Our Philosophy

When Phillips Oppenheim was founded in 1991, nonprofits needing professional executive search services had no alternative but to turn to commercial search firms or solo specialists. Then, we filled a niche as a firm invested in the professional standards and resources of the commercial firms with the personal service and care of a solo specialist to reach across public, business and nonprofit sector boundaries to find the most innovative candidates. Today, our deep expertise, networks, and breadth of strategic solutions accrued over almost three decades and informed by the one constant of dynamic change continues to be the touchstone of our work with clients, globally.

We offer nonprofits a better choice and a clear philosophy:

  • We partner with mission-driven organizations and individuals, often in transition, to address critical leadership, management and governance issues;
  • We focus on service and transparency;
  • We provide our clients with choices they might not otherwise have while sustaining the highest level of executive search consulting.

Moreover, we foster relationships with organizations and individuals beyond specific searches to assist the sector, investing in its rising talent and overall health, while maintaining our inclusive culture.

Our Commitment to DEIA

Our flat organizational structure with ten Principal Search Consultants, half of whom are of color and a majority of whom are female, reinforces equity internally. Phillips Oppenheim itself has a long record as a firm of racially and culturally diverse professionals with independent and unique voices who support and promote the firm's desire to ensure that highly qualified candidates from all backgrounds are considered for the searches we undertake. We started as, and remain, a firm serving mission-based institutions with an early focus in the social justice arena that has since informed our expanded portfolio across the nonprofit sector. Similarly, we are committed to equity in every slate we present:

  • We believe, and studies support, that there is a powerful Diversity Dividend
  • The intentional inclusion of diverse perspectives leads to better decision making, more equitable outcomes, and greater impact
  • Divergent perspectives inspire innovation that can help solve old and new problems
  • Diversity, equity, inclusion and access leads to a more just society for all.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access leads to a more just society for all.

We start by learning about you...

Our four phase process is specifically designed to engage great leaders who are always in demand and who have a broad range of professional experiences.

Developed for the nonprofit sector over 14 years, our process is designed specifically to reveal the strengths, attributes and weaknesses of candidates.

Phase One: The Client Organization. We interview all internal participants relevant to the decision-making process to formulate a position description that highlights the organization's mission, history and culture, and that details the attributes of great candidates. We do more than learn about our client's organization; we absorb the heart and soul of the mission.

Phase Two: The Marketplace and Outreach. We create a target list from our database, networks, original research and nominations from various sources, including prospects suggested by client constituencies. We interview and qualify prospects, brief clients, and identify candidates. We engage new sources and drive the process to offer clients choices they might not otherwise have.

Phase Three: Interviews. We interview all prospective candidates and help our clients to refine prospect lists. We guide clients and candidates through the interview process, ensuring that all parties are appropriately prepared and have sufficient information to make informed choices. We also facilitate the selection process.

Phase Four: Selection, Referencing, Negotiation. We provide appropriate support toward building a consensus during final selection. In collaboration with our clients, we conduct references, and help to resolve open questions and issues. We facilitate during negotiation of salary, benefits and other terms. This is a sensitive time in the process, and we are there to help bridge differences.


  • Advocacy
  • Arts/Cultural Institutions
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Philanthropy
  • Social Justice

We start with a personal commitment to your mission...but that's just the beginning.

Leadership is not generic. Our work is built around our knowledge of different kinds of nonprofit organizations, their mission, boards, supporters, operations, clients, funding sources, and challenges.

As we consult with our clients, we come to each search with a wealth of sector knowledge and an unparalleled network of sources and prospects. Then, in collaboration with our clients, we build on that knowledge and those networks as we address each client's unique circumstances and needs.

Nonprofit leaders operate in a complex world.

They bind together diverse people in pursuit of high purpose. They raise money without the promise of financial return. They advance organizations and causes by harnessing rare combinations of policy and program experience, strategic thinking and tactical action.

Style and fit loom large in the search for nonprofit leaders. Not all great leaders would be effective in your organization, and not all organizations are right for certain kinds of leaders. That is why our search consultants cultivate a deep understanding of how different strengths and styles may benefit our nonprofit clients.

We unite leaders and nonprofits in ways that build capacity and strengthen organizations.

Each of our consultants has a particular area of expertise, and we also ensure that all of our consultants work across sectors so that they maintain the broadest possible perspective. This enables us to avoid the narrow viewpoint of many specialist boutique firms, while ensuring that our work is deeply informed by sector knowledge and the worlds of government and business.

We find great leaders who understand your mission and know how to realize your vision.

We are dedicated to nonprofits.

Our team's focus on nonprofits keeps us abreast of the challenges facing the sector as a whole, where nonprofit operating and leadership paradigms are constantly evolving.

Phillips Oppenheim has more professionals that help nonprofit organizations find great leaders. We possess an unparalleled network among executives that support nonprofits through their participation on boards, as volunteers and advisors, and as nonprofit executives.

Our service to clients is thorough and our consultants bring an unmatched depth of experience to every engagement. Phillips Oppenheim has the broad-based resources and contacts needed to recruit the very best leaders for nonprofits.

We search beyond the conventional at Phillips Oppenheim.

Our Consulting Team