President and CEO

Req Number: XL421
Location: Upper Marlboro, MD
Posted: 11/14/2019
Category: Government/Not-For-Profit : Education
Job Type: Permanent

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Position: President and Chief Executive Officer
Organization: Melwood
HQs Location: Upper Marlboro, MD (Washington, DC Metro Area)
Reporting Relationship: Board of Directors


Melwood is a premier and complex mission driven organization committed to inspiring children, youth and adults of differing abilities to break through barriers so they may pursue careers of their choosing and enjoy meaningful community inclusion. Melwood is a leader in utilizing an innovative and effective social-entrepreneurial model to provide social and human services to those of differing abilities.


The organization provides employment, job training, life skills improvement, community support and recreation opportunities to nearly 2,600 unique individuals each year. As a result of the integrated program offerings, Melwood is one of the largest employers of people of differing abilities in the United States. Among its 1,600 workers, Melwood employs nearly 1,000 people of differing abilities, providing them a good job with fair pay, benefits, and direct support as needed.


With revenue in excess of $110M, the organization offers business contract services, community services, veterans services and recreational programs. Melwood employs 1,484 people (1,296 full-time, and 188 part-time), with 41 employees in corporate leadership and shared services. Melwood hires about 91 people seasonally each year, supported by a small number of independent contractors, to meet the needs of its landscaping and recreation lines of business. While Melwood does receive support and revenue in the form of grants and contributions, approximately 85% of Melwood’s revenue is currently derived from contracts with the federal government through the AbilityOne program.


MISSION:Melwood advocates for and empowers individuals of differing abilities to transform their own lives through unique opportunities to work and play in the community.


VISION:A world where people of differing abilities are fully included.



  • All People Have the Ability and Potential to Enrich Their Own Lives and the Lives of Others.
  • All People Have the Right to Choose Their Own Path.
  • All People Have the Right to Meaningful Inclusion in the Community.



Melwood was founded in 1963 when a small group of parents and community supporters decided to teach plant care to young adults who were considered by most to be untrainable, and unemployable. Their goal was almost unheard of: jobs for people with disabilities. It was a bold idea for its time. On seven acres of unimproved land sold by Andrews Air Force Base — Melwood’s founders pitched an Army surplus tent and began to lay the infrastructure for a place where people of differing abilities could gain specific job skills and earn self-generated income.


Over the following decades, Melwood would pioneer many new mile­stones in the field that would be known as social-entrepreneurial ventures: businesses with the 'double bottom line' of providing revenue as well as jobs and independence for people of differing abilities.


The first successes came in horticulture. Trainees cultivated plants through the founding program in horticulture rehabilitative therapy and sold them at work sites around the Washington D.C. area. That work led to grounds keeping and landscaping contracts, where Melwood crews consistently delivered good, dependable work.


Over time, Melwood continued to expand its programs, providing employment through services contracts with major federal government agencies, state, county, local governments and commercial firms, enhancing its revenue through fundraising initiatives such as charity vehicle donations.


While people with neurodevelopmental challenges remained a core constituency, the organization grew to offer broader support services including services for veterans affected by post-traumatic stress and mild traumatic brain injury through the establishment of Melwood Veterans Services in 2016. Melwood even offers inclusive children’s programming to help foster a generation that will demand a world where people of differing abilities are fully included.


In 2017, Melwood formally absorbed Linden Resources, a government and commercial solutions provider for the Federal government and Public Sector, allowing Melwood to build on its existing federal contracts under the AbilityOne program and expand its presence and reach in the AbilityOne contracting industry.  


In a continued effort to expand to new mission aligned initiatives, Melwood has also embraced the emerging opportunity to serve adults on the autism spectrum, especially given advances in technology and the growing workforce need for individuals who see data and process thoughts differently. In 2019, Melwood launched the AbilIT program that is designed to help people of differing abilities enter the IT field with the knowledge and certifications needed to succeed through technical training and professional/personal development coaching.



This is an exciting opportunity for a passionate and social enterprise-minded executive that can envision the future strategy for Melwood and build on the rich legacy of Melwood’s past. The new leader will inherit the success of the retiring CEO who greatly professionalized and grew the enterprise. The new executive will bring strong business acumen to drive Melwood’s continued evolution and increased impact as a leader and innovator in the fields of employment and support services for people of differing abilities.


Melwood’s next CEO will champion efforts to increase diversity and inclusion of people of differing abilities in the workforce in a wider array of jobs, ensure that programs align with the dreams and desires of the next generation as youth transition from school to work in a fast-paced, more equitable world. The next leader will also have the opportunity to support injured veterans in their efforts toward community reintegration and long-term employment and deliver on a promise to thousands of people served by Melwood.  


Founded on innovation, inclusion and social good, Melwood has maintained these three key principles throughout the course of its history. Moving forward, Melwood will need to navigate the inherent tension caused by its identity as both a social services agency and a social enterprise business. Given its reliance on AbilityOne contracts coupled with the uncertainty of federal funding, Melwood is well positioned to diversify funding sources, seek a sustainable mix of public/private revenue generating programs, and identify innovative business opportunities to expand the enterprise and its resources in supporting the modern job market with new types of employment.



The President & CEO is accountable to the Board of Directors and provides leadership to preserve the rich legacy and sustainability of Melwood in accordance with its powerful mission and vision.  The President & Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the overall leadership and operations of Melwood, including oversight of its staff and over $110 million in revenue. S/he oversees a leadership team of 15, with 5 direct reports.  The CEO is responsible for the development and execution of a strategic plan and the overall administrative management and oversight of operations, and external affairs of Melwood’s business activities, contract services, community services, fund development, and advocacy.  S/he will also be charged with driving innovation and growth to ensure Melwood’s future success and increased impact.



Primary duties and responsibilities include:

Strategic Vision and Leadership

  • Provides inspiring leadership to strengthen Melwood’s services and brand.
  • Assesses the current structure of Melwood and makes recommendations to the Board around fund diversification, program expansion and organic growth opportunities to ensure a sustainable model for the future.
  • Develops and implements strategic and operational plans in alignment with Melwood’s mission.
  • Develops a transparent internal culture that supports and inspires the mission and promotes synergy, collaboration, and innovation across the enterprise.  
  • Communicates a clear, innovative vision that is compelling, widely embraced, and effectively implemented.
  • Oversees M/A review of potential organizations to join the Melwood brand.


Board Relations

  • Works in partnership with the Board of Directors and the Chair to support and guide the agenda for current and future governance. 
  • Engages the Board and keeps Members informed of the organization’s progress, activities, and challenges, industry trends and relevant policies and regulations.
  • Provides ongoing assistance in the identification, recruitment and education of new Board candidates.


Program Administration and Operations

  • Oversees operations and provides fiscally responsible administration of Melwood’s programs, understanding all aspects of government funding, coverage, policies, compliance, and regulations of social services delivery systems. 
  • Using outcome-based analysis, demonstrates the measurable benefits and impact of the organization’s programs on both employment opportunity as well as the economy, to drive management decision making and advocate for funding grant application.
  • Builds on the sound organizational structure and administrative operations.
  • Fosters a smoothly functioning, efficient organization through effective and transparent communications and team-building.
  • Develops measurable goals and objectives to enable divisions to provide the highest quality of services. 
  • Ensures the retention of existing service contracts and identifies new business opportunities that support the mission and success of Melwood. 
  • Develops business plans to address proposed program expansion or implementation.
  • Manages small business lines within the social enterprise model.


Financial Management

  • Oversees the formation of a fiscally responsible annual budget.
  • Promotes services that are produced in a cost-effective manner, driving efficient delivery models while maintaining a high level of quality.
  • Provides accurate monthly reports and annual budget to the Board.


Staff Management

  • Directly manages and supervises an executive leadership team with an inspiring and empowering leadership style.
  • Ensures the attainment of Melwood’s objectives through the recruitment, retention, development, motivation, and evaluation of a diverse and inclusive staff.
  • Promotes a culture of high performance, commitment to excellence, high collaboration, and continuous improvement that values learning and an unrelenting focus on quality.
  • Specifies personnel accountabilities, evaluates performance regularly, and maintains appropriate cost-effective organizational structure.



  • Oversees and seeks diversified outside funding in the form of grants and contracts from public and private sources.
  • Provides executive leadership, oversight and strategic direction for Melwood’s development and fundraising initiatives and provides appropriate support for efforts such as major donor programs, planned giving, capital campaigns and special events.


External Relations

  • Serves as the official spokesperson and promotes Melwood’s mission and services to all constituencies, the general public and the media. 
  • Represents Melwood with local and national businesses, nonprofits, and government entities and officials.  
  • Serves as an advocate and works with legislators, regulatory agencies, and other representatives of the disability community and social services industry to ensure that legislative and regulatory policies protect the fundamental rights of people of differing abilities and enable the delivery of Melwood’s services.
  • Increases Melwood’s name recognition through branding and other initiatives.


  • Sound management of leadership transition that best serves Melwood’s mission, operations, staff, clients, participants and the community.
  • Thorough assessment of current organizational structure, programs and services followed by report and recommendations to the Board.  
  • Assessment and handling of current service contracts to ensure quality delivery, adherence to standards and procedures, and accurate financial management.
  • Execution of the strategic plan, in collaboration with the Board, with an emphasis on increasing and diversifying funding (through greater service contracts, grants, and additional fundraising initiatives), providing continued high-quality services, and driving innovation for new and expanded services, to support Melwood’s growth and impact.
  • Alignment of the management and organizational structure to be consistent with the strategic direction of the organization.
  • Successful achievement of fiscal objectives to ensure a vibrant, healthy organization.



The ideal candidate will be an innovative and inspiring leader with 15 years of successful experience in an organization of comparable or greater size and complexity.  This includes having served in a leadership position with a social service organization, government contractor, social enterprise, or government entity.  S/he should possess the following: 

  • Genuine belief in the ability of people with different physical, mental and learning challenges; passion for supporting people of differing abilities to succeed.
  • Strong leadership abilities and strategic thinking to create, plan, share and implement the organization’s vision.  Ability to influence and motivate others with a vision and strategy toward reaching organizational goals.
  • Experience in many, if not all, of the chief executive officer functions, including interfacing with Boards of Directors, managing a major budgetary function, ensuring the efficacy of a large contract management function, driving high quality program delivery, and participating in advocacy, resource development, external relations and public engagement. 
  • Understanding of human services and the social services delivery system, including government regulations, funding, coverage and compliance.
  • Entrepreneurial orientation and thought leadership to recognize future trends and new opportunities for Melwood.  Ability to maintain a nimble organization that can effectively adapt to, and address, changing external forces.
  • Strong business acumen to manage and diversify funding sources. Proven track record of innovation.
  • A proven ability to lead, direct, support and empower senior level professionals. 
  • An ability to strengthen the brand, safeguard the reputation and elevate visibility around the mission of Melwood.
  • Political savviness to build and sustain relationships with many constituencies, both internal and external, including government agencies, funding sources, and the media. 
  • Proven revenue generating experience, or the personal skill set and aptitude that suggests one would be a successful fundraiser. 
  • Ability to obtain and manage large government/private contracts and external grants.
  • An ability to listen, inspire and communicate clearly, effectively and persuasively at all levels of the organization, both orally and in writing. Ability to engage with staff and key stakeholders in a transparent and inclusive style.
  • Decisiveness with keen analytic, critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities that support and enable sound decision-making.
  • Knowledge of federal and state laws and regulations pertaining to disabilities. Ability to advocate effectively for Melwood and the AbilityOne community to elected officials.
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 
  • Strong professional ethics, high integrity, and accountability in all actions.



An undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university is required. An advanced degree and/or pertinent experience is preferred. Current possession of a Top Security Clearance is ideal. If not already in possession, must be willing to obtain upon hire.



A competitive compensation package will be offered to attract the most qualified candidates.


Korn/Ferry shall provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified candidates, and will refer candidates without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected basis.





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