Where the Jobs Are: Nonprofits Hire More For-Profit Managers

Gary T. Johnson, a Chicago securities attorney, took notice when a "perfect storm" of events converged on the Chicago Historical Society in March. The nonprofit organization was in the midst of a $22 million capital campaign, renovating 75% of its galleries and losing a well-known president.

"My wife and I looked at each other and she said, "Gary, they need you,’ " says Mr. Johnson, 55. He applied for the job made vacant when the former president, Lonnie Bunch, agreed to head the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Mr. Johnson, who is active in Chicago civic affairs, has been a leader of large nonprofit law groups and headed development committees. In late July, after three months of interviews, Mr. Johnson was named the society’s eighth president.

While the percentage of private-sector executives hired to run nonprofit institutions remains small, it’s growing. For one thing, the time is right. The number of nonprofit groups in the U.S. is swelling, and the supply of nonprofit executives qualified to fill president and top development jobs is tight, say search professionals.

By Perri Capell

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