Position Description

Position Description

Families Forward

(Irvine, CA)

Title: Chief Executive Officer


Mission: Families Forward exists to help families in need achieve and maintain self-sufficiency though housing, food, counseling, education and other support services.

Starting with five rented apartments in 1984, Families Forward has expanded to work with hundreds of families to regain economic independence and find a stable home for parent(s) and their children. Families Forward’s vision is to end homelessness for local families. One of the fastest growing segments of the homeless population is working families with children struggling to make ends meet. The high cost of basic living, including rent, transportation, healthcare and childcare, coupled with the significant lack of affordable housing puts many families at risk.

Families Forward works with homeless families to find realistic solutions for sustainable housing and build individualized plans to return each family to self-sufficiency. By stabilizing these families and giving them tools to build a future, Families Forward creates a stronger community for everyone. A key factor for success is Families Forward’s commitment to collaborate with many organizations to end family homelessness in Orange County, including Orange County United Way, the Commission to End Homelessness, the Children and Families Commission and many other partner agencies and foundations. 

Providing supportive services to improve lives, Families Forward also reaches out to low-income families to help reduce the pressures that can cause homelessness and help them maintain their stability. Through various safety-net services, those at-risk are given access to assistance such as the on-site food pantry, counseling, career coaching, financial and life skills education. Families Forward helps families recover from a financial crisis so they can maintain their self-sufficiency.  

After 26 years as the CEO, Margie Wakeham is retiring from her role on October 1, 2019. From a humble beginning of a two-person team to over 50 staff members today, the agency has grown into a multi-service organization that has changed thousands of lives under Wakeham’s leadership.

Families Forward holds strong to their commitment of five fundamental values:

Dignity: Honor each individual through an atmosphere of respect, trust and confidentiality.

Empowerment: Inspire self-sufficiency through the development of courage, confidence and pride.

Accountability: Accept responsibility for commitments and accomplishing our goals.

Community Spirit: Realize our vision through teamwork, cooperation and collaboration.

Hope: Share a belief in new beginnings and allow dreams of the future to emerge.

To learn more about Families Forward, please visit https://www.families-forward.org/.


The CEO reports directly to a 30-member Board of Directors and is responsible for planning, implementing, supervising and assessing Families Forward’s operations in support of the programs provided by the agency. Working closely with the Board of Directors, the CEO will ensure that the mission is carried out and provide vision and operational leadership for the organization’s sustainability, future growth and development. As a highly visible representative of Families Forward, the CEO is responsible for developing and maintaining strong relationships with various constituencies including children and their families, Board members, donors, volunteers, community leaders, foundations, government and partner agencies.  

Families Forward has an annual operating budget of over $6 million. The CEO will oversee the budget and a staff of 50+ employees. The CEO provides support and direct oversight to the following direct reports: Senior Director, Director of Programs, Director of HR, Director of Development, Controller and Director of Counseling.


  • Leadership Articulates vision and strategic direction of Families Forward, ensures the implementation of the strategic plan, and recommends short term and long range plans and budgets to the Board of Directors; formulates budgets for plans, programs and objectives, and directs all programs, services, and activities; articulates both the short term and long term vision, and ensures that overall objectives and milestones are met.
  • Funding – Develops effective partnerships, collaborations and strategic alliances with government agencies, corporations, foundations and other sources of funds and services within the nonprofit industry, as well as with individuals; represents Families Forward to prospective and current major funding sources.
  • Board Relations – Facilitates operations and administration of the Board by promoting proactive Board development, advising and informing Board members, interfacing between Board and staff and supporting the Board to fulfill its governance function.
  • Financial Duties Responsibility for overall financial integrity and strength of Families Forward; oversees the development of budgets for submission to the Board; ensures the Board is regularly informed on the financial status of the agency; provides the appropriate control and accountability of all funds, physical assets and other property.
  • Management and Staff Development – Leads senior management team to strengthen and support the programmatic, financial and operational goals of Families Forward; involvement in recruiting, developing and motivating staff; identifies training needs and ensures development and implementation of programs that address needs; oversees succession planning and assessment of staff; reviews current practices and methods, and initiates development of new ones as necessary to reduce costs, improve efficiency and encourage growth.
  • Advocacy, Community Relations and Communications Assures that Families Forward and its mission, programs and services are consistently presented in a strong, positive image to relevant stakeholders; maintains leadership and program advocacy role of the agency by interfacing with other community organizations and key constituent groups, City and County departments, and political leaders through direct contact and through local and state provider associations.
  • Quality, Compliance and Reporting Ensures that activities and operations are in compliance with local, state and federal regulations and laws governing business operations; establishes systems to regularly and systematically evaluate the results of overall operations and programs.
  • Family Solutions Collaborative – Leads a group of geographically diverse homeless service providers to analyze the efficacy of current resources for homeless families and inform systemic changes that will end homelessness for children and families in Orange County. Families Forward is currently serving as the financial backbone agency for the Collaborative and the CEO represents Families Forward on the Executive Committee.


The CEO must possess a passion for helping families who are homeless or at-risk of being homeless. The ideal candidate is a collaborative team builder, mentor and seasoned leader who operates with a strategic perspective while executing the day-to-day activities. The CEO will be a visionary, forward-thinking leader with an entrepreneurial spirit. A strong business acumen that will enable the CEO to make effective decisions regarding future growth is key. Excellent communication skills, both written and oral, including outstanding public speaking skills are essential, as the CEO will represent Families Forward to its various constituencies. The CEO will have strong interpersonal skills and be a natural relationship builder. Proven fundraising experience and the ability to relate comfortably with a variety of funding sources, including public funding stream contacts, foundations and individuals are essential.

The ideal candidate will be a good listener who is accessible and who possesses the ability to adapt and respond effectively to change, while continuing to lead and mentor the team. This individual needs to be a coalition-builder who can work on multiple levels with a wide variety of constituencies to implement programs and processes, and facilitate change, when required. The CEO will have a demonstrated commitment to promote diversity on the Board and within organization, as well as recognize the diverse nature of the community. An inclusive leadership style that endorses collaboration, trust and open, transparent communication between all stakeholders will be highly valued. This individual will accomplish goals through motivation, the delegation of authority, and the use of systems that are designed for effective planning, evaluation, and accountability. The successful candidate will have critical thinking skills and will display integrity, good judgment, technical expertise, financial acumen, strong organizational skills and logical priority-setting skills. The leader will be authentic and grounded in Families Forward values which include respecting each individual and their contributions to the mission.


The ideal candidate will have a proven track record of leading a diverse human service, corporate or nonprofit organization that is recognized for its commitment of exemplary service to the community. A record of success in developing strategic goals and implementing plans to attain them is important. Experience in building, retaining, leading and monitoring a high performance, cohesive management team is important; additionally, this executive will understand how to build and sustain a resilient culture. The ability to provide exceptional programmatic results while simultaneously growing an organization’s talent, systems and processes to enhance its impact will be valued. The successful candidate will have experience working collaboratively with a Board of Directors in executing a vision and mission. An understanding of current developments in the field of human services and their potential impact on the agency would be highly valued.


A bachelor’s degree is required. An advanced degree in nonprofit management, business administration or finance is strongly preferred.


Annual compensation will be competitive and relocation assistance, if needed, is negotiable. A comprehensive benefits package will be provided.


To apply for this position, visit www.morrisberger.com/searches.php

Morris & Berger
500 North Brand Boulevard, Suite 2150
Glendale, CA 91203-1923

1 (818) 507-1234