The Kennedy Center,
President and Chief Executive Officer

Trumbull, CT


The Kennedy Center in Trumbull, Connecticut, a $32M private, community-based rehabilitation organization, prides itself in celebrating potential by empowering individuals with diverse abilities, disabilities, and experiences toward optimal participation and inclusion in the community.

Since 1951, The Kennedy Center has been turning challenges into opportunities.

The Kennedy Center has long been recognized as an innovative leader in supporting people with disabilities by providing specialized comprehensive community services, from birth to senior years. Its highly experienced staff develops individual plans for those with intellectual disabilities, autism, psychiatric disabilities, acquired brain injury, Alzheimer's with cognitive disabilities, hearing and visual impairments, cerebral palsy and mobility impairments.

The celebrated history of The Kennedy Center is an inspirational story of how a small group's new idea enacted significant societal change. In the 1950s, American society did not provide for educational support for children with cognitive disabilities but simply institutionalized them. The inspirational group of founders envisioned and was ultimately responsible for the first classes for children with cognitive disabilities in public schools in New England. With societal perception of individuals with disabilities changing, the organization's program services expanded well beyond cognitive disabilities in the eighties. Over the years, the organization created Community Experience programs for individuals with multiple and severe disabilities and developed strong relationships with the Connecticut Department of Mental Health, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Developmental Services, and the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services.

The organization is accredited by the National Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and received its first accreditation in 1981. Soon thereafter, the organization opened four new residences, established five new employment businesses, and opened three Community Experiences projects. Providing community-centered opportunities to discover hidden talents and self-expression as well as developing vocational skills and employment opportunities, The Kennedy Center has continuously won numerous awards placing it in the top 1% of rehabilitation facilities in the United States. Community and Day Support Services, include Therapeutic Recreational Services, Mobility Services, The Maggie Daly Arts Coop, and The Norma F. Pfriem Foundation Alzheimer's Center at Faust Hall.

Children's Services, Adult Day Support Options, Community-Based Support Options, Employment Services, and Residential span the broad array of the most comprehensive rehabilitation facilities in Connecticut. The Center's values and vision are driven by the mission to promote empowerment and independence, plus a motivation to create new approaches and a specifically designed personcentered plan to care to ensure the people they serve reach their greatest potential and live the best life possible with dignity and opportunity.

The Center's Children's Services create unique partnerships with families for children with disabilities or special needs from ages birth to 21 to allow therapeutic, recreational, educational, and social options year- round. Services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders provide for skill enhancements, community connections, and family support.

Rehabilitation Services provide individualized employment planning, career counseling; job development & community placement; working interviews and on-the-job training; recovery oriented employment planning & placement and peer mentoring supports; job club series; school-transition services including vocational exploration/training and community independence training; acquired brain injury support services including prevocational skill redevelopment; independent living skills training, and community reintegration.

Residential Services provide individualized group home placement (through 16 Community Living Arrangements); independent living skills training; supported living services; a Caring for the Caregiver program; a "Home of One's Own" training; family support and respite services.

Kennedy Industries provide specialized job training in through a variety of business enterprises. Additionally, Kennedy Industries provides program services through Mobility Services, Travel Training, Art Therapy, Senior Options, Children's Services, Birth to Three, The Autism Project, Alzheimer's Supports, Community Experience Programs, Therapeutic Recreation, Transportation, Supported Employment, Behavioral Health Services and Strengthening Families projects.

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After almost 40 years leading the agency, Martin "Marty" Schwartz will retire in January 2018. He leaves his successor with a vibrant agency well respected for the exceptional quality of programs and high levels of community impact.

As the chief professional officer, the CEO is accountable to and reports to The Kennedy Center Board of Directors. S/he will manage a team of professionals with designated responsibilities as needed to fulfill the organization's mission and implement its vision. Reporting to the CEO are the Vice Presidents for Finance, Human Resources, Kennedy Industries, Residential Services, Rehabilitative Services, and Development.

The President/CEO is responsible for building on the vision and strategic direction with a clarity of purpose to ensure The Kennedy Center is a premier provider of services for people with disabilities in Connecticut. S/he is responsible for ensuring superior standards of care and service delivery, progressive service growth and sound business expansion, a positive reputation with stakeholder groups and ethical conduct throughout the organization.

The Board seeks a leader who will thrive in a collegial and accomplishment-oriented culture and who will be able to ensure the sustainability of a financially viable organization long term. He will be able to balance visionary leadership with operational implementation. Positive consumer and family outcomes require a highly engaged staff and CEO, who will ensure that The Kennedy Center develops the best practices to recruit, retain, and motivate staff (800 staff currently) at all levels.

The CEO will need to maintain or grow existing funding from the state and be entrepreneurial in broadening alternative revenue streams. As such, the Board expects the CEO to be a leader who is outward facing and highly visible, working with government and elected officials, business leaders, media, and prospective donors to raise the organization's visibility and funding opportunities.



Organizational Leadership

- Create an organizational environment that reflects an absolute commitment to mission and the continuing pursuit of quality improvement throughout the organization.

- Ensure ongoing programmatic excellence, rigorous program evaluation, and consistent quality of finance and administration, management, staff development, fundraising, communications, and operations systems.

- Set the strategic direction for increased revenue generation with proven track record for operational and implementation excellence.

Cultivate a strategic partnership relationship with the Board, seeking counsel and advice as needed to develop agency policy, strategic planning, emerging issues and appropriate solutions.
- Lead The Kennedy Center in planning and managing for current and future growth.

- Appropriately balance market, competitive, organizational and technological factors to make positive, efficient and effective decisions.

- Creatively visualize and consider alternatives, what might or could be and "what if" thinking.

- Anticipate trends, events, problems and opportunities then develop strategies for addressing them.

- Act as a catalyst initiating and leading change.

- Seek new opportunities for service growth both in the public and private sectors with strategic alliances and business opportunities to support the mission and vision of the organization.

- Focus the organization on efforts that add value to consumers, employees and stakeholders.

- Demonstrate a Value for the human dignity and worth of both supervisors and consumers, and cultivate this expectation throughout the organization.



- Ensure that the executive management group acts as a team that aligns the entire agency towards its critical objectives.

- Anticipate obstacles and make provisions to overcome them.

- Act quickly and decisively to seize new opportunities and respond to imminent threats.

- Establish detailed steps, timetables and resources required for achievement of short- and long-term objectives.

- Challenge others with clear goals and responsibilities that result in achievement and ownership.

- Ensure that the organization acts according to the highest legal, ethical, and professional standards in provision of services and in documentation.

- Leverage conflict to strengthen relationships and achieve excellence.

- Create an environment that attracts and retains high performers.

- Foster an open environment for people to communicate candidly regarding problems, obstacles and risks.

- Ensure efficient and effective operations through sound business and fiscal practices throughout the organization.

- Assess viability of programs and implement a business plan that prioritizes programs and projects going forward.



- A minimum of 1 year experience supervising staff providing supports to individuals with intellectual disabilities.

- Minimum of 15 years of progressively responsible leadership experience in related field.

- Successful relationship builder with a track record of attracting new funding sources and/or the appetite to do so

- Masters Degree in relevant field a plus.

- Should have demonstrated success in leadership role(s) managing complex organization(s) in a highly regulated environment.

- Experience in non-profit management working with voluntary Boards is a plus.

- Understanding of human services sector and the impact of legislation on it; knowledge of federal, CT regulations preferred, but not required.

- Financial acumen, business, management and forecasting skills  ability to link strategic and operational goals to fiscal realities and program priorities.

- Knowledge of new technologies applicable to the human services sector a plus.

- Reputation as a team builder with demonstrated success leading, motivating and collaborating with a large group of professional and direct service staff.

- Ability to articulate The Kennedy Center's message to a broad range of constituents and the general public.

- Passion and dedication to The Kennedy Center's mission.

- Inspirational leadership skills.

- Politically savvy.

- Unquestioned integrity and values.

- Persistence/resilience  the realization that the work is not the priority of others and that the ability to keep going in the face of obstacles, delays and denials is essential.

- Commitment to change/improvement  creating a culture that always looks to improve.

- Sound judgment/decision making in order to deal with the complexities and uncertainties in the nonprofit marketplace.

- Intellectual/emotional intelligence.

- Excellent verbal and written communication skills.

- Ability to be in contact with senior leadership 24/7 as needs and emergencies arise.

- Prudent risk taker/results oriented.

- Flexible/responsive to feedback.

- Innovative/entrepreneurial/creative/high energy.


David Hinsley Cheng, Managing Partner
Marlene Mlawski, Associate

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

This search began in August 2017 and is currently active. This position description is based upon material provided by The Kennedy Center, an equal opportunity employer.