Chief Executive Officer

Go Kids, Inc. - 885 Moro Drive Gilroy, CA

Go Kids seeks an exceptional leader able to capitalize on the great strengths and compelling mission of this valued institution, serving low-income families and children throughout four Northern California counties.

Organizational Background

Go Kids (GO KIDS) operates 9 child care centers that include infant care, preschool, after-school, and seasonal migrant programs. It also contracts with nearly 150 in-home licensed family child care providers, serving about 2,000 children from low-income families daily throughout this four-county area. GO KIDS employs some 150 staff members, a mix of full-time and part-time teachers, administrative and enrollment staff. All GO KIDS child care programs are at or near capacity, with waiting lists, as the demand for high-quality services from low-income families is high and increasing. In addition to child care in its centers and licensed homes, GO KIDS offers an array of parent/family services, including parent education and training, resource and referral counseling. GO KIDS provides support and training to the licensed in-home family child care providers with whom they contract. The current budget of GO KIDS is $23 million, about one-third of which is pass-through “alternative payments” distributed to some 400 low-income families to subsidize their costs of child care. The other two-thirds of the budget is comprised principally of support received from the State of California through 14 contracts for subsidizing the child care costs of low-income families, but also historically from diverse sources like United Way, the four counties themselves, First 5, and several foundations (notably the Packard Foundation and Knight Foundation).

Go Kids is dedicated to safe child care and the educational child development of children from 6 weeks to 12 years old. Compassionate, skilled professional staff and teachers strive to nurture each child and their families. Focusing on the developmental needs of each child and intending to adopt research- and theory-based curriculum, staff encourages social engagement with peers, teacher-facilitated learning opportunities, and rich developmental experience in a stimulating, challenging, and safe environment. Children enrolled in Go Kids are able to develop social skills, creative ability, academic confidence, and educational advancement. Though unable to offer the same enrichment opportunities to children in the homes of licensed family child care providers, Go Kids holds its providers to a high standard, ensures that providers maintain their licenses, and offers its providers a variety of training opportunities designed to enhance the experience of the children in care.  

Most of the children served by Go Kids are low-income; many are Latino and Asian, reflecting the populations served; many come from limited English-speaking homes; many qualify for State and Federal subsidies through a variety of government contracts designed to ensure child care and development opportunities, as well as nutritional meals from Go Kids’ central kitchen and health monitoring for these children. Go Kids is proud of its ability to serve children from all backgrounds, to serve them as an integrated population while meeting the needs of each child at his/her level, and to deliver high-quality experiences regardless of socioeconomic status and circumstance.

Every pre-school location provides trained, permitted, dedicated teachers, nutritious snacks and hot meals, health and developmental screenings. School-age children are served by their permitted teachers and receive homework assistance. All instruction is with the intent of providing a structured “creative curriculum.”  Full-day programs are offered to age cohorts from 6 weeks – pre-school age; school-age children attend before and after school in a split day program during the school year and full-time during the summer.

Go Kids recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. For the past 20 years, Go Kids has benefited from the exceptional leadership of Chief Executive Officer Larry Drury, whose retirement has created the need for an effective successor. A small 6-member Board of Directors is actively involved in the governance of the organization and has been vital to the stability of the organization since its founding. The Board is clear about its need to grow larger and diversify in order to meet its obligation to provide a positive partnership and support to the next Chief Executive Officer. In recent years, Go Kids acquired a highly complementary organization, Estrella Family Services, at the request of the Estrella Board, stimulating the growth and reach of GO KIDS services, especially in the City of San Jose, California’s fourth-largest city. The recent opening of its first and much-needed infant care facility has prompted GO KIDS to plan a near-term opening of a second infant-care facility in another part of its service area. Go Kids continues to grow rapidly in service, size of staff and budget, in complexity of organization – offering to the next Chief Executive Officer every opportunity for institution-building.

Headquartered in Gilroy, the region offers an attractive quality of life to its staff. Gilroy itself has a population of over 50,000, with a mild inland valley climate, proximity to urban cultural offerings, short commutes to diverse housing and school choices, and a culture of small-town/family-oriented values. The region served by Go Kids embraces virtually every existing Northern California lifestyle, making this an attractive place for an out-of-area executive to call home.   

The next Chief Executive Officer of Go Kids will find a relatively-large and well-established nonprofit, offering a solid platform for future growth. A deliberate, patient, thoughtful change-manager will find this opportunity very attractive.

Reporting Relationships

The Chief Executive Officer reports to the Board of Directors, a 6 member, and expanding board. Direct reports include the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Human Resource Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Executive Assistant.


The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the management and operation of all programs and services provided by Go Kids, and for implementing all policy decisions of the governing Board. Conversely, every member of the governing Board is expected to respect the boundaries between governance and administration and to maintain and support a healthy, high-functioning chief executive. The Chief Executive Officer oversees the administrative and fiduciary functions of the agency. S/he is the face of the organization to the outside world and the steward of Go Kids reputation in the community.  S/he represents the agency to the community, to partnering organizations, to government and nongovernmental funders and donors, and builds strong relationships with key stakeholders, agency staff, and the Board.  S/he partners with the Board in fundraising, community outreach, and the generation of earned income to support Go Kids programs. S/he is responsible for the delivery of services of the highest quality, consistent with the mission and values of Go Kids.

Specifically, the Chief Executive Officer:

  • Board relations. Works in partnership with Board leadership to build and maintain a governing board with the commitment, involvement, diversity, outside networks, personal giving and getting capacities, and skillsets needed to maintain the wellbeing of a complex social service organization.
  • Focus on mission and values. Helps determine and ensure, in partnership with the governing Board, that the mission, values, and vision of Go Kids are carried out.  Reflects the historic commitment of Go Kids staff and Board to children’s services, and will understand the needs of Go Kids children and families.
  • Implementation of programs. Thinks strategically, anticipating changing child care and child development needs of children and families, of child care providers and teachers, and of the stakeholders (e.g., parents, employers, government) impacted by the availability or absence of quality child care/child development.  With vision and imagination, understands public policy trends and anticipates new developments in funding sources, initiates long-range strategic and operational planning, and is responsible and accountable for the implementation of all such plans. Is also able to maintain the readiness of Go Kids to adapt quickly to the unanticipated, while maintaining clarity about Go Kids’ mission, values, and priorities. Demonstrates a high level of ability in combining vision, informed decision-making and values-driven flexibility, with the ability to muster Go Kids resources, to lead, to implement.
  • Outreach and external relations. Actively reaches out and is seen as a trusted and effective advocate of Go Kids’ services to community stakeholders, government, associations, agencies and the media. Has the capacity to lead at the county, state and federal levels in the development of public policy and funding in the field of early childhood development. Works with potential partners, either private or public, to develop strong relationships that are of mutual benefit for providing child care to the families of this large region.
  • Effectiveness of staff. Attracts, mentors, and nurtures exceptional staff colleagues, earning a reputation for professional excellence, for the appreciation of the complexity and challenge of working with children and their families, for dedication to team-building, collaboration, open and honest relationships in a caring and non-toxic staff community. Understands issues of compensation, benefits, staff development and support, and staff management, and is able through this understanding to implement policies and practices to build staff morale and to minimize staff turnover. Understands the importance of staff culture, of diligence and accountability, of collaboration, of respect. Experience with unions is a plus, though this is a non-union staff. Takes leadership responsibility for creating a happy, hard-working environment dedicated to the children and families served.
  • Financial expertise. Demonstrates business acumen, with the ability to anticipate how programs can be mounted and maintained at suitable levels of quality in ways that both Go Kids and the community can afford. Pursues business development opportunities for new or expanded services, as part of a well-conceived and articulated plan, but also has the entrepreneurial agility to assess risk, evaluate cost-benefits, and to seize unanticipated opportunities. Has the capacity to initiate viable programs; has the capacity to say “no” to programs that present a significant long-term financial risk to Go Kids or that risk a drift from the institutional mission, or, that risk Go Kids’ reputation as a provider of only high-quality services.  Works with staff to recommend budgets, oversees revenues and expenditures, maintains internal controls and financial discipline, and collaborates closely with the Board to ensure the financial wellbeing of the organization. Understands how information informs decision-making, how assessment and evaluation relate to agency improvement, and how new technologies can enhance Go Kids’ functioning.
  • Enhancement of charitable giving. Appreciates the potential to augment Go Kids’ budget with contributed income. Works closely with Board members and staff to identify, cultivate, and solicit private sources for charitable gifts in support of the programs of Go Kids, recognizing the desirability of increasing contributed income and the cultivation of a broad base of community support. Has a demonstrated history of collaboration with foundation and government funders, and an exceptional reputation among those funders and donors who have invested in his/her programs.
  • Enhancement of earned income. Appreciates the potential to augment Go Kids’ budget with earned income from private pay families, without in any way compromising the mission of Go Kids to serve children whose low-income homes require subsidies of child care costs. Understands the potential strategic and branding benefits of attracting private pay families.
  • Maintenance of organizational integrity. Takes executive responsibility for agency compliance with all applicable non-profit laws, contractual obligations, and donor restrictions, and maintains appropriate internal policies and procedures to ensure such compliance and to avoid any appearances of conflict of interest.

Professional Qualifications

The ideal candidate will have:

  • A visionary, strategic perspective and extensive entrepreneurial management experience. A deliberate style, characterized by excellent listening skills, considered judgment, ability to calculate risk, to assess cost-benefits, and to move teams forward with attentive follow-up and attention to detail in successful implementation in a rapidly changing funding environment. An understanding of the working partnership between the nonprofit chief executive and his/her board, and the ability to engage and involve high level volunteers in their appropriate roles.
  • Nonprofit experience as a key employee, long-term volunteer, and/or board member in the health, education, and/or social services fields. The preferred candidate will demonstrate an understanding of the services and funding streams of Go Kids; the preferred candidate will understand the child care needs of working families with young children and the development needs of young children. Expertise in children’s services from prior experience and training would be a definite plus. Notwithstanding these preferences, candidates with high levels of transferable skills, as described elsewhere, will find in Go Kids an opportunity to learn quickly on the job, and are encouraged to invite evaluation of their suitability for this leadership position.  
  • Profit and loss experience and proven leadership ability, with a broad array of skills transferable to a multi-service, nonprofit, social services organization. A preferred candidate will have extensive experience with government contracts.
  • Highly developed communication and fundraising skills, and the ability with thoughtful credibility, charisma, and articulateness to advocate passionately for quality services and to represent Go Kids to all constituencies, locally, statewide, and nationally.
  • Ability to work closely, in partnership, and in a position of leadership with a diverse staff and extremely diverse clients, in a style of respect and collaboration,  as well as the capacity to work well as a trusted partner with government, corporate, foundation, and individual funders. Comfort working closely with low-income stakeholders is essential. Ability as an effective negotiator and advocate is essential. A commitment to project Go Kids as a multicultural agency in every facet of its values, its people, and its services, reflecting the diversity of the communities Go Kids serves. Conversational Spanish is a plus.
  • An understanding of the power of partnerships and coalitions among service providers and the integrity and diplomatic skills to bring suitable and complementary agencies together for service delivery. In this time of fiscal uncertainty, the next executive must exhibit the strength to lead; the strength to follow; the strength to innovate; the strength to imitate, adapt, and replicate.
  • Ideally, experience, participation and an intuitive understanding of public policy trends, both with respect to need and funding, affecting the delivery of child care, child development, and school-supplement services to children and their families.
  • Ability and commitment to identify, recruit and mentor capable, diverse staff, to develop high-performing task-centered teams, and to motivate, develop, and inspire an effective professional and volunteer workforce. Ability to enhance cross-functional communications, to counter hierarchical and bureaucratic management practices, to integrate functions, to promote a sense of unified enterprise. Ability to promote Go Kids as a true “learning organization” by systematic involvement of staff and Board in the discussion of outcomes and strategies for outcome enhancement. An appreciation of the ideal learning environment necessary to enhance staff skills, personal development, and program performance in a professional organization, and an eagerness to promote and reward commitment and talent in staff.
  • An understanding of and sympathy for the compensation needs of staff, and ability equitably to balance staff and agency interests. A personable, accessible, direct, mentoring and collegial style, supported by the strength to hold all staff accountable for their performance and to make difficult personnel changes if necessary where underperformance can no longer be tolerated. A commitment to the maintenance of a congenial work environment.
  • Flexibility to be accessible, transparent, and present to all constituencies, including a willingness to be engaged frequently and directly with staff, clients, and local stakeholders.
  • Essential will be: the passion for the work and sincere delight in working with children and their families; highly evolved listening skills; high energy; durability; a mature perspective on the human condition and the well-lived life; a great sense of humor.


Lifelong learning and educational achievement appropriate to the complexity of the position.


Anticipated salary range is $140,000 - $180,000, negotiable based on experience.

Confidential Inquiries

Robert M. Fisher and J. Michael Loscavio of Rusher Loscavio Fisher Nonprofit Executive Search (San Francisco) are privileged to provide recruitment counsel to the Board of Go Kids. All discussions with prospects for this position will be treated with the utmost discretion. We would be grateful to receive inquiries, expressions of interest, nominations and applications at the following address:  

How to Apply


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Contact Info

Job Details

Category: CEO/COO/CFO

Type: FT

Location: 885 Moro Drive Gilroy, CA

Salary: 140000.00 - 180000.00

Posted On: February 10th, 2020

Agency Details


A nonprofit child development organization serving Santa Clara, San Benito, Monterey & Santa Cruz Counties.

The agency was established in 1975 when it was awarded a grant from the city of Morgan Hill to provide early childhood education training services to unemployed women from low-income backgrounds. Since its incorporation as a nonprofit agency in 1978, the agency budget and service area has continued to grow. Go Kids now provides services in Santa Clara, San Benito, Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties. We have a long history of a diverse funding base that has included financial support from the California Department of Education, San Benito County United Way, Santa Clara County, San Jose City, Santa Clara County First 5, San Benito County First 5, Monterey County First 5, Santa Cruz County First 5, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Packard Foundation.

In 2015, Go Kids acquired Estrella Family Services creating a most welcome opportunity to add 4 long-established child care centers and 33 professional early education staff to the high-quality services of Go Kids. The addition of Estrella Family Services also gave Go Kids a prominent presence in San Jose.