Jobs: Executive Search

Executive Director, Domestic Violence Crisis Center

Stamford, Conn.
Oct / 10 / 2017

For nearly 40 years the Domestic Violence Crisis Center (DVCC) has been out front promoting the fundamental right for all individuals to be safe in their personal relationships. Headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut DVCC provides crisis services to victims of domestic violence and their children and safeguards their rights through a broad array of innovative, client-centered direct services, community education, and advocacy. Per capita, the DVCC is the largest provider of domestic violence services in the United States and is the largest provider of emergency crisis shelter in the state of CT. It serves more than 3,000 women, men and children annually and reaches more than 20,000 students annually through education.

Overview of the Organization and Programs

This well-respected organization leads by staying on the front edge of caring, culturally relevant services to victims of intimate partner violence. It keeps a razor-sharp focus on the needs of the client and responds with quality care that accounts for the complex needs of those seeking its help. DVCC has evolved, adapted, and grown significantly since the late 1970’s when wife abuse first began to be recognized as a social problem deserving national attention. In Fairfield County, virtually no organized services were available to battered women and their children, resulting in the creation of DVCC predecessors in 1980. They grew, merged and formed DVCC in 1997, which today directs its resources and expertise toward comprehensive services at both the individual and systems level, with the goal of ensuring effective support for victims and their children, providing violence-prevention education and creating lasting social change.

DVCC offers services in Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, New Canaan, Darien, Wilton and Weston, Connecticut with this current suite of programs and services:

  • Court and Legal Project advocates for clients in court and has influenced significant changes to domestic violence laws in Connecticut as they relate to criminal procedure and to housing and economic policies. At a weekly Civil Legal Clinic, DVCC clients receive help on civil matters from volunteer attorneys. DVCC helps to implement the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) in Connecticut, which provides safety planning and services for victims who are screened as being at high risk for lethal violence.
  • DVCC’s Medical Advocacy Project (MAP), the first program of its kind in Connecticut, responds to domestic violence victims in area hospitals and trains health care professionals in order to promote earlier identification of intimate partner violence victims through improved screening and to encourage referral of victims to appropriate sources.
  • DVCC houses over 400 adults and children annually in its two SafeHouses that are staffed 24/7, and provides wraparound services and support for residents. DVCC Counseling Advocates see up to 70 clients a week, as well as provide multiple support groups in English and Spanish.
  • PeaceWorks, DVCC’s education platform, believes the prevention of violence in our society begins with the education of children, Pre-K to 12th grades. PeaceWorks and Teen PeaceWorks provides tools to help young people and teens learn ways to solve conflicts peacefully and to recognize and maintain healthy relationships, including bullying and teen dating violence.
  • In response to the need for broader and more culturally appropriate outreach within the Spanish-speaking communities in Fairfield County, DVCC launched EsperanzaCT, Connecticut’s first Spanish language website and 24-hour service line and text response for victims of domestic abuse.
  • DVCC360 encompasses DVCC’s commitment to research, advocacy, policy and partnerships. It keeps current with best practices and the most up-to-date research in the areas that affect individuals impacted by intimate partner violence and then influences policy by advocating for laws that will benefit victims of domestic violence across the state.
  • The SustainAbilityCT (iACT) project focuses on economic solutions that drive employment, education and housing. Recognizing that economic stability is the most important predictor of an individual’s ability to permanently exit an abusive relationship, DVCC created iACT to help victims become financially savvy, self-confident and in control of every aspect of their lives.

DVCC has a stable financial history and an operating budget of nearly $2.4 million. The organization employs approximately 50 staff members, noted for their diversity and dual-language capabilities. DVCC’s executive director reports to a volunteer board of directors comprised of 14 members who are area community and business leaders and advocates. In addition, DVCC has 10 advisory board members.

Executive Transition

For 10 years, DVCC has been very strongly led by Rachelle Kucera Mehra who has overseen DVCC’s growth and maximized its impact. Rachelle will leave DVCC effective December 31, 2017. A six-member succession committee comprised of board members and senior staff has been appointed to manage the transition in leadership, with a desired start date of mid-December, 2017 for the new leader to allow for an overlap period with Rachelle.

Strategic Opportunities and Challenges

DVCC is at an important stage as it further capitalizes on innovative program growth and fund development yet builds a platform of sustainability. High priorities for the new executive director include:

  • Sustaining fundraising, which frequently can be adversely impacted when a strong, highly respected leader transitions, so that the DVCC remains well-positioned financially to achieve its mission and to maximize its impact. DVCC relies, in part, on state and federal funds that are vulnerable to state cut-backs and federal shifts in priorities. Existing external relationships must be transitioned well to the new leader so current programming and support is sustained and future expansion is possible.
  • Refreshing DVCC’s strategic direction with the board and staff so the entire organization understands and is aligned as to how and where DVCC will grow its services and impact over the next three to five years.
  • Supporting the board of directors in optimizing its influence and role in governing the organization. A largely new board is in place and affords keen opportunity for new connections, ideas and leadership.
  • Managing effectively and empowering a team of dedicated, talented professionals committed to DVCC’s mission, workplace accountability, and culture of inclusion. The staffing infrastructure needs assessing for efficiency and optimal alignments of talent and time, and succession planning needs to be undertaken.
  • Being vigilant to assuring that the client needs are being met and that the impact is being measured at all levels. The board will benefit from fully understanding program outcomes so that they can govern well and leverage success for additional funding.

Skills and Experience

Passionate advocate for the mission

To be an effective leader of a mission-driven nonprofit committed to promoting the fundamental right of people to be safe, it is important that candidates have a demonstrated history of engagement in social justice issues in work and life. The next executive director must demonstrate passion for DVCC’s mission and be able to translate that passion into an articulate and compelling story.

Effective fundraiser

The ideal candidate will have demonstrated success in fund development and the ability to lead the board and staff in executing an ambitious, multi-year comprehensive fundraising campaign including government agencies, corporations, foundations, and individuals. The next leader should be skilled at creating personal and intimate connections to DVCC’s mission, inspiring others to greater personal understanding and to join in supporting this important and life-saving work. 

Politically savvy networker, collaborator, and communicator

The next executive director must be a consummate networker on behalf of DVCC, able to interact equally well with community, political, and business leaders as well clients and the public. The ideal candidate will demonstrate a proven track record of building and maintaining strong relationships with people of influence in the intimate partner violence field, and in corporate, nonprofit, legislative, and government arenas. The new leader must create a collaborative and intellectually stimulating environment where the input of all associated with DVCC is encouraged and respected. In addition, the new leader must be a compelling spokesperson, able to promote DVCC and its work verbally and in writing.

Experienced nonprofit Leader

The new executive will be responsible for overseeing the organization’s operations, finances, facilities and staff, efficiently aligning and maximizing resources to achieve DVCC’s strategic goals. The new leader must empower, coach and support a strong and committed team of professionals and sustain a productive team-based, empathetic culture that welcomes inclusion and diversity. S/he/they will be the primary liaison to the board of directors, ensuring that members are well-supported to provide effective governance. Candidates must have a proven track record of nonprofit financial and business acumen.

Innovator and strategist

The ideal candidate will have a proven record of capitalizing on key trends and new opportunities, resulting in innovative approaches to programming, fundraising, advocacy, and policy development. S/he/they must have an understanding of measuring outcomes and impact and experience in turning this data into strategies.

Experience Working with Boards of Directors

The ideal candidate will be skilled in working effectively in partnership with boards of directors to carry out the mission of the organization and in setting strategic direction.

Desired Credentials

  • A minimum of seven years of senior executive leadership, preferably in an organization committed to social justice, violence prevention or women’s empowerment.
  • Bachelor’s degree

Candidate Guidelines

This search is being conducted by TSNE MissionWorks's Executive Transitions Program with Transition Consultants Nancy Jackson and Catherine Bradshaw. All submissions are confidential. Interested candidates should submit materials online.

Click here to apply online.

Please include a resume and a cover letter with salary requirements, where you learned of the position and a description of how your qualifications and experience match DVCC’s needs. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Salary is commensurate with experience, within the framework of the organization’s annual operating budget.

DVCC does not and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, sex, color, disability, national origin, religion, creed, age, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship or residency status, or veteran status. This policy applies to all areas of employment including, but not limited to, hiring, job assignment, opportunities for training and development, pay, benefits, promotion and demotion, layoff and termination.