passing the torch, camp fire blog, sparkler in two hands

Board Chairman, Camp Fire First Texas

For all you fans of Camp Fire First Texas, I imagine we shared similar emotions when Ann Sheets announced her retirement.

In my case, I first felt appreciation for her service and gratitude for her friendship. But, to be honest, I also had anxiety that we’d be able to fill her shoes. After all, Ann’s been a vital part of this organization for decades and it’s difficult to imagine Camp Fire First Texas without her!

Without question, after a lifetime of dedication to children and youth in our community, Ann deserves to take time for herself. So, the task quickly became one of seeking the next generation of leadership for this vital organization.

If you’ve followed my previous posts (here and here), you’ll know the board of directors set out on an exhaustive process to find a new leader. First, it empowered a Transition Task Force made up of current board members, past board members and a foundation board member. This task force surveyed staff, we interviewed leadership, talked with many foundations and funders in the community, and engaged the board in some soul-searching as well. Despite the challenges of navigating this path during a pandemic, all this conversation helped us define the ideal attributes, skills and qualifications of a CEO to help take Camp Fire into the future.

Our preparation paid off. The Transition Task Force conducted a national search and reviewed more than 150 resumes from a wide variety of backgrounds and narrowed this abundance down to a list of semi-finalists that we interviewed by Zoom. We interviewed the two finalists in person (with all appropriate social distancing and disinfecting, of course) in mid-August.

It was well worth the effort. I’m proud to say that at its August meeting, the board overwhelmingly approved the Transition Task Force’s recommendation to hire Lauren Richard as the new CEO of Camp Fire First Texas. Lauren comes to us most recently as Executive Director of Project Transformation in Dallas. She is a relational and impact-driven nonprofit leader who is deeply devoted to empowering children, youth and families to reach their full potential.

Lauren not only has the ideal mix of attributes, skills and qualifications to lead our organization, she also sees great opportunities for Camp Fire to emerge from the challenges of COVID stronger than ever. Plus, Lauren is a kind, smart professional that clearly cares about others.

She’s expected to start with us on October 12, and Ann Sheets will overlap with her for approximately one week to help facilitate a smooth transition.

I know Lauren is looking forward to getting to know this organization and its many fans. I’m confident you will find her as engaging as the Transition Task Force did.

Speaking of confidence, I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of Camp Fire First Texas. We are so fortunate to have had a legacy of great leadership through our first century. During that time, Camp Fire has lit immeasurable sparks with the children and youth in our community. That’s because your commitment to the values and mission of Camp Fire First Texas remains steadfast. With that solid foundation and the dynamic leadership Lauren brings to our organization, we are poised to carry the torch for countless more who need our services for years to come.

I’m excited to see where we go together.