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First Step Home

What our client has to say

Need:          To find a successor to a highly respected, long-serving President & CEO

Service:     C-level executive search

Organization: First Step Home (FSH)


Southwest Ohio’s only women’s addiction treatment center allowing children, up to the age of 12, to live with their mothers while they are in treatment, First Step Home needed to find a new President & CEO. Knowing it would take a special person to succeed its very special and successful two-decade-long leader, FSH turned to The Yunker Group to guide the Board’s Selection Committee.


Given the incumbent’s 21-year leadership of First Step Home, this professional search was the first for its Board Chair, Vice-Chair, and Director of Human Resources. It would have been natural for them to have some concerns that their voices and needs would be heard and their engagement welcome by a search firm. In their own words, any such fears were quickly alleviated by The Yunker Group.


Brent Dapper, Board Chair – First Step Home


“Due to the nature of our agency, we knew we needed a leader who had the specialized expertise and multiple skill sets required for the role. We also knew that we did not have the time or expertise within our Board to find able candidates, so we vetted several search firms serving the nonprofit arena. We chose The Yunker Group and could not have been more pleased with our choice.


With its network and online resources, the response was remarkable resulting in bringing us 53 candidates within a 45-day span, all falling within our agreed-upon parameters. Jody Duckwall and Jim Yunker kept us apprised throughout the process and handled all the initial interviews to filter the list down to a smaller group of seven and then to the top candidates with whom we met in face-to-face interviews.


I was extremely impressed with the entire process, especially their use of the Board’s and committee’s time. They were very considerate of our schedules, understanding that we had our careers outside of Board duties. For example, Jim and Jody set expectations for every meeting, including what we would be discussing, how to navigate the review process, what outcomes they were looking for, and ended with detailed next steps. And when it got down to our interviewing the final three candidates, Jim personally mediated those sessions, to ensure we stayed on point and had what we needed to conduct a fair analysis.


I’ll highly recommend The Yunker Group. We could not be any happier with the talent they brought us and with our new CEO. As proven professionals exclusively serving the nonprofit field, their process and communications were great –– never too much, never too little.”


Angie Hater, Vice Chair – First Step Home


“The Yunker Group did a great job of keeping things simple for the selection committee. Jim and Jody did all the legwork and conducted the early conversations to vet the large number of responses we received narrowing the candidates to ten to seven and then to the final three.


`The Yunker Group was wide open to our thoughts and requirements regarding the ideal new CEO. They invited us to work alongside them to create an assessment given to each of the top candidates. They welcomed us to be as much a part of the early planning as we desired, to ensure our involvement and comfort level, and then they took it from there until the final interviews, always staying in touch throughout the process. We were more than willing to let Jim and Jody take control. Everything they brought back to us was always within the parameters we had assigned. They knew exactly what we wanted and provided it.


They completed the search within our shortened timeline and got it all done on schedule, even with Thanksgiving falling in the middle of things.


Would I use The Yunker Group again . . . yes. The world is too big to try to do a search like this by yourself. They saved us a lot of time and energy and brought us a wealth of candidates we never could have found on our own.”


Cindy Fischer, HR Director – First Step Home


“A search like this to find a new CEO was all new to me, and along with the Board, I was delighted that we had The Yunker Group heading up the effort. It was a huge responsibility to find the right person –– someone who was not only experienced in social services but also was strong both clinically and financially. I am so happy because The Yunker Group led us to that very person in our new CEO.


I must be honest. A search of this magnitude is not inexpensive, but we certainly got a strong return on our investment. I give full credit to Jim and Jody. They did great work and earned their legitimacy.


I had an idea in my mind of the type of person we were looking for and Jim and Jody valued my experience with First Step Home and listened to my opinions. They included me in the search process, beginning to end, appreciated what I had to say and was always gracious in my responding to information they needed. I felt comfortable working with both Jody and Jim. I enjoyed their guidance and knew without a doubt they were looking out for the interests of everyone at First Step Home. It’s obvious with our new
CEO –– she’s just the person needed.”


The new President & CEO — Cassidy Lekan, LISW-S, LCSW, LICDC


First Step Home — https://firststephome.org/


First Step Home is a one-of-a-kind social services organization that serves a unique and significant role in the community. Its ongoing work and uninterrupted success have been essential to the day-to-day lives of the many mothers and children its team of professionals have helped and kept together as families since its founding in 1993.