Skip to main content

President & Chief Executive Officer

Think Small
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Salary Range
Posting Date
November 10, 2023
Application Deadline
Share This Job Posting
Job Description

Ballinger | Leafblad is pleased to lead the search for a President & CEO at Think Small in St. Paul, Minnesota

ORGANIZATIONAL OVERVIEW Think Small is a leading network of caregivers, educators, policymakers, and families with the purpose of getting every child kindergarten-ready, defining kindergarten readiness as the successful demonstration of progress across the nine developmental domains as described in Minnesota’s Early Childhood Indicators of Progress at kindergarten entry.

Known as an innovative, comprehensive resource, Think Small provides training, coaching, support resources and advocacy toward advancing excellence in child care in Minnesota.

Think Small was founded over four decades ago on the principle that the quality of a child’s early experiences greatly influences his or her success later in life. This principle has remained and has inspired the organization’s growth from a community-based grassroots organization to a full, comprehensive agency supporting both families and early childhood professionals.

Services in the seven county Minneapolis- St. Paul metropolitan area, regionally and beyond include professional development for early childhood practitioners, consultation and technical assistance, as well as parent education and child care referral services for families.

Think Small employs 100 staff members and has its headquarters in Saint Paul. This position is open due to the retirement of long-time leader Barbara Yates.

HISTORY In the late 1960s, with mothers of young children entering the workforce, child care became a major need and finding affordable care became an issue.

In 1971, Toys N Things Training and Resource Center, a mobile toy lending library, was created to visit family child care homes. While children enjoyed supervised play on the bus, providers participated in training sessions aimed at improving the quality of care. This was eventually named Resources for Child Caring and in 2012, the name was changed to Think Small. The name is distinctive, and reflective of the organization’s intense focus on early childhood.

Think Small continues to be dedicated to the founding principles of the organization:

  • That the quality of a child’s early experiences greatly influences their success later in life.
  • That there is much that can be done to improve the quality of early childhood setting to optimize a child’s development.

MISSION To advance quality care and education of children in their crucial early years.

VISION Think Small envisions a time when economic and achievement gaps are closed and every child is ready for kindergarten, ultimately realizing their full potential.

CONTRIBUTION Think Small’s contribution is to ensure quality early care and education is available and accessible.

ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE Staff describe the culture at Think Small as community of welcoming people with a shared passion for children. With shared goals, staff talk about a decision-making style that keeps the best interests of children at the center.

Values that are upheld at Think Small include loyalty, passion, approachability, appreciation, diversity, and trust. Staff describe a leadership team that is caring, motivating, focused on developing others and serving the community.

STATEMENT OF EQUITY To support the full potential for every child, Think Small commits to championing policies and practices of equity that empower a just, inclusive, and equitable care and education system for children in their crucial early years.

Minnesota has one of the largest K-12 achievement gaps in the nation when comparing white children to children of color. These achievement gaps can start before a child’s first birthday, rooted in opportunity gaps, that is, the lack of sufficient quality early childhood experiences.

To close the achievement gap, Think Small believes that Minnesota must close the opportunity gap by prioritizing early childhood investments. The single best investment the state can make is targeted early childhood investments in our most vulnerable children.

POSITION PROFILE - PRESIDENT & CEO The President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) reports directly to the organization’s Board of Directors and serves as the highest ranking official of Think Small, ensuring that the mission, vision, and long-term goals of the organization continue to be fulfilled in a changing world. The President & CEO is responsible for the successful general and fiscal leadership and day to day management of the organization. Further, the President & CEO will have a growth orientation and will assure that the organization remains a leading-edge provider and that services grow and expand to meeting changing needs. The President & CEO maintains ties to the child care and development industry and demonstrates a proven record of accomplishments in the industry.

MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES Reporting to the Board of Directors, the President & CEO directly or indirectly oversees a staff of 100 employees and manages a budget of $38 million. Direct reports include Sr. Vice President for Early Childhood Programs, Chief Operating Officer, Vice President of Development, Vice President of Equity & Program Supports, Director of Think Small Institute & Redleaf Press, and Administrative Director.


  • Provide visionary leadership to the organization based on a clear mission, vision, and direction.
  • Understand and be able to translate the complex funding network supporting early learning in Minnesota (public dollars, corporate investment, individual donors, organizational grants, parent/family dollars) to internal and external stakeholders.
  • Oversee the design, administration and evaluation of comprehensive programs that meet and exceed organizational goals.
  • Ensure the financial health of the organization. Monitor budgets, resources, and procedures by working with cross-functional teams.
  • Work collaboratively and openly with the organization’s board of directors; provide regular communications and information. Along with the Board Chair, establish and maintain a diverse and effective board.
  • Utilize Board and staff to apply sound thinking to strategic decisions for the organization.
  • Provide community leadership and advocacy to further the public knowledge, understanding and support for early care and education of children.
  • Serve as chief spokesperson for the organization, assuring the organization and mission are properly presented to its various publics.
  • Effectively communicate with variety of funders to maximize investment in achieving stated outcomes.
  • Lead the senior management team; provide coaching and development to the senior team. Oversee the human resources management of all staff in the organization.
  • Support and uphold diversity, equity, and inclusion in all forms; work to enhance diversity and inclusion at Think Small.
  • Be the key representative of the company in communicating important decisions to the board and Think Small employees as needed.
  • Manage Think Small’s overall general operations to run seamlessly and efficiently toward established goals.
  • Make strategic and financial decisions that determine the trajectory of Think Small.
  • Create a positive company culture through caring, committed, inspirational leadership.

DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS The ideal candidate will be an innovative leader with outstanding interpersonal communication skills and an aptitude for building talent and establishing and sustaining positive relationships. This leader achieves operational, financial, and strategic objectives in alignment with the organization’s mission. As President & CEO, this individual will demonstrate an ability to inspire and motivate a high-performing, dedicated, and caring team within a positive culture. This leader will embody a leadership approach of collaboration, support, and mutual respect.

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in related field. Masters preferred.
  • Significant successful, progressive, related experience, including several years in senior management, in a position that demonstrates successful planning, financial management, human resources management and analytical and critical thinking.
  • Understanding of the early childhood development sector and related education sectors.
  • Strong leadership skills in strategic planning; communications; creation, growth and expansion of entrepreneurial programs; comfort with advocacy and fundraising.
  • Experience managing relationships with State agencies, the legislature and county officials.
  • A strategic thinker with a future view and an awareness of the use of digital technology and how it works with the organization’s existing and future business model.
  • Demonstrated effectiveness in building successful individual and organizational partnerships and maintaining relationships with a broad array of stakeholders.
  • Demonstrated effectiveness in team development, coaching, leadership, and management.

COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS The salary range for this position is $205,000-$225,000. Compensation includes participation in the comprehensive benefits plan.

TO APPLY Please refer to the full Position Profile here for more details and to apply.

Applications will be accepted until December 8, 2023 or until the position has been filled, which may be earlier. There will be an immediate and ongoing review of candidates, so we encourage and appreciate early applications. All inquiries will remain confidential.


Learn About Membership

Learn about the benefits and criteria of an MCF membership.