Executive Search



Connecticut Bar Foundation

Executive Director

Hartford, Connecticut



The Connecticut Bar Foundation, a dynamic charitable and programmatic foundation dedicated to promoting equal access to justice in Connecticut, seeks an energetic, entrepreneurial, and accomplished leader to serve as its next Executive Director. Dedicated to expanding access to justice for the state’s most vulnerable populations, the Foundation allocates and stewards a significant portion of the funding for legal aid services in the state while providing relevant programming regarding issues of importance to the legal profession. Building on this respected history, the incoming Executive Director will provide sound strategic, financial, and operational leadership while ensuring that the highest levels of programming and policy-oriented activities are generated by the Foundation.

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will serve as a trusted and engaging ambassador, fostering and developing deep relationships across the legislative and judicial branches, the organized bar, and legal service providers to ensure that the Foundation continues to increase its effectiveness. Moreover, s/he will foster a culture of respect, achievement, and fiscal stability; retain and develop a small but skilled and motivated staff; increase philanthropic support; build external visibility with funders, partners, political leaders, and other constituents; and maintain, cultivate and explore mutually-beneficial partnerships and collaborations that deepen the Foundation’s impact across the State of Connecticut.

The successful candidate will be an inspirational, proactive, collaborative, and experienced leader who inspires trust and confidence, both internally and externally. Combining a personal commitment to access to justice with a dedication to programmatic excellence and exceptional communication skills, the ideal candidate will have a minimum of eight years of senior leadership experience in law, nonprofits, government, policy, or advocacy. 

This search is being conducted Jack Ayer, jackayer [at] msn [dot] com


Founded in 1952, the Connecticut Bar Foundation aims to assure a reliable and sufficient flow of funds to support legal services and access to justice for persons of limited means. The Foundation accomplishes its mission through a dual focus: the administration and distribution of legislatively and judicially designated funds to legal aid organizations, and by developing programs that address the administration of justice and the role of law in society.

To accomplish its critical mission, the Foundation works in the following areas:

  • The James W. Cooper Fellows Program: A select group of outstanding Connecticut lawyers, judges, and teachers of law, Fellows support the Foundation’s goals by sponsoring programs that address matters concerning the legal profession, the administration of justice, and the role of law in society. The Fellows serve this mission through projects that educate the public about significant legal issues. Additionally, Fellows’ donations provide critical financial support.
  • Connecticut Innocence Fund: This unique program provides loans to exonerated individuals to help them support themselves after their release, to be repaid when they complete the lengthy process of obtaining compensation from the state. This is the only fund in the country that provides such support, and is self-replenishing as loans are repaid.

For more information on the Foundation’s programming, visit www.ctbarfdn.org.


Reporting to and working collaboratively with the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will support and mentor a small but highly talented team and oversee an annual operating budget of nearly $800,000. S/he will provide superior leadership and management in all aspects of the organization, including in the following areas:

Thought Leadership and Strategy Building

The Executive Director will serve as the Foundation’s chief organizational and strategic leader, working with the Board of Directors, Board President, Foundation Committees, and the Fellows. S/he will critically review and assess the organization’s goals and objectives and will set priorities for its work. S/he will foster a dynamic community of continual learning and will remain current on issues affecting the Foundation’s grantees and the broader legal community.

Board Relations

The Executive Director will serve as the primary liaison to the Board of Directors in strategic planning, grant-making, program prioritization, and resource development. S/he will provide and direct administrative support to the board and its eleven committees (http://www.ctbarfdn.org/committees). S/he will develop annual goals, plans, and a budget for board review and work closely with the Board President and Nominating Committee on recruitment and governance. S/he will partner with the board to broaden and deepen the funding base and provide regular financial reporting, analysis, and forecasting for board oversight. 

Program Leadership

The Executive Director will work to assure the fiscal integrity of the Foundation and its funds, including the IOLTA/IOTA, CGFIA and JBGIA grant programs. S/he will manage the grant application and monitoring processes and oversee the completion and submission of forms, reports, and contracts, including annual reports to the Executive Committee of the Superior Court and Judicial Branch.  S/he will administer the Fellows program and identify and pursue activities that further engage and attract a deep pool of accomplished Fellows.   In all areas, s/he will promote best practices and maximize coordination of service within Connecticut’s nonprofit legal services community.

Fundraising and Fiscal Management

The Executive Director will promote the continued fiscal health of the organization and will expand fundraising efforts, broadening and diversifying operational and programmatic funding streams to assure a balanced revenue base of grants, corporate sponsors, donations, and events revenue.

With support from the board, executive committees, and staff, the Executive Director will develop and implement an annual fundraising plan. The Executive Director will work with financial institutions, local and statewide bar associations, legislative, executive, and judicial branches of state government, and the Foundation’s grantees to maximize funding from existing sources and seek new funding for legal services. To further this effort, the Executive Director will build and maintain strong relationships with corporations, law offices, banks, and others, connecting them with the Foundation’s mission and vision.

Communications and External Relationships

The Executive Director will be the Foundation’s chief spokesperson, serving as a visible and engaging leader and articulating and communicating the mission, vision, and objectives to advance and promote the work of the Foundation and its grantees. S/he will represent the organization with policy makers, media, donors, the broader legal community, and other community based organizations and set a comprehensive communications plan to advance the Foundation’s message and agenda. To maximize the impact of this effort, the Executive Director will nurture a statewide network of partner organizations, government contacts, and influential individuals focused on common policy goals who are aligned with the Foundation’s mission. S/he will steward strong and partner-based relationships with grantees and their leadership, providing thoughtful and timely communication and coordination.

Organizational Management

The Executive Director will utilize professional savvy, administrative expertise, and outstanding communication skills to identify areas for operational improvement. With the support of a talented but lean administrative staff, s/he will oversee the organization’s smooth internal operation, evaluating appropriate policy, procedure, and administrative support resources. S/he will ensure that the organization’s structure is aligned with its mission and reflects its priorities, will motivate and guide staff, and will steward organizational resources to meet those objectives.


While no one person may embody all of the qualities enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:

  • Sophisticated and seasoned leadership skills developed through a minimum of eight years of management experience; a demonstrated ability to manage all aspects of an organization’s operations including financial, personnel, and communications;
  • A demonstrated and long-standing commitment to equal access to justice; a genuine enjoyment of the law and lawyers, and a profound respect for and belief in the system of law;
  • A track record and interest in nonprofit fundraising and development; a commitment to maintaining current funders and cultivating new donors, and a history of successfully taking organizations to the next level of sustained philanthropic support;
  • A proven ability and competence in building strong professional relationships; natural interpersonal skills and the ability to connect diverse audiences to the Foundation’s mission and activities; a collaborative, consensus-building style with the humility to forego ego in the service of mission;
  • Knowledge of the Connecticut legal community and the Connecticut judiciary with demonstrated familiarity with the Connecticut legislative process; familiarity with legal services for the poor and the grant-making process is helpful;
  • A balanced approach to leading programs and organizations with compassion and a practical business sense; demonstrated budget development experience and the proven ability to interpret, forecast, and manage financial statements;
  • A proven track record and commitment to mentoring and coaching senior and junior level staff; strong supervision skills and a management style that fosters respect, teamwork, and collaboration from a dedicated staff;
  • Exceptional verbal and written communication skills and the understanding of broad communications and engagement tools, including social media;
  • A strategic, comprehensive, and critical thinking approach to planning, problem solving, and decision making; the proven capacity to manage time and plan effectively while balancing multiple tasks, demands, and changing circumstances simultaneously.


More information about the Connecticut Bar Foundation can be found at: http://www.ctbarfdn.org

Due to the pace of this search, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applications including a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, your resume (in Word format), and where you learned of the position should be submitted to: Jack Ayer at jackayer [at] msn [dot] com.

The Connecticut Bar Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and candidates of color are encouraged to apply.