David Buckles was stuck.
As the President of Foundation Academy, a private Christian school in Orlando, FL, he desperately needed to hire a Vice President of Development to oversee all of the school’s fundraising efforts, including a major capital campaign.
David and his Board first tried to find a candidate through local advertising, but they simply could not find individuals who met their criteria.
So, David began talking to search agencies. Right before he was about to hire another company, he decided to attend a DickersonBakker event being held at the Association of Christian Schools International in Dallas. After meeting the DickersonBakker team, he “instantly realized that this group was the one I wanted to engage with.”
When asked why he decided to work with DickersonBakker’s Executive Search team, David noted the team’s honesty and forthrightness:
“They weren’t afraid to tell you the steps it would take. They understood you couldn’t travel down that road without their assistance. When we looked at the assessments and determined where the school was and its current state, they weren’t afraid to tell us the truth. At the end of the day, we really needed them to answer those questions anyway. So I appreciated their honesty and their upfrontness.”
He also appreciated the Executive Search team’s straightforward approach to managing expectations:
“They were very clear upfront,” said David. “They told us, ‘The purple unicorn’s not out there. If you think we’re going to hire this person who’s going to come in and make money fall from the sky, we’re not. That person doesn’t exist. We’ll look at these candidates, vet them to the best of our abilities, and then bring them to you.’ I liked that upfront conversation because I had nine board members who were hoping for a purple unicorn.”
According to David, DickersonBakker’s Two-Year Placement Guarantee also played a role in the decision to work with them. Of all the organizations he spoke with, DickersonBakker Executive Search had the longest guarantee, which the team liked.
Finding a Gem in Their Own Backyard
To begin the search process, the DBES team worked with David and the Foundation board to develop a candidate profile. Right off the bat, they were impressed.
They loved being paired with Tom Wood as their Search Coach. Before joining DBES as a Senior Development Consultant, Tom had served as Director of Advancement for a private Christian school in Atlanta for 15 years.
“We were really excited when they introduced us to Tom,” said David. “He’d actually sat in that seat for 15 years, so he really understood what it takes to raise money in a Christian school.”
After conducting a national search, the DBES team narrowed it down to three “amazing candidates.” David and his team were hoping it would be easy to decide between the final three, but he was wrong.
“When I say amazing, they were all so talented that they had to use a scoring tool for us to determine which one would rank the highest.”
According to David, the final candidates were so good it took several days of back and forth before the board could make a decision.
“And so it just came down to, ‘Okay, God, I need to hear from you because right now we got two equally talented people,’ said David.
And then, as providence would have it, the candidate they picked lived five minutes away from the school. Her name was Liefke Meyers.
“At the end of the day, I chose Leifka because she was the VP of Orlando Economic Partnership and a stable person in the community who knew lots of people. Plus, she lived five minutes from our school and we couldn’t find her ourselves.”
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