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Association Senior Staff Search

JDG Associates, Ltd. has been serving the executive recruitment needs of a wide range of national professional and trade associations, research and consulting organizations and federal agencies since 1973. Paul Belford, Principal, has led JDG’s Association Search practice since 1993, and has developed a robust practice and outstanding reputation.

Senior staff search expertise includes the positions of Associate Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, as well as c-level, vice president and director-level positions spanning a wide range of association functions. Some of the major functional areas we conduct searches for include finance, information technology, government relations, membership, meetings, education, industry relations, marketing, communications and industry relations.

Search Process


Preparation Phase

In conducting a senior executive search, we work closely with the client staff to determine the needs of the position. In particular, we focus on the resource relationship between the position to be filled and others on staff; i.e., what will they need from the successful candidate to meet their responsibilities, and what do they see themselves as responsible for providing to the position to be filled.

To do this, a site visit will be conducted at client headquarters to meet with those staff who will be working most closely with the successful candidate. We determine what the candidate will have to do to succeed in the position and the essential qualifications needed. Also, we will develop a clear sense of the culture of the organization and how specifically the position contributes the achievement of its mission. Other matters discussed include a review of the search process, setting the timeline and candidate sourcing parameters.

Following the site visit, the position description will be specified and finalized, and a position announcement developed. The announcement summarizes the mission and objectives of the organization, the principal responsibilities of the position, and the skills, experience and qualities sought in the ideal candidate. Because a compelling position announcement is so important to the search, we discuss and clear the document with the client to ensure its accuracy and appropriateness prior to the search going live.

Search Phase

Upon approval of the position announcement, JDG will begin immediately to search for qualified candidates using a combination of the following resources:

  • AssociationExecs.com – lists executive staff of more than 7,000 national trade and professional associations.
  • ZoomInfo – the most comprehensive source of professional information on people and organizations in the world.
  • Leadership Directories – provides high quality contact information for leaders of major business, professional, and association/nonprofit organizations.
  • Engage social media, in particular LinkedIn.
  • JDG’s proprietary database of more than 100,000 professionals, many of whom have been sourced through JDG’s more than 300 association searches.
  • Position postings on selected websites and job boards, targeted research on similar organizations, and client recommended resources.

Each of these resources will be worked carefully in undertaking the search, which we would expect to result in direct contact with 75 to 100 potential candidates and professional sources.

Selection Phase

The time frame for a senior executive search is normally six to eight weeks. Approximately five weeks after the site visit, JDG will provide the resumes, letters of interest and screening interview reports of six to eight candidates, each of whom will have been interviewed to assess qualifications and interest level in the position. Working with client staff, typically three candidates will be identified and selected for in-person interviews at the client’s headquarters.

The academic credentials of these candidates will be examined, and reference and background checks completed prior to interviews. JDG is available to assist in developing interview process and preparation, candidate evaluation and testing, and employment negotiations, as requested. We conduct check-ins with client and successful candidate after three and twelve months in the position to support successful onboarding. Our guarantee for senior executive searches extends for twelve months following the start date of the new hire.


Thank you taking the time to learn about JDG’s association senior staff search practice. Paul Belford, Principal and Managing Director of JDG’s association search practice, looks forward to hearing from you.

(301) 340-2210

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