Alliance starts executive search for new President & CEO

Alliance starts executive search for new President & CEO

Sandra McDonough, current President & CEO of the Alliance, will be retiring in summer 2018. The board of directors has initiated an executive search for the organization's new leader.

The Portland Business Alliance, greater Portland's chamber of commerce, promotes and fosters an environment in the Portland region that attracts, supports and retains private-sector jobs, spurs economic vitality and enables quality educational opportunities for the region’s residents. The Alliance is the leading voice of business for the Portland-metro region, partnering with regional entities to affect the conditions, climate and policy that contribute to the overall health of our business community and city. As the largest business association serving the Portland-metro region, the Alliance is governed by a 70-member board, along with a very talented staff. The board provides leadership from the perspective of business to strengthen the region’s economic health and achieve a prosperous and competitive region that reflects the potential and promise of Portland. The business community, as represented by the Alliance, welcomes and represents various viewpoints that reflect a breadth of perspectives from Portland’s multifaceted business people. Our city is not like other places – Portlanders believe that every voice matters and that the quality of the place itself is as valuable as the businesses that comprise it. Members of the Alliance have created and partner with essential nonprofit organizations in Portland, like New Avenues for Youth and Partners in Diversity, demonstrating the business community’s commitment to the region and its residents.

The Alliance’s incoming President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will lead engaged members, experienced staff and criticfal partners toward a vision of Portland’s future – one that is ever more dynamic, fosters and embraces innovation and is inclusive and equitable. This role provides an opportunity to work alongside members and staff, intentionally using dialogue, influence and resources to realize this vision, and continue to be regarded as a key participant in local and regional problem solving. The President and CEO will engage deeply with the business community, appreciate diverse opinions, continually work to define a unifying vision and implement a strategy that meets the service and policy needs of our members. The President and CEO will spend the necessary time to manage the enterprise such that the organization’s resources and scope of work - including available tools, staff strength, and the social, influence and financial capital of members - are best deployed to meet the region’s evolving economic and livability needs.

The President and CEO of the Alliance reports to the board of directors through an executive committee, and is responsible for managing all affairs of the association, including managing staff, ensuring adequate resources, which may well include fundraising for political action, promoting the association to the business community in and around Portland, and increasing effective business participation in the political and advocacy processes of Portland; Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas and Clark Counties; and the State of Oregon. The President and CEO will spearhead, guide, and steward the strategic planning and general administration of the organization, its staff, subsidiary organizations and initiatives, including downtown’s Clean & Safe District, Partners in Diversity and Leadership Portland. Moreover, the President and CEO will take a personal role in the lobbying and education process, working with and directing the professional staff to educate and advocate on behalf of the Alliance's membership, and in partnership with its many allies and partners throughout the Portland region. The successful candidate will take a long-term view on advancing agendas, and adeptly frame issues and conversations in ways that prove to be mutually beneficial to stakeholders. They will bring gravitas, resilience, and a strategic mindset.

Specific responsibilities
  1. Energetically promote the Alliance as a source of education, advocacy and services to the growing businesses located in and around Portland. This includes planning and executing targeted communications aimed at:
    • Developing awareness that the Alliance is the preeminent partner to regional businesses that band together to provide solutions to community problems
    • Cultivating and advancing the membership to include a broad industry cross-section and diversity in the size and type of member organization
    • Assuring appropriate financial support and management of resources to affect and potentially refine an evolving mission for the Alliance’s members
    • Convening community partners including alliances, associations and chambers to create closer collaboration to achieve common objectives, such as collaborating on the Oregon Business Plan
  2. Engaging as a true professional in politics by guiding the planning, creation and implementation of policy for the Alliance. This includes:
    • Pursuing proactive and member-driven strategic solutions to the challenges faced by our region as it grows and evolves in the information economy
    • Facilitating the plans and actions to achieve those solutions by personally engaging as well as assigning and motivating staff to implement policy goals
  3. Providing executive management over the day-to-day affairs of the organization, and its subsidiaries and programs, including Clean & Safe, Partners in Diversity and Leadership Portland.
  4. Assuring that the assets, revenues and expenditures of the organization are managed in a fiscally sound and responsible manner, and continuing the practice of building appropriate reserves.
  5. Formulating policy objectives and proposals, developing strategies for effectively interfacing with the appropriate leaders, including Portland’s mayor, councilors, county commissioners and agencies.
  6. Consistent with board approved policy positions, lobby and interface in a trusted manner with the city, commissions, committees and interest groups whose discussions and decisions impact our business community and populace.
The ideal candidate will have a strong passion for driving a prosperous Portland through representing the Alliance externally, and leading and overseeing internal operations and program work that furthers the organization’s mission. This position requires someone who is able to balance and meet competing priorities and work proactively to address the organization’s needs with an energetic, collaborative nature. More specifically, the organization seeks a professional with the following attributes:
  • Experience with accountability to a board of directors; providing vision and strategic planning; overseeing organizational finance, operations, programmatic activity and political action/strategy
  • An appreciation for the demands of a membership organization – from meeting members’ needs to leading and managing the enterprise in a changing association environment 
  • The ability to guide internal and external conversations about the future of Portland as a city, and ultimately articulate and implement components for the vision that will shape Portland during this period of evolution and expansion 
  • Progressively responsible leadership and management experience that demonstrates the ability to lead and manage a sophisticated professional staff, sizable budget, complex political issues and organizational progress 
  • Experience leading staff with a commitment to fostering a positive, transparent workplace culture of collaboration and respect; an ability to build bridges is essential as is the ability to mentor and grow others 
  • An accomplished listener who genuinely appreciates and processes diversity of opinion 
  • Strong financial planning and analytical skills that maintain a healthy budget 
  • Strong written and oral communication skills; the ability to communicate effectively with audiences that include broad constituency groups; understanding the nuanced communications necessary to retain credibility with elected officials and reflect values that align with the city’s stakeholders 
  • A leader with a demonstrated commitment to and appreciation for diversity of all kinds (i.e., race, gender, orientation, opinion), as is included in the organization by-laws
  • An information seeker with a high level of curiosity and creativity in problem solving who seeks and includes data to determine course of action 
  • Strong integrity and a commitment to professional excellence, combined with values that wear well over the long-term; progressive record of clear and consistent success and ethics beyond reproach are required 
  • Candidates will be degreed, a MBA or relevant graduate degree or comparable experience is preferred 
Download the complete job description

Start timeframe

We seek to have someone in place by early spring 2018.
To apply
All applications are held in strict confidence. Applications should be directed to the attention of Melissa Ulum, managing partner of MS&S Search. Please submit your credentials and letter of interest via email to

To be considered, MS&S Search urges interested candidates to apply as soon as possible; application deadline has been extended to Jan. 18, 2018.
Portland Business Association is an equal opportunity employer committed to creating a work environment that values the cultural and personal perspectives afforded by individual life experiences. The Alliance is a welcoming environment that values diversity, equity and inclusion within the organization. At MS&S Search, we know that a richly diverse mix of professionals makes organizations more effective. Using that as a guiding principle, we make diversity a priority of our firm and all of our search engagements.

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