Philly School District Fund starts search for new CEO

Officials hope to announce their new pick this spring

By: - January 4, 2023 9:52 am

By Chanel Hill

PHILADELPHIA — The search for a new CEO for The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia has begun.

Issacson Miller, the professional search firm who handled the superintendent search for the School District of Philadelphia, will be leading the search.

“Otis Hackney and I are the co-chairs of the search process and we have Isaacson Miller retained as our search firm,” said Sylvie Gallier Howard, search committee chair for the Fund.

“We’re really excited about them being our search firm,” she said. “They know the Philadelphia School District quite well, which is great in terms of aligning. They also have a lot of experience when it comes to recruiting leaders for education, educational institutions, education related nonprofits both here and nationally.”

“While we would love to have someone who comes from the local area, we don’t want to close the door to candidates nationwide and they’re the perfect search firm to help us to do that,” she added.

During the search, The Fund will be getting feedback from various partners including the school district.

“Our search consultant is currently interviewing our partners to get input on what skill sets they believe are most needed in our next leader and what they think are the strengths and the opportunities for the organization,” Gallier Howard said.

“Dr. (Tony) Watlington (Sr.) will be interviewing the finalists, but members of his team will be involved in earlier panels,” she added. “We will also work with our search consultant to really identify which partners should be involved in those interviews.”

An independent, nonprofit organization, The Fund coordinates, identifies and leverages philanthropic resources for public schools in the city. The Fund has raised $41 million to support the School District of Philadelphia since 2015, the year active fundraising began at the organization.

Donna Frisby-Greenwood has been the CEO for The Fund for the last seven years. She became the vice president of Philadelphia Program for The Pew Charitable Trusts in October.

“Donna, being the incredible leader that she was and her investment in The Fund over the years, really put us in a position where her commitment to long term success helped us in the transition,” said Ed Zimmermann, board chairman for The Fund.

“We were able to bring in an interim person for a period of time and we have an exceptional staff who has really done an unbelievable job at keeping all of the activity and the day to day functions of The Fund at an elite level,” he said.

“We also have a lot of long standing board members and some very passionate new board members who have brought in a new set of ideas. We have a good mix of talent and team members, some of whom have a lot of experience with the district. They’ve also been crucial with our transition,” he added.

Zimmermann added that the changes at The Fund has made the organization evaluate which direction they want to go in moving forward.

“We’re looking at our overall landscape as an organization and taking time to evaluate how we can make the most impact in the district moving forward,” Zimmermann said. “We’re also walking hand and hand with a lot of changes at the district with Dr. Watlington coming in as the new superintendent.

“Now is the time for us to realign with the district and be completely keyed in on what the district priorities are,” he added. “We’re also redefining what our goals look like going forward and making sure that as an organization we have a clear mission and we want to convey that message through potential donors and folks that want to be invested in education.”

The Fund plans to announce its new CEO in Spring 2023.

Chanel Hill is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared. 

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