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Chief Executive Officer (The Arc San Francisco)

Company: The Arc San Francisco
Location: San Francisco, CA







 The Arc San Francisco


The Arc San Francisco has its historical roots in the early 1950s when a small group of concerned parents and family members, driven by the desire to ensure that their adult sons and daughters with developmental disabilities would be able to lead fulfilling lives, secure and safe in their basic needs, but also in a community with opportunities for education, socialization, jobs, and independence – just like everyone else. At that time, little was understood about developmental disabilities or the potential of individuals with different abilities to learn and achieve their best. There were virtually no programs to provide support to these individuals and families. In response to these needs, The Arc San Francisco was established.

The history of The Arc since its founding is a remarkable story. Today, the mission is expressed: “To transform the lives of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities by advancing lifelong learning, personal achievement, dignity, and independence.” The programs are individually tailored and extremely rich in breadth of offerings in Adult Life & Skills, Employment Development, Careers & Advancement. The services support a community life that is independent, healthy and engaged, with Residential, Health & Wellness, and Senior Services, as well as Arts and Recreation activities that promote personal expression and socialization with peers and friends. The programs and services of The Arc are amplified by a complex collaborative network of employers and 90 nonprofit organizations in San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counties, dedicated to coordinating resources to provide a richer array of services to Arc clients.

The Adult Life & Skills programs are an extremely broad range of classes. Employment Development includes varied pre-employment classes at The Arc and in cooperation with San Francisco City College; Careers & Advancement includes placement services and employment support with a myriad of external employers, cooperating closely with some 180 businesses and professional organizations in the community. In a recent report, 305 Arc clients were in these 180 workplaces, averaging 7 years length of employment, with a 92% rate of placement, and a 97% employer satisfaction rate (for the 10th straight year!). This compares to a 20% employment rate nationally for adults similar to Arc clients. These employers range from the San Francisco Public Library to Safeway to the San Francisco Giants to Deloitte to Amazon to Google to Salesforce – and all others across the diverse community of employers who can benefit from the employment of Arc clients while making a satisfying social service contribution to their community.

The services of The Arc promote independence and safety. Residential services focus on providing housing options for clients that fit their needs, both in the general community and in housing provided by The Arc and collaborating nonprofits. The emphasis throughout is on promoting independent living and supporting each individual client’s needs with supportive services to enable that independence. In those cases where disabilities are so severe as seriously to limit independence, The Arc provides supported living services at every level, including 24 hour care. Health and Wellness services embrace comprehensive case management, with special services available to seniors with disabilities. The “Friends Like Me” programs recognize that central to quality of life for every human being are the recreational and social experiences that enrich daily experience. Scheduled activities like games, dances, movies, visits from community arts and culture organizations, and outings to sports events and other entertaining venues fill every day and early evening for the clients. Some of these programs are available from the San Rafael and Daly City locations of The Arc serving clients in Marin and San Mateo counties, though these clients tend to be more high-functioning than in San Francisco because they must be able to travel to and from their programs. It is estimated that some 800 clients monthly are touched in one way or another by The Arc, with about 550 – 650 of these clients highly involved with The Arc. There are waiting-lists for almost all Arc services.

The next CEO will find in The Arc a complex organization requiring the highest level of leadership and administration. The current estimated budget of The Arc is the largest in its history, $11 million, with about 85% of the revenue derived from government reimbursements dedicated to support of California’s adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The remaining +/-15% of the revenue is from charitable fundraising and 8 government contracts for specific services for clients. The charitable contributions are projected in the current year at up to $1.5 million, with about one-third from corporations, foundations, and government contracts (these latter totaling about $300,000); about one-third from special events; and, about one-third from individual giving. There are about 180 staff, some 150 of whom belong to the SEIU union, with which The Arc enjoys a cooperative working relationship. Governed by a distinguished Board of 13 business and professional leaders, with client representation and many close familial connections to the client community, The Arc is a well-managed, forward-looking organization positioned strongly to take advantage of the opportunities and challenges of the future.

Institution-building is not without its challenges, among which the next Chief Executive Officer will find the following.

Funding uncertainties. With 85% of the revenues derived from State support for services to adults with disabilities, there is a continuing risk of absence of increases in reimbursement rates and failure to keep up with cost-of-living increases. Until two years ago, per diem reimbursement rates from the Golden Gate Regional Center had not been increased in 15 years, placing considerable pressure on organizations dependent on those service subsidies. With trends in the field supporting increased “self-determination” in the choice of services by clients, The Arc may find many of its future clients choosing to take some of their service choices to other providers, amplifying the competition for clients among providers serving the same client population. With fluctuations in the ability of local government to contract with nonprofits for enriched services, and with flows in the economy and in tax policy (e.g., the changes in itemizing of charitable deductions) that influence corporate, foundation, and individual charitable giving, nonprofit providers must be highly adaptable fiscally.

At the same time The Arc SF is in a strong financial position compared to many other organizations serving adults with disabilities. Located in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin, a robust and diverse economy with many corporate and foundation headquarters, considerable personal wealth, and a strong philanthropic tradition, The Arc enjoys a broad base of support. Well-managed financially today, and ending several recent years with small budget surpluses even as overall revenues have been increasing, this is a pattern that should be continued under competent fiscal leadership. The Arc occupies an inefficient 28,000 sq. ft. facility in a neighborhood with skyrocketing property values, offering a variety of options to future leadership determined to continue to offer services convenient to its clients while maximizing the values that can be derived from its owned real estate.

Relationship with families of clients. It is so critical that the CEO of The Arc be invested in open, honest, and deeply caring relationships with the parent/family community that this matter be highlighted here. Clients themselves are the vocal stakeholders in most nonprofit services (e.g., the audience in performing arts, the pet adopters in animal welfare, the tenants in affordable housing), unlike the family stakeholders in organizations serving client adults with disabilities. Here, the clients themselves are not equipped in most cases to be effective advocates for themselves. They depend on relatives and friends. The relatives and friends are deeply invested and, with their loved ones, profoundly vulnerable. This is exacerbated by the reality that at some point the client may outlive his/her advocates, who worry greatly about how their loved one will be served after they are gone. The CEO of an organization like The Arc must sympathize completely with the advocate community and be willing to invest whatever time and energy is required to maintain transparent, trusting relationships with that community. The effective CEO must be the model for a staff and Board of consummate listeners. The forward-thinking emphasis on personal growth and lifelong learning of clients has had some unintended consequences in relations with the client advocates, as while most stakeholders have enthusiastically embraced The Arc’s “Learn-Work-Grow-Achieve” programming, there are some family members who believe that this program emphasis favors higher-functioning clients at the risk of leaving lower-functioning clients behind. Thus, a staff member might take pride in the “dignity of risk” vision of individual growth -- while concerned advocates for the lower-functioning client might understandably be highly risk-averse. The effective CEO will fully understand this tension and articulate how programs must meet the needs of all clients. Effective leaders in this field are able to create and sustain these relationships.

Relationships with staff. A “direct support professional” engaged daily one-to-one or with a caseload of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities is dedicated to demanding and heroic work. However gratifying the work, intangible compensation is insufficient. With a significant percentage of direct service staff earning close to minimum wage and with minimums being increased by law, pressure on hiring and retention of direct service staff will be unabated over time, a chronic challenge to organizations like The Arc. This financial squeeze is amplified by the high cost-of-living in the San Francisco area. It is no surprise that there should be a high level of turnover at lower staff levels in such an organization; and yet, it is even more surprising that at The Arc SF so many dedicated staff in direct service and at the first supervisory level continue for years in this challenging work. Understandably, clients with disabilities thrive on predictability, so that change in supervision caused by staff turnover is damaging to services and a source of great consternation to client advocates. This structural economic challenge creates a leadership priority for The Arc’s CEO. There has also been considerable turnover in middle management staff in recent years, attributed by some in part to low morale and failure of leadership. That being said, the CEO will benefit from an experienced, industry-respected executive team. The sine qua non for successful leadership of The Arc is that the CEO be an exceptionally accessible and present resource to staff as well as the client advocates. The transparency, authentic investment in relationships with staff at every level and the families of clients define a leadership style central to this role.



The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the management and operation of all programs and services provided by The Arc San Francisco, for implementing all policy decisions of the governing Board, and for employing and supervising a staff whose dedication and high morale creates a healthy working environment and produces quality of service more than adequate to achieve Board objectives. S/he oversees the administrative and fiduciary functions of the agency. S/he represents the agency to the community, and builds strong relationships with key stakeholders, agency staff, and the Board. S/he and professional advancement staff partner with the Board in fundraising to support The Arc programs. S/he will be guided by the priorities, all discussed in this prospectus, cited by the Board in the 2016-2019 Strategic Plan, “Building Our Future: The Way Forward”(linked at


Specifically, the Chief Executive Officer:

  • Helps determine and ensure, in partnership with the governing Board, that the mission, vision, and values of The Arc are carried out.
  • Anticipates changing community needs with vision and imagination, initiates long-range strategic and operational planning, and is responsible and accountable for implementation of all such plans.
  • Demonstrates an extremely high level of business acumen.Works with the staff to recommend budgets, oversees revenues and expenditures, maintains internal controls and financial discipline, and works closely with the Board to ensure the financial wellbeing of the organization. Understands knowledge management, program evaluation, the usefulness of metrics, and is comfortable with information technology and its broad applications.
  • Embodies an entrepreneurial sophistication and capacity to assess cost-benefits and financial risk that enables The Arc to pursue development opportunities for reorganized, new or expanded services, as part of a well-conceived and articulated framework, value-based and strategically-oriented, while being able also to assess the cost-benefits of ongoing programs and to make politically unpopular recommendations to the Board when certain program services may no longer be sustainable or justifiable. Above all, s/he must be a visionary with extraordinary capacity to mobilize physical and human resources to implement programs and services.
  • Is acutely aware, because of domain expertise acquired by experience in the field of intellectual and developmental adult disabilities, or transferable learning from other social services, of the vulnerability of The Arc clients, astute in anticipating level of care and safety issues, diligent in monitoring the attentiveness and judgment of staff, attuned to every risk, and able to avert endangering or embarrassing lapses in service that could place persons served, The Arc, or its reputation, at risk.
  • Works closely with Board members, community friends of The Arc, families and advocates of clients, and fundraising staff to identify, cultivate, and solicit public funding wherever available as well as private sources for charitable gifts in support of the programs of The Arc. Increases charitable giving to fund both operations and growth at a level appropriate to The Arc’s needs, present and future.
  • Works closely with all external funding sources and service providers with shared interests in services to adults with disabilities, and promotes inter-organizational partnerships wherever collaboration can enhance such services. Welcomes shared use of Arc facilities by other community groups (e.g., AASCEND, Specialist Guild) serving the disability community. Earns the respect of other agencies through a style of collaboration that places the interests of people served above all else.
  • Represents and is an articulate, informed, persuasive, charismatic advocate of The Arc to community stakeholders, government, associations, agencies and the media. Builds influential relationships with elected officials and government funders, based on trust that government funding will be applied effectively. Participates actively in State and national networks and associations of providers to remain aware of cutting edge opportunities for advancement. Maintains relations with the media that make The Arc a source of information and opinion that promote The Arc and the cause of people with disabilities, while also ensuring sympathetic media support in the unlikely but sometimes unavoidable event of a newsworthy crisis.
  • Oversees and approves contracts, maintains an agency-wide standard of operation that sets a high standard with respect to all regulations, and complies with all external reporting requirements. Takes executive responsibility for agency compliance with all applicable non-profit laws, labor/workplace laws, contractual obligations, and donor restrictions, and maintains appropriate internal policies and procedures to ensure such compliance. Manages with such a high level of commitment to accuracy, transparency and trust – and demands the same from all colleagues – that a well-informed governing Board is never in doubt or concerned about performance or compliance information.

The ideal candidate for Chief Executive Officer will have:

  • Passion for service to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and genuine affection and compassion for them and their families. Embodiment of values, style, and energy that sustain the generosity of spirit that is The Arc’s hallmark.
  • Extensive non-profit experience at the executive level, or executive experience with an extensive history of public service as a non-profit board member and/or public official in the field of human services. Domain expertise: an understanding of how services are provided to adults with disabilities in California under the Lanterman Act is certainly preferred, but many exceptional candidates are expected to demonstrate proven leadership with a broad array of skills transferable to a complex non-profit human services organization, and the ability quickly to master a new and very complex field of service. Ability to qualify as an “Administrator” under California Community Care Licensing requirements.
  • Exceptional fundraising skills, with the tenacity to pursue the “yes,” and the durability to rebound from the “no,” fueled by an infectious passion for the work. A sophisticated understanding of how to engage able advancement staff and Board in attracting corporate, foundation, governmental, and individual support to provide resources essential to maintain a viable and sustainable business model.
  • Profit and loss experience evidencing an extremely high level of financial acumen and the ability to lead creatively in times of both surplus and financial exigency; a strategic perspective, with a history of successful planning, anticipation, and implementation of plans; entrepreneurial ability appropriate to a rapidly changing and turbulent funding and service environment. Experience in facilities management, given the site-dependent nature of Arc services. The ability to delegate and avoid micromanagement unless necessary, balanced by a can-do and no-job-too-small attitude; great attention to detail and unfailing attention to the big picture. Evidence of anticipation of risk, sound judgment in crisis, grace under pressure.
  • Highly developed communication skills, and especially the ability to listen and learn. Flexibility to be accessible and present to all constituencies – staff, clients, and their families, Board, funders, external colleagues, the community, State and Federal policy-makers.
  • Through humility and example, demonstrate the ability to motivate, mentor, and inspire an effective professional and volunteer workforce, to work selflessly and closely, in partnership, and in a position of leadership, with a large and diverse staff, in a style of respect and collaboration, as well as the capacity to work well with government, corporate, foundation, and individual funders. The energy and dedication to accessibility that enable staff even at the distant ends of an organization chart to feel known and appreciated by their leader. Ability to win trust and manage harmoniously in a union relationship, with familiarity with labor laws governing union relationships. The confidence to lead; the confidence to follow. A sensitivity to the critical importance of inclusiveness and the avoidance of even a hint of favoritism or partiality. The sensitivity to recruit, mentor, reward, and advance talented staff; the sound judgment, patience, and confidence to hold staff accountable for their performance and, engaging knowledgeable human resources staff, to make difficult personnel changes when appropriate. An understanding of staff needs in an under-compensated professional field and the determination to reward performance and minimize staff turnover as a budget priority.
  • An exemplary work ethic, authenticity, robust high energy, persistence, durability, impeccable integrity, a good sense of humor, and a wise and caring understanding of the human condition.



Lifelong learning and educational achievement appropriate to the complexity of the position. Advanced degrees in social, clinical, or health services, and management or law, are highly desirable.



Compensation will be competitive, probably in the range of $175,000 - $200,000, negotiable based on experience and salary history, plus benefits.


Robert M. Fisher and Michael Loscavio of Rusher Loscavio Fisher Nonprofit Executive Search are privileged to provide recruitment and leadership transition counsel to The Arc San Francisco. We urge review of both www.thearcsf.org and www.rll.com. The Arc San Francisco takes great pride in the diversity of its staff and encourages candidacy to all who are qualified. All discussions with prospects for this position will be treated with utmost discretion.

We would be grateful to receive inquiries, expressions of interest, nominations and applications in strict confidence at the following address:  mloscavio@rll.com

Lifelong learning and educational achievement appropriate to the complexity of the position. Advanced degrees in social, clinical, or health services, and management or law, are highly desirable.

Lifelong learning and educational achievement appropriate to the complexity of the position. Advanced degrees in social, clinical, or health services, and management or law, are highly desirable.