FirstEnergyAll-American Soap Box Derby Countdown

Position Specification
President & Chief Executive Officer
International Soap Box Derby, Inc.

Downloadable Profile PDF

The Company
The International Soap Box Derby (ISBD), headquartered in Akron, Ohio, is a nonprofit youth education and leadership development organization whose mission is to build knowledge and character, and to create meaningful experiences through collaboration, fair and honest racing competitions, STEM curriculum, and other community-focused activities. ISBD is governed by a 16-member Board of Directors comprised of a diverse group of volunteers committed to the long-term success and sustainability of ISBD and its mission. The Board of Directors is supported by an Honorary Board and various committees, including a Racing Commission. ISBD has a $1.8MM operating budget.

The Soap Box Derby is a youth racing program that has run consistently in the United States since 1934. The World Championship race draws more than 500 entrants from 43 states and 3 countries. There are three divisions of races and competitors range in age from 7-20 years old. Cars utilized in this competition and related events are unpowered, relying completely on gravity to move. Racers collect points throughout the year in other local and regional competitions, and the leaders are invited to participate in the All-American Soap Box Derby event, the World Championship, held each July in Akron, Ohio, at Derby Downs.

The Soap Box Derby also provides an education program that is designed to engage students in hands-on learning experiences that develop their critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork skills. The program consists of a series of classroom activities and lessons that are aligned with national and state education standards. The lessons cover topics such as physics, engineering, math, and technology. In addition to the classroom activities, students have the opportunity to build and race their own Soap Box Derby cars. This provides them with a practical application of the STEM concepts they have learned and allows them to experience the thrill of racing.

For more information on ISBD, its mission, events, racing, and STEM curriculum, please visit:

The Position

The President & Chief Executive Officer (President & CEO) position is in Akron, Ohio, at 789 Derby Downs Drive.

Reporting Relationships
Reporting directly to the Board of Directors, the President & CEO leads a staff of eight, including the Director of Programs & Events, Race Programs Manager, Events Manager, Marketing Manager, Education Director, Product Sales & Finance Manager, Shipping Lead, and an Administrative Assistant. Other important relationships will include, but are not limited to, local government leaders, local and national stakeholders and sponsors, school districts, Race City Executive Directors, and the broader Derby Nation which is comprised of racers and their families and provides a platform to connect, share, and stay engaged with the sport.

Position Charter
The President is the key management leader of the ISBD and serves as the primary spokesperson to the organization’s constituents, media, and the general public. The President is responsible for overseeing the administration, programs, and strategic plan of the organization. Other key duties include fundraising, marketing, and public outreach.

Major Duties and Responsibilities

Organization Mission and Strategy

  • Works with the Board of Directors and staff to ensure that the mission is fulfilled through programs, strategic planning, and public outreach.
  • Implements programs that carry out the organization's mission.
  • Working with the Board of Directors, lead the organization through strategic planning to ensure that the ISBD can successfully fulfill its mission into the future.
  • Enhances the ISBD image and brand by being active, visible, and accessible to the public and constituents, and working closely with foundations and other professional, civic, and private organizations.

Organization Operations

  • Delivers effective administration of the ISBD’s day-to-day operations.
  • Hires, develops, and retains competent and qualified staff.
  • Develops and maintains relationships with constituents, including sponsors, local race/event city organizations, volunteers, educational and civic organizations.
  • Signs all notes, agreements, and other instruments made and entered into and on behalf of the organization with the Board of Directors’ approval.

Responsiveness to Board

  • Work with the Board of Director to fulfill the organization’s mission.
  • Lead the ISBD in a manner that supports and guides the organization's mission as defined by the Board of Directors.
  • Work closely with the Board to seek their involvement in policy decisions, fundraising and sponsorship, and to increase the overall visibility of the organization and brand, in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Communicate effectively with the Board of Directors, providing in a timely, accurate and transparent manner all information necessary for the Board of Directors and its committees to function properly and to make informed decisions.
  • Respond to other duties that may be assigned by the Board of Directors.

Financial Performance and Viability

  • Maintains fiscal integrity of the ISBD which includes submission to the Board of Directors a proposed annual budget and monthly financial statements, which accurately reflect the financial condition of the organization.
  • Maintains fiscal management that generally anticipates operating within the approved budget, ensures maximum resource utilization, and maintenance of the organization in a positive financial position.
  • Develops the resources necessary to support the ISBD mission and ensure the financial health of the organization, including but not limited to sponsorships, grants, corporate and individual giving, and earned revenue.

The President & CEO is expected to earn an attractive base salary commensurate with the candidate’s experience and knowledge. The President & CEO will also be eligible to receive incentive compensation as outlined and approved by the Board of Directors. In addition, the candidate will receive appropriate benefits such as medical, dental, retirement, and relevant and related work reimbursements, paid holidays, and other paid time off.

The Candidate

A bachelor’s degree or higher is valued. However, lived, learned, and previous relevant experience will be given equal consideration.

Professional Qualifications
The ideal candidate will bring 5 or more years of senior nonprofit management experience. However, professional experience in leadership roles within the for-profit sector, government, tourism, and education sectors among others will be considered. In addition, the candidate will possess:

  • Solid, hands-on, budget management skills, including budget preparation, analysis, decision-making and reporting.
  • Strong organizational abilities including planning, delegating, program development and task facilitation, and strategic planning.
  • Ability and experience to build, develop, lead, and collaborate with staff.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of the mission, objectives, and programs of the ISBD, and of youth development programs in general.
  • Ability to convey the mission and vision of the ISBD to staff, board, volunteers, sponsors and donors, and other constituents.
  • Demonstrated experience with fundraising strategies and donor and sponsor relations unique to the nonprofit sector.
  • Major event planning and execution experience.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills to include public speaking.
  • Ability to interface and engage diverse youth, volunteer, and donor groups.

Desired Traits

  • Mission Driven: Authentically able to embrace, support, and communicate ISBD’s mission, vision, and values.
  • Visionary: Sees beyond daily operations toward strategic goals; can articulate a strategic vision and plan to others.
  • Collaborative: Demonstrated ability to collaborate with board members, staff, volunteers, community partners and other leaders to advance objectives.
  • Visibility: Ability to serve as the face of an organization and history of building strong community relationships across public, nonprofit, and private sectors to create effective partnerships.
  • Inclusive: Committed to creating a diverse and inclusive work environment; demonstrated ability to relate to and work effectively with persons of diverse racial, ethnic, gender, sexual preference or orientation, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. Support the important work of continuing to make the ISBD and its programs accessible to diverse groups and increasing representation on all levels.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Demonstrates skill in the development and maintenance of effective working relationships with all levels of executive and managerial personnel, various government officials, and other key stakeholders.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Proven ability to cope with conflict, stress, and crisis situations; uses and manages own emotions in positive ways to drive for success; ability to operate with tact, discretion, and confidentiality.
  • Integrity: Possesses the highest ethical and moral standards and operates in a transparent manner.
  • Organized: Able to manage multiple high-priority assignments simultaneously.
  • Analytical: Demonstrates sound judgement and firmness in decision-making.
  • Problem Solver: Demonstrates excellent mediation skills and decision-making abilities; seeks to understand the “why” and the “how”.
  • Strategic: Understands how to use multiple sources of data to inform strategy.
  • Political Instincts: Ability to effectively navigate among individuals, especially elected officials, and their staff.
  • Self-Starter: Proactively sets goals and develops strategies and schedules for meeting those goals; self-motivated even when facing challenges.

The Opportunity
The projected first-year accomplishments for the new President & CEO include:

  • Establish relationships with the Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, city government, Derby Nation, and local stakeholders through authentic interactions and building trust through consistent, transparent, and meaningful communication.
  • Build a culture of respect and develop and retain team members necessary to execute ISBD’s strategy.
  • Solidify and prioritize a fundraising and sponsorship plan.
  • Develop plan to expand the STEM educational component of ISBD.
  • Begin to identify strategies and plans to increase participation in racing activities.
  • Working with the Board of Directors, continue to refine and contribute to the ISBD vision and strategy.

The ISBD, its races, and STEM curriculum have provided years of education and excitement to generations of racers and their families. This is an outstanding opportunity for a new President & CEO to maintain the tradition of the ISBD while growing and developing the reach and ensuring the long-term viability of the ISBD.

Akron and Summit County
Summit County is in the northeastern quadrant of the State of Ohio and is home to over 540,000 people. The City of Akron has over 210,000 residents with the remaining population living in over 30 cities, villages, and townships in the County. Summit County includes residents from diverse ethnic backgrounds and has maintained a solid economy with a mix of service, healthcare, and manufacturing businesses. Arts and culture include galleries, community festivals, restaurants, museums, theatre, a large metro parks system, and one of the most visited national parks in the U.S. Educational organizations include outstanding public and private school systems, community colleges and several public and private institutions of higher learning.

Our client and WAVERLY PARTNERS firmly support the principle and philosophy of equal opportunity for all individuals, regardless of race, religion, sex, age, national origin, or disability. Interested candidates should send a resume to Waverly Partners at the address shown below.

Heidi G. Milosovic
Managing Director & Principal
O: 440.355.6629; C: 216.387.0832

Sara Cikalo
Managing Director
O: 440.933.0096; C: 440.821.4437