Executive Summary

Incisive C-Level nonprofit strategic thought leader with an entrepreneurial mindset and focus on building capacity in: (1) delivery of high quality programs; (2) generating revenue to support the mission; and (3) increasing organizational visibility and awareness.

Multi-faceted experience with executive management of organizations; noteworthy accomplishments include:

(1.) Created a national literacy research panel composed of the nation’s leading reading experts to ensure public debate and attention to literacy education

(2.) Captured over $11 million dollars through sponsorship of international business development for building literacy capacity in countries such as: Tanzania, Macedonia, Bangladesh, and Omar

(3.) Created partnerships with: Nokia Corporation, Pearson Foundation, Collaborative for Teaching and Learning, USAID, UNSECO, Hewlett, Pearson, Verizon Foundations, and literacy experts

(4.) Created ENGAGE, International Reading Association’s first social media outreach platform to connect members with each other, literacy experts, and researchers to advance dialogue on important literacy issues

    Work History

    Work History
    May 2012 - Present

    Independent Author / Researcher

    Researched, developed, and published two books:

    (1) Organizational Strategic Thinking and,

    (2) Strategic Planning That Works

    Aug 2010 - May 2012

    Acting Chief Executive Officer / Chief Executive Officer

    International Reading Association

    World’s largest non-profit membership organization of literacy professionals dedicated to promoting high levels of literacy. The Association executes its mission by convening a marque annual convention, publication of scholarly journals and online magazine, and publication of various reports and books. 

    Challenged to expand and diversify membership base in a stagnant economy and increase visibility and attractiveness of 60,000 international member association. Directly responsible for core functions of the association to enable it to achieve its long-term vision. 

    Strategic Vision & Leadership

    • Created National Literacy Research Panel to inform national media on literacy issues and to increase media coverage
    • Launched Association’s first Members-Only social platform - Engage - with over 200 new professional e-content resources
    • Created work infrastructure valuing collaboration and cross-organizational teams to enable employees at all levels and locations to contribute
    • Engaged internal and external member groups to work online toward common association goals
    • Revamped management staff to build a team capable of delivering sustained growth

    Financial Management

    • Developed annual budgets aligned with the strategic plan to advance association mission
    • Played key role in ongoing fund management duties, including investor relations, individual & corporate sponsored awards of $10,000 through $3 million, financial reporting, and investment analysis
    • Managed cash flow & expenses in a strategic manner which contributed to a positive growth of $2 million in net assets
    • Increased net revenue per annual conference by 270%
    • Developed revenue reporting model segmenting activities into one of four buckets (generate revenue, break even, invest, or subsidize) focusing association activities on strategic priorities

    Program Management

    • Created  Inspire, a monthly e-newsletter with hands-on teaching tips. 
    • Captured $3 million through sponsorship of international business development for building literacy capacity in countries such as: Zambia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Omen - Partnering agencies included: Hewlett Foundation, Nokia Corporation, and Pearson Foundation
    • Partnered with other nonprofit, for-profit, & government organizations to develop new literacy initiatives, including webinars and online forums

    Operations Management

    • Developed and implemented multi-channel marketing recruitment & retention plans using membership trends and demographics to capture professionals at different career stages
    • Shifted business modalities from print focus to digital media business model as major drivers of product delivery
    • Restructured Association newspaper into magazine, from print to online, while changing content from internal-centric news to member-centric  professional development forums for sharing literacy research and member success stories
    • Increased annual convention attendance by 5%
    • Sourced journal production through Wiley Blackwell Publishing and increased journal sales by 30% while reducing publication expenses by 20%
    Apr 2003 - Aug 2010

    Deputy Executive Director / Chief Operating Officer

    International Reading Association

    Recruited as the number two executive (new position) to coalesce a set of programs encompassing book and journal publications, annual conference, and membership; to spearhead strategic planning and provide technical assistance in the areas of board development, program development, and process/outcome evaluation.

    Strategic Vision & Leadership

    • Partnered with board, staff, and members, carried out a the association’s first strategic plan
    • Developed and conducted governance training - embedding strategic thinking into Board discussions and decisions
    • Developed cross-functional, cross-regional  product development teams linking all units with organizational strategy
    • Revamped management staff to build a team capable of delivering sustained growth
    • Facilitated strategic planning sessions with business units to ensure synchronization and support for overall strategic vision

    Financial Management

    • Prepared and executed annual operating budget aligning programs & staff with mission, vision, and strategy
    • Built conference attendance forecasting model for budget and program development purposes
    • Improved operating efficiency from 56.5% to 85%
    • Created day-to-day work processes to manage cash flow – moved from negative monthly cash flow to positive monthly cash flow
    • Established centralized purchasing process leveraging association’s buying power and saving more than $250,000 in the first year
    • Created monthly budgets in the general ledger system – incorporated budgets into financial reports
    • Created quarterly financial reports with enhanced detail to match the budget book; a comprehensive 10-year endowment report; a report of all outside contractors; and an executive summary of IRA’s overall financial condition
    • Developed strategy to build reserve fund

    Program Management

    • Partnered with the Verizon Foundation to create an online lesson plan resource for members - sponsored by a Verizon Foundation $500,000 annual commitment
    • Conducted periodic member research to identify member needs, satisfaction levels, and environmental factors (membership satisfaction survey; member needs assessment survey; lapsed member surveys)
    • Oversaw the building and launching of the association’s first interactive Annual Convention website
    • ·Captured $8 million through sponsorship of international business development for building literacy capacity in countries such as: Tanzania, Macedonia, Pakistan - Partnering agencies included: USAID, UNESCO, and US State Department

    Operations Management

    • Created management council of staff from all functions and levels to address high-level strategic issues on a regular basis
    • Created day-to-day work processes to achieve measurable performance improvements in program execution; simplified and standardized operations while eliminating waste; developed and conducted numerous trainings for staff and Board of Directors
    • Managed and aligned day-to-day operations of all business units (Affiliates, Advocacy, Development, Finance, Global Affairs, HR, Marketing, Professional Learning & Conferences, Publications, and Research) for strategic growth      
    • Established a new financial reporting and KPI (Key Performance Indicators) model that established director ownership, accountability, and increased collaboration
    • Led P&L strategies that produced annual budget surpluses
    Jul 1989 - Dec 2003

    Executive Education Leader

    State of New Jersey

    Served as Public School Principal and then as Chief School Administrator - Recruited to transform stagnant schools to thriving centers of learning.   

    Strategic Vision & Leadership

    • Elevated a terminal failing school to Governors Blue Ribbon School
    • Raised student achievement on state tests from 60% proficient in reading and math to over 94% proficient
    • Developed and implemented key communication network of strategic stakeholders for two-way school information sharing

    Financial Management

    • Developed budgets that increased services without increasing local property taxes
    • Negotiated shared-services with other municipal governments to acquire services & supplies at discounted prices up to 50%
    • Persuade voting public, local officials, and community to approve $67 million in bond referendums to improve programs and facilities
    • Successfully negotiated employee labor and vendor contracts without strife using team approach to problem solving

    Operations Management

    • Set expectations & procedures for academic achievement, climate safety, budget efficiency, & employee/student performance while creating an environment of empowerment and trust
    • Introduced strategic planning resulting in new programming and staff training that led to significant improvements (40%) in student standardized-test scores
    • Managed day-to-day activities improving impact on overall success of the school

    Education

    Education

    B.S.

    Temple University

    M.Ed.

    Temple University

    Study of supervision, leadership, finance, collective negotiations, organizational law, HR administration, psychology and communications.

    Certificate of Advanced Graduate Doctoral Studies

    University of Pennsylvania

    Study of organizational leadership, program evaluation, research, and public management.

    Recommendations

    “Mahatma Gandhi implored us to “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mark was that change at IRA; with determination and compassion, he led the association into a new era. In a demanding economy, his vision and leadership reframed the organization to meet challenge and opportunity with creativity. Mark examines the goals and operations of an organization with an open, fearless mind that enables him to streamline both development and delivery of services in this 21st century world. I am fortunate to have been a member of Mark’s team over the past eight years; the experience expanded my own horizons as to what can be achieved by a visionary leader, a committed
    employee, and a solid team. I highly recommend him for a leadership position in any organization.”
     - Mary Ciambrone, Former Director, Products & Services Division, International
    Reading Association; Current Independent Consultant Specializing in Event Management

    “I had the great pleasure of working with Mark for nearly 5 years at the International Reading Association. His mentoring supported and guided my career, challenging me to take on a larger and broader role at IRA. Mark's willingness to try new approaches combined with his steady and practical leadership guided IRA through a period of rapid change. Mark's style is inspiring -- he takes a wide look at best practices across all industries and challenges his staff to think differently. He doesn’t rest on the status quo, he’s always searching for ways to improve operations, expand markets, and support
    the staff.” - Christine Heesters, Director of Information Technology, International Reading Association

    “As Peter Drucker once said 'Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes'. Mark is a perfect example of such leadership. He has amazing capacity of being calm in very difficult situations, guide his colleagues through the nonprofit business acumen. He has the enabling capacity to make his colleagues feel comfortable, confident and accomplished. He has clear knowledge, ability and skills about connecting the nonprofit world with business mind. It was my pleasure and privilege to work with Mark for 9 years.” - Sakil Malik, Former Director of Global Operations, International Reading Association; Current Senior Associate, Education Division at Creative Associates International

    "Mark's leadership at IRA over the past three years was instrumental in the organization's success. He was able to make recommendations from the strategic direction statements and turn them into a viable and potent strategic plan for the organization during a time of transition.. As well, Mark honed the IRA staff into a cohesive, energetic group with vision. I was encouraged and excited by the new direction IRA was headed." -Janice Almasi, Former IRA Board of Directors 

    "I have found Mark to be a dynamic leader with an innate knack of bringing out the best in
    his team. True leaders know how to engage staff in setting the agenda for change and
    growth—Mark does this well. Mark guides team members by asking the right questions to
    inspire them to solve problems and resists the temptation to step in with an immediate
    solution. Mark possesses the ability to identify skills in team members and then offers them
    the work experiences necessary to further develop their skills for the benefit of both the staff member and the organization. I have personally experienced this as Mark provided me opportunities as a junior staff member to contribute to projects where I could build my
    leadership and critical thinking skills. Mark was astute in giving me incremental steps I could take to show my ability and prove my effectiveness before promoting me to my current position." - Barbara J. Miriello, Former Board Administrator & Office Manager,
    International Reading Association; Current Administrator at Bridgeforce

    “Mark has a open door policy and is always available to run ideas and issues by him, regardless how big or how small. He makes recommendations and sees that those are carried out in an appropriate manner. He is very fair and understanding. - Angela Chauff, Councils and Member Relations Manager, International Reading Association

    Executive Education

    Certificate in Strategic Management - Rutgers University School of Business, 2008

    Certificate in Talent Management - Rutgers University School of Business, 2008

    Certificate in Managing Human Capital - Cornell University, 2004

    Certificate in Corporate Governance - Tulane University Law School, 2004

    Certificate in Nonprofit Management - University of Illinois, 2003

    Skills

    Skills

    Program Management

    Demonstrated ability to solve tough and complex problems;  great at gleaning meaning from whatever data is available; is a quick study of the new and different.

    Operations Management

    Excellent interpersonal, communication, organizational and time management skills; ability to work with stakeholders at all levels, technical and non-technical, in a positive and team-affirming manner; team-oriented leadership across groups.

    Nonprofit Marketing Essentials

    Understands effective marketing rests on everyone within the organization sharing a common mission; is the process of planning and executing a concept, price, promotion, and the distribution of ideas, and services to engage members in exchanges that satisfy both member and organizational mission goals

    Effective Communications

    Possess a communication style that is collegial, approachable, and direct; adjusts style to fit the audience and the message; able to convey messages in a clear and compelling manner – both in writing and orally; works well and effectively with all people from all backgrounds and perspectives  

    Business Planning

    Knows the business and the mission-critical skills needed to do the job; understands various types of business propositions; understands how nonprofits  operate in general; learns new methods and technologies easily; a record of building strong alliances with other organizations

    Governance

    Reports  and collaborates closely with a Board of Directors; cultivates strong working relationships with its officers and directors; thoroughly familiar with the fundamentals of good governance and skilled in helping boards to improve their performance

    Executive Management

    Research-based and effective approaches to hands-on management; sets and communicates guiding goals; measures accomplishments, holds people accountable, and gives useful feedback; delegates and develops; keeps people informed; provides coaching for today and for the future

    Organizational Development

    Building the capacity of organization to deliver meaningful service using analytical choice-making, collaborative cultures, and innovation through partnerships; experienced at setting strategic direction, prioritizing, defining clear goals, and ensuring that everyone understands their responsibilities to achieve results

    Team Building

    Relates well to a wide variety of diverse styles, types, and classes; open to differences;  builds diverse team networks; treats everyone as a preferred customer

    Thought Leadership

    Possess robust enthusiasm and curiosity about institutional challenges associated with cutting-edge initiatives and “what keeps you awake at night” questions

    Strategic Planning

    Understands the purpose of strategic planning is to uncover buried problems (problems that have been continually ignored, or in some case, not visible to the organization) and to create alternative hypotheses about the future role of the organization. Knows how to lead change by managing people, projects and programs effectively.

    Strategic Thinking

    Proven experience teaching staff to apply business insights on a daily basis to produce superior services and products. Knows how to create a strategic thinking organization: cultivating a culture of collaboration with the sharing of data, insights, and leadership.

    Budgeting

    Extensive leadership experience in budget building, financial oversight and analysis, observance of accounting protocols, and in revenue generation activities of all persuasions

    Nonprofit Leadership

    Is skilled at getting an entire organization to perform at a higher level and to embrace change; negotiates skillfully to achieve a fair outcome or promote a common cause; communicates a compelling vision and is committed to what needs to be done; inspires others; builds motivated, high-performing teams; understands what motivates people; service-oriented leader always looking out for the members and best interests of the organization as a whole

    Leadership Characteristics

    Memberships

    ASAE - The Center for Association Leadership

    BoardSource - Building Effective Nonprofit Boards