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Executive Director, Tree House Humane Society



LOCATION:              7225 N. Western Avenue  Chicago, IL  60645

REPORTS TO:          Board of Directors



Tree House is a humane organization that promotes the inherent value of every animal and strives to educate the public about proper and responsible animal care, with a focus on the care and placement of stray cats with special physical and emotional needs. Tree House is committed to finding every healthy and treatable animal a home.  



Since its founding in 1971, Tree House has created innovative and progressive approaches to animal welfare that not only enhance the lives of companion animals in the community but also bring a greater awareness of animal welfare issues to the public.  Therefore, in advancing its mission, Tree House opened its new 15,000 sq. ft. shelter and clinic on the north side of Chicago this past July. This modern, progressive and attractive building allows the cats in its care to live in a cage-free, comfortable and cozy environment while awaiting forever homes. 

The primary mission of Tree House is unique in that it centers around the rescue, rehabilitation, adoption of sick, injured, abused, and neglected cats. Since its founding, Tree House has rescued and adopted more than 25,000 cats.  Furthermore, Tree House has sterilized more than 30,000 animals through public spay/neuter programs as well as the Community Cats/T-N-R (trap-neuter-return) program.  

Community Cats is one of the hallmark services of Tree House. The T-N-R program provides volunteers step-by-step instructions on how to handle feral cats in their neighborhoods for trapping, what to expect during “Spay Day” and setting up the colony once the cats return to the previous locations. The Cats at Work Project, a “green” humane program, removes sterilized and vaccinated feral cats from life-threatening situations and relocates them to new territories where their presence will help control the rodent population. The cats are humanely managed by volunteer caretakers for the entirety of their lives with ongoing support from Tree House as mandated by Cook County’s 'Managed Care of Feral Cats Ordinance'.  Last year, Tree House placed 308 cats through this program.

In addition to these programs, Tree House has a pet food assistance program which provides supplemental free cat and dog food, and supplies when available, to individuals facing economic challenges or who feed many cats in a cat colony.

Tree House Animal-Assisted Therapy is a program that has been in existence for 42 years.    At Tree House, Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) program reaches hundreds of people each year. Volunteers visit people living in nursing homes, women’s shelters, and assisted-living environments. As the volunteers are educating residents on topics of animal welfare and fostering organic social interactions with the residents, the AAT cats are also benefiting from these human interactions. 

The Tree House foster program helps to get more kittens/cats off the street. By keeping vulnerable kittens/cats in foster homes, they are less likely to be exposed to disease than they would be if they stayed at the shelter.  Foster kittens/cats are placed in homes according to how much supervision they need and the ability of the foster home to care for them.

A truly community-minded organization, Tree House incorporated a “Catfé” in its lobby where locals will be able to sit and enjoy their beverages among special needs cats, giving them additional human contact and nurturing.



The Board of Directors determined that with the concept of the new shelter, clinic and future expansion of community services, new leadership with extensive experience in animal welfare was needed.  The Board hired an Interim Executive Director to assist with the immediate projects of outfitting the shelter, drafting policies and procedures for staff and establishing new protocols for the services they provide. With these mandates now completed, it is time to find a new Executive Director who can lead Tree House into its future. With less than a year of operation in the new facility, the new Executive Director will have the opportunity of developing a vision and strategic plan to determine the path to success for the organization.

Currently the Board is comprised of nine individuals who have been dedicated to the success of Tree House during this remarkable transformation. Going forward, there is an opportunity to work closely with the Board to develop and implement a Board recruitment strategy. Additionally, the Board would like to be supported in its efforts by creating effective sub-committees and engaging them in fundraising efforts.  

The Clinic is an integral program of Tree House since the animals that come to the shelter, as stated above, are sick, injured, abused or neglected. Within the new Clinic, plans include constructing a low-cost Wellness Clinic for the public, which would provide spay/neuter services as well as vaccinations.  This exciting new service would benefit not only cats but dogs as well. The new Executive Director will have the opportunity of taking this raw space and transforming it into a state-of-the art Clinic for the community.

With all these new developments, Tree House is ready to draft a strategic plan to clearly define their objectives as they move forward. The new Executive Director will be an integral part of this process working alongside the Board of Directors.  There is so much potential for this organization that it is time for all involved to set out specific strategies and timelines to clearly define the future vision, direction and goals for the organization.   

Although Tree House has development programs in place, more concentrated effort in securing new donors is needed.  Corporate and foundation supporters must be identified and cultivated. Although bequests are readily received by Tree House, an organized planned giving program is needed to secure the monetary future of the agency. The new Executive Director will be instrumental in these efforts, working alongside both Board and staff to accomplish this important activity.



Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director is responsible for the oversight of Tree House, which includes administration of all programs and services. The Executive Director will develop and oversee a budget of $2.5M.  Additionally, the Executive Director is responsible for the strategic processes of the organization, managing and developing a talented paid staff of 40 and more than 150 volunteers. The direct reports for the Executive Director are currently the Director of Veterinary Services, Director of Operations, Director of Marketing and Development and the Executive Assistant.

The Executive Director will assist the Board in the development and execution of a strategic plan as well as the development of strategic directions and policy in the fulfillment of the agency’s mission. This individual is responsible for the overall management and operation of Tree House in compliance with Board-adopted policies and with all applicable local, state, and federal regulations and laws. The Executive Director provides a leadership role in initiating and maintaining community relationships and securing the operating and investment funds necessary to sustain current and future operations.



In conjunction with the Board, provide vision and direction for the future growth of programs, policies and procedures for Tree House.  In collaboration with the Board of Directors provide support in all its activities; suggest direction toward the achievement of the Tree House mission, philosophy, and strategy; provide guidance, stability, support and collaboration to a staff of talented professionals; and implement Board driven long-range and strategic plans to ensure that the goals and objectives of Tree House are successfully achieved.  Work with the existing Board to review and revise By-Laws. Support the Board in recruitment and engagement efforts.



Guarantee that staff is well informed of decisions that affect them and the agency and ensure that those policies are explained and communicated clearly and concisely. Develop and implement procedures to ensure good management, administrative and fiscal practices; ensure that staff understands the vision and direction of Tree House and that in return they will be able to develop and mature in their roles and responsibilities; lead by example and maintain the highest professional standards and practices for Tree House.



Oversee the Tree House budget and business plans and ensure sound fiscal management and capital allocation.  Maintain and implement fiscal policies and procedures in accordance with Board directives. Oversee and guide the policies for the investment of fiscal resources for the organization to achieve reasonable returns.


Demonstrate development skills to reach a new population of donors especially corporations and foundations. Continue to develop and nurture past relationships with donors.  Develop new, creative fundraising opportunities and earned revenue sources with staff in order to secure the Tree House’s financial position. Strengthen planned giving programs thereby adding financial security to Tree House.



Serve as a spokesperson for Tree House and effectively represent its goals and mission to individuals, private foundations, government leaders, the media, sponsors and donors to attract the widest interest and support.  Ensure that Tree House is represented locally, regionally and nationally at coalitions, membership organizations and other humane field associations.   



Establish short range objectives and work plans, research and evaluate potential programs for Tree House in consultation with other staff. In conjunction with the Board, develop a new strategic plan outlining plans, goals and related activities.



We seek a highly experienced leader and manager with demonstrated vision and passion for the humane and ethical treatment of animals. A successful track record of strong, innovative and inclusive leadership, which will facilitate open communication to harmonize staff, the Board and the other constituents with whom he/she will interface, is sought.

Experience in a senior leadership role where he/she has either reported directly to or worked closely with a Board of Directors is expected. The ideal candidate will bring strong and successful leadership of an animal welfare/control agency or from another nonprofit organization if there is a demonstrated level of both passion for, and involvement with, an animal welfare organization. The person we seek should demonstrate a balance between creative thinking and management acumen as well as the ability to assess and maintain policies and procedures for moving an organization to a new level of excellence. Qualified candidates will have exceptional interpersonal skills and will be able to relate to all constituencies.  This individual has demonstrated success in building and sustaining coalitions toward the achievement of goals.

The successful candidate will have significant financial management experience as well as demonstrated accomplishments in fundraising, including securing major and planned gifts from individual donors, foundations and corporations.

An understanding of business principles applied to a nonprofit enterprise, including a background of good budget management, is necessary. 

We seek an exceptional communicator who can demonstrate a successful background in external relations, including experience speaking with the media in a variety of situations. This person will be articulate and passionate about the humane treatment of animals and will welcome and respect the multiple perspectives and groups that demonstrate an active interest in animal welfare.

Personnel management skills that include an ability to work collaboratively, listen, provide feedback, build morale, delegate, “roll up one’s sleeves” and make decisions are essential.

The candidate should be motivated by the best interests of the organization and will bring high emotional intelligence to effectively continue the organization’s transition to a highly effective operation.  Demonstrated success managing change, planning, forecasting and determining courses of action is needed.

An undergraduate degree from a four-year college or university is desired however demonstrated experience leading an organization will be considered. CAWA credential is helpful.

Applications and nominations are being received by Noetic Search.  Please click here to submit a current resume and cover letter. 

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