Way Finders seeks a President and CEO (CEO) to achieve the organization’s vision: to build communities in which people do not struggle with income inequality and everyone has access to opportunity and rewards attained through dedication and hard work. Way Finders’ current CEO, Peter Gagliardi, will retire in 2020 following 28 years of dedicated leadership to the organization.
In 1973, Way Finders, formerly HAPHousing, began as the Housing Allowance Project, to provide stable housing for individuals and families facing poverty. Since its origin, the organization has become the go-to provider for a full range of housing services, as well as a developer and manager of high-quality affordable housing. With a mission to light pathways and open doors to homes and communities where people thrive, Way Finders confronts homelessness head-on in communities throughout western Massachusetts, including Hampden and Hampshire counties.
Way Finders is a chartered member of NeighborWorks America, an organization committed to affordable housing and community development. The largest non-profit housing provider in western Massachusetts, Way Finders impacts over 50,000 household members annually by providing services including housing counseling, affordable housing development and management, emergency shelter, financial education and first-time homebuyer workshops, employment training and retention services, neighborhood revitalization, and other programs throughout the region.
Way Finders also has two subsidiaries: MBL Housing & Development, LLC, a consulting firm based in Northampton that assists developers and owners of affordable housing, and Common Capital, Inc., a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) located in Springfield that makes loans to new and growing small businesses, helping the business owners improve their own economic status while creating jobs for others in the communities where they are located.
Way Finders has a long history of housing families who are facing eviction, are homeless, or earn a wage that is not sufficient to pay the rent. However, its work doesn’t end there. Stable housing is the platform upon which it works to help clients meet their own goals and thrive. As families thrive, so do the communities in which they live.
Way Finders operates six major programs:
- Housing Support Services (HSS) – Way Finders offers housing assistance to individuals who are experiencing homelessness, financial insecurity, domestic violence, and other emergencies that threaten safety. Way Finders’ Housing Center responds to more than 10,000 calls and walk-in requests for assistance annually.
- Rental Assistance (RA) – Way Finders helps renters find an apartment, provides payment assistance for qualifying individuals, helps tenants understand their rights and responsibilities, and assists landlords with inspection services and education.
- Real Estate Development (RED) – Way Finders builds affordable housing developments in communities throughout the region, with the goal to create quality homes where people prosper.
- Property & Asset Management (P&AM) – Way Finders manages a diverse portfolio of properties, keeping them in excellent repair, and linking residents to programs and services that enhance their lives.
- Homeownership & Financial Education (HOME) – Way Finders provides financial education counseling, workshops and programs that help participants attain, keep, manage, and modify their homes.
- Community Building & Engagement (CB&E) – Way Finders, together with partners and collaborators, helps residents identify issues and create solutions by building neighbor-to-neighbor connections, and teaching people how to advocate for their communities.
Way Finders is building a new Housing Center in downtown Springfield with a total project cost of $17M. The organization is currently in the silent phase of a $2.5M capital campaign, with over $2.2M pledged to date to support the new Housing Center.
Way Finders has an active, engaged 21-member Board of Directors. Members routinely attend local and national trainings with staff, including the NeighborWorks’ Excellence in Governance Program. The staff is comprised of 240 full-time and part-time employees. Way Finders has an operating budget of $19M, and an overall budget of $71M, which includes pass-through funding from state and federal contracts for the administration of rental assistance and homelessness prevention programs. The organization’s total budget, including its subsidiaries, MBL Housing and Development and Common Capital, is $87M. For more information about Way Finders, go to https://www.wayfindersma.org/ .
Way Finders’ staff, board, and volunteers constantly challenge inequitable economic and social barriers facing families in the region. Recent achievements towards this effort include the following:
- Today, Way Finders manages over 700 residential units, which house over 1,200 individuals. Way Finders has 450 units of new housing in its current real estate development pipeline.
- Each year, Way Finders’ rental assistance program serves over 5,500 families and supports landlords through tenant-owner education and inspection services.
- Each year, Way Finders prevents homelessness for at least 800 households by assisting families in obtaining Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) and HomeBase funds.
- Last year, 268 clients became first-time homebuyers, and of those, 176 bought homes in the City of Springfield.
- In 2017, Common Capital Inc. became a subsidiary of Way Finders, so the two organizations could work in partnership to build sustainable communities and support local business owners through high-impact community projects.
- In 2015, MBL Housing and Development LLC became a subsidiary of Way Finders as an agency that provides workable financing solutions for real estate development projects.
- Since 2014, more than 850 people have graduated from Way Finders’ Financial Education workshops.
- Since 2013, Way Finders has helped over 720 people find employment in the region. According to recent data, nearly 90% of these participants have retained their jobs and 90% have retained their housing as a result of stable employment.
Way Finders is currently in the fifth year of a five-year strategic plan with the following priorities:
- Service Delivery: Engage clients, residents, and communities in exceptional services that move people toward greater housing stability, financial security, and improved well-being.
- Sustainability: Demonstrate strong subject matter expertise, well-prepared and diverse leadership and staff, and streamlined systems and practices that facilitate organizational excellence and financial strength.
- Partnerships and Collaboration: Engage diverse partners and collaborators in exceptional service delivery to increase collective impact, while serving the missions of partner organizations that are meeting the needs of the entire region.
- Presence and Visibility: Influence the region’s leaders to embrace affordable housing as an asset to the region’s economy, especially when coupled with supportive services for residents.
The new CEO will be passionate about leading and advancing the organization’s mission, will provide sound fiscal management, and will sustain positive relationships with the Board of Directors, staff, partners, and other stakeholders. S/he will also demonstrate moral integrity and personal and strategic leadership. The CEO reports to the Board of Directors and has oversight of Way Finders’ Chief Executive Team.
Way Finders next CEO will:
- Maintain the organization’s standing as a respected leader in the housing and community development fields; lead and participate actively in efforts to elevate external stakeholders’ understanding of Way Finders’ impact on the people it serves.
- Foster strong relationships with governmental entities, including state funders.
- Keep abreast of policy decisions that affect people living in poverty, and ensure that Way Finders remains a leader in advocating for its clients.
- Advance Way Finders’ strategic priorities in a manner that reflects organizational values and the needs of the populations that it serves.
- Seek opportunities for growth, and strengthen Way Finders’ business model by leveraging all program areas, products, accomplishments, and stature in the field.
- Provide fiscal leadership that supports current business lines, increases revenue, and strengthens the financial health of the organization.
- Be accountable for the design and delivery of KPIs for the senior leadership team to run the organization and report up to the board, maintaining Way Finders’ “data driven” approach.
- Foster an organizational culture that is innovative and forward thinking while still being compassionate and communicative. Ensure that the organizational culture is one that is diverse and values-based.
- Develop talent, plan for succession, and empower the team and its leaders.
- Foster and maintain excellent working relationships with staff, the Board of Directors, partners, and other stakeholders.
- Build relationships to establish public relations, energize community engagement, and develop partnerships with local business leaders.
Experience and Attributes
The ideal candidate for this position will demonstrate an ability to quickly integrate into the community and serve as an engaged, inspiring, innovative, and visionary leader. Candidates will bring a variety of experiences and attributes, including:
- A leader with a strong passion for addressing issues related to housing and community development and willingness to embrace Way Finders’ multi-faceted organization, including both its Housing Center division and its Real Estate Operations.
- Demonstrated results setting a visionary strategy and collaborating to execute a plan to achieve goals.
- Respect for the legacy of the organization while leading it into the future.
- Strong business acumen, including strong financial management and contract negotiation skills; must have experience managing complex budgets; experience managing budgets of at least approximately $30M preferred.
- Experience establishing and building relationships with top community leaders, including those representing the highest levels in business, government and the nonprofit sector; and the ability to collaborate with partners.
- Must be a masterful communicator and excellent listener with a strong ability to build trust among a wide range of constituents; must have a high emotional intelligence.
- Knowledgeable about state and/or federal policies that affect Way Finders’ work; must have the ability to distill the interests and needs of Way Finders’ clients, and interpret state policies to understand how they will affect programs on the ground.
- Demonstrated experience in developing and overseeing large, innovative, and cutting-edge programs and practices; demonstrated “outside-the-box” thinking on new ventures, new goals, and new methods.
- Demonstrated experience managing an organization with multiple programs; experience managing umbrella entities/organizations with subsidiaries a plus.
- Strong fundraising record with experience attracting funds from government and private sources; demonstrated experience initiating and implementing private fundraising campaigns.
- Must demonstrate an inclusive leadership and management style that encourages staff in ways that motivate them to perform at their best, and provides opportunities for professional advancement.
- At least 10 years of senior leadership/management experience, with either all or part in the housing or community development fields. Must demonstrate experience managing a highly experienced senior leadership team with decades of experience.