Founded in 1971, Maternal and Family Health Services, Inc. (MFHS), has been meeting the needs of the community through information, education, and quality of care. The organization serves women, children, and families in 16 Northeastern Pennsylvania counties.
For the past 20 years, until this past October, Bette Saxton was the president and CEO of the organization. Under her leadership, the organization has continued to grow, serving 90,000 individuals through various programs, such as its Reproductive Health Family program, Healthy Beginnings Plus Maternity Care program, and the Nurse-Family Partnership program.
So, when Saxton decided it was time to step down from her role, the process to find a new President and CEO began – a difficult task to be sure.
“Hiring a new CEO is probably the most important decision a nonprofit board will face during its tenure.”
Bette Saxton, President and CEO of Maternal and Family Health Services, Inc.
Not all board members – with their various responsibilities, time constraints, and limited areas of expertise – “are equipped to identify and pursue top talent,” Saxton said. With that in mind, MFHS decided to apply to Moses Taylor Foundation for a capacity-building grant that would retain a professional recruitment firm to conduct a nationwide search.
“The recruitment firm will do the due diligence that’s needed behind the scenes to guide and move the process along, and help the board members in an objective review process,” Saxton said. “Managing the hiring and transition of a new CEO is often a very pivotal point in the organization’s lifecycle.”
To get the process moving, the MFHS search committee was tasked with identifying a qualified firm to head the search. Some of the criteria included experience recruiting for the nonprofit and healthcare industries.
After narrowing the field down to four potential firms, the MFHS search committee decided to hire Kittleman & Associates, LLC, located in Philadelphia, PA. Saxton said that she, the search committee, and the Board of Trustees believed the firm would conduct a successful and timely search for a new president and CEO. Kittleman & Associates committed to a benchmark calendar that outlined milestones and touch points throughout the hiring process. This is the best approach, Saxton said, because the recruitment firm has a record of success and the right expertise to make the best selection.
“Maternal and Family Health Services is a very vital and relevant organization in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” she said. “And Moses Taylor Foundation’s support for [executive recruiting] is going to guarantee the success of the process. We are grateful, and it will ensure a successful outcome.”
Since the interview with Saxton, MFHS did appoint Maria Montoro Edwards, PhD, as president and chief executive officer.
“With her extensive administrative experience in the nonprofit sector, her outstanding skill sets, and familiarity with MFHS and the Northeastern Pennsylvania community, Dr. Montoro Edwards emerged as the top candidate after a very thorough, comprehensive, and competitive nationwide search process,” said Kathy Finsterbusch, chair of the MFHS Board of Directors.
“We’re very confident Dr. Maria Montoro Edwards will follow in the footsteps of her predecessor and take the organization to new heights, and achieve new and important successes in caring for the tens of thousands of underserved women, children, and families who rely upon us every day.”
Kathy Finsterbusch, Chair of the MFHS Board of Directors