The Future Has A Name


As many of you know, some seven months ago I announced that I would be retiring as NCADA’s executive director in June of this year. I gave the staff and board more than a full year’s notice to allow plenty of time for transition, and to ensure that the process was neither disruptive nor destabilizing.

The agency’s existing succession plan was initiated. First, the board of directors created an ad hoc search/selection committee. Next, the agency hired an external consultant to survey the entire staff and board about the organization’s strengths and weaknesses, and what was desired in a new leader. A board/staff retreat was conducted and the agency’s strategic plan was reviewed and its strategic priorities were refined.

The executive director job description was updated, the opening was posted, and a regional search commenced.

The search/selection committee screened a large number of qualified candidates and gradually winnowed the applicant pool down to three exceptional people: two external candidates; and one internal candidate, Nichole Dawsey, our current Director of Prevention Education.

The selection committee wanted to be certain they were selecting the absolute best person for the job, and, in many ways, the decision was made difficult by the strengths of the three finalists. All were extraordinary, and any of them could have come in tomorrow and taken over for me immediately.

But of the three, one candidate was, in fact, a better match for the position. One candidate distinguished herself from the other two by the combination of her formidable skill set and experience, but also by her breathtaking amount of institutional knowledge, both past and present. This candidate came into the process having already earned the confidence and trust of nearly the entire staff and board. She came into the process with strong, positive relationships with our four largest funders, and a passion for the mission—and the people serving it—that was demonstrably heartfelt and enduring.

So I am utterly thrilled to report that after a rigorous, multi-hour interview process, the selection committee recommended that Nichole Dawsey become NCADA’s next executive director. The recommendation was presented to the full board on Monday, January 8, and approved unanimously.

Nichole will remain in her current role while we search for her successor, and then, over the course of the next several months, she will train her successor while gradually transitioning into the executive director job. We expect the process to be smooth, and everyone here—most especially me—is excited about what’s next for NCADA.

I’ve made it clear that I’m willing to remain in my current role until sometime in June. But I recognize that the deadline is a bit fungible. Depending on how quickly we find a successor for Nichole’s current position, it could conceivably move up or back by 2-4 weeks. Either way, it’s a non-issue. What I know is that Nichole is eager to begin the formal process of transitioning into her new role. And she has kindly expressed no desire to rush me out the door.

So for the time being it’s business as usual here. But we can see the future, and her name is Nichole.

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