoming executive directors to help smooth the transition.

Rethink asked GNOF to come along for the ride and document the process to portray the opportunities and issues inherent to executive transitions so that other organizations could learn from Rethink and use it to help inform their own future transitions. The result of this documentation is the  Succession Planning Case Study (see below). Here is an excerpt from the case study, written by consultant Nancy Fournier:

The goal in succession planning is to take advantage of “a significant strategic and exciting opportunity to increase the organization’s service capacity, effectiveness and long term sustainability” (Price 2005).   How these transitions occur vary, from emergency departures to strategic leadership development or, with the organization profiled below, in response to a planned departure with advance notice.  This case study chronicles the transition process of the founding Executive Director of one nonprofit in the New Orleans community for the purpose of discussion and learning among other nonprofits as they begin to think about and plan for the inevitable succession of their executive.

Resources from Succession Planning Workshop:

Succession Planning Case Study (PDF)
Succession Planning (.ppt)

Nonprofit Executive Succession Planning Toolkit by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (PDF)
Twelve Ways to Get a Executive Director Off on the Right Food (Article from Blue Avocado)