Charles Lerner has decided that the time has come to transition out of his role as the Executive Director of At The Crossroads. Charles is committed to finishing what he has started and will continue to lead At The Crossroads as he, the board of directors, and ATC leadership search for a new leader and maintain the organization’s current momentum. We know there are many questions that arise with a leadership transition, so we put together an FAQ to ensure we’re sharing all the details as they develop:
- Charles Lerner has decided to transition out of the role of Executive Director in the coming year and is working with ATC’s Board of Directors on a succession plan in order to find ATC’s next leader. Charles will continue to serve as ATC’s Executive Director in the interim.
- It is a sign of a healthy organization and thoughtful leader to recognize when it’s time to bring on a new leader with a new skill set and to build towards a long-term strategy. It is an optimal time for a new Executive Director to come in and, with our board and staff, make and implement new strategic decisions.
- ATC’s staff and Board of Directors are working with an executive search firm on the search which will start in November. To find a unique community leader will require a unique search process, including ensuring that we consider leaders who are often overlooked for these opportunities. Our hope is that our next leader will be in place by early spring and Charles can work closely with them in order to ensure a seamless transition and maintain ATC’s momentum.
- In his two and half year tenure, Charles helped At The Crossroads reach a strong position of stability, both financially and strategically. We are currently carrying out a 3-year strategic plan that will increase our impact and our reach.
- It’s an ideal inflection point for the organization now to shift our focus to be able to grow. Charles was the right leader for the last three years, helping our organization streamline its operations and plan for the future. For this next chapter of growth, the right leader will have the energy and vision to take the organization into its next phase.
- On a personal level, Charles and his family have called both the Bay Area and Boston home for the last 10 years. They have decided to return to Boston as their primary residence because of the resources available to his family there, especially his son. Charles will continue to lead the organization during this transition. We have tremendous faith in the leadership team established to ensure the organization continues to operate seamlessly.
How does ATC plan to weather this transition?
- From a financial standpoint, a leadership transition is always challenging. However, ATC is in a stable financial position:
- Between FY19 and FY20, ATC increased its revenue by 81%. FY21 continued to be a strong year: in December 2020, thanks to our donors we surpassed our end-of-year campaign goal and raised over $200,000. Thanks to our supporters, we have been able to offer increased food and supply support for clients throughout the pandemic.
- Our financial position will allow us to sustain our current programs and be poised to grow our team over the next few years in a strategic manner.
- ATC also recently accepted a contract with the City, a first for our organization. Unprecedented resources are being invested in the homelessness response system. ATC wants a seat at the table and is being strategic in how we gain this seat without compromising our unique program model.
- ATC also has a strong leadership team in place that is fully capable of continuing the mission, building towards our longer-term vision, and working with a new leader:
- Mari Amend, Director of Development and Communications
- Mari is the Director of Development and Communications. She has worked with ATC for 4 1/2 years, and during her tenure she produced a 20th-anniversary oral history of the organization and its clients and created the communications strategy for ATC’s first-ever Capital Campaign, raising $4 million. As an oral historian and grassroots fundraiser, Mari has raised awareness and funds for diverse causes and organizations including increased water access in rural California (Community Water Center), reproductive justice (Alabama Women’s Center), immigrant rights (CARECEN SF), and investigative journalism (Mother Jones).
- Demaree Miller, Director of Program
- Demaree started as an ATC Outreach Counselor in 2015, became Program Manager in 2018, and as of March 2021 is ATC’s Program Director. He has spent the last 10 years working with underserved communities. He joined ATC because of the organization’s approach towards advocacy and client-led outcomes.
- Tara Hickey, Director of Operations and Finance
- Tara became ATC’s Administrative Assistant in June 2016. Ever since, she has been using her considerable organizational and problem-solving skills to ensure the office runs smoothly. She soon took on the responsibility of Operations Manager, and In 2021 she was named Director of Operations and Finance and is the glue behind the scenes that keeps the organization running.
- Mari Amend, Director of Development and Communications
What are we looking for in ATC’s next leader?
- We expect that the next leader will be relational and principled. They will do their work through an equity and social justice lens. The hope is that they will be a community organizer and someone perhaps born and raised in the Bay Area.
- We are looking for someone who represents the young people ATC works with and will remain in the Bay Area and persist with others to preserve (or restore) what has made San Francisco and the Bay Area unlike any other city and region in the country.
- It’s imperative that ATC’s next leader is driven to mobilize the community and become part of the solution to the city’s homelessness and inequality crisis.
What’s next for At The Crossroads?
- As for now, it is business as usual. Our programs are continuing, full steam ahead. Our goal remains to meet the needs of our clients in the most effective ways possible.
- Charles has committed to finishing what he has started. We will be completing a few key initiatives including sharing the findings of our first-ever client study and a needs assessment which will determine (and model out) potential strategic options for ATC’s future.
- ATC is in a strong financial position to plan for growing our organization and increasing our impact in the community.
- At The Crossroads, continues to expand its team of Supportive Services Counselors so that we can work with more clients one-on-one and reach clients through new entry points. We are also growing our administrative team to strengthen our operations and run as efficiently as possible.
How can you help us during this transition?
- The most important thing you can do is to continue to support ATC. Our community of supporters have positioned us perfectly to be catalysts for change, including donors who stand by us year after year. Nonprofit leadership transitions can be tough and it’s more important than ever that our supporters stand with us as we bring on a new leader and ensure their success. Nothing about the work we do is changing—except that we’re working on increasing our impact! Your generosity is critical to the support we are able to provide our clients.
- You can also recommend people that might be a fit for this role! Do you know anyone who has a track record as a strong community leader and is looking to help grow an integral community organization? We’ll be releasing a job description and more details about the search in the coming months and we’d love to hear from you!