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Glenwood Academy

“Campbell & Company showed a consistency and clarity during the recruitment of our school’s new leadership. As a board, we are overwhelmingly optimistic about the future of the school.”

Craig Stern, Former Board President, Glenwood Academy


About Glenwood Academy

Located on a 300-acre campus south of Chicago, Glenwood Academy is the area’s only independent residential school for disadvantaged children. The institution’s unique mission educates 140 in-residence students from low-income families and/or single-parent households. Throughout its 127-year history, the school has provided its students with structure and security through a combination of rigorous education, physical and emotional support, and development of life and leadership skills. Its business model is financed almost exclusively through private funds.

The Challenge

In 2013, the school found itself with three key leadership vacancies within a year: the positions of President/CEO, the Vice President of Academic Affairs and the Vice President of Development. The openings were the result of planned retirements and resignations and affected 60% of its top executive team.

Having to fill one top leadership position would be difficult enough for any independent organization. But three searches was an extreme challenge for Glenwood, particularly since it involved the loss of the school’s President and CEO. Couple that with the loss of the school’s chief fundraiser, and the Board faced intense pressure to fill the vacancies before development efforts were impacted. 

The Board turned to Campbell & Company to facilitate the process and identify the right candidates quickly and efficiently. 

The Approach

Initial efforts centered on the vacancy of the Vice President of Development, which was the first position to open up. Campbell & Company conducted a thorough search, focusing particularly on culling a diverse set of candidates. Our focus was on identifying the exact skills that would lead to success, yet oftentimes these are skills that may not be obvious on paper. We have found that this results in candidates that don’t necessarily fit a client’s preconceived notions. Yet these individuals can bring an unexpected depth and breadth of insight and experience, generating valuable long-term contributions.

To that end, we took the time to get to know candidates on a variety of levels before presenting our top selections to the school’s Search Committee. When we reached that point in the process, we were confident that any of those candidates could be successful in the position. This upfront work saved time for both the Committee and the candidates. 

For some Search Committee members, our selection process may have required them to think outside of the box when interviewing the candidates that we presented. Yet Former Board President Craig Stern now considers this to be one of the standout moments in the process. He believes the Committee wouldn’t have brought in such uniquely ideal candidates without our outside objectivity.

The Results

Within an abbreviated timeline we helped Glenwood fill all three of its top leadership positions and helped those individuals successfully transition into their new roles. The trustees and directors of Glenwood collectively have been thrilled with the school’s new leaders. As the institution celebrates its new leadership, the Board has expressed overwhelming optimism in the future of the school.