It's all about the people.
At Campbell & Company, we know Marian Alexander DeBerry as our Executive Search Director, a strong leader and accomplished professional highly skilled in her field. She certainly lives up to this image with 20 years of experience in executive search and active involvement in professional associations. Marian is the Co-Chair of both Forefront’s Advisor Member Network and AFP Chicago’s Fellows Program. She is also an annual speaker at the Minority Advancement Institute of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
Under Marian’s leadership, Campbell & Company’s respected search practice actively shapes the nonprofit community nationwide, conducting senior leadership searches from coast to coast and and influencing the field through thought leadership. In the past two years, the practice’s placements and the organizations they’ve served have collectively raised $1.3 billion, and 85 percent of Campbell & Company’s development professional placements stay for two years or more.
Despite these impressive figures, Marian brings much more to our firm than extensive credentials. Her unique career path and worldview shape the way she approaches her work and contribute to her success. Marian started her career as the Director of Upward Bound in Philadelphia, an academic program for first-generation college hopefuls. She was drawn to the education field because of the values it represents, as well as for its role in consciousness-raising. Her favorite part of the job? Recruiting new students to join the program.
She left this position to attend graduate school, earning a Master of Business Administration from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Marian’s next career stop was in commercial banking. Again, recruiting was one of the most enjoyable aspects of her job, this time to find candidates for Treasury positions at the bank.
In hindsight, her affinity for recruitment is readily apparent, but she never considered it as a career until she attended a workshop led by a panel of executive search firms. “I remember sitting there listening and thinking, ‘I want to do that,’” Marian remarks. “I went up to talk to the men leading the session, and they were nice to me, but in an almost dismissive way.” At the time, there were almost no women or people of color working in the field. Marian tucked the thought away in the back of her head and continued her work in commercial banking.
Fast forward five years. A friend of Marian’s enlisted her help on a month-long professional project. This friend happened to work for an executive search firm. One month turned into six and a half years at the firm, and the rest is history! Marian worked as vice president with two retained executive search firms and as an independent executive search consultant before joining Campbell & Company in 2006. Of her time at Campbell, Marian says, “Executive search allows me to focus on mission-driven people, organizations, and institutions. It’s a perfect match.”
In her professional life as in her personal life, Marian’s relationships come first. “I’m proud of the team we’ve built in executive search,” she attests. “They are phenomenal professionals, and it’s the human factor that makes the difference for our client organizations.” Marian is equally proud of the friendships she’s made over the years. After her husband passed away unexpectedly last year, she was greeted by hundreds of loved ones at his funeral. This upwelling of support is a point of pride for Marian because the relationships she has built with friends mean so much to her.
Outside of Campbell & Company, Marian can be found singing in her choir, a group she’s been proud to be a part of for more than 20 years. “When you’re singing in a choir, you have to be an individual and a group simultaneously,” she explains. “The group needs your sound, but not so much that you stick out. When it blends, there’s nothing better.”
Whether she’s leading a senior leadership search, nurturing a friendship, or belting notes in the choir, for Marian Alexander DeBerry, it’s all about the people.