Track: Organizational Excellence

The 2018 Alliance National Conference saw an extraordinary number of new executives among the attendees. This reflects the significant turnover in our sector, as many CEOs are reaching retirement age, choose to leave the field, or are replaced by boards for various reasons—warranted or not. There will be even greater changing of the guard in the next decade.

This panel presentation and structured interactive question and answer session is targeted toward human services chief executives who are new to their leadership positions and executive directors or middle managers who envision themselves in that role as the next step in their career. Four seasoned CEOs, each with 15 or more years of tenure, will offer perspective, advice, regrets, and honest conversation and thoughts. 

This session aims to be powerful, educational, entertaining, and even humorous by featuring candor among presenters. In advance, several provocative questions will be created, along with a commitment from fellow panelists to be vulnerable and frank, creating a session where participants have a chance to learn what mistakes to avoid, potential pitfalls and landmines to navigate, and can react to ideas and suggestions from seasoned leaders. 

Panelists will give brief introductory remarks followed by answers to key questions including reactions to their fellow panelists’ responses. The second half of the session will be engaging the audience with additional questions, reacting to what they have heard, and sharing what they have learned and/or any changes in key beliefs or expectations about the role of a nonprofit executive.

The final set of interview questions will be curated with the input of several other Alliance leaders, illustrative questions may include:

  • What is something you learned the hard way?
  • How has this role changed you over the years?
  • What is the best burnout prevention advice to share with new CEOs?
  • What has been a painful mistake you have made?
  • What would you want your replacement to know/think about before taking over your position?

Learning Objectives:

  • Key wisdom, advice, and suggestions from several successful long-term CEOs
  • Honest sharing about mistakes made, lessons learned, and regrets
  • Best approaches for creating effective leadership teams
  • Burnout prevention tips/how to stay fresh, engaged, and vibrant


  • Eric Schindler, president & CEO, Child and Family Resources
  • Hector Colon, president and CEO, Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan 
  • James R. Mason, president & CEO, Beech Acres Parenting Center
  • Eileen Torres, executive director, BronxWorks

Eric Schindler
Child and Family Resources

Since 2005, Eric Schindler has been the president and chief executive officer of Child and Family Resources (CFR), a statewide, community, nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona. Across 11 cities in Arizona, CFR works to promote strong, healthy families and ensure high-quality early childhood education so children can reach their full potential. CFR also partners with teens to prevent pregnancy, dropping out of school, drug use, and suicide.

Schindler received his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Arizona in 1982. After postdoctoral studies in child and family psychology at U.C. Davis, and pediatric psychology in Chicago, he has spent the last 40 years working in the Tucson community as an administrator, director, teacher, and practitioner. A licensed clinical psychologist since 1984, he worked in his private practice focusing on marriage and family therapy and substance abuse. For many years, he also taught as an adjunct instructor in the Family Studies Department at the University of Arizona.