RAISE Podcast: Deb Taft, Lindauer

RAISE Podcast: Deb Taft

On this episode of the RAISE Podcast, Brent talks with Deb Taft, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Owner of Lindauer. Deb shares her experience with the independent school sector, from attending Phillips Exeter Academy (one of EverTrue’s first and longest-standing partners!) to working with Beaver Country Day Schools, and others. Brent and Deb also discuss Covid’s lasting effects on the sector, and the evolving structure of the advancement workplace. 

Catch some highlights and listen to the full episode below.



Highlights from the episode…

Deb graduated from Harvard and promptly entered the banking world. After receiving a call from a friend who recommended her for an advancement position, she began working in marketing and communications, as she was always “more of the business type,” at Beaver Country Day.

Deb credits the stability of independent schools during the pandemic to the strength and experience of school boards. These are really seasoned boards where many board members have witnessed economic struggles (9/11 and the 2008 recession), allowing them to better navigate the challenges of the pandemic.

Deb encourages people to test themselves in a variety of contexts as the diversity of experience will serve professionals in their careers. Are you a builder or a maintainer? Do you offer structure or innovation? A healthy amount of turnover on teams is helpful to find a good fit.

Deb began her work with the Girl Scouts and found that their fundraising was reliant on cookie sales. It starts with the cookie, but Deb realized that wouldn’t be enough. Deb wanted to help the Girl Scouts program by teaching women to understand, control, and build their own wealth. “One of the disappointments was how uncomfortable in some ways many women still were talking about money, dealing with money, and asking for money.”

Many companies are rushing back to the office after remote work during the pandemic. Instead, Deb advocates for a hybrid approach designed for maximum flexibility in deciding which jobs are necessary to do in person and which are not. Without location as a constraint, Deb foresees some really exciting employment matches. 

Deb tells the story of an interview in which the interviewee’s baby climbed up into his lap in the middle of the conversation. The man excused himself and left the room to take care of the child and returned a moment later. Deb was pleasantly surprised to find that this interruption inspired the interviewers to consider him more seriously as a candidate, as organizations are now understanding the full picture of their employees as humans.

Brent and Deb discuss the taboo topic of salaries in nonprofit work. Advancement has many types of jobs and compensation is unlike what people tend to expect. Deb believes in recruiting folks from other professions to expand the capabilities of the advancement field. 

More about Deb…

Deb Taft is CEO and co-owner of Lindauer, a global search and talent firm serving nonprofits in the education, health and science, arts and culture, policy and advocacy, and civic and social justice arenas. 

An innovative leader in the education, healthcare/academic medicine, youth services and voluntary sectors, Deb was Senior EVP and Managing Director for Grenzebach Glier and Associates (GG+A) in Chicago, overseeing all global philanthropic consulting practices. She previously served as Chief Development Officer and Interim Chief Strategy Officer for Girl Scouts of the USA, where she led the launch of the $1 billion ToGetHerThere fundraising campaign and shaped the Alumni initiative to engage 50 million Girl Scouts. Deb held prior executive roles at Simmons University, Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, and Concord Academy. 

Deb chairs the Industry Advisory Council and serves Ex-Officio on the Board of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). She also serves on the Editorial Board of Giving USA, the Boards of The Giving Institute and Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, and on the AI in Advancement Advisory Council (AAAC); she recently completed her service and leadership of the Board of Directors for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in Washington, DC. She continues to advance inclusion and equity in nonprofit leadership including through her service on the steering committee for Allies in Action for Women of Color in Philanthropy (WŌC) and through various appointed leadership roles for CASE, GSEMA, and HRC. Deb was a founding team member of City Year, which today has youth service teams in more than 31 regions across the United States, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. She was honored as a Girl Scouts of Eastern MA Leading Woman in 2019 and as a 2021 member of the YW Boston Academy of Women Achievers. 

Her expertise includes governance and strategic planning; organizational growth and restructuring; diversity, equity, and inclusion; fundraising, marketing, and communications; constituent engagement; and talent recruitment, development, and retention. A renowned speaker and facilitator, Deb holds a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from Simmons University.

Deb and her team work to place top talent in advancement positions. Check out Lindauer’s open searches, or connect with Deb directly on LinkedIn.

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