Schmitz To Leave Public Allies, CEO Search Begins

November 22, 2013       Paul Clolery      

Paul Schmitz, who launched Public Allies Milwaukee 21 years ago and eventually became the group’s national leader, will step down next year. He said that he would focus on what’s next come the spring.

Schmitz, who will mark 14 years as CEO in February, has long been an activist who believes that everyone has the ability to lead a movement. He authored “Everyone Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up” and probably will spend time writing another book once his term is up, he said.

Schmitz has been recognized in The NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50 three times: 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Schmitz writes and speaks frequently on leadership, diversity, civic participation, social innovation, collective impact, and community building. He is a faculty member of the Asset Based Community Development Institute, and serves on the boards of Independent Sector, The United Way of Greater Milwaukee, and Voices For National Service. He co-chaired the 2008 Obama presidential campaign’s civic engagement policy group, was a member of the Obama-Biden Transition Team, and was appointed by President Barack Obama to the White House Council on Community Solutions.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a recipient of the school’s Graduate of the Last Decade alumni award, he was also selected by The Rockefeller Foundation as a Next Generation Leadership Fellow. He lives in Milwaukee with his partner and their five children.

“Public Allies’ core belief is that leadership is an action many can take, not a position few can hold, and that change always comes from the leadership of the many. Our success at Public Allies has resulted from the leadership of many talented staff and board members who have dedicated themselves, often extraordinarily, to transforming young people and their communities,” he said. “I am grateful for my past and present colleagues, and know that we will continue to move at full force through this transition.”

Schmitz said that he would continue to lead the organization until the transition is complete, which is anticipated to be by the beginning of the organization’s next fiscal and program year on Sept. 1, 2014. “We expect it to take six to nine months. It isn’t a hard year. I will work with the board and the new CEO and then head out,” he said.

Board Chair Kanwar Singh praised Schmitz via a statement. “When Paul became CEO, Public Allies had 146 allies in nine sites with 639 alumni. Today, we have 676 allies in 23 sites with over 5,000 alumni. And Paul has been an inspiring and influential leader in the greater nonprofit field promoting inclusive, collaborative, and authentic leadership among all kinds of people,” he said.

The board has formed a search committee and retained On-Ramps, an executive search firm in New York City. According to Singh, the organization has also retained the firm Transition Guides in Silver Spring, Md., to work with the board and staff to ensure a smooth transition.

According to an income statement for Fiscal 2012, the organization had revenue of $11.6 million with functional expenses of $12 million. The organization has net assets of $1.8 million. Approximately 90 percent of the organization’s revenue went to program, according to the rating service Charity Navigator.

Schmitz said federal budget cuts squeezed the organization during 2012 but that state grants helped to plug the gap during 2013.

Public Allies graduated its largest class this year at 676, up from 566 last year. Schmitz said that overall, 87 percent of Public Allies graduates are employed. The focus for the remaining months is helping to focus more where graduates go.

Just as the federal program AmeriCorps is starting to channel its members, Public Allies is moving to be more strategic with its graduates. “We have graduates in 478 organizations in 17 impact areas. We want to find ways to plant flags in fewer impact areas, do a lot of good for fewer causes,” he said.