Spondylitis Assoc

Position Overview

Sterling Search Inc. has been exclusively retained to recruit for the new Executive Director for the Spondylitis Association of America.

The Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) was founded in 1983 to address the needs of individuals affected by ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases. Since that time, SAA has been at the forefront of research in the prevention, cure and improved quality of life within this disease state. SAA develops and executes cutting edge programs in the patient and health profession environment. In addition, SAA advocates on behalf of the people it serves in order to secure and maintain access to care and to encourage innovate research.

SAA’s commitment to research is unwavering, from funding scientific meetings to launching the first genetic research study in the United States on ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases. They recently funded a patient registry, and a study on the microbiome in spondyloarthritis, as well as an educational MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) program to help radiologists and rheumatologists work together to hasten diagnosis.

SAA Wins “Best of Medical Nonprofit Sites” Award honored by Pacific Medical Training (PMT) in 2014 who stated “we understand the amount of work and dedication it takes to keep quality and relevant information easily accessible for viewers. Every year we select 10 of our favorite websites for special mention and promotion on our site.”

SAA receives no government funding. Rather, it relies upon donations from individuals, private foundations, and from industry to fund its operations and to create and maintain programs and services aimed at improving the lives of the 2.7 million Americans affected. It proudly and consistently receives 4 Stars from Charity Navigator for its “exceptional” fiscal management, reporting and transparency and has been rated among the Top 10 Charities in the US.

SAA has a strong, dedicated Board of Directors with leadership from a broad spectrum of industries nationwide. Their Medical and Scientific Advisory Board is comprised of thought leaders and accomplished research clinicians. The Association has earned a reputation for excellence and is a highly respected influencer within its industry. It enjoys strong, collaborative relationships with its partners in academia, the media, peer and professional organizations and government.

The Executive Director manages seven direct reports, one part-time bookkeeper and the organization’s annual budget of under $2 million. During her tenure she has led SAA through tremendous growth, and with the support of their dedicated Board of Directors, SAA operates from financial strength and is positioned for continued greatness and advancements.

The Board of Directors is seeking an innovative Executive Director who will lead a team and program ready for executing growth in revenue and continued grant making investments. He/she will build upon SAA’s track record of success by further developing the organization’s vision, and achieving its goals for continued financial stability, raising awareness, and enhancing the impact of its mission by funding progressive research. The Executive Director must bring an entrepreneurial spirit and passion for science, leadership capabilities for staff, board and volunteers and a capability to expand membership and fundraising revenue.

This individual must possess intellectual horsepower, and be naturally persuasive and fair, and value accountability for themselves and others. The new Executive Director will lead based on the core values of being constituent centric, visionary, authentic, ethical, loyal, trustworthy and ensure that the best services are being delivered to those they serve.

With a seasoned senior leadership team and an impressive Board of Directors, SAA is well positioned for even greater impact. The new Executive Director will place their own stamp on the Association, building upon its current momentum of success.

Position Description:

The Executive Director reports directly to the Board of Directors. This person is charged with building on the SAA’s years of success, and achieving its strategic goals. The Executive Director is the chief spokesperson representing the organization to constituencies, both internal and external.

In addition to operational, financial, and administrative duties, the scope of responsibility includes evaluating research opportunities, strategic partnership opportunities, membership management and stewardship, strategic planning, fund development, staffing, and execution of its mission. The Executive Director will build, foster, and maintain a balanced organizational culture that combines the richness and relevance of programs with the efficacy of best business practices, fiscal accountability, and institutional impact. He/she will develop a deep knowledge of the field, core programs, operations and business plans. It is essential that the Executive Director has a deep interest in, and some knowledge of, medical sciences and research.

The Executive Director will:

  • Report to a governing Board of Directors and committees, executing decisions effectively and ensuring that the Board of Directors and its committees are informed of critical developments in a timely and effective manner
  • Ensure ongoing program excellence, rigorous program evaluation and consistent quality of finance, administration, fundraising, communications and systems. Recommend resources needed to achieve strategic goals
  • Lead, motivate, manage and retain SAA’s high-performance senior management team to preserve passion for the mission and foster an environment committed to continuous improvement
  • Excel at initiating and fostering relationships with funders, academia, and related societies, both patient and professional and government agencies including the NIH and CDC and thought leaders in the field
  • Expand and support revenue generating and fundraising activities to support operations and existing and new program services
  • Plan and execute an ongoing national expansion and complete the strategic planning process for the program expansion into new markets in research and patient care
  • Represent the SAA within external local and national environments in professional publishing, academia, research and awareness. Be a visible, visionary and influential leader in the industry
  • Refine and deepen all aspects of communications- from web presence to external relations with the goal of brand enhancement
  • Continuously assess and evaluate partnership opportunities to promote programs uniquely suited to the mission
  • Oversee and execute programmatic excellence by reviewing operational benchmarks and setting timelines to achieve strategic goals. Continually review and evaluate programs and report findings to the Board of Directors
  • Ensure fiduciary responsibility, sound financial management, and financial accountability for contributions, income, and all other SAA assets
  • Execute all other reasonable duties as assigned by the Board of Directors



We are seeking candidates offering the following qualifications:

  • Passion for SAA’s mission and interest in medical science and patient care
  • Entrepreneurial spirit, leadership, integrity, compassion and respect
  • A minimum of 10 years of management experience, with increasing levels of responsibility and management of staff, preferably with direct stewardship of Boards of Directors
  • Proven track record of effective performance in an outcomes based organization with the ability to point to specific examples of having developed and operationalized strategies that have taken an organization to the next stage of growth
  • Unwavering commitment to quality programs and data driven program evaluation
  • A demonstrated ability to plan and operate strategically, to build public support, to strengthen infrastructure, to inspire staff and the Board of Directors, and to develop effective programs
  • Exceptional financial, organizational, and administrative skills
  • Excellent knowledge of fiscal management, budgeting, and cash flow management
  • Strong marketing, public relations, and fundraising experience with the ability to engage a wide variety of stakeholders and cultures
  • The ability to plan, set goals and objectives, organize and follow through

The ideal candidate will demonstrate the following capabilities:

  • Commitment to the mission and work of the agency with the credibility and persuasiveness to secure support from others
  • A manager who leads by example and exemplifies the values and ethics of the organization
  • An organized individual with strong creative and conceptual skills
  • A doer who functions effectively without being autocratic or political; must be a team player who is inclusive, flexible, creative, energetic and fair minded
  • A decisive and resourceful individual who will accept responsibility and take charge of results, as well as work successfully with limited resources
  • A self-starter who is confident enough to express opinions, to forge ahead when appropriate and hold back when necessary, with a sensitivity to the feelings and opinions of others
  • An energetic person who is emotionally mature and dependable; a collegial individual


Required:  Bachelor’s degree required, advanced degree preferred

A competitive compensation package will be offered to attract an outstanding candidate.

info@sterlingsearchinc.com  – Nicole Seipel  310-774-0099

Direct all correspondence emails and telephone calls to Sterling Search, Inc.

Any resumes sent or telephone calls made to the Spondylitis Association of America will be redirected to Sterling Search, Inc.

The Spondylitis Association of America is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Please submit your resume to Sterling Search Inc. via the form below, and include the job title in the subject line.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Your Message

Please attach your cover letter (.pdf, .doc, and .docx only)

Please attach your resume (.pdf, .doc, and .docx only)

Enter the code above