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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Position Announcement - Executive Director: The Gifford School

From The Gifford School

October 14, 2015

The Gifford School, a private nonprofit coeducational therapeutic day school in Weston, Massachusetts, is seeking a dynamic and dedicated new Executive Director. 

The Gifford School provides educational services in a clinical environment to students with special academic, behavioral and emotional needs so that they may achieve their full potential.

The School

The Gifford School (Gifford) has been providing a quality specialized educational and clinical program for students since 1964, first in Cambridge and at its present location in Weston since 1971. Gifford currently serves over 100 students from age eight to twenty-two who come from over 60 Massachusetts cities and towns. Located on a 27-acre campus, Gifford is approved by the Massachusetts Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The entire School community is committed to helping students increase their self-esteem, gain academic knowledge, and develop social skills. Gifford values a diverse community and strives to maintain a safe, accepting environment that respects individual differences and provides all community members with a sense of belonging. Please visit the Gifford website at www.gifford.org.

Gifford employs an interdisciplinary staff of 80 who work in partnership with the students' families, their public school systems, and a 17-member Board of Directors who represent a wide variety of professional expertise. Gifford has made major progress over the past five years. Educational and clinical programs were enhanced, the science curriculum was expanded, and a new lab was created. The food program was expanded, and the studio performing arts program was implemented with great success. Professional development was strengthened, and graduate opportunities were expanded through a new formal affiliation with Regis College.

With the purchase of an adjoining property, the campus was expanded, the Fenn Center was rebuilt after a 2009 fire, and a new pavilion and parking areas added. The financial position is strong, with an annual operating budget of $6 million. An experienced Interim Director (Robert McArdle) is supporting a smooth transition from the leadership of the long-time former Executive Director (Michael Bassichis) who retired earlier this year.

With the leadership of the Long Range Planning Committee, the school community has affirmed six strategic directions. The Gifford School will:
  • Continue to strengthen its educational program and clinical offerings to ensure that it provides the highest quality education and clinical support to help students reach their full potential;
  • Enhance staff support and development with the goal of continuing to attract and retain top quality staff;
  • Collaborate with stakeholders including public schools, parents, human service agencies, government officials, special education schools, mental health professionals, higher education personnel, and others;
  • Maintain and enhance its campus and facilities so that they continue to serve the mission;
  • Maintain its financial position and stability so that it can continue to fulfill its mission and provide high quality educational and clinical services;
  • Ensure that it has the organization and governance structures and processes required to fulfill its mission and move forward with its plan.

The Position

The Executive Director (ED) will lead the school, translating the mission and strategic plan into action. Reporting to the Board, s/he is responsible for understanding the special education market and trends in special education in order to position the School for the future. The ED will promote a quality, safe, and positive work and learning environment and an atmosphere which values diversity.

Responsibilities include:
  • Program and policy - ensure development and progress of clinical and educational programs; oversee development and implementation of appropriate policies pertaining to personnel, staffing patterns and job descriptions, health care, parent information, crisis management and other matters; ensure compliance with state and federal special education regulations; respond appropriately and effectively should there be a need for crisis management; and be aware of current and ongoing changes in the field.
  • Staff - oversee hiring of staff and oversee the Administrative Team which in turn manages the education, clinical and support staff in fulfilling their responsibilities; establish and monitor appropriate personnel practices such as performance appraisal, salary structure, benefits and other issues.
  • Finance - oversee development of the annual budget and ensure proper fiscal management; coordinate with auditors.
  • Relationships - ensure strong and positive relationships with regulatory agencies and purchasers of services, special education and mental health colleagues, and parents.
  • Funding - develop relationships with new funders and deepen and sustain partnerships with current funders. Apply for public, corporate, and foundation funding and reach out to individual donors; ensure timely, accurate reporting to funders and the Board.
  • Physical plant - ensure maintenance and long range development of the facilities and property.
  • Public relations - participate in outside activities that contribute positively to the School and its community and seek positive relationships with the media, the special education community, town of Weston and others; serve as the primary spokesperson for the School.
  • Board - work closely with the Board to keep them informed of school plans and programs, students' progress, personnel matters, and relationships with the MA Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education, Town of Weston, parents and others. Report to the Board on agency finances and funding sources on a regular basis.

Qualifications, Characteristics, Knowledge and Abilities Desired
  • Minimum of ten years administrative experience in private or public special education, the not-for-profit sector, or other related leadership role;
  • Demonstrated leadership ability to work productively with the school's key constituents;
  • Minimum of ten years experience working with students with special academic, behavioral and/or emotional needs;
  • Significant supervisory experience;
  • Evidence of fundraising ability and partnership development;
  • Understanding of Department of Elementary and Secondary Education funding and state and federal special education regulations helpful;
  • Experience in organizational planning and program development;
  • Experience working with a nonprofit board of directors;
  • Strong administrative and financial skills;
  • Advanced degree in education, mental health or related field.

To apply, please send resume, cover letter and recent salary history to Susan Egmont of Egmont Associates, at segmont@egmontassociates.com.


The Gifford School is committed to a policy of non-discrimination and equal opportunity for qualified applicants and employees without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability.

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