Webinar Recap – “CEO Succession Planning: Best Practices and Lessons Learned ”

MHS presented “CEO Succession Planning: Best Practices and Lessons Learned” on January 25, 2022. The webinar was presented by Karen Lehman, President/CEO of MHS. Karen was joined by J. David Yoder, recently retired CEO of Sunnyside Village and Will Barnhart, Board Chair of Mennonite Services Northwest.

Karen and our panelist shared their experiences of their CEO transitions. As the Board Chair, Will navigated the planned retirement of the long-serving CEO of Mennonite Services Northwest and a new search after their CEO resigned 18 months into their tenure. J. David made has successfully led Sunnyside Village these past 14 years.  He worked with his Board on planning his retirement, and the Board completed the search process with the CEO transition occurring this month.

Will shared that the process for his initial CEO search were much different than the process of finding a new CEO following a short tenure. In the initial CEO search, they were afforded the opportunity of time to not only find the right candidate, but have their outgoing CEO there to work with the board on finding an ideal candidate and help provide a smooth transition. During the short-term search, Will identified the need for an Interim CEO instead of rushing to fill the position. This decision allowed for Mennonite Services Northwest the flexibility to find the right candidate.

J. David’s transition was planned over several years with his Board Chair and lead to a formal announcement roughly 12 months prior to his retirement. J. David found himself spending this time period engaging with staff and residents to help “make-sense” of this transition and easing those who were anxious of the transition. J. David’s biggest advice from his perspective was to help communicate as early as possible to help ease those who are anxious about the transition. Talking through the ‘why” and ‘how’ will go a long way during a time of transition.

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