Tag Archives: Mary Henderson

It’s been a remarkable summer for Leap Solutions recruiting. Here, we highlight four of our recent success stories because we’re not only proud of our accomplishments and delighted to match our clients with their ideal candidates, but we’re also struck by the uniqueness and complexities of each search. There’s no cookie-cutter approach to what we do at Leap Solutions, as no two recruitments are alike.

Six-Week Sprint

When United Way of the Wine Country needed a new CEO—and fast—they partnered with Leap Solutions. They wanted a candidate with high-level strategy and vision, and they preferred someone local, if possible.

Vital to their recruiting success was the formation of an unusually diverse search committee representing a variety of industries and perspectives. Some members brought to the table extensive experience and knowledge in interviewing and hiring, while others took advantage of Leap’s seasoned guidance and interview coaching. “Each committee member was looking for something a little different, so when we unanimously agreed, within minutes, that our candidate was the right person, we had a lot of confidence,” recalls Karissa Kruse, United Way of the Wine Country’s 2018-2019 board chair. (They were so confident, in fact, that the candidate was still making her way home from the interview when she got the call!)

While there was a sense of urgency throughout, the process never felt rushed. From job description and posting to candidate screenings and in-person interviews, Leap kept everyone focused and on target, accommodated busy summer schedules for all parties, and recommended several stellar candidates. In just six short weeks, Kruse happily reports, Leap helped land “the perfect leader to take the United Way of Wine Country to the next level.”

Congratulations to Lisa Carreno, CEO and president, United Way of the Wine Country!


Slow and Steady

With an interim CEO in place, Canine Companions for Independence had the luxury of time for their executive search. They turned to Leap Solutions for our strong nonprofit background and national reach, and, together, we launched a massive national search for their ideal new CEO.

Leap used traditional and non-traditional advertising methods, sifted through hundreds of resumes, formed a robust search committee spread across the country, and employed a variety of committee interview techniques (from phone to video conferencing to face to face) with the most promising candidates. Success wasn’t immediate, says Chris Kittredge, national board member for Canine Companions for Independence, but the Leap team was “persistent and thorough, and they maintained an incredible calmness and an appropriate sense of humor” to stay the course.

Leap’s connections and ability to see candidates beyond their resumes led to additional, better-fit candidates. To whittle those down, Leap asked the final candidates to give a 15-20-minute presentation. Hands down, one “knocked it out of the park,” says Kittredge. “I am absolutely thrilled and can’t wait for our new CEO to start!”

Congratulations to Paige Mazzoni, CEO, Canine Companions for Independence!



Locally Sourced

Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau looked to Leap Solutions when they needed to fill an unexpected Executive Director vacancy. They were eager to get a new leader in place in order to move forward with business planning and strategy during their busiest season.

We didn’t have the time to go through the usual job posting channels. But because the Leap team is deeply connected in the community and knows so many people in the industry, we were able to quietly and quickly source a solid selection of local candidates.

“There’s no way we could have done this without the Leap team,” says Hunt Bailie, board president of Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau. “They were our sounding wall, but they didn’t just repeat what we said. They walked us through the emotional parts and were strong enough to come back with, ‘let’s think about the direction you initially asked us to go—does this person really fit?’ Ultimately, I was very impressed.”

From the candidate’s perspective, Leap was equally invested in ensuring the perfect match. “The Leap team was very good at talking not just about the position, but about the entire process, the organizational culture, and the opportunities that it presented to me and my career,” says Tim Zahner, the newly hired Executive Director. “There was no overselling of anything—just honest discussion so that I was informed, prepared and ready not just for the interview but for the job.”

Congratulations to Tim Zahner, Executive Director, Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau!


Partners Beyond

When Los Cien Sonoma County made the momentous decision to hire their first-ever paid employee as an Executive Director, they knew they needed the kind of customized support, coaching and executive search services that only Leap could provide.

For nine years, Los Cien had been a volunteer-led startup. “We needed somebody with the depth and breadth of background to succeed in our startup setting and be a strong fit with our founder and chair, founding board members and board of directors,” says Lisa Carreno, board member of Los Cien Sonoma County. The Leap team coached them to identify what they genuinely wanted from the position; heard and addressed their concerns and fears; and sourced quality candidates, including standout Magali Telles, who now serves as Executive Director of Los Cien Sonoma County. “Through Leap,” says Carreno, “we got exactly the right person at the right time.”

After walking the board through every step of this meaningful hire and milestone placement, Leap continues to partner with Los Cien. We’re coaching Telles through the transition, aiding in establishing connections and more. “I feel like I’ve grown so much that I can’t even articulate it,” she says. “I’m very grateful to the Leap team for helping me live up to this huge responsibility to the community.”

Congratulations to Magali Telles, Executive Director, Los Cien Sonoma County!


These success stories illustrate just how much we tailor our recruiting services and processes to our individual clients. We never lose sight of what you want and need in a position, we meet your timeline, we guide you skillfully through every step, and we leave no stone unturned in finding and placing your perfect fit.



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Recruiting is so much more than posting a job and sifting through resumes to find the most qualified candidate. Recruiting is an opportunity—a chance to secure the perfect person to build out an even more solid, collaborative, diversified team, someone who not only fits beautifully into your culture but also enhances it. Get it right, and your new hire and your organization will thrive and prosper together, today, tomorrow and well into the future.

When you’re ready to fill your next position, try our ten strategies for reimagining the way you recruit and securing the ideal new hire:

  1. Start smart. Before you even begin the search, take stock of your needs, your expectations and your resources for filling the job. Would you be best served by hiring a professional search firm, using an internal recruiter or handling the search yourself? Develop an effective recruitment plan from the start, including a targeted timeline and budget, and use it to guide you through the process, from attracting and managing a selection of highly qualified and motivated candidates to making and retaining a top-notch placement.
  2. Refine your position. Take a critical look at the job description as it’s currently written. Does it accurately reflect the position and what you want from a candidate? Pay particular attention to the desired skills, experience and qualifications. If a certain body of knowledge or prior experience is essential from the get-go, say as much, or risk the mutual frustration of hiring someone who is “willing to learn” but won’t actually have the time to do so. On the flip side, don’t “require” an easily trainable skill, or you could potentially miss out on an otherwise ideal candidate who merely lacks something quickly and readily acquired. Know the job—and most importantly, know what success in that job looks like—and refine the description accordingly.
  3. Consider culture. While it’s important to find someone with the right proficiencies, skills and experience for the position, it’s no less vital to find someone well suited to your organization’s culture. You’ll want a person who feels at ease with the social customs, working habits, personality, energy and pace of your organization. Casual Fridays, regular working lunches, group brainstorming sessions—whatever the norms at your company, be upfront about them, because even the most brilliant candidate can only shine in a work environment that’s comfortable.
  4. Expand your search. Don’t limit yourself to just the obvious candidate search areas, and don’t get discouraged and settle for less than what you need (and want!) in filling a position. Remember, the best and most talented candidates might not be scouring the usual job boards, or they may currently be employed in a different industry altogether. Take advantage of non-traditional job postings as well as social media, word of mouth and referral opportunities. Looking beyond this particular position, think about ways you might begin to identify emerging talent and promising leads in your industry, as well as develop and nurture industry relationships that could yield candidates for future openings.
  5. Think long term. Give some thought to your long-term strategy for the position you’re trying to fill. Is this a job an employee will be expected to keep indefinitely, or will it more likely to be a steppingstone for advancement to other areas? A motivated candidate will undoubtedly ask what the position might look like one, five and ten years down the road.
  6. Look beyond. When evaluating candidates, look beyond current skill sets and even past the position at hand; take into consideration the person’s potential for development. Organizations are constantly evolving and presenting new opportunities. Stellar candidates are adaptable team players who are capable and eager to learn and grow with the company.
  7. Freshen up your interviews. Question-and-answer drills are things of interviews past. For a much more informative and memorable session and a truer indication of who a candidate really is, implement creative new interview styles and approaches, such as behavioral-based questions, sample scenarios and role-playing, and interview sessions with key individuals, teams and stakeholders.
  8. Spotlight the good. While you know your company offers great benefits, perks, working conditions and compensation, your interviewee doesn’t…yet. Remember that your candidate wants to know about the company as much as you want to know about the candidate. Highlight what sets your organization apart and makes it such an incredible place to work, and that candidate will accept your job offer with zeal.
  9. Focus on onboarding. Once you’ve found and hired just the right candidate, your focus should shift to facilitating the smoothest possible transition to the team. Your onboarding process should be clearly defined and well executed, and your new employee should feel confident that your door is always open for follow-up questions, help and support.
  10. Reward and retain. When you’ve successfully placed and transitioned the perfect new member to your team, you’re still not done! Make sure you have a set of well-developed retention strategies in place, including competitive wages, performance evaluations, development opportunities and recognition activities, to keep your new employee engaged, challenged, happy and loyal.

Effective recruiting can be hard work, but it’s well worth the effort, because a truly great hire can dramatically boost your company’s success. At Leap Solutions, we’re well connected and uncompromising in our commitment to zeroing in on what you really want in a candidate and delving beyond the skills and experience listed on resumes to the intangibles—personality, motivation, ethics, curiosity, insight and more. These can mean all the difference between a ho-hum placement and a devoted, lasting employee who both shares and actively contributes to your company’s vision, mission and core values.

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Goal-Setting Your Way to Your Vision


Another new year is well underway, and many people are working diligently toward personal resolutions such as eating healthier, exercising more, sleeping better, saving money and focusing on relationships. But how may of us direct that same resolve and commitment to our professional lives?

Here’s the thing: people with goals have a far greater chance of achieving their vision than those without. That means anyone with a vision for making a greater impact and experiencing genuine growth within a company should be spelling out specific, measurable goals to that end. If you want your leaders to thrive and drive the success of your organization, invest in their development. Quality leadership coaching enables leaders to set and achieve the kinds of goals that can dramatically transform their work and their lives.

The Time is Now

Goal-setting with the guidance and support of a seasoned coach can be invigorating. The perfect candidates are leaders who are ready to visualize their best selves and eager to create, refine and implement strategies for becoming just that. The process can be exceptionally useful for leaders who are:

  • Often, leaders have a nagging awareness that something isn’t working right. They might not yet be able to pinpoint the problem, but they feel a disconnect between team members, perhaps, or they find their team falling short of the progress or outcomes they desire. A skilled coach can provide insight and understanding about issues that keep people from moving forward as well as the motivation and tools to address them.
  • In transition. Leaders who are new to a company or role or are looking toward a promotion may be facing new responsibilities and/or new direct reports, teammates and bosses. Goal-setting can be incredibly powerful for tackling changing demands with enthusiasm and ease.
  • Looking for opportunity. Maybe things are working well for a particular leader…but they could still be working better. Or perhaps a leader is feeling stagnant or bored in a position and is itching for advancement. A coach can challenge them to set and attain goals to become even stronger, more proactive leaders who create opportunities for themselves and their companies.

Coaches engage with individual leaders as well as whole teams and boards. When engaging with entire groups, a coach can work both one-on-one and all together, which offers the benefits of opening a dialogue about member commonalities and uniquenesses; establishing a shared language and set of intentions; identifying, breaking down and overcoming systemic issues; and setting goals that serve each member as well as the whole. Team coaching also allows for group learning and training opportunities. Team members enjoy the advantages of a coordinated, integrated effort toward more effective working relationships along with group camaraderie, support, transparency and accountability.

The Process

The best coaching and goal-setting programs are entirely tailored to each individual leader without losing sight of the direction and mission of the organization. The coach strives for a deep understanding of the individual, the individual’s role and relationships within the organization and everything that’s required to thrive there. The process may include:

  • PDP ProScan. This thorough exploration into leaders’ personality types and core behavioral traits helps them learn how to leverage their natural state to improve the way they operate, adjusting what doesn’t work well and moving with intention on what does.
  • 360-degree evaluation. Through surveys and interviews, key people provide invaluable feedback about leaders’ competencies; leaders can use this to differentiate their own perception of themselves from the actuality.
  • Situational analysis. A thoughtful evaluation of the real-world environment, culture and dynamics of workplaces and teams can reveal opportunities for leaders to be more collaborative, inspiring and influential.
  • Challenge questions. Coaches use these to push leaders out of their comfort zones and be critical where they’re not currently critical; determine their tolerance levels and willingness to change; proactively address the aspects of their jobs they find most tough while learning to focus on what’s most meaningful to them; imagine what might be possible as a leader; and hone in on where they want to truly make their mark in the company.

These types of exercises hold a mirror to the individual leaders and to the organizations they lead. What’s reflected are gaps, issues, priorities, strengths and opportunities for growth. This heightened awareness and newfound clarity allow meaningful goals to surface. Leaders then work with their coach to make those goals tangible, measurable and motivating.

Goal-setting is an incredibly informative and worthwhile process…but it’s only a beginning! Coaching partners then hunker down with leaders to develop a realistic, workable action plan for reaching those goals. The coach helps leaders expose their driving personal motivations, tap into resources (further education, time, support, equipment, access to certain people or leadership, etc.) and come up with effective strategies for actively changing behaviors to become better leaders.

After equipping leaders with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to put these new ideas into practice, the right coach holds them accountable for the outcomes they want to achieve; this might include reminders, tips and check-ins to track progress and even assigning mentors and/or accountability partners within the company. The coach remains a trusted partner throughout, continually supporting, encouraging and strengthening leaders into who they aim to be.

The Reward

Leap Solutions Group has coached countless leaders to find the clarity, motivation, skills and confidence to strengthen their roles and performance in their companies, achieve their highest goals, and experience exponential growth not just as a leaders but as human beings. Organizations and leaders who partner with us can count on lasting changes, incredible accomplishments and personal fulfillment that extend well beyond the office.






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When many of us think of recruiting, we think of matching perfect candidates to their ideal jobs. It’s incredibly satisfying to put the right people into positions where they—and the companies that hire them—will thrive. But proactive organizations know that recruiting can be so much more: it can be a vital, ongoing way to ensure your current and future success and sustainability as an organization.

Caring for your employees—taking the initiative to actively develop and cultivate them by providing continuing opportunities to learn and grow—is what recruitment is all about, and it can and should be an integral component to many vital functions of your organization, including:

Staff planning. With a solid recruitment strategy, you will be continually forecasting your staffing needs in light of your short-term and long-range goals. By staying attuned to business trends, both within your organization and in the industry, you’re likely to avoid panic hirings as well as layoffs.  Instead of being reactionary, your hiring and training decisions will be thoughtful and intentional.

You’ll have the foresight and wherewithal to place only the best people who fit beautifully into your culture and contribute the skills and talents you need and want.


Transition planning. Change is inevitable: job requirements evolve with technology; employees relocate or retire; and organizational needs and industries invariably shift. Progressive recruitment can help your organization to prepare for and effectively respond and adapt to times of transition. Whether you’re looking at new or expanded employee roles or even redeployment and layoffs, you can use recruitment efforts to assess needs, minimize stress, and ease the impact on your organization and its people. These might include

 retraining employees to acquire necessary new skills or incorporating individual or group career coaching into severance packages for displaced employees who could benefit from topics ranging from establishing their next move to conducting job searches and writing resumes. Nothing shows your people that you genuinely care more than supporting them and their peers through smooth and successful change.

Retention strategy. Invest in your employees’ careers and their career development, and those employees reward you with loyalty and growth. When recruitment is a part of your organization’s retention plan, people and positions remain relevant, and commitment and performance are bolstered. By determining individuals’ career preferences and pathways, arranging for focused coaching and training, and providing the resources they need to excel, you show that you respect and value your workers, and you enable them to stay current, productive and innovative.

Succession planning. Recruitment should always be a part of succession planning, because organizations flourish when emerging leaders are recognized and empowered. Always keeping an eye to the future, smart organizations predict which leadership positions will be opening up, identify potential candidates, and provide the training,

career development, coaching, mentoring and advancement opportunities that will stretch them to where you envision them and where they want to be.


Nurturing Your Greatest Assets

To see recruitment as a vital piece of each of these processes requires new thinking and a longer-term vision. Leap Solutions can get you there! We know you care deeply about your employees; let us help you deliver the service and support to back that caring up. Highly experienced and skilled at all things recruiting, we give you the insight, tools and know-how to:

  • Identify industry trends and determine what in your organization may become obsolete, how your employees can adapt and evolve, and how best to support them as they do;
  • See in-house talent and potential that you may be unintentionally overlooking or neglecting and keep your current employees happy, engaged and challenged;
  • Source quality candidates for potential new hires;
  • Minimize turnover and avoid talent shortages and surpluses;
  • And tap resources, streamline your recruitment processes and work toward healthy, sustainable growth.

As an organization, your people are your greatest asset. When you begin to see individual employees well beyond their given job titles, your organization will realize the immeasurable value of investing time, energy and money toward unlocking their limitless potential.

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