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President/Chief Executive Officer (Abilis)

Company: Abilis
Location: Connecticut

President/Chief Executive Officer
Job Description


Abilis has been a leading voice for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, in lower Fairfield County, Connecticut, since 1951.  Founded by parents of children with special needs, Abilis believes that all people deserve access to resources, opportunities, and skills that enhance their ability to live able lives and build strong communities. Through innovative person-centered services and programs, Abilis, enables individuals to enjoy life through achievement, friendship, fulfilling work, a safe and comfortable place to live and learning to self-advocate.

With a budget of approximately $20 million to support programming, Abilis helps more than 700 individuals with special needs each year.  Their Therapeutic Services programs offer customized early intervention and life planning that help map out appropriate treatment, services, and educational programs for children from birth through the life span.  Abilis works with young people entering adulthood with a wide range of Life Services programs that include recreational activities, transition and life skills support, job training, supported employment, and a choice of residential options to help them lead independent and productive lives in the community. The Parent Education Program gives information, support and advocacy for families, beginning with the youngest children through adulthood.

Abilis Life Services programs are based in their Greenwich headquarters, while the Therapeutic Services programs are centered in their Stamford office. In addition, Abilis manages over 30 residential facilities in Greenwich and Stamford and works with numerous schools, civic organizations, and other community partners to deliver programs to individuals and families.

Abilis is seeking an inspirational and dynamic President/CEO who will build on the organization’s standard of excellence and help expand funding opportunities. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the President/CEO will be responsible for overseeing and managing the day-to-day activities of the multi-service organization, including 34 residences and multiple businesses under the Abilis umbrella.  He or she will set priorities, work closely with the Board to develop the strategic direction of the organization, and provide overall leadership and support to the staff.  The position of President/CEO is a critical, visible position requiring strategic thinking, strong management experience, business and financial acumen, and a successful track record of working with government and nonprofit organizations providing social services.  She or he must understand the challenging funding environment in Connecticut and know how to maximize revenue to support and build programming.

The President/CEO must be a highly intelligent self-starter who shares the Board’s commitment to Abilis’ core mission.  He or she must have the power and presence to advocate successfully and passionately on behalf of Abilis’ individuals and families in the public and private sectors. The President/CEO should be highly knowledgeable, flexible and entrepreneurial in dealing with challenges of government priorities and the delivery services, and have the ability to adapt to change, as needed, to foster the growth of the organization.  The President/CEO should also have experience with and knowledge of the unique issues that affect individuals with I/DD and their families and caregivers.  

Excellent interpersonal, communication and negotiation skills are critical.  The President/CEO must be comfortable and tactful in communicating with the individuals and families who receive services from Abilis, as well as corporate executives, local business leaders, elected officials, public agency administrators, school district leaders and the community.  He or she must be able to work closely with the Board and staff in a transparent, honest fashion that promotes inclusiveness, cooperation and teamwork.  In addition, he or she will be bright, diplomatic, analytical, creative, of the highest integrity, and possess sound judgment as well as a sense of humor, humility, and compassion.  


The President/CEO will maintain a close and productive working relationship with the Board, staff, constituents and their families. Key areas of responsibility are:

Mission, vision and values

  • Act as the lead public spokesperson of the organization to promote an understanding in the community as well as to parents, volunteers and staff about Abilis’ mission, vision and values.
  • Monitor the implementation of Abilis’ mission within all its programs and supports.

Board Relations

  • Initiate, review and/or supervise presentation of plans, reports and informational materials to the Board and key Abilis leaders, ensuring they have up-to-date and accurate information about the operations and affairs of the organization.
  • Attend all meetings of the Board of Directors: facilitate the activities of all Board committees.
  • Assist the Board in developing sound organizational policies

Long-term and short-term planning

  • Facilitate the development, implementation and evaluation Abilis’ short-term goals as well as a multi-year strategic plan involving community and Abilis leaders, all levels of staff and others as appropriate.
  • Prepare an annual plan for Abilis services/supports, including budget, measurable goals and objectives, recommendations for number and expertise of staff and maintenance and/or acquisition of capital assets.
  • Develop and implement systems that will qualitatively and quantitatively evaluate Abilis’ services/supports on a continuous basis.
  • Facilitate planning for future expansion or modification of programs or services.
  • Continually expand employment opportunities for individuals in the local business community.

Fundraising and Public Relations

  • Support a comprehensive annual fundraising plan that includes cultivation of existing and new donors, both institutional and private, to meet or exceed targeted expectations
  • Facilitate communication of Abilis’ programs, policies and activities to the media and through Abilis publications.
  • Assume leadership for a public relations plan to increase community awareness and understanding of the nature, needs and supports for people with developmental disabilities through public speaking, preparation of special reports and assisting in the publication and distribution of printed materials, including Abilis’ annual report.
  • Supervise and direct staff activities directed toward development, fundraising and public relations, enhancing branding and identification
  • Evaluate the success of specific activities, including, but not limited to:
  1. Abilis’ Annual Meeting and Report
  2. Special events including annual gala and walk/run
  3. Planned giving, Capital, Endowment or other campaigns
  4. Publicity events and press releases
  5. Newsletters, pamphlets, brochures and other informational materials
  • Assume leadership in the preparation and presentation of new program and funding proposals to the United Way, major foundations and contributors and other funders, making sure that adequate support is given in proposal preparation and presentation, program implementation and documentation of services provided.

Relations with federal, state and local leaders

  • Be informed of and seek input into actions on a federal, state and local level that may affect services to people with I/DD and impact Abilis.
  • Promote and maintain productive relationships with key staff within the CT Departments of Developmental Services, Social Services, Public Health and other areas.
  • Participate in the activities of professional and trade organizations, planning or other groups on a federal, state and/or local level.
  • Participate in lobbying efforts, testifying or presenting information to governmental bodies.

Staff selection, supervision and development

  • Select, train, supervise and evaluate senior management staff responsible for services, accounting, human resources, operations and other management functions.
  • Initiate systems that promote morale and appropriate recognition of staff accomplishments while ensuring highest quality and efficient services.

Management and regulatory controls

  • Ensure the maintenance of comprehensive financial, personnel, office and other administrative functions as required by regulatory, licensing or funding organizations, or the Board.
  • Ensure legal, civil and insurance requirements are maintained.
  • Accept, review and act, as appropriate, on feedback, information or complaints from any applicant, employee, participant, family member or individual as a part of Abilis’ formal or informal grievance processes.

Breadth and quality of services

  • Develop and sustain the range of services in a way that is both “best in class” and economically feasible.
  • Direct, supervise and coordinate all programs, services/supports and activities through department and program directors.
  • Ensure safe and high quality working and living environments for staff, constituents and their families.
  • Assist in planning meetings, workshops or seminars that promote parent/staff training and Abilis’ reputation
  • Participate in special studies, projects, research activities or other such activities that may be considered beneficial to Abilis’ constituents, staff and the organization.

Abilis Foundation

  • Provide direct support and supervise staff behalf of The Abilis Community Foundation, Inc., including:
  1. Support for Foundation President and other Board members
  2. Preparation of financial reports and other information
  3. Handling meeting logistics, notification and minutes
  4. Issuing requests for grant proposals on the Foundation’s behalf, receiving proposals and distributing proposals to Foundation members for their review/action
  5. Other duties as the Foundation Board of Directors may request.


  • Master’s Degree from an accredited college or university in a relevant discipline.  A combination of specific training or degrees relating to disabilities (psychology, special education, rehabilitation counseling, etc.), and business management (MBA, accounting or similar field) is desirable. Two years’ experience may be substituted for each year of required education beyond a Bachelor’s Degree level, provided at least half of the experience is in a supervisory position. 
  • Experience should include at least ten (10) years of increasingly responsible executive management experience (with P&L responsibility) in an organization of similar size and complexity.
  • Experience in administering federal and state grant funding. 
  • Knowledge of Connecticut agencies’ laws and regulations and/or those of other states that might serve as a reference. 
  • Strong negotiating skills with government agencies and others.
  • Ability to communicate effectively in a variety of settings – public speaking, writing general and technical publications, and cultivation of volunteers and donors
  • Ability to build consensus among Abilis and community leaders, staff, and other constituencies.
  • Awareness of the Abilis community; knowledge of best practices in supports provided to children and adults with developmental disabilities.
  • Ability to multi-task; strategic thinker and hands-on doer committed to providing the highest quality services to people with developmental disabilities.

All positions at Abilis are filled without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, HIV/AIDS status, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law.  All are encouraged to apply. 

Salary is commensurate with experience.  For more information about the Abilis, please visit their website at www.abilis.us

To Apply:
Abilis has retained the services of Harris Rand Lusk to conduct this search.  Inquiries, nominations and applications may be directed in confidence to: 

Dr. Jane Herzog
122 East 42nd Street, Suite 3605
New York, NY 10168


Please put the words “Abilis President/CEO” in the subject line of your e-mailed application.