Citizen Advocates,
Chief Operating Officer (Search closed)

Malone, NY


“We help people with developmental, behavioral, and intellectual challenges live full, healthy, meaningful lives, rich with hope and choices of where and with whom they live, work, and play.”

Citizen Advocates and the North Star Family of Services (Citizen Advocates) is a multi-service 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides caring, professional, and certified care to over 7,000 individuals each year through its programs in mental health, substance use disorder treatment and prevention, and residential, habilitation and vocational services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Founded in 1975 as a small sheltered work program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, today Citizen Advocates is the largest private employer in Franklin County, NY, with a staff of over 700 employees.

The organization partners with numerous state agencies, including the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH), the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), and the NYS Department of Health (DOH).

Headquartered in Malone, NY with an operating budget of $40M, Citizen Advocates operates extensively throughout Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Hamilton and St. Lawrence Counties in northern New York State, often referred to as the North Country. The large catchment area means the agency’s transportation systems log over 800,000 miles each year transporting clients.

Citizen Advocates is committed and passionate that their evidence-based, culturally sensitive, trauma informed and family/patient-centered care programs help their regional population address behavioral health needs that achieves best outcomes and improves quality of life for all.

Select Programs and Services offered by Citizen Advocates Include:

• Residential Services support individuals who are developmentally disabled and/or struggling with persistent or severe mental illness. Citizen Advocates operates four 12-bed Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF) serving 48 adults with developmental disabilities, all certified by OPWDD; seven supervised Individual Residential Alternative (IRA) ranging in capacity from three to six individuals, one supportive IRA for two adults, one Community Residence for 12 adults and 1 Community Residence for 8 children with Serious Emotional Disorders.

• Day Services provide persons with developmental disabilities habilitation training to obtain life skills to live more independent lives. The agency offers day habilitation services at 2 certified sites located in Malone and Saranac Lake for over 330 individuals. A “day-hab without walls” program also provides opportunities for individuals to participate in activities out in the community, such as delivering meals to the elderly, helping at the local animal shelter, visiting the library or other community sites. The agency also offers community habilitation services for over 60 individuals as well as respite services.

• Vocational Services offer a variety of employment opportunities and services for individuals with disabilities that range from center-based employment services (work centers), agency-operated community businesses, to placement in competitive community based employment, depending upon level of skill and capacity for work.

• Outpatient Mental Health Services supports individuals and families, children and adults to work through challenging times. Citizen Advocates operates two primary integrated Article 31/32 mental health and substance use disorder treatment clinics that incorporate medication supported treatment, Opioid Prevention Programs, physical health screening and/or basic primary care, and 12 related satellites sites in schools, health centers, or other locations in the community.

• Community Support Services supports children and youth with emotional disturbances and adults struggling with serious mental illness. Services include: care management services, peer centers, housing services, respite, and other supports.

• Prevention Services offer an array of school-based and community prevention programs to increase protective factors and decrease risk factors associated with youth substance abuse and other undesirable behaviors. Citizen Advocates operates several nationally recognized model Prevention Service programs.

• Chemical Dependency Services designed for people struggling with use of alcohol and other drugs, and problem gambling. Treatment professionals work together to support each individuals needs through assessments, treatment plans and referrals. The team collaborates with other local and regional providers.

Citizen Advocate also offers: Family-Supports Respite Services; Medicaid Service Coordination; Self-Direction Services; Housing Services; Department of Social Services Contract Services; and the SAINT Program.


The North Country encompasses New York's northern frontier, bordering Lake Ontario on the west, the Saint Lawrence River and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec on the north and northwest, and Lake Champlain and Vermont on the east. It is located in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains with the natural beauty of mountains, lakes, ski slopes, verdant valleys and steep cliffs. The Adirondack Region is home to the largest protected natural area in the lower 48 states. The Adirondack Park covers six million acres, and is almost the land size of the state of Massachusetts.

Malone is about 50 miles from Lake Placid, 80 miles from Burlington Vermont and 70 miles from Montreal, Canada. The community has long been attractive to those seeking rural living, coupled with a love of the outdoors while still being an easy drive from cultural and other large city attractions in Montreal.

To learn more about all of Citizens Advocates visit


With the appointment of the Citizen Advocates’ long standing COO Dean Johnston to the CEO role in December 2016, the organization is currently seeking a new COO.

The COO has the responsibility and authority for all aspects of Citizen Advocates’ operations. S/he is responsible for ensuring programs operate in compliance with CA’s policies and practices, Council on Quality and Leadership Accreditation Standards and State and Federal requirements. The COO provides leadership and direction to the heads of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, Facilities and Transportation, and Information Technology. S/he directs and monitors the consistent implementation of the CA’s strategic plan.

Reporting to the CEO, the successful COO will have the skills, sensitivity and inclusive management style necessary to motivate and develop the staff and deliver an excellent quality of services to the community.

As Citizen Advocates looks to continue growing in program quality and increasing its impact in New York State’s North Country, the COO will be a key partner to the CEO in enhancing its existing management structure for future growth. S/he will also serve as a staff liaison to the Board of Directors.

The COO will work internally throughout the organization and in collaborative support of the CEO to address Citizen Advocates’ objectives in engaging and developing partnerships with other agencies, expanding its name recognition, and becoming an employer-of-choice in the region.

The COO must work closely with the staff to promote and maintain an open, inclusive environment that emphasizes transparency and teamwork.



• Responsible for ensuring program delivery within the core lines of Citizen Advocates’ business, behavioral health and intellectual/developmental disabilities are soundly managed, and that best practices are deployed that lead to positive outcomes for all clients.

• Provide strong and inspirational day-to-day leadership and oversee all administrative/operational functions.

• Support an open door policy among all staff; cultivate the values of a client driven culture throughout the organization.

• Work with the Director of Information Technology to ensure the organization’s current technology needs are properly addressed. Be strategic in continual examination of the benefits of new hardware and software.

• Ensure that the organizations’ programs are in compliance with all federal state, funding, and city regulations, certifications, and licensing requirements.

• Lead and manage training and ongoing development for staff.


• 10+ years of progressively responsible professional management experience in human service program delivery, including knowledge of compliance standards and fiscal regulations with a minimum of five years in a leadership role.

• A proven track record of success as a strong, collaborative internal manager and external representative of an organization.

• Exceptional capacity for managing and leading people.

• A team builder who has experience in managing organizational change including complexity of systems and communication between programs.

• Knowledgeable in the fields of behavioral health and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities or related experience within comparable human service delivery organization.

• An ability to develop, manage and assess budgets and financial reports in conjunction with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

• Strong planning and organizational skills; effectively interacting with a large workforce and client base.

• Comfortable initiating new projects, able to work self-directed, have good instincts and a willingness to ask for help when required.

• Capacity to help staff establish goals and objectives and to be accountable for outcomes, develop and empower top-notch leaders from the bottom up and cultivate teamwork.

• A creative and energetic personality with strong interpersonal relationship skills.

• Excellent verbal and written communication skills.

• Master’s Degree in Social Work or equivalent advanced degree or an advanced non-Human Services related degree, preferred.



David Hinsley Cheng, Managing Partner
Jill Sarah Moscowitz, Associate
DRG – Executive Search Consultants
275 Madison Avenue, Suite 1203
New York, NY 10016


Please submit a resume and cover letter.
Fax: (212) 983-1687

This position description is based upon material provided by Citizen Advocates, an equal opportunity employer.