Oregon FFA Foundation seeks new director

Kevin White has stepped down as executive director of the Oregon FFA Foundation.

Oregon FFA is poised to hire its first chief executive officer in charge of overseeing staff and finances for three separate organizations, including the state FFA Association, Foundation and Alumni.

All three groups voted unanimously earlier this fall to create a new management structure that will bring them together under one CEO, overseen by a 10-member joint policy board. Kirk Maag, president-elect of the Oregon FFA Foundation, said the goal is to increase efficiency and improve collaboration.

“We decided we could be more efficient in our use of funds by hiring a single executive to oversee all organizations,” Maag said.

The groups each have similar but distinct roles in supporting Oregon FFA. The Association works directly with students and agriculture teachers to organize FFA activities, such as the annual convention. The Foundation is the main fundraising arm, rallying support from members and corporate sponsors. Finally, the Alumni are an all-volunteer faction that provides on-the-ground advice and support for local chapters.

Rather than seek individual executives for each entity, Maag said they felt it made sense to have one person at the top of the organizational chart who will align their efforts and mission. The National FFA Organization, Foundation and Alumni underwent a similar restructuring in 2015.

“What you have now is a CEO who will understand both the fundraising side, and the needs on the association side of where that money is going,” Maag said.

Conversations about restructuring Oregon FFA began in September, after Kevin White resigned as executive director of the Foundation. Under White’s leadership, the Foundation went from raising less than $10,000 per year to more than $600,000 per year. The state Legislature quit funding FFA in 2011.

“We would not have been successful raising that money without a full-time executive in place,” Maag said. “We view having an executive at least at the foundation level as critical to carrying out our mission.”

The Foundation began advertising for a new executive director, but that position soon morphed into a CEO who would also direct the Association and Alumni. Maag, who is serving as chairman of the search committee, said they are looking for someone with both management experience and an appreciation of agriculture education.

“It’s got to be a person who has a vision for the future, but also an appreciation of the past and where we’ve been,” he said.

Swede Salo, president of the Oregon FFA Alumni, said it all comes down to what’s best for students.

“Our board saw the restructuring as an opportunity to better serve our student members,” Salo said. “We look forward to seeing the results.”

The joint policy board includes four members from the Association, three from the Foundation, two from the Alumni and one student representative. Candidates should apply by Dec. 15, and Maag said they hope to make a hire by the end of January.

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