Community Development, Government Relations, Management
Sister Cities International (SCI) is an American nonprofit founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be a champion for peace and prosperity by fostering bonds among people around the world. Today, after 60 years, tens of thousands of citizen diplomats and volunteers in over 500 U.S. member communities enjoy more than 2,000 partnerships in 145 countries on 6 continents.
Sister Cities International (SCI) is an American nonprofit founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower 60 years ago to be a champion for peace and prosperity by fostering bonds among people around the world. People-to-people “citizen diplomacy” –“promoting peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation, one individual, one community at a time” - would enhance the ability of people from different cultures to understand, appreciate, and celebrate their differences while building partnerships that would advance the interests of all humankind. The vision of SCI is “to remain the largest and premier global network connecting people and communities from all backgrounds within the United States with people and communities around the world, to foster peace and prosperity.” A distinction from most other people-to-people programs is the emphasis on both people-to-people and community-to-community relationships, and not just one-shot connections but sustained connections.
Today, after 60 years, tens of thousands of citizen diplomats and volunteers in over 500 U.S. member communities enjoy more than 2,000 partnerships in 145 countries on 6 continents. Every day, the lives of millions are touched through economic development and business opportunities; education and scholarship programs; environmental projects and emergency response; arts, cultural and heritage activities; municipal, youth, and sports exchanges.
More specifically, these programs include:
· Cultural exchanges. Musical performances, art exhibits, construction of peace parks or tea gardens, teacher exchanges, cultural festivals, etc.
· Humanitarian assistance. Examples include the Africa-U.S. Safe Drinking Water Initiative, Poverty Alleviation Program, and Sino-African Initiative, all funded in part by the Gates Foundation.
· Youth and Education programs. High school exchanges in the Youth Ambassador Program or semester-to-school-year exchanges of students who live with host families (enjoying the unusual ability as a certified Federal J1 Visa Program to benefit youth and their communities), young artists and authors showcases, sister schools projects.
· Economic development. Promotion of technology, aquaculture, hydroponics, and other forms of business knowledge; of small business partnerships and entrepreneurship; hosting in the U.S. of emerging leaders from Asia; innovation in alternative energy – all between U.S. and sister cities in the less-developed world.
· Encouraging increased dialogue. Initiatives to encourage twinning between African cities; increasing partnerships with cities in predominantly Muslim countries.
· Annual Conference. A major international conference every July, this year in Virginia Beach (Virginia), brings together elected officials, diplomats, business leaders, and other engaged citizens from every continent. The annual Youth Leadership Summit will meet concurrently.
The reach of Sister Cities International is a case study in America’s best traditions of leveraging volunteer involvement and nonprofit finance. The President reports to a 27-member governing Board of Directors, supervises 9-12 staff in the downtown Washington, D.C. office, and supports the involvement of (a) 50 “state representatives” whose responsibility is to act as liaison with members and prospective member communities in every state as the point person and face of SCI, and (b) 100 “honorary alumni,” a group of dignitaries that includes some ex-Board members and other local government leaders, as well as national, state, and local government officials, civic and philanthropic leaders, a booster group to support, publicize, finance, broker Sister Cities in their networks. This streamlined infrastructure involves the stakeholders in the communities throughout the United States and the world, and offers the understandable challenges of a small and dedicated staff effectively supporting a complex and geographically-dispersed volunteer army.
Mirroring the above example of leveraging an effective leader and small staff through growing concentric circles of volunteer engagement is the financial model of Sister Cities. With a budget of about $1.6 million, a generous investment by the United States Department of State of about $400,000 annually is matched by charitable contributions of about the same amount, and this half of the budget is doubled by fees for services from memberships, a major annual conference, and other programs. Such a highly leveraged financial model is not uncommon among American nonprofit organizations, but Sister Cities International, with its impressive ability to provide a vast array of services nationally and internationally with a small number of paid staff and a lean budget will continue to demand from a successful chief executive officer a range of uncommon capabilities. The next President of SCI, as innovator and entrepreneur, will be excited and inspired by the leadership challenges required to drive this organization to its highest level of success during his/her tenure:
The U.S. Department of State must continue to appreciate the value of the citizen-diplomacy network created and sustained by SCI, must continue to view SCI as a valued extension of American diplomacy, and must appreciate the leverage in revenue and volunteer time generated by its continuing $400,000 annual investment in core support;
Membership in SCI depends on the value placed on the sister-city relationship by current office-holders, and because of the inherent transiency over time of elected officials it is an ongoing challenge to sustain enthusiasm and commitment to a sister-city relationship that requires modest amounts of annual support. As a result, the activity of levels of sister-city relationships wax and wane, involvement increases or can be lost, and it becomes the task of SCI to help nurture these relationships over time. Relationships that wane often lead to the ending of memberships. In essence, the outreach of SCI is usually essential to the establishment of those sister-city relationships that sustain memberships, and it is the value of the programs created by SCI to nurture those relationships that perpetuates them and the membership income to SCI that they generate. Membership, and the revenues associated with membership, have fallen off over the years. The next President will be tasked with the creation of programs that cause sister-city members to value their relationships and the services provided to them by SCI, and it would be extremely useful for the next President to have had experience in association leadership and a history of effective membership building.
Only the rare nonprofit organization has the fundraising potential of SCI:
ü The mission is about national and international peace and prosperity;
ü The geographical reach includes nearly every state, country, and continent in the world;
ü The highly-leveraged financial and volunteer models not only appeal to the discerning philanthropist, but the high visibility and status of the organization in the public and private sectors are attractive to individuals and companies pursuing economic and altruistic interests;
ü SCI programs themselves engage youth, community and national leaders, business and government globally at a very intimate level, with citizen diplomacy offering the individual of every age extraordinary opportunities for personal growth.
The next President of SCI will be a consummate fundraiser, able to capitalize with every constituency able to benefit from its support of SCI. If only about 25% of the current budget of $1.6 million, or about $400,000 annually, is being raised through charitable gifts, the potential for radical growth is huge – and the benefits of radical growth in contributed income, given SCI’s highly-leveraged business model and the direct translation of this increased revenue into increased reserves, increased long-term stability, expanded staff capacity, and into enriched and expanded programs.
The next President must have that combination of inexhaustible energy and infectious charismatic capacity to project the message and programs of SCI to outside stakeholders and prospective partners, while at the same time being a consummate manager of operations and inspiring team leader to staff. In order to spend some 75% of his/her time in fundraising, member relations, and outreach, s/he will have to be skilled in supervising and mentoring a small staff of able and trusted colleagues, shepherding internal operations, and working closely with the governing Board. With such qualifications, the next President will have the ability to create a remarkable legacy.
In sum, there is in this position the opportunity for the exceptional leader to work for a great cause, to advance the efforts of a distinguished organization, and to MAKE A LASTING NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL DIFFERENCE at a time when an organization like Sister Cities International has become more important perhaps than since the decade of its founding more than a half century ago.
The President & CEO reports to the Board of Directors.
The President works closely in support of and in partnership with the Board and staff in creating, executing and continuously evaluating for effectiveness a comprehensive strategy that increases levels of support from current donors, rekindles interest in lapsed donors, and identifies and engages high potential prospective donors; that provides programs that nurture and increase membership; that supports and encourages volunteerism in support of citizen diplomacy; and that ensures efficient, effective, transparent organizational management.
Specifically the President is dedicated to --
· Fundraising. Provides dynamic leadership in all matters related to fundraising, friend-raising, enhanced community visibility, and support from individuals, foundations, corporate giving programs, and government agencies.
· Volunteer Engagement. Demonstrates how volunteers can be motivated and involved, how they can be encouraged and supported, how their commitment and their contributions of time, effort, money, and social capital can be applied to the mission of SCI and the advancement of the organization and its work;
· International perspective and understanding of local government. Evidences in the involvement of volunteers, in the promotion of citizen diplomacy, in international perspective and multicultural sensibilities, and, in the building of partnerships among communities, an understanding of local government and the social and economic benefits that SCI involvement can generate for its community stakeholders;
· Strategic vision and ability to execute on plans. Anticipates changing community needs with vision and imagination, initiates long-range strategic and operational planning, and is responsible and accountable for the business-like implementation, including budget development and management, of all plans. Establishes goals and objectives, measures progress, defines the criteria for success, and has the ability retrospectively and prospectively to evaluate progress, to inform the Board of this progress, and to demonstrate the pragmatism and flexibility to recommend changes in direction based on outcomes against plan.
· Manages staff, stakeholders and resources to achieve short-term and strategic objectives efficiently and effectively. Has the sophistication and confidence to recommend Board approval of actions where benefits and risks are carefully calculated, and to involve the Board openly and actively in the implementation and evaluation of initiatives.
PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS and
The President has the demonstrated capacity and motivation to place Sister Cities International at the highly-visible forefront of international efforts to transcend geophysical and political boundaries by bringing communities and citizens together. The President has generalist experience, judgment and capabilities that will enable him/her to be an effective leader of staff and partner to the governing Board. The President will also have all those leadership skills that will enable him/her to represent Sister Cities International and the critical importance in today’s world of citizen diplomacy articulately and effectively to donors, members, and other key external stakeholders; to collaborating organizations in the field of international relations; to government, business, the nonprofit sector; and to the community at large. The successful candidate will be a results-driven, high-energy professional of unquestionable integrity, dedicated to the mission of Sister Cities, effective in attracting the human capital and financial support to ensure the organizations stability and growth. The ideal candidate will be highly familiar with municipal government and will move knowledgeably between local governments and Washington-based decision-leaders.
Specifically, the President:
Is passionate about the mission of Sister Cities International and believes in the power of interpersonal relationships to transcend boundaries of cultural difference and parochial self-interest. Has a multicultural and international perspective. Has core qualities, in addition to passion: empowering, inspiring, focused, strategic, transparent.
Has had extensive fundraising experience - including donor prospecting and cultivation, volunteer management, annual gifts, major gifts, corporate sponsorship, special events, planned giving, government contracting, grant-writing and restricted gift management -- with proven leadership ability, and possesses a broad array of executive multi-tasking skills transferable to a nonprofit whose work is national and international, and whose governing Board and other volunteers are geographically dispersed. Has the ability to relate to prospective donors, to build a universe of friends of Sister Cities in the business, government and philanthropic communities. Experience with and evidence of a high level of comfort with the “ask,” and experience in teamwork with respected volunteers with high level “asks,” and leveraging of their relationships to win new friends and donors. Understands service provision in a membership organization, how to nurture, and build membership. Has a can-do, no-job-too-small attitude and the ability to inspire colleagues and volunteers to accomplish many small things greatly and great things well.
Has highly developed oral and written communication skills, and the vision, charisma, and dynamism necessary to project and promote the mission of Sister Cities, and to augment friendship networks and funding sources locally, nationally, and internationally. Understands the value and techniques of branding and marketing an organization, including partnership with government and the media. Demonstrates facility with information technology, and the capacity to adapt new technologies to the enhancement of fundraising, organizational visibility and credibility, and the expansion and improvement of services to members. Is aware of generational trends and preferences in communications and able to adapt to how different audiences can be reached most effectively.
Inspires trust and respect, is sensitive to competing interests and styles of staff and volunteers, works respectfully and collaboratively with staff and Board,
Has the sound judgment to hire staff well, appreciates the value of staff professional development tailored to the needs of individual staff members and has the ability to nurture, motivate, reward, and mentor staff, to facilitate and coordinate staff as a partner-leader, to shape a highly collaborative and integrated staff culture, to avoid micromanagement whenever possible as a wise delegator while being able to step in when necessary to ensure completion of key tasks; ability to make difficult personnel decisions when necessary.
· Demonstrates business and financial acumen, has had P & L responsibility, recommends and oversees budgets, revenues and expenditures, is skilled in managing cash flow, costs out projects and then monitors the implementation of projects within approved budgets, maintains internal controls and financial discipline, is knowledgeable in collaborating with a chief financial officer, board finance and audit committees, and auditors, and works closely with the staff and Board to ensure the financial wellbeing of the organization.
· Is a skilled and efficient time manager, able to manage deftly across many functions, to order priorities well, to travel overnight and/or to multiple sites when advantageous, while being accessible and responsive to staff, Board members and other volunteers, members, and the community served.
Has exceptional listening skills, compassion, centeredness and maturity, a collaborative style, durability and adaptability to the vicissitudes of the nonprofit environment, high energy, and a healthy sense of humor.
Lifelong learning and educational achievement appropriate to the complexity of the position.
Robert M. Fisher and Michael Loscavio of Rusher Loscavio Fisher Nonprofit Executive Search are privileged to provide recruitment counsel to Sister Cities International. All discussions with prospects for this position will be treated with utmost discretion and in strict confidence.
We would be grateful to receive inquiries, expressions of interest, nominations and applications (with resumes) addressed to both of the following: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Sister Cities International takes pride in the diversity of its staff and welcomes all qualified candidates.
PRESIDENT & CEO
SISTER CITIES INTERNATIONAL
Sister Cities International (SCI) is... an American nonprofit founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be a champion for peace and prosperity by fostering bonds among people around the world. Today, after 60 years, tens of thousands of citizen diplomats and volunteers in over 500 U.S. member communities enjoy more than 2,000 partnerships in 145 countries on 6 continents. This is an opportunity for the exceptional leader to work for a great cause, to advance the efforts of a distinguished organization, and to MAKE A LASTING NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL DIFFERENCE. The next President of SCI will be a consummate fundraiser, able to capitalize with every constituency able to benefit from its support of SCI. Since only about 25% of the current budget of $1.6 million, or about $400,000 annually, is being raised through charitable gifts, the potential for radical growth is huge.