How The Learning Center for the Deaf’s highly engaged community has embraced a game-changing CEO

In July 2018, Development Guild placed Sarah Glenn Smith, MBA, PH.D. at The Learning Center for the Deaf as their new—and first—CEO.  

The Learning Center for the Deaf (TLC) was the first school in Massachusetts to use sign language in its instruction.  Since its beginnings as a school, TLC has grown substantially in its complexity and potential.  A dynamic, national leader, TLC’s dual commitments to Deaf leadership and inclusivity underpin its strength.  

Poised for further growth and development, during a time of tremendous change for the deaf and hard of hearing population it serves, TLC hired Development Guild to partner with them in their search for a new type of leadership position, an entrepreneurial CEO. With a leadership platform to strategically direct and integrate this increasingly complex, mission driven organization and its engaged community, the CEO would be expected to guide growth, program innovation and excellence, and to develop financial resources.

Crucial to the success of the search was the engagement of TLC’s leadership, staff, and full community. The search committee – a majority deaf committee that drew its membership from TLC’s board and volunteers, as well as national leadership in deaf education – understood that this was a critical hire for TLC’s future, and of national interest to the Deaf community. Under the committee’s guidance we developed a customized protocol for outreach and candidate review.  A rich pool of candidates was developed, meeting the committee’s criteria and high standards, which included: demonstrated track record of entrepreneurial leadership, a record of achievement working with organizations serving the Deaf community, fluency in ASL, and the ability to provide leadership anchored in TLC values.

TLC’s leadership, staff and community invested deeply in the success of this search, through planning, a rigorous and embracing search process, and its thoughtful preparation for the launching of their new CEO. The resulting candidate pool was exceptional, as is the outcome.

Development Guild truly took the time to understand the organizational and deaf culture, The Learning Center for the Deaf’s place in the deaf community, and the kind of leader we were seeking. The Development Guild team was always available, which created a bond with our search committee. We were all impressed by how smooth the search process was, as well as the exceptional candidates we were presented, and our new CEO, Sarah Glenn-Smith, is a real star.

- Ralph Hinckley, Board Chair

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