Steve Schaffer is a senior executive with high level skills in strategic planning, program development, fund development, Board and community relations. With strong operational, financial and program management expertise he is a team builder, motivator and spokesperson.
Schaffer has spent his career working with mental health and social service organizations. He spent a decade leading and consulting to special needs educational programs in both public and private school settings, with focus on the interplay of behavioral and cognitive skills. During this time he also did extensive clinical work with children, adolescents and families.
Subsequently he moved to a small nonprofit organization north of Boston which provided day care, youth mentoring and mental health services. He took special interest in the starting and growing youth mentoring due both to its significant impact on both the individual youth and the mentors, and the community bonds which it builds.
Over 15 years, in collaboration with passionate and able colleagues and a committed Board, the organization grew tenfold while expanding the range of services, opening sites in four new cities, building broad philanthropic support and running a successful $1.5M capital campaign to develop a modern headquarters. Proposals he authored won state contracts worth several million dollars, assuring the long term sustainability of the organization.
He accepted a position as the Chief Operating Officer and Interim President at Judge Baker Children’s Center in Boston with responsibility for all operational, direct services and research management activities. Believing that effective leadership requires collaboration and solid teamwork – and valuing the relationships that are key to an effective service organization- he worked closely with both Trustees and staff to strengthen operations, enhance financial reporting and management, develop and expand new services, and co-lead the planning for a new strategic direction. He secured $1.3M in foundation support to initiate the new strategy. Steve took great satisfaction in strengthening Judge Baker’s special needs school, launching a best-practice mental health clinic, and developing clinical training services to other organizations.
Serving on several nonprofit Boards as a member and Board Chair has also broadened his understanding of both the challenges and opportunities inherent in the crucial Board-executive relationship.
Steve teaches “Nonprofit Leadership and Management” to second year MSW candidates at the Salem State School of Social Work. He focuses on balancing mission and margin, alignment and innovation, conflict and collaboration, and strengthening organizational culture.
Steve is committed to strengthening organizations to effectively meet their missions. While every organization is different the core elements of sustainability are the same: strong executive-Board and executive-staff relationships; clarity of mission/ vision/strategy; and rigorous operational management aligned with strategy. Philanthropic entities must continuously balance mission and margin.
Schaffer earned a B.A. from Cornell University and an MSW from Boston University.