top of page

The Role - Executive Director

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the incumbent Executive Director, Gail Powell, joined High hopes in 2007. She plans to retire upon suitable identification and onboarding of a new Executive Director.


The Executive Director will help refine and execute High Hopes strategy and provide leadership excellence in the operational management of the center. He or she will be valued for fresh perspective, caring and compassion, educational, or experience with therapy for children with special needs, general business and financial acumen, with future vision concerning development, capital management and expansion opportunities. The Executive Director will interact regularly with the Board, Donors, Directors, Staff, Parents, the children we serve and on occasion, regulatory entities and government representatives. She/he will need to also be highly visible in the community and be an energetic, engaging, proactive and influential advocate for the mission. She/he must have a heart for children.


The Executive Director will be responsible for growing and leading operational functions that can scale with intended growth and satisfy the additional challenge and scrutiny that comes with scale. As High Hopes continues to grow, it is imperative that the qualities that differentiate the Center, most notably its high touch, compassionate model and its focus on children to remain fundamental.


The Executive Director will lead a team of roughly 80+ professionals and staff members through four direct reports, responsible for Therapy, Early Childhood Education, Development and Administration. While High Hopes understands that the next Executive Director will want to assess the team and organizational structure, High Hopes is confident in its strong talent currently within the organization. Attracting and retaining top talent will continue to be a key priority.


Please refer to complete job description below for additional details.

The Candidate Description

High Hopes seeks a leader to both maintain the current level of success, and to work strategically to grow the mission of High Hopes.


Current non-profit executives at organizations of similar or larger scale would be desirable candidates. Similarly, educators, administration professionals, health care professionals or business leaders from other industries with the right combination of skills and experience would be welcome applicants.


High Hopes desires to choose from a diverse slate of candidates. Given High Hopes non-profit status, depth of experience in capital campaigns and fund development would be a strong plus.


Candidates should demonstrate the ability to provide confident direction during times of uncertainty as was experienced during the pandemic; and, positively lead change during a period of growth. She/he should have the poise and executive presence to represent the organization to an ever-growing group of internal and external stakeholders.


She/he must be both strategic and tactical, with strong self-awareness and communication skills and a penchant for over-delivering. Exerting influence in a collaborative, inclusive fashion is essential, as is the ability and willingness to personally immerse oneself in the details of the core functions of the day-to- day operation. Candidates must be proactive, detail oriented, fact-based and service oriented in their approach to work. Candidates with the aptitude and ambition to substantially grow the business well outside the “four walls” would be desirable, but later career candidates who could mentor and groom a successor would also be strongly considered.

Performance Competencies

Business Acumen:

  • Translates understanding of local knowledge and community landscape into strategies and tactics which sustain operations, drive growth, improve efficiency and effectiveness

  • Appreciates and understands how to operate a business

  • Identifies key impacts and implications of financial events and conceptualizes and articulates both challenges and solutions; toggles quickly between the larger picture and relevant details

  • Expertise navigating in highly regulated, risk-based, environments

  • Involvement in Board communication and guidance Executing for Results:

  • Embraces and effectively leads change, driving issues to closure

  • Demonstrates decisiveness and makes rapid course corrections when business conditions change

  • Attentive to detail; translates data into better business decisions

  • Views ideas critically and objectively and makes tough business decisions based on the facts Building Relationships and Using Influence:

  • Builds and sustains excellent relationships at multiple levels internally and externally, including staff, parents, donors and government and community operatives and leaders

  • Communicates passion, energy, intensity and excitement

  • Builds trust by attentively listening to others and delivering on commitments, demonstrating transparency in sharing information and willingness to have difficult conversations

  • Readily connects with others with a diplomatic and collaborative style

  • Builds effective coalitions to move an agenda forward; proactively solicits the view of others before making key decisions

  • Demonstrates persuasiveness and the ability to influence win-win outcomes

  • Compels others towards him/her; builds “followership" among colleagues and staff Leading Teams:

  • Sets an example of the highest personal standards of commitment and performance and holds people accountable for agreed upon results

  • Actively works on development of direct reports; provides opportunities for cross training; highlights achievements of staff; communicates clearly on expectations and timelines

  • Attracts new talent by embracing, supporting, and promoting a culture that values diversity, relationships and excellence in all things, especially customer service

  • Actively encourages and supports

  • Demonstrates a history of leading and mentoring high performing, collegial, diverse teams to achieve success

Enhancing Strategy:

  • Envisions market potential and opportunities for growth, and positions the business to capitalize upon them

  • Combines careful financial analysis, experienced-based judgment and intuition/ creativity to develop well documented, fact-based, and actionable plans

  • Supports and encourages Directors to develop practical strategies to grow their areas

Job Description

Primary Functions

I. Leadership, Management, and Operations - The Executive Director shall:

  1. Be responsible for High Hopes' consistent achievement of its mission and financial objectives.

  2. Actively participate with the Board of Directors to assure development of a long-range strategy to achieve High Hopes' mission and be responsible for implementing the strategic plan.

  3. Provide leadership in developing program, organizational, and financial plans with the Board and staff, and carry out plans and policies authorized by the Board.

  4. Promote active and broad participation by volunteers in all areas of High Hopes' work.

  5. Maintain official records and documents, and ensure compliance with federal, state and local regulations.

  6. Maintain a working knowledge of significant developments and trends in the field.

  7. Ensure the delivery of high-quality services by High Hopes while managing for current and future growth.

  8. Increase efficiencies and consistency throughout High Hopes.

II. Fundraising and Communications - The Executive Director shall:

  1. See that the Board is kept fully informed on a timely basis on the overall well-being and financial condition of High Hopes and all-important factors influencing it.

  2. Publicize the activities of High Hopes, its programs and goals.

  3. Establish sound working relationships and cooperative arrangements with community groups and High Hopes.

  4. Represent the programs and point of view of High Hopes to agencies, High Hopes, and the general public.

  5. Oversee operational fundraising planning and implementation, including funding sources and establishing strategies to approach funders.

  6. Work in coordination with the Board and their fiduciary responsibility for Capital campaigns.

  7. Formulate and execute comprehensive marketing, branding and development strategies for High Hopes.

III. Staff Relations - The Executive Director shall:

  1. Be responsible for the recruitment, employment, and release of personnel, both paid staff and volunteers.

  2. Ensure that job descriptions are developed, that regular performance evaluations are held, and that sound human resource practices are in place.

  3. See that an effective management team, with appropriate provision for succession, is in place.

  4. Encourage staff and volunteer development and education and assist program staff in relating their specialized work to the total program of High Hopes.

  5. Maintain a climate which attracts, keeps, and motivates a diverse staff of top-quality people.

IV. Budget and Finances - The Executive Director shall:

  1. Be responsible for developing and maintaining sound financial practices of High Hopes.

  2. Work with the staff, Finance Committee, and Board in preparing an annual budget and see that High Hopes operates with budget guidelines.

  3. Ensure that adequate funds are available to permit High Hopes to carry out its work.

  4. Jointly, with the President, Treasurer and Secretary of High Hopes, conduct official correspondence of High Hopes, and jointly, with designated officers, execute legal documents.

  5. Coordinate and review the annual IRS Form 990 filing and other reporting requirements.

All statements are intended to describe the general nature of work assigned to the job and are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all responsiblities, duties and skills required.


  • Bachelor's Degree in Education, Management, Business, or related field required.

  • Master's Degree desired

  • 5-7 years of non-profit experience in an operational environment strongly desired

  • 5-7 years management or supervisory experience

  • Satisfactory results of a background check and any other requirement as may be dictated by the State of Tennessee

Physical Demands

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential job responsibilities.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; sit for extended periods of time; use hands to handle or feel objects, tools or controls; reach with hands and arms; climb stairs; balance; stoop, kneel, bend, crouch or crawl; talk or hear; taste or smell.

  • The employee must occasionally lift, push, pull and/or move up to 20 pounds. Repetitive motion of upper body required for extended use of computer. Required specific vision abilities include close vision, distance vision, peripheral vision, depth perception and the ability to adjust focus.

Work Environment

Work environment characteristics described here are representative of those that an employee may encounter while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential job responsibilities.

  • Position primarily works in a well-lit, ventilated and climate-controlled environment with routine office equipment; some equipment has moving mechanical parts.

  • Occasional outdoor activities may be required.

  • Noise level in the work environment can be moderate to loud.

Prospective candidates are encouraged to apply by sending a letter of interest and resume to Alex Geraughty, for consideration by the Search Committee. Resumes must be received by January 31, 2022.

High Hopes is an Equal Opportunity Employer. High Hopes shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in hiring, administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

bottom of page