Howard Center board names Sandra McGuire, MBA, as next CEO

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Sandra McGuire, MBA, as chief executive officer, Howard Center

Sandra McGuire, MBA is uniquely positioned to build on the organization’s strong foundation and strategically create a sustainable model of high-quality, community-based services for our community.

Vermont Business Magazine Howard Center’s Board of Trustees announced Wednesday the appointment of Sandra McGuire, MBA, as chief executive officer, effective June 1, 2024, after an extensive national search. 

McGuire has served as chief financial and operations officer for the last 10 of her 25-year tenure with the agency and is uniquely positioned to build on the organization’s strong foundation and strategically create a sustainable model of high-quality, community-based services for our community. 

She will be responsible for the oversight of all agency operations, including 50+ programs serving the mental health, substance use, and developmental needs of Vermonters in over 60 locations in three counties. 

“McGuire stood out in a robust field of national candidates for her deep understanding of the agency’s operational and fiscal needs, thoughtful and collaborative approach to leadership, passion for the mission, and commitment to excellence and inclusivity for our clients, staff, and community,” said Howard Center Board President Kelly Deforge. 

McGuire succeeds Bob Bick, who has been at the helm for the last decade and with the agency for the last 30 years. Bick is retiring on May 31, 2024. “Bob leaves a remarkable legacy of numerous accomplishments as CEO and as a state and national leader, visionary, and innovator. Always keeping clients at the heart of all decision-making, Bob led the agency through a transformative reorganization to improve the experience for our clients, staff, and community,” said Deforge.

With a staff of 1600 and a budget of $134 million, Howard Center is a community cornerstone offering critical and lifesaving support to over 19,000 community members each year. 

McGuire has been with the agency through significant growth and service expansion and has served in several roles during her 25-year tenure with Howard Center – each shaping her perspective about the interdependence and importance of all roles in carrying out our mission and supporting the people we serve. 

After joining Howard Center’s staff in 1999 as an administrative coordinator in Intensive Family Services, she later became a foster care specialist establishing the organization as a licensed child placing agency. In 2002 she became a budget and financial manager supporting operations for Howard Center’s Child, Youth, and Family Services programs and joined its leadership team. McGuire was promoted to chief financial and operations officer and became a member of the agency’s Executive Leadership Committee in 2013. 

She is the president of the Vermont Foundation for Children and Families, an organization that supports Howard Center programming, an active member of the Vermont Care Partners network, participates on numerous network and state-wide committees and work groups, and brings strong relationships with colleagues and partners. 

She holds an MBA from Champlain College and a BS in Psychology from Virginia Tech University.

“I am deeply honored to be selected as Howard Center’s next CEO and I look forward to continuing to work alongside our staff, board, and community partners as we build on our strong foundation, keep our clients at the heart of our decision-making, and embrace innovative and new opportunities to continue strengthening the organization,” said McGuire. “We are at a critical juncture as community needs continue to rise and outpace available resources. As we focus on providing services where the need and our impact is the greatest, I am confident that by working together we can respond to the increasingly complex environmental challenges to meet the needs of our community as we have done for the last 159 years. It is a privilege to work with so many talented and committed colleagues to ensure we offer a welcoming, inclusive, equitable, and diverse environment for our employees to work and for our clients to receive the compassionate care and support they deserve.” 

Howard Center’s Board of Trustees selected McGuire after completing an extensive national search initiated in August. The board search committee engaged Nonprofit HR, an executive search firm, to facilitate the process. Supported by Nonprofit HR, a robust slate of candidates was reviewed and brought forward for interviews. 

Two candidates advanced for daylong interviews, roundtables, town halls, and tours with a broad range of stakeholders, including clients, leadership and staff, family members, board and standing committees, honorary council members, community partners, and donors. 

The search committee is grateful to the hundreds of staff, clients, and community stakeholders who took the time to participate in the process, meet the candidates, ask questions, and provide input,” said Meg O’Donnell, search committee chair and past board president. “It is very clear to me that our many stakeholders and partners recognize how deeply rooted and essential Howard Center is to our community.” 

McGuire and Bick will work together with Howard Center’s board and leadership in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition.

ABOUT HOWARD CENTER: Howard Center has a long and rich history as a trusted provider in the community. With a legacy spanning more than 150 years, we have been providing progressive, compassionate, high-quality care and supports to those in need. Today, we offer an array of exemplary mental health, substance use, and developmental services across the lifespan. As Vermont’s largest social service organization, our 1,600 staff help more than 19,000 people each year in over 60 locations throughout Vermont in collaboration with hundreds of community partners. Howard Center’s 24/7/365 crisis service, First Call for Chittenden County, is available to meet the needs of Chittenden County children, adults, and families in crisis by calling 802-488-7777. Help is here. Howard Center is a United Way of Northwest Vermont Funded Agency.

Source: 2.8.2024. BURLINGTON, VT — Howard Center Vermont Business Magazine