Chief Executive Officer

Lifeline Community Services Blair Search Partners San Deigo


Our Mission: to build self-reliance among youth, adults, and families through high-quality, community-based services.

Our Vision: to foster both long-lasting personal growth and systemic change to improve the adverse social conditions impacting youth, adults, and families. Lifeline seeks to build resiliency within those we serve, thereby empowering them to reach their highest potential.

Our Core Values:   

  • Prevention: to provide the earliest intervention to reduce system involvement.
  • Quality: to pursue excellence in client intervention and clinical oversight.
  • Collaboration: to build mutually beneficial partnerships to increase impact.

For 50 years Lifeline Community Services (Lifeline) has been helping low-income youth and families achieve self-reliance. With more than 165 fulltime staff members and 215 dedicated volunteers, we offer over 25 unique programs across our five focus areas: youth development, child abuse and domestic violence, housing and self-sufficiency, behavioral health, and human trafficking. With a current annual operating budget of $16.5M, we are continuing to grow as an organization and expand our services region-wide. From our original base in Vista, we now operate nine sites across the county including Oceanside, San Marcos, Vista, Escondido, and San Diego. Last year we served 4,304 clients through intensive case management, coaching, and clinical interventions, and 27,259 with educational outreach services and referrals. Our clients are predominately low to extremely low-income from communities across San Diego County. The vast majority of our programs are clinically based, with a focus on integrating services across the organization to break down programmatic silos and apply a true wrap-around approach for the individuals and families we serve.


Lifeline is a highly trusted partner, recognized as a backbone organization of the community. We are a key service provider, convener, and collaborator. Our work is guided by an engaged and committed board of 18 community leaders from across the region. We are extremely proud of our reputation for fostering a supportive team culture and being an outstanding place to work and grow. As we prepared to launch our CEO search, Lifeline staff were invited to share their thoughts on the organization’s leadership and culture. Here’s what they shared with us:

  • “Everyone jumps in to help each other out.”
  • “Our leadership is highly visible and accessible.”
  • “Staff are empowered and trusted to use their autonomy as professionals.”
  • “Communication is great at all levels. Team members actively collaborate within and across programs.”

We feel this inclusive and supportive culture is the foundation of our success, with some of our team members celebrating 10, 15, and even 25 years of service at Lifeline.

This is an exciting time to join the organization as we prepare to celebrate our 50th anniversary this October. Our current CEO is retiring after 16 incredible years with Lifeline.


  • Salary – $220,000 – $285,000 DOE/Neg.
  • Medical, dental, vision, chiropractic, acupuncture, and life insurance
  • Matched 403b retirement plan
  • PTO: 0-2 years: 120 hours (15) paid days off, 48 hours (6) paid days off, 14 paid holidays
  • Employee assistance program
  • Employee incentives and award programs
  • Training and education assistance
  • Flexible spending account
  • Menu of optional benefits, including short-term disability, critical illness, accident, hospitalization, and cancer policy


Our next CEO will take the reins at a great time in our organization’s history. We have built a solid reputation with all our key partners, funders, local government agencies, and especially with our clients. Lifeline has an exceptional programs team in place, enabling the CEO to focus on strategic areas and external affairs. They will lead six direct reports: Chief Operating Officer, Chief Development Officer, Chief Program Officer, Grants and Contracts Director, Human Resources Director, and Administrative Manager. The ideal candidate will bring extensive leadership experience within the nonprofit environment, ideally within a complex human services organization.

Strategic priorities for this position include:

  • Relationships: become deeply familiar with our programs and get to know our staff as individuals; meet frequently with CEOs of our partner organizations as well as funders and local officials.
  • Board Relations: partner closely with the board, developing strong relationships with each board member; look for ways to further enhance the level of board engagement and develop a pipeline of qualified prospective future members.
  • Connect: spend time with our stakeholders and become part of the community fabric; engage and collaborate with other organizations and professional associations such as the Alliance for Regional Solutions.
  • Strategy:partner with our board to develop and launch our next strategic plan.
  • Contracting: prepare Lifeline for new CalAIM contracting requirements as the County follows the State of California’s shift from cost recovery to fixed price contracting models.
  • Retention: initiate a compensation and benefits review to help attract and retain staff; create strong career pathways and pipelines within Lifeline.
  • Revenue: diversify and grow funding streams, particularly outside our core government programs.
  • Development:in collaboration with our Chief Development Officer, build a new development strategy and major gifts program.
  • Technology: work with our IT Director to move our operations to the cloud and ensure we have the right technology infrastructure to support our ongoing growth.
  • Workflow: conduct a top-to-bottom review of our systems and procedures to streamline workflows and reduce administrative burdens on staff wherever possible.
  • Facilities: Develop long-term facilities plan to support our future growth.


  • Enhance and support the work of the Board of Directors by managing, monitoring, and executing the organization’s fiduciary responsibilities to the community.
  • Serve as a visible public advocate and spokesperson for Lifeline and our need for philanthropic support; cultivate and build relationships and partnerships that help advance our mission.
  • Build loyal and long-term relationships with key donors, sponsors, program partners, school officials, elected officials, and public agencies throughout the region to enhance and support Lifeline’s programs and fundraising strategies.
  • Maintain the role of Lifeline’s CEO as a visionary and influential leader in the community.
  • Provide inspirational leadership, team building, and growth opportunities to the professional staff, while ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of Lifeline’s programs and activities.
  • Exercise prudent and respectful oversight of the funds that have generously been entrusted to the organization in support of its service to the community.
  • Guide the organization through regular strategic planning sessions to assess programmatic effectiveness and financial objectives, within a complex, evolving landscape.
  • Ensure adherence to the highest ethical standards, driving operational accountability and compliance with all relevant legal guidelines and best practices.


  • Passion for and commitment to Lifeline’s mission to build self-reliance among youth, adults, and families through high-quality, community-based services.
  • Demonstrated senior leadership and management experience at a nonprofit, including strategy development, board engagement, change management, team collaboration, and talent development.
  • Hands-on experience in fundraising, stewarding, and diversifying funding sources such as individual giving, events, grants, contracts, and other partnerships.
  • Track record of building effective partnerships with diverse constituencies, including businesses, elected officials, government entities, community-based organizations, and individuals.
  • Superb people skills, with exceptionally well-developed listening and communication skills, and the ability to connect with and inspire confidence among a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Highly empathetic, exhibiting sound judgment, tact, and diplomacy when dealing with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Demonstrated success in driving organizational growth and creating and implementing innovative programs with a data-driven lens.
  • A solid fundamental understanding of fiscal management with experience developing and managing budgets.



Pursuant to Lifeline’s COVID-19 mitigation protocols, individuals must be fully vaccinated, subject to legally required exemptions.


Sarah Thompson, Senior Director, Blair Search Partners
1855 1st Ave., Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92101