National Center for Families Learning
About National Center for Families Learning
Mission, Model, and History
The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) works to eradicate poverty through education solutions for families. Partnering with educators, literacy advocates, and policymakers, NCFL develops, implements, and documents innovative and promising multigenerational education and literacy practices, networks, and learning tools. NCFL’s work supports learning for families from early childhood through adult education, with a primary focus on parents and children living in poverty.
Over its 32 years, NCFL has pioneered the concept of family learning. The NCFL approach sees every parent as an asset and every family member as a resource for learning. Research shows that engaging families in education is critical not only to a child’s success but to the entire family’s economic and social well-being. This approach invites parents and caregivers to recognize their voice and power to make a change in their lives, the lives of their children, and their communities. Engaging multiple generations from the same family has been a fundamental and distinguishing aspect of NCFL’s work, creating a stronger impact and greater success for families.
Under the leadership of Founder and President Sharon Darling, NCFL has grown from early roots in Parent and Child Education (PACE) programs in Kentucky to national impact and innovation through its model program replication, with family literacy, learning, and engagement programs operating in more than 150 communities across 39 states. Early on, NCFL’s PACE model laid the groundwork for the federal definition of family literacy and the federally-funded Even Start family literacy program in the 1990s. NCFL and its leaders have been instrumental in advocating for and securing funding for family literacy and learning programs at the federal and state levels. In addition, the Family and Child Education (FACE) program model was adapted to respond to the educational needs of Native American children and families and funded through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Indian Education Programs. FACE has been adopted in more than 50 programs on reservations nationwide. In response to the evolving needs of the families and communities with whom NCFL works, the organization’s experts have created programs that respond to the needs of families with children of all ages as well as developing culturally and linguistically responsive programming for immigrant families. To date, NCFL programs have impacted more than 4.5 million parents, caregivers, and children, and its digital resources are used by millions of families each year.
In addition to its model program replication and policy impact, NCFL is a leader in professional development, ensuring that practitioners are supported with effective training and resources. NCFL has also deepened its work in community development, including activation of local partners and organizations to build collective efforts in family service learning, policy and advocacy, and community initiatives. Most recently, NCFL has adapted its programming to respond to family learning needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information about NCFL’s work, please visit www.familieslearning.org.
Organization and Team
NCFL is headquartered in Louisville, KY, and has offices in Nebraska and Arizona that manage statewide family engagement centers. The organization’s team consists of approximately 50 talented, mission-driven individuals, 64% of whom are based in the Louisville office, though the entire team is currently operating remotely due to COVID. The organization is stable financially, with an operating budget of approximately $9M and an endowment of $12M. Funding is diverse, with approximately 40% coming from earned income, 35% from philanthropy, and 25% from government sources. NCFL is particularly appreciative of the significant and long-standing commitments from Toyota, The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, Dollar General, The C.E. and S. Foundation, PNC Bank, US Department of Education, Microsoft, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Annual reports can be found here.
About the President Opportunity
NCFL is at an exciting inflection point and is seeking a strategic, inclusive, and innovative President to lead the organization forward while building on its strengths and maintaining a deep commitment to the power of family learning. With the Founder transitioning out of the President position, NCFL will welcome a new President who will establish a shared vision for how the organization can advance and evolve its work and guide the organization in achieving that vision. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the incoming President will work with a deeply mission-driven team with exceptional content expertise, a committed and expert Board, and a wide range of external constituents, including community members, policymakers, funders, and school district leaders.
This role represents the opportunity to lead a well-established, national organization into its next chapter. The new President will have the benefit of NCFL’s strong reputation and expertise in programs with proven results and systemic policy changes, as well as longstanding support from a wide variety of partners and funders. At the same time, the President will lead the organization through a significant transition and will have the opportunity to identify opportunities for growth and change. Externally, this will include assessing opportunities in the fields of education and workforce development, digital learning, policy, and community development, and identifying ways to position NCFL within these contexts. Internally, this will entail working with senior management and the wider team to ensure that NCFL has the resources, infrastructure, and supportive, inclusive, and high-performing culture it needs to fulfill its mission.
- Vision and Strategic Planning: Working in collaboration with the Board, Senior Management Team, and staff, the President will take a comprehensive view of NCFL’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities for evolution and lead others to realize a shared vision for the future of the organization. In order to establish an effective organizational strategy, they will utilize existing resources, including the current strategic plan as well as an understanding of trends in the fields of literacy, early childhood education, K-12 education, adult education, digital learning, and workforce development. To achieve NCFL’s vision for impact, they will exercise focus and discipline, making mission- and values-centered decisions confidently.
- External Relations: The President will build on NCFL’s strong reputation and relationships with external supporters and champions, including representing the organization with funders, policymakers, and partners. Working with the External Relations team, they will identify and build on appropriate opportunities for NCFL in the areas of fundraising, advocacy, policy, government relations, and strategic partnerships.
- Culture-Building and Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: In consultation with the full staff, the President will lead the Board and Senior Management to identify and implement practices that foster an inclusive, equitable culture and an environment that supports the individual and collective success of a diverse staff team. They will ensure that staff has the resources and support needed to succeed within their roles and engage across areas of difference both with internal and external constituents. In addition, they will build strong practices for effective and transparent communication, decision-making, and conflict resolution.
- Organizational Leadership: The President will supervise the Senior Management Team, empowering these leaders in their areas of expertise and responsibility while providing mentorship and support where needed. They will ensure cohesion and mission-focus across the organization’s programmatic, financial, development, and operations functions.
Strong candidates will demonstrate the following experiences, skills, and characteristics:
Passion for NCFL’s Work and Shared Values
The incoming President will demonstrate a deep belief in the inherent strengths of families and a commitment to family- and community-centered approaches. Recognizing that NCFL’s work bridges many different fields, including early childhood, K-12, and adult education, literacy development, workforce development, community development, and parent engagement, the President will possess content expertise in one or more of these areas as well as a broad orientation to education as a critical component of building equitable communities. Beyond their own specific content expertise, they will be able to take a broad view of trends and points of connection among these fields.
They will demonstrate readiness, based on professional and/or personal experiences, to serve as a key leader in NCFL’s ongoing work to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in both its programmatic and external-facing work as well as its internal team, leadership, and culture. The President will set the tone and model a deep commitment to and demonstration of cultural competency and humility in engaging with and learning from and with diverse constituents.
Visionary and Strategic Leader
The incoming President will demonstrate the ability to set a clear and ambitious vision and lead a team through an actionable plan for achieving this vision. They will show a track record of leadership in building and executing strategic plans in collaboration with senior organizational leaders and/or Boards and will possess the ability to maintain a clear and focused view of mission when weighing opportunities for growth, change, and expansion. Joining NCFL at a time of significant transition, they will be adept at motivating and inspiring internal and external constituents while navigating change. They will be able to build on NCFL’s strong history and relationships while identifying appropriate ways to position the organization in response to evolving needs and contexts.
Skilled Relationship-Builder and Inspiring Champion
The incoming President will bring demonstrated experience serving as a primary external representative of an organization, with a track record of successfully connecting with a diverse range of audiences, partners, and constituents. Externally, they will be an engaging public speaker and demonstrate the ability to create trusting relationships that build on the unique value that an individual or organization can contribute toward mutual goals. Past successes in advocacy, fundraising, and/or partnership-building will highlight the incoming President’s skills in external relationship-building.
Internally, the President will apply strong relationship-building skills to fostering cohesion among staff and Board members, based on trust, communication, and clear decision-making. They will draw on a track record of leveraging the strengths and expertise of staff while supporting staff in their ongoing growth and development.
Experienced and Inclusive Organizational Leader
The incoming President will bring excellent skills in organizational management with substantial experience in senior management positions. Prior leadership experience in a national organization is considered highly valuable in this role. The President will demonstrate the ability to provide high-level guidance and oversight across programs, finance, external affairs, and operations, with experience managing or directly leading these areas and ensuring all parts of an organization and team operate cohesively. Strong candidates will be skilled in managing teams, budgets, and strategic plans, with the ability to delegate and ensure accountability where appropriate.
The incoming President will demonstrate a leadership style that ensures open and effective communication across a team and organization, and they will bring the ability to support a team in navigating different points of view and constructive conflict. Specific experience and prior success in strengthening organizational culture and leading an organization’s commitment, action, and learning around diversity, equity, and inclusion is imperative.
Compensation & Benefits
NCFL offers a competitive salary and benefits, commensurate with experience. NCFL’s benefits include: medical, dental, and vision insurance; 403(b) retirement savings plan with 5% employer contribution; paid vacation days, sick days, and holidays; and life and disability insurance.
Cassie Scarano and Kirstin Griffiths of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit a resume and thoughtful cover letter, outlining your interest in the role and the value you could bring to the position, here. Nominations and referrals may be shared via firstname.lastname@example.org. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
NCFL is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ applicants.
About Koya Partners
Koya Partners, a part of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.
For more information about Koya Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.