|Fort Worth, Texas (September 15, 2020) – After receiving more than 150 interested candidates, Camp Fire First Texas is excited to announce Lauren Richard will take the reigns as the next president/CEO of Camp Fire First Texas on October 12.
The organization began searching for a new leader in January 2020 following the retirement announcement of Ann Sheets, current president/CEO. A Transition Task Force comprised of board members and community leaders was formed and oversaw the search process. They originally anticipated a June transition, but when the COVID-19 health crisis occurred, the team adjusted the timeline.
“Our Transition Task Force outlined an expedient and thorough process to identify and on-board Camp Fire’s next leader. However, when the pandemic, with all its uncertainty, occurred, one thing was certain. Our top candidates would be needed by their current organizations to successfully navigate the front-end of this crisis,” explained Jake Yarbrough, Camp Fire Board Chair and task force committee member. “There were no rules on how to navigate this situation. We felt it was in the best-interest of everyone to support our community. Leading us to delay our final interviews and selection out of respect to our candidates and their organizations.”
Richard is currently the 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. She was driven to pursue this role primarily because of Camp Fire’s mission and the opportunity to help young people thrive in an increasingly diverse and changing world.
“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,” Yarbrough shared.
She has 15 years of experience in the nonprofit industry focused on children, youth and families. Following her graduate-level training in counseling, Lauren started her nonprofit career at Educational First Steps in Dallas where she served as Director of Education. She then worked for 5 years in the corporate arena working with school districts and state departments of education in the area of educational technology before returning to her nonprofit roots. Lauren’s dedication to both education and social emotional health was fully realized when she became the Director of Therapeutic Services at Momentous Institute, as well as in her most recent role as Executive Director at Project Transformation North Texas.
Richard is a native Texan and a graduate of Highland Park High School in Dallas. She received her BA in Psychology from Southern Methodist University before moving to Los Angeles to pursue her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at Loyola Marymount University.
“After several years in senior leadership roles and almost two years in the top executive role at a smaller nonprofit, this was the next logical step in my career trajectory. Now that I have reached this phase of my career, I am looking forward to putting down roots with Camp Fire and leading the organization into its promising future,” said Richard.
“Lauren led her organization through the initial phase of the COVID crisis and took significant steps to ensure they are in a better financial position than when she began the role. This spoke volumes to the skills and creativity she brings Camp Fire to help us thrive in the current climate and beyond,” added Yarbrough.
Richard shared she does her best work at the intersection of education and mental health. She knows that social emotional health practices help children and youth succeed in their academic and later working careers and that the earlier these practices are incorporated into a child’s life, the better the outcomes.
“I am excited that Lauren Richard will be the next President/CEO for Camp Fire First Texas. Lauren brings a wealth of knowledge and perspective that will take this organization forward! She has the background, temperament, and commitment to tackle the challenges of leading a multi-faceted organization like Camp Fire,” shared Ann Sheets, current president/CEO of Camp Fire First Texas.
While Richard’s first day will be October 12, Sheets has generously offered to orient and support her through the initial phases of the transition as originally planned, despite the timeline shift.
“I have very big shoes to fill! I am so grateful to Ann Sheets for her willingness to help with my transition and for her decades of service to this great organization,” said Richard.
While this transition and onboarding will be done slightly different than in the past, the team at Camp Fire is organizing creative way for families, staff, community supporters and volunteers to have ample opportunities to meet and engage with the new CEO. Including a public AMA (Ask Me Anything) via Facebook Live in December.
“I am so honored and thrilled to embark on this journey with Camp Fire. People are my first priority so it is bittersweet to leave my current team but I am equally excited to get to know and build lasting relationships with the Camp Fire team and learn, then implement, all the ways in which we can go higher together!” concluded Richard.