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Fort Worth Chamber

Camp Fire First Texas Will Welcome New President/CEO in October Following COVID-19 Delay

Fort Worth, Texas (September 15, 2020) - After receiving more than 150 interested candidates, Camp Fire First Texas is excited to announce Lauren Richard will take the reigns as the next president/CEO of Camp Fire First Texas on October 12.

The organization began searching for a new leader in January 2020 following the retirement announcement of Ann Sheets, current president/CEO. A Transition Task Force comprised of board members and community leaders was formed and oversaw the search process. They originally anticipated a June transition, but when the COVID-19 health crisis occurred, the team adjusted the timeline.

“Our Transition Task Force outlined an expedient and thorough process to identify and on-board Camp Fire’s next leader. However, when the pandemic, with all its uncertainty, occurred, one thing was certain. Our top candidates would be needed by their current organizations to successfully navigate the front-end of this crisis,” explained Jake Yarbrough, Camp Fire Board Chair and task force committee member. “There were no rules on how to navigate this situation. We felt it was in the best-interest of everyone to support our community. Leading us to delay our final interviews and selection out of respect to our candidates and their organizations.”

Richard is currently the Executive Director of Project Transformation in Dallas. She is a relational and impact-driven nonprofit leader who is deeply devoted to empowering children, youth and families to reach their full potential. She was driven to pursue this role primarily because of Camp Fire’s mission and the opportunity to help young people thrive in an increasingly diverse and changing world.

“Lauren not only has the ideal mix of attributes, skills and qualifications to lead our organization, she also sees great opportunities for Camp Fire to emerge from the challenges of COVID stronger than ever. Plus, Lauren is a kind, smart professional that clearly cares about others,” Yarbrough shared.

She has 15 years of experience in the nonprofit industry focused on children, youth and families. Following her graduate-level training in counseling, Lauren started her nonprofit career at Educational First Steps in Dallas where she served as Director of Education. She then worked for 5 years in the corporate arena working with school districts and state departments of education in the area of educational technology before returning to her nonprofit roots. Lauren’s dedication to both education and social emotional health was fully realized when she became the Director of Therapeutic Services at Momentous Institute, as well as in her most recent role as Executive Director at Project Transformation North Texas.

Richard is a native Texan and a graduate of Highland Park High School in Dallas. She received her BA in Psychology from Southern Methodist University before moving to Los Angeles to pursue her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at Loyola Marymount University.

After several years in senior leadership roles and almost two years in the top executive role at a smaller nonprofit, this was the next logical step in my career trajectory. Now that I have reached this phase of my career, I am looking forward to putting down roots with Camp Fire and leading the organization into its promising future,” said Richard.

“Lauren led her organization through the initial phase of the COVID crisis and took significant steps to ensure they are in a better financial position than when she began the role. This spoke volumes to the skills and creativity she brings Camp Fire to help us thrive in the current climate and beyond,” added Yarbrough.

Richard shared she does her best work at the intersection of education and mental health. She knows that social emotional health practices help children and youth succeed in their academic and later working careers and that the earlier these practices are incorporated into a child’s life, the better the outcomes.

“I am excited that Lauren Richard will be the next President/CEO for Camp Fire First Texas. Lauren brings a wealth of knowledge and perspective that will take this organization forward! She has the background, temperament, and commitment to tackle the challenges of leading a multi-faceted organization like Camp Fire,” shared Ann Sheets, current president/CEO of Camp Fire First Texas.

While Richard’s first day will be October 12, Sheets has generously offered to orient and support her through the initial phases of the transition as originally planned, despite the timeline shift.

I have very big shoes to fill! I am so grateful to Ann Sheets for her willingness to help with my transition and for her decades of service to this great organization,” said Richard.

While this transition and onboarding will be done slightly different than in the past, the team at Camp Fire is organizing creative way for families, staff, community supporters and volunteers to have ample opportunities to meet and engage with the new CEO. Including a public AMA (Ask Me Anything) via Facebook Live in December.  

“I am so honored and thrilled to embark on this journey with Camp Fire. People are my first priority so it is bittersweet to leave my current team but I am equally excited to get to know and build lasting relationships with the Camp Fire team and learn, then implement, all the ways in which we can go higher together!” concluded Richard.

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About the Search Process

  1. Appoint Transition Task Force - This committee is comprised of a diverse range of members from the executive leadership team, the El Tesoro Foundation and board members at large. This committee is chaired by Jake Yarbrough and includes dedicated members: Anne Carvalho, Donna James-Harvey, Adelaide Leavens, Lisa Mares, Randi Mitchell and Kelly Walter. Not only did this team guide the recruitment and selection of a new president/CEO but they will help ensure a smooth onboarding to the organization and community at-large.
  2. Staff and Leadership Insights – Anonymous survey of the 100+ staff members was conducted, accompanied in-depth interviews with all leaders on the executive team to gather insights on ideal traits and the Board of Directors was engaged to define key characteristics for the next president/CEO to inform the job description
  3. Community Stakeholder Interviews – Through the generosity of North Texas Community Foundation, members of the Transition Task Force met with the leaders of other Fort Worth nonprofits who recently replaced their CEOs and uncovered some best practices and key learnings for this search. In addition, conversations with many other community leaders and foundations were had to ensure their voices were heard.
  4. Partner with Executive Search Consultant – Because of the importance of this role, the Transition Task Force elected to work with a professional search consultant. After reviewing proposals from five highly qualified consultants, we selected Charlotte Keany to guide us in this process.
The position was posted on February 21 with the goal to reach a diverse pool of candidates, so the role was posted locally, regionally and nationally across a variety of job boards with the intent to make the hire in May.
When the COVID health crisis occurred, the Transition Task Force took an intentional pause to their timeline to assess organizational needs in the challenging climate and resumed interviewing a pool of top candidates.

About Camp Fire First Texas
Camp Fire First Texas is one of the largest Camp Fire councils in the country. Programs are for boys, girls and their families and include camping, after school programs, teen services, environmental education, and school readiness, in addition to professional development for early childhood educators. In Camp Fire, children and youth find a safe, fun and inclusive place – a place where they form lasting relationships, develop a sense of belonging and make positive contributions to the lives of their families and their community. Camp Fire youth have life-enhancing experiences and develop assets essential to their futures. Camp Fire changes young lives for the better in our community. Inside and out.

About Charlotte Keany Independent Consultant
After 26 years in a corporate career, including various senior level positions in finance and operations for Amfac Inc., General Electric and Fidelity Investments, Charlotte brought her skills to the nonprofit sector in 2004 when she joined the Center for Nonprofit Management. As the Director of Consulting, she managed multiple projects and led a team of more than 50 affiliate consultants who delivered on a variety of capacity building consultations with nonprofit organizations throughout Texas. In her role with the Center, Charlotte focused her work on building the capacity of nonprofits through program evaluation, business planning, succession planning, executive recruiting and organizational sustainability. In 2010, Charlotte decided to concentrate her efforts on Executive Recruiting for senior level positions in the nonprofit sector and has placed more than 20 executives. After leaving the Center for Nonprofit Management in 2015, Charlotte continues her executive recruiting work as an Independent consultant. Charlotte received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from San Francisco State University and a master’s degree in Business Administration from West Texas A&M University