Chief Financial Officer

The Organization

Options for Learning

Founded in 1981, Options for Learning provides free and low-cost, high-quality child development, child care, and after school programs that prepare infants, toddlers, preschool, and school aged children for future success. Options for Learning is at the forefront of helping families break the cycle of poverty and improve their lives by providing children and families with the tools to create a positive foundation for school, social, and life success. Consistently ranked as a top child care and after school program provider in California, Options for Learning’s more than 1,000 professionals deliver excellent programs designed to provide personalized attention for each student in an enriched, caring environment. Options for Learning also offers training, resources, and support to thousands of community-based child care providers to improve the quality of care for the children they serve.

Options for Learning is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with an annual operating budget of over $100 million. The agency is primarily funded by federal, state, and local government contracts, which allows Options for Learning to reserve many spaces in their programs to assist lower income families who are working, attending college or vocational training, or seeking employment.

The agency serves more than 12,000 children and families, operating at over 90 locations with more than 280 classrooms on 60+ school campuses throughout the San Gabriel Valley, Whittier, Pomona Valley, and Northeast Los Angeles areas. Children with disabilities are welcomed, where services can be provided safely. Programs are designed to enhance early development and prepare all children for school success, building confidence, character, and resilience in young children; developing lifelong learning, social, and lifestyle skills for older children; and promoting healthy family functioning through the following divisions.

Programs and Divisions

Child Care Services

The mission of the Child Care Services division is to provide subsidized child care and objective referral information, as well as to promote high-quality child care. State and federal funding for the programs in this division allows Options for Learning to provide free child care referrals to parents to help find licensed child-care providers, to help low-income families pay for child care, and to assist child care providers and child care professionals with support and training.

Early Head Start

Early Head Start is a full-day, full-year program for pregnant women and infants from birth to age three. Intended for parents who are working or attending college or trade school, parent programs are offered in collaboration with the Cal-SAFE Teen Parent Program. Extensive parent participation and support services are offered through home-based options and three high quality, nurturing, and safe child development centers with staff who are qualified in infant and child development. This comprehensive program promotes enhanced physical and emotional well-being and strong cognitive skills in infants and toddlers, all while fostering stable family relationships. Federal funding ensures Early Head Start is free to low income and qualifying families.

Enrichment Program

The mission of the Enrichment program is to foster students to develop leadership skills to become life-long learners who acknowledge diversity by providing a safe environment where learning is meaningful through enriching and engaging activities that support their instructional day. With locations in the Alhambra Unified School District, the Rowland Unified School District, and the San Gabriel Unified School District, this after-school program for first through eighth graders located on school campuses is state funded and free to all, regardless of income.

Full-day Preschool

Options for Learning’s Full-day Preschool has locations across 16 cities that provide a safe early learning program. Highly trained teachers prepare children for kindergarten in this year-round program that operates from Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., at most school sites. The three- to five-year-old (and two-year old at one location) children of parents who are working, going to school, or looking for work are served by the Full-day Preschool. Priority is given to families who are homeless or to children in at-risk situations. Low-income and qualifying families are able to access this free of charge because of federal and state funding, but there are also low-cost and full-pay options for families whose income exceeds government guidelines.

Head Start

The mission of the Head Start division is to work in partnership with parents and the community to provide quality preschool education for children and comprehensive support services to families, thus promoting independence and success. With locations in Pasadena and South El Monte, Options for Learning’s Head Start program is federally funded and free to low-income families. Head Start provides half-day and home-based preschool programs for three- to four-year-old kids, as well as morning or afternoon classes during the school year. Focusing on comprehensive early childhood education, health, and nutrition services, the program fosters stable family relationships, enhances children’s physical and emotional well-being, and helps them to develop strong cognitive skills.

State Preschool

The mission of the State Preschool division is to prepare preschoolers and their families for kindergarten and make the transition to elementary school smooth. To achieve this, the agency provides a high quality, developmental, educational program that meets the needs of the whole child and forms collaborative partnerships with schools and community institutions. Utilizing an educationally sound and developmentally appropriate curriculum, State Preschool ensures that each preschool child develops the necessary skills for future scholastic success. It is a half-day, 10-month preschool program for three- to four-year-old children that is free to low-income families through state funding. Morning or afternoon classes are also offered during the school year.

Surround Care

The mission of the Options for Learning Surround Care division is to provide comprehensive services to school age children, youth, and their families. The division focuses on supporting each individual child/youth to develop to their full potential. Through partnerships with schools, families, and the community, a quality enrichment program is available to children between the ages of four years and nine months and 12 years. The program is offered in a safe, well-supervised, licensed environment operated by educated and highly skilled staff. Sites promote active learning with challenging and enjoyable activities, fostering the development of each child and promoting lifelong learning and support for each child’s school success.

The excellent curriculum supports new Common Core state standards through Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM). Care is provided year-round, Monday through Friday, at 31 locations on school sites before and after school. Full-day care during spring, summer, and winter breaks is also available at consolidated sites. The program is supported by state funding and is free to qualifying families, but is open to all at low-cost and full-pay options, based on family size and income.

For more information about Options for Learning and their exemplary programs, please visit the website: www.optionsforlearning.org.

Location

Options for Learning has locations across Los Angeles County. The corporate office is in Covina, California.

Mission, Vision, and Values

Mission

Options for Learning is a leader in preparing children and supporting families for life success through innovative, quality child development programs.

Vision

All children will achieve their potential.

Values

  • Respect, integrity, accountability
  • Professionalism
  • Advocacy
  • Right to access quality education
  • A great place for children and employees to work, learn, and succeed
  • Personal rapport between staff and families
  • Serving a culturally and economically diverse community
  • Innovative and creative contributions to the field

The Opportunity

Options for Learning seeks an experienced and strategic Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who will facilitate the financial strength of the agency, assuring fiscal soundness, workplace effectiveness, and the provision of mission-centric services. For this $100 million organization, the CFO will serve as a collaborative partner who is highly engaged and well versed at managing all aspects of accounting and financial functions through others.

Presently, there are approximately 20 professional staff housed within the finance organization; our client will continue to evaluate all processes with an eye on efficiency and the broad use of technology to streamline their work. Accordingly, the number of staff in the department will continue to evolve. As a tangible example, portions of the functions of both accounts payable and payroll are in the process of being outsourced and this implementation will continue over the next several months. Once on board, the successful candidate will be expected to evaluate the enterprise to ensure (1) maximum efficiency tied to human capital, (2) the use of best practices, and (3) overall operational excellence that allows Options for Learning to surpass mission specific objectives.

The CFO, an exempt position, reports to the Chief Executive Officer, Paul Pulver. He joined Options for Learning in April 2019, succeeding the agency’s founder. Paul has been an advocate for children and families through his nonprofit work spanning more than 25 years, most recently as Executive Director of Pathways LA. As an integral member of the executive leadership team, the Chief Financial Officer provides active leadership for all aspects of the agency’s finances and is a partner to the CEO with a focus on uplifting overall organizational operations.

The Chief Financial Officer will be an engaging leader who can inspire, motivate, teach, and empower team members toward their individual and collective goals and can serve as a resource to the organization’s leadership on all financial matters. The successful CFO will be an intrepid professional who takes an entrepreneurial approach to challenges. This individual must be accomplished in balancing financial constraints and limited budgets against an ambitious vision. A significant portion of the budget is received from public sector agencies, including the California Department of Education (Child Development Services), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Head Start and Early Head Start), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (California Department of Education), and the County of Los Angeles (Department of Social Services). Dedicated oversight of these government grants and contracts is essential. Maximizing the contracts and managing relationships with government funders are ongoing needs.

As the strategic leader of the finance enterprise, broad work outputs include budget preparation and monitoring, financial projections and modeling, financial statement and tax preparation, supervision of the annual audit, and oversight of the accounting and compliance for real estate activities and other business transactions.

Specific Duties

With guidance from the Chief Executive Officer and working closely with executive leadership team colleagues, the CFO is responsible for the financial aspects of the agency, as follows:

Leadership and Strategy

  1. Serves as a steadfast, active leader and manager who is a collaborative, team-oriented, self-motivated consensus builder and can affect change.
  2. Provides ongoing operational and strategic leadership input across agency concerns, while offering a comprehensive view of the organization’s business affairs through relevant financial and management reporting.
  3. Delivers tactical and operational decision-making recommendations to the CEO, Board of Directors, and members of the executive management team based on financial data. Prepares and presents straightforward, informative financial reports to management, the Board of Directors and relevant board committees.
  4. Advises on long-term business and financial planning. Serves as a strategic business partner and advisor to the CEO and Board of Directors, working in concert with leadership colleagues to develop both short- and long-term goals and plans for the agency.
  5. Leads group-wide transformative initiatives and translates detailed information into clear, concise, and accessible messaging.
  6. Provides leadership, direction, and management to the finance and accounting team.
  7. Encourages and fosters involvement and education in critical business areas.

Financial Management

  1. Identifies opportunities for top-line growth and drives financial improvement, not just through the traditional methods of cost control, but through examples such as program profitability analyses and benchmarking against industry peers.
  2. Provides strategic, high-level oversight, management, and analysis of all financial functions to advance the mission of the agency and ensure ongoing operational health. Supervises the development, implementation, and evaluation of comprehensive and effective accounting and financial record systems in compliance with governing regulations and policies.
  3. Manages the processes for financial forecasting and budgets, and oversees the preparation of all financial reporting. Leads and oversees the creation and ongoing management of the agency’s annual budget and provides continual analysis of budget-to-actual to the CEO.
  4. Directs the planning and preparation of interim and annual financial statements and reports, and assures that all federal, state, and charitable filings are completed accurately and efficiently.
  5. Continually improves the timeliness and accuracy of the agency’s cash flow and management of the billing and collections process, as well as month end, quarterly, and year end closings.

Controls

  1. Creates and oversees a strong control environment for the organization including regulatory, legal, and contract compliance; manages internal controls and fraud prevention systems; develops and updates key policies and procedures; and ensures agency staff are trained to adhere to such controls. Maintains a focus on continuous review and improvement of appropriate policies, internal controls, accounting standards, and procedural systems.
  2. Partners with the external auditor to complete the annual audit and tax filings, and serves as the lead finance staff for government audits and monitoring.
  3. Maintains knowledge and application of current GAAP standards, updates, new FASBs, and other relevant pronouncements.
  4. Manages the agency’s banking relationships and oversees and reports on investment performance.
  5. Oversees risk management and insurance for the agency.

Other

  1. Participates as a member of the leadership team and serves as the key financial staff member for the Board of Directors, Finance Committee, and Audit Committee.
  2. Participates in ongoing technology reviews and assists in outsourcing and automation initiatives.
  3. Other duties as assigned by the CEO that are deemed necessary to elevate the agency’s mission.

Candidate Qualifications

As the financial manager of the agency, the CFO must possess and project the utmost integrity and highest standards of professional conduct, and must be an individual marked by accomplishment and experience to exercise the leadership of a capable, collegial, and motivated professional community. Expected qualifications include:

  • The successful candidate will have at least 15 years of experience in relevant finance positions of increasing responsibility, having led finance, accounting, and reporting functions. This person will also bring prior experience working for a similarly multifaceted organization, as well as a strong background in managing complex government grants and allocations. Experience with the California Department of Education and Head Start grants would be a plus.
  • The CFO will be a visible, entrepreneurial, and energetic leader who possesses superb management skills and a boots-on-the-ground approach. This professional will be a low ego, highly energetic, and forward-thinking individual with an enthusiastic and passionate approach to the work. Will have the vision and courage to break new ground, while ensuring and advancing the financial health and stability of the agency.
  • The ideal candidate will be an accessible and compassionate leader who possesses superb management skills. The CFO will function as a catalyst, coach, and doer, using strong people skills to guide staff at all levels of the organization. Must be able to train, mentor/develop, and motivate staff to embrace best practices and consider innovative ways of doing the work. Previous experience managing a sizable staff is required.
  • Exceptional interpersonal, written, and verbal communications skills, blended with the ability to be an effective, engaged, and interested listener. This must include the capacity to articulate and explain complex financial issues to staff, board members, and all other stakeholders in a clear, non-technical manner. Furthermore, this extremely strong communicator will have to translate financial data so that it can be utilized effectively by those who do not possess a business orientation. The CFO must be able to step outside of finance and speak to mission and values in earnest.
  • Excellent leadership, financial, administrative, and analytical skills. Must be a strategic thinker with the ability to understand the vital issues affecting Options for Learning and provide unbiased analysis to all stakeholders. A strong internal and external customer service orientation with the willingness to find solutions to problems and answers to unconventional questions.
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with all levels of staff, as well as numerous representatives of public and private organizations, especially and including government entities. This individual must be firm and decisive, with the ability to take action and implement strategy within appropriate deadlines. A pragmatic facilitator who clears paths to solutions while upholding the highest standards of excellence.
  • The successful candidate will have a leadership style characterized by patience, perseverance, openness, trust, collegiality, and diplomacy coupled with decisiveness and a strong commitment to the agency’s vision, core values, and strategic priorities.
  • An adaptable multi-tasker, with the ability to control and move forward on several priorities simultaneously. This includes switching priorities as required without losing momentum. The CFO will need to organize and coordinate multiple tasks, and establish and re-establish priorities as changing circumstances dictate.
  • Nuanced understanding of nonprofit regulations and ideal operating principles as it pertains to staff, programs, and standards and practices is desirable. This will include extensive experience with budget and financial analysis, and detailed comprehension of GAAP. The successful candidate will have current knowledge and a commitment to keep abreast of the latest laws, policies, regulations, and rulings relating to the administrative and financial matters of the agency.
  • A strong financial leader who can stand up to scrutiny and model consistent and ethical behavior. The CFO will have an innate ability to exercise tact in dealing with sensitive, nuanced, and confidential issues and situations.

Education

The successful candidate will hold a bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance, economics, or accounting; an MBA or CPA certification is preferred.

Process

A review of applications will commence immediately. Applications received by June 12, 2020, will be given priority. Interested individuals are encouraged to submit their credentials as soon as possible for full consideration. Complete applications should be submitted electronically via email to Krista Haley at krista@shellihermansearch.com and should include: a cover letter and a current resume reflecting work experience from college forward.

Contact

Shelli Herman and Associates, Inc. is assisting Options for Learning with this search. Confidential inquiries may be directed to:

Krista Haley, Associate
Shelli Herman and Associates, Inc.
11693 San Vicente Blvd., Suite #104
Los Angeles, California 90049
Office: (800) 396-0595 ext. 7
E-mail: krista@shellihermansearch.com