Generating ideas, connections, and action

Practicing What We Preach: The Co-Executive Director Model Update

We wanted to do a quick update to you, our network, on the Co-Director search process. We have gotten a number of great candidates and will begin interviewing soon. Here is how we’ve designed the process.


All applications are being scored using the same criteria and the highest scoring applicants will be advanced to the interview stage where each candidate will be interviewed by a panel comprised of a board member, a person from the network and the current Executive Director. A final team of the same composition will interview 2-3 finalists and make a recommendation to the board. The application will remain open until we find the right person and make an offer that is accepted.


We also wanted to share an important conversation and candid question that was shared with us.  A couple of members of the network invited a conversation with us about the ‘co-director model’, a new phenomenon being implemented as current Executive Directors were transitioning out of their positions and recruiting people of color to succeed them. The heart of the question was whether this reflected a lack of confidence or willingness to hand over the reins to a person of color without a trial period or extra training that has not been part of the process when transitions have been handled in the past. What an important question and observation for us to pay attention to.


Here is what we think.


We believe the Co-Directorship model is an important model for distributing and sharing leadership of an organization to tap multiple talents, better manage the work demands/expectations on one person, and to move in a direction that creates more leadership opportunity. We are not entering into this as a transition strategy, by which we mean, we want to set this up as authentically shared leadership and power, not a training or assistant directorship in disguise. We also hope this will be a successful model (acknowledging its experimental nature), and that the Co-Director we hire now will be hiring a new Co-Director as their partner in the next two years as the founding Executive Director transitions to consulting.


We need to be vigilant about how we are distributing authority, leadership and power. We have several vehicles through which we are doing this:

  • Oversight by the board

  • A detailed RACI chart

  • Coaching

  • Partnership with whomever is hired.  


Lastly, we will also invite at least one of the folks who offered their insights and concerns to join the interview process. We appreciate candid feedback and the opportunity to be reflective and bring out our best in order to create a truly equitable leadership model.


If you are interested in applying, you still have time. Please send your resume and cover letter to as soon as possible.