Reporting to the Board of Trustees, the Executive Director provides leadership for the organization through driving strategic initiatives, day-to-day operations, and active involvement in the development of all programs and activities to ensure continued viability and growth for VFES. The Executive Director is responsible and accountable for delivering on budget expectations, creating positive synergies between the programs, marketing the organization’s unique, high-quality programs and services, and overseeing fundraising strategies that will enable the organization to build upon its strengths and reach its full potential. The Executive Director serves as the liaison between the Board and all VFES staff, providing the right level of interaction across both populations.
- In collaboration with the Board of Trustees and senior leadership team, develop and implement a strategic plan and organizational goals that advance the mission of VFES ensuring the strategic plan is translated into goals and objectives for staff.
- Lead by example in promoting the core values of the organization in all interactions with staff, students, individuals, families, service partners, and the Board. Maintain and promote honest, direct communication between and among the program staff to foster a positive working and learning environment.
- Anticipate changes in special education and services for individuals with special needs and share a vision of possibilities for the future.
- Determine optimal organizational structure, integrating the programs of The Vanguard School and Adult and Recreation Services to improve communication and the effectiveness and efficiency of the organization as a whole.
- Motivate, lead, and sustain a high-performance senior leadership team to ensure the continued development and management of a professional and efficient organization.
- Ensure that services are held to the highest standard while managing for current and future growth.
- With the support of the Board and senior leadership, manage any crisis or emergency.
- Oversee the delivery of high-quality programs in compliance with external/governmental requirements and applicable laws and regulations.
- Oversee and assess program effectiveness, developing effective Key Performance Indicators to hold teams accountable to set expectations. Work collaboratively with program directors to implement appropriate adjustments.
- Develop, implement, and manage a Risk Management/Quality Assurance program to ensure all programs are performing at the highest level.
- Ensure that programs and operations are supported by sufficient technological systems and business infrastructure.
Organizational Management/Staff Development
- Develop and maintain a highly competent, motivated, and productive staff, and serve as a role model while maintaining the highest ethical standards.
- Effectively lead all functional areas including programming, human resources, safety and compliance, marketing, facilities, finance, information technology, and the legal external partner.
- Responsible for a total staff of 295 FTEs through ten direct reports, including Chief Financial Officer, Director of Education, Director of Clinical Services, Director of Adult & Recreation Services, Director of Development & Major Gifts, Director of Human Resources, Director of Information Technology, Director of Marketing & Communications, Director of Compliance & Risk Management, and Executive Administrative Assistant.
- Work collaboratively with the leadership of the organization to further the mission. Develop direct reports through open communication, mentoring, professional development activities, and annual performance review discussions.
- Ensure the safety and security of the organization, staff, students, and individuals.
- Delegate responsibilities and serve as a mentor to foster a success-oriented, accountable environment within the organization.
- Hold regular meetings with the staff and ensure that the general policies of the Board are understood and followed.
- Working with the Director of Human Resources and program directors, monitor and coordinate matters regarding employment, retention, and dismissal of personnel, salaries and contracts, job assignments, performance evaluation, and orientation and training.
- Oversee the financial status and stability of the organization, including developing long- and short- range financial plans, monitoring the budget ($20 million annually) and ensuring sound financial controls are in place.
- Working with the CFO and program directors, formulate budget recommendations for the Board of Trustees that will ensure program effectiveness and fiscal responsibility.
- Regularly assess and refine the organization’s structure and staffing to ensure maximum effectiveness, the highest quality of services, and appropriate operational capacity.
- Take initiative in seeking additional program and funding opportunities and the development of new sources of revenue.
- Maintain and promote honest, direct communication between and among parents, service partners, legislators, and supporters.
- Oversee and actively participate in the organization’s development program to increase annual, capital, and endowment fundraising in support of the mission.
- Maintain an external presence and be the face of VFES by developing relationships with the community, agencies, partners, funders, advocates, and government officials.
- Market the organization’s strengths, mission, and core values to the internal and external communities. Build the VFES brand while maintaining and/or increasing the program brands.
- Be an active member of appropriate professional and community organizations to promote the welfare of the organization and its programs through attendance and presentations at meetings, workshops, conferences, and specified social functions.
- Collaborate with the Board of Trustees to develop short-term and long-range strategic plans to ensure growth and long-term sustainability of VFES.
- Advise the Board of Trustees by keeping them informed of the organization’s operations, community concerns, legal matters, fiscal issues, and developments in practice so that board members have adequate information for carrying out their governance policy-making responsibility.
- Cultivate a strong and transparent working relationship with the Board and ensure open communication about the measurement of financial, programmatic, and performance against stated milestones and goals.
- Provide input to the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board into Board and committee meeting agendas. Routinely provide reports on activities of the organization as requested by the Board.
- Work cooperatively with all standing and ad-hoc committees and task forces of the Board. Engage actively in the recruitment of new Trustees.
- Perform related duties, special assignments, and projects as assigned by the Board.
The Executive Director must have an understanding of and passion for the mission of Valley Forge Educational Services and a commitment to the individuals and families it serves. The successful candidate will work with the Board of Trustees in developing and implementing the strategic plan incorporating a vision for organizational growth. A unifying leader, the Executive Director will have a track record of experiences including knowledge of strategies and best practices proven effective in managing a complex, multi-program organization. The Executive Director will be an outstanding communicator and compassionate leader who provides an environment in which all employees feel encouraged, supported, and valued. The Executive Director is a visible, supportive, and an accessible presence, known and respected by the VFES community.
- Demonstrated ability to foster an understanding and acceptance of people with special needs.
- Minimum of ten (10) years of progressively responsible senior management experience; prior nonprofit leadership experience and management of a complex organization preferred.
- Effective leadership and mentoring skills that will motivate and inspire staff to be subject matter experts while setting high expectations and professional direction.
- Proven ability and experience in fiscal management and preparing and securing Board approval for a complex budget.
- Transformational leadership skills and organizational management experience with the ability to lead and build consensus within a complex, diverse organization.
- Visionary and strategic planning capabilities and the leadership necessary to ensure its successful implementation.
- Proven track record in successful fundraising and marketing.
- Ability to review current organizational programs and make recommendations that empower programmatic refinements.
- Preferred knowledge of special education and programs for individuals with special needs and related funding climate.
- Preferred knowledge of policies and legislation impacting special education and programs for individuals with special needs and the ability to be an advocate for effective policies.
- Knowledge of how to foster an environment of accountability, healthy work relationships and partnerships, and inclusivity among organizational staff in order to maintain a positive and collaborative work environment.
- Proven crisis management and problem-solving skills with the ability to make wise decisions in collaboration with team and board members.
- Strong interpersonal skills with the ability to build collaborative relationships and effectively navigate across a highly engaged constituent base including the Board, staff, donors, students, individuals, and parents.
- Highly organized with the ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks simultaneously.
- Project executive presence and possess superior communication and presentation skills to express, orally and in writing, VFES’s mission, vision, and goals with clarity, passion, and persuasion.
- Graduate degree from an accredited institution required.
The Executive Director is expected to be on-site Monday through Friday at the Malvern, PA campus, with engagement in occasional night and weekend activities.
Valley Forge Educational Services (VFES) offers educational, social-recreational, and employment-based programs for individuals with special needs. The hallmark of their programs is the collaborative and holistic approach to each child, adolescent, and adult, recognizing their unique abilities and needs through team efforts. Individuals of all ages come to learn, share, appreciate, and respect one another while developing skills necessary for success. VFES is committed to helping students and adult participants develop a strong sense of self-worth to realize their value as contributing members of their communities.
Valley Forge Educational Services (VFES) is located on a 28-acre campus in the wooded countryside of Chester County, in the town of Malvern, Pennsylvania. The campus provides students and staff a calm and peaceful environment where they can achieve their academic goals, socialize with friends, and practice daily living skills.
The VFES campus consists of a number academic and clinical services buildings including several school buildings within The Vanguard School program; The Milton Brutten Elementary School building, The Richard D. Mierley Upper School building (houses Middle and High Schools), The Vanguard Transition Center, a state-of-the-art therapy gym, activities center, cafeteria, industrial- and fine-arts workshops, and administrative offices. The campus also contains an attractive central courtyard, play structures, a PACE course, fitness trail, and athletic fields.
The Vanguard School
The Vanguard School provides comprehensive special education services in a highly personalized setting by emphasizing and integrating an academic environment with a high degree of socialization programming and sensory integration. The school explores and implements individualized approaches along with evidence-based curriculum to foster significant educational and social accomplishments in its students. The Vanguard School’s innovative K-12 and post-secondary education is a hallmark of the school’s learning-for-life philosophy and has resulted in measurable success for graduates.
Adult and Recreation Services
Adult and Recreation Services (ARS) offers employment, social and recreational programming for adults with unique abilities, 18 years and older. Adult and Recreation Services programs vary in purpose, format, and length and build on participants’ interests to help them succeed, learn, and grow. The largest program under ARS is Customized Workforce Solutions (CWS). CWS provides employment-related services to adults with disabilities. The program focuses on person-centered support and training to help job seekers attain their employment goals. The process helps adults define their goals, understand their skills, and discover their vocational interests and work preferences. While most CWS services take place in the participants’ home communities, some informational meetings, career assessments, and special events take place on the VFES campus. Vocational Immersion Program (VIP) is a vocational based service offered over 4 weeks in the summer. It is for younger adults, ages 17 yrs – 24 yrs, who would benefit from learning how to navigate the soft skills of seeking employment and experience an ‘immersion’ into a work experience for 3 weeks, including a residential component the last week of the program. Additionally, ARS focuses on helping adults with unique abilities navigate social and recreational activities. From the development of social and daily living skills to experiencing opportunities to have fun and make new friends, programs of Adult & Recreation Services maximize each participant’s potential. Social and recreational programs include day and overnight camp, respite retreats, employment readiness program, and social events.
For additional information, please visit their website at https://www.vfes.net/ .