Chief Executive Officer | Treehouse

Chief Executive Officer
Seattle, WA
Organization Name: 
Application Deadline: 
Monday, October 7, 2019


Treehouse gives children and youth in foster care a childhood and a future. They envision–and strive to create–a world where every child that has experienced foster care has the opportunities and support they need to pursue their dreams and launch successfully into adulthood. Powered by generous donors, talented staff, engaged Board members, and many caring, committed partners, Treehouse has set an ambitious goal that by 2022 youth in care statewide will graduate from high school at the same rate as their peers, with support and a plan to launch successfully into adulthood.

The journey toward setting this ambitious goal has been years in the making and fueled by a commitment to equity, achieving intended impact, and building long lasting solutions for deeply embedded challenges. In the past ten years Treehouse has:

  • Tripled in size, from 50 staff to 150 and a budget of $6M to $17M
  • Improved staff turnover from 40 percent to consistently under 17 percent with longer tenures on average
  • Become a more racially diverse staff, currently 40 percent of staff are people of color
  • Achieved 77 percent extended graduation rate for youth in its program
  • Engaged Board, staff, volunteers, and community in action toward equity, focused through the lens of race

These outcomes are the result of an organizational awakening. In 2011, a Washington report identified Treehouse’s primary service area as having the lowest graduation rates for youth in care across Washington state, less than 40 percent. After the initial shock, the team got to work in order to learn why their education focused programs were not having their intended impact. After six months of investigation and seeking advice, three things were clear. First, Treehouse needed to find and work with many more youth and also partner with them much more closely. Second, this new strategy was going to cost a lot more, so a new fundraising strategy was built from the ground up, developing a relationship-based model capable of funding growth. Third, equity, and in particular racial equity, had to be at the core of all work moving forward and success would depend on Board, staff, and volunteers engaging a racial equity lens. Their goal: youth in foster care in King County would graduate from high school at the same rate as their peers with a plan for the future. They met their first ambitious goal, but that was not enough and now Treehouse has set their sights on statewide graduation equity by 2022.

Treehouse’s next CEO will build upon a strong foundation, created in partnership with the community by its long-standing CEO, following her intentional transition. This moment calls for an inspirational leader with a passion for making a difference in the lives of children and youth, a commitment to equity and social justice, aptitude for fundraising, and experience leading organizational growth and sustainability. The Board of Directors is fully committed to the pursuit of racial equity and intends to model that throughout this search process. This is an exciting opportunity to join this team of innovators, partnering to build a stronger community.

This search is being conducted with assistance from Carolyn Ho, Allison Kupfer Poteet, and Hallie Dietsch of the search firm NPAG. For more information and instructions for submitting applications and nominations, please reference the final section of this document.


Treehouse is a rapidly growing nonprofit with a 30-year history of addressing the academic and essential support needs of children, youth, and young adults experiencing foster care. Operating across Washington state, the organization is regarded as an innovator and contributor to the national conversation on foster care.


Founded in 1988 by social workers who saw kids in foster care missing out on community activities and essential childhood experiences, they held bake sales and raised funds to pay for experiences that connected kids to their community and the fun of childhood. Powered by generous donors, Board members, talented staff, committed partners and 3,000 volunteers, today Treehouse is a treasured organization regionally and growing influencer nationally.

Treehouse was founded on the idea that children and youth in foster care should be able to explore their desires and have what they need when they need it. This philosophy is grounded in the founding principles even as they adapt and innovate programs to meet current needs. Be it an advocate to support school transition, a summer camp experience, extracurricular activity, or one-on-one coaching toward graduation, Treehouse is there for children, youth, and young adults. Beyond program services, Treehouse delivers systems-level advocacy that promotes the conditions for youth in care to be successful. Thanks to Treehouse’s efforts, Washington has some of the most progressive education-related laws for children and youth in foster care. Legislative investment has been critical to current growth.

Fostering Futures

In 2012, Treehouse launched Graduation Success and set the ambitious goal that youth in foster care in King County, WA would graduate from high school at the same rate as their peers with a plan for the future. At that time, the graduation rate for youth in foster care was less than 40 percent. With Graduation Success, Treehouse created a solution that worked, and youth in their program have an extended graduation rate of 77 percent. Statewide growth was next, and full implementation is planned by 2022. Knowing high school graduation is not enough, Treehouse developed Launch Success in 2018 which provides coaching, structured goal setting, and the financial and material resources necessary to achieve a career credential, living wage job, and stable housing. These newer initiatives along with Treehouse’s established Educational Advocacy efforts provide a continuum of education support services.

Essentials & Experiences

Treehouse’s founding programs continue to evolve but at their core support identity exploration, social emotional support, community connections, and opportunities to engage with peers. Essential experiences such as sports, summer camp, class trips, and school dances are made possible. As youth build toward independence they are supported with driver’s education, license fees, and car insurance. The Treehouse Store provides access to high-quality clothing, shoes, supplies, toys, books, gifts, and other essentials, all at no cost.


Building on the foundation of more than 30 years of mission and impact, the next CEO will lead Treehouse into an era of growth and transformation. In the next 12-18 months, the CEO should expect to engage in the following leadership opportunities:

Leadership and Vision

The next CEO will collaborate across the organization to complete statewide growth while developing the vision for what comes next. They will lead long range and annual planning to further achieve Treehouse’s mission of giving kids in foster care a childhood and a future. They will cultivate and foster a strong culture of collaboration, learning, and innovation across the organization. The CEO will lead and advance Treehouse’s commitment to equity internally and externally as an integral expression of its mission and match the organization’s commitment to leading through the lens of race.

Strategic Growth and Sustainability

Working collaboratively with staff and Board members to develop Treehouse’s next 5-year plan and vision for the future, the CEO will build on the current momentum to provide targeted, high-value programs to youth in foster care throughout Washington state. They will cultivate opportunities for partnerships, national influence, technology integration, and program refinement. In partnership with the Treehouse community, they will work to integrate learning that informs future direction, ensures optimum organizational structures, youth outcomes, and enhances organizational culture, program success, and mission.

Fundraising and External Relations

The CEO will effectively represent Treehouse’s work to current and potential funders, inspiring investments in its work. In close collaboration with the Development team, they will nurture existing and new funding relationships that continue to build upon Treehouse’s strong track record of relationship-based support from individuals, foundations, and public sources. The CEO will lead continued growth and diversification of funding and will explore new strategies for earned revenue and expand opportunities for transformational gifts.

Organizational Management

In partnership with the Executive team, the CEO will engage a diverse statewide team of 150 staff members and an operating budget of $17.6M. They will support effective business operations and ensure growth is strong and sustainable. The next leader will be a clear communicator fostering trust, strong team morale, and transparency. They will model effective management, decision making, and coaching in support of achieving shared organizational goals.

Board Leadership

The Treehouse Board of Directors represents a distinct strength. They are dedicated and engaged, and the next CEO will partner to ensure sound governance, fiduciary responsibility, and future vision. The CEO will support the Board and committee structure, ensuring stable leadership, strategic focus, generative engagement, and a diverse pipeline of volunteer talent for the future Board of Directors.


While the ideal candidate will embody many of the following abilities, attributes, skills, and experiences, the Treehouse Board of Directors anticipates that no one candidate will possess all the qualifications listed below. In areas where aptitude and/or interest are greater than actual experience, candidates are encouraged to propose a plan for support:

Connection to the Cause

  • Passion for partnering with children, youth, families, and community.

Organizational Leadership

  • Strong entrepreneurial spirit and business savvy with the demonstrated ability to identify opportunities for growth.
  • Collaborative spirit that includes soliciting and delivering feedback, engaging diverse thought partners, and innovating strategies to drive change and success.
  • Proven track record managing mid-stage organizational growth, comparable budgets and staff through the shifts needed to sustain ongoing organizational health and mission focus.
  • Demonstrated aptitude for innovation and iterative design; a track record of clearly defining shared goals, making effective decisions, demonstrating accountability, and productively navigating change.
  • Comfort raising significant investments from private sources including individuals and foundations; ability to think strategically in partnership with the development team to build, nurture, and sustain relationships with key donors and partners;
  • Experience supporting an organization’s policy and advocacy efforts, and establishing meaningful collaborations with relevant partners, agencies, and coalitions.

Cultural Leadership & Management Style 

  • A deep and sustained learning journey and commitment to equity with the proven ability to apply a racial equity lens to all levels of an organization’s work.
  • Excellent management skills and experience leading and inspiring change in a diverse, mission-driven environment; proven capacity to develop systems and decision-making that foster participation, mutual accountability, and growth.
  • Strong relationship-building skills and an authentic interest in listening to and learning from others; the ability to act with intentionality, establish trust, engage stakeholders, and cultivate belonging.
  • Emotional intelligence and ability to engage in productive conflict; an active listener who understands a trauma-informed practice lens.
  • Collaborative leadership style, demonstrated by knowing when to step in and direct, when to delegate, and when to share leadership.
  • Powerful communicator one on one, in small group settings, and with large audiences.

The Basics

  • Ability and willingness to travel across Washington and nationally, and the adaptability to work effectively in a wide variety of geographic, political, and cultural settings.
  • Advanced degree preferred or equivalent lived experience that is aligned with Treehouse’s mission and values.


This search is being conducted by Carolyn Ho, Allison Kupfer Poteet and Hallie Dietsch of the national search firm NPAG. Nominations and applications including a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, and your resume (in Word or PDF format) should be submitted to: More information about Treehouse can be found at

Cultivating a diverse and inclusive team is an essential component of Treehouse’s commitment to advance equity. Candidates of all backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.