What Does A CEO Transition Mean For BBBS?
For 50 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has helped children and families in Central Texas, while adapting to meet community and agency needs. Now, at the end of a milestone anniversary year, BBBS of Central Texas is poised to make another major change as its current Chief Executive Officer of 13 years, Dr. Brent Fields, prepares to leave his position with the agency.
Dr. Leah Meunier, BBBS’ recently appointed President, will become the agency’s new CEO on November 15. And although the change may seem sudden, Leah has been training alongside Brent in preparation for this transition since she began working with the agency in September.
As for the future? “My main message is that more things are going to stay the same than will change,” said Leah. “The intention of the transition plan is to make sure this change is done in a way that preserves the mission, the culture, and the organizational foundation that’s been built by our staff, our volunteers, our board, and our donors.”
“Brent made the comment in one of our meetings, that it’s not about one person,” said Leah. “The agency is not about me. It’s not about Brent. It’s about the organization, which depends on the contributions of many people working together to fulfill our mission.”
Any change, however, brings an opportunity to view the organization’s strategies and activities from a new perspective. Leah will bring a “fresh set of eyes” and help BBBS explore new opportunities while maintaining the agency’s solid foundation. Supporting these efforts, Brent will continue to be available as a consultant and an “as needed” resource through the end of the calendar year.
Brent is leaving BBBS to become the President and Chief Executive Officer of Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative in San Antonio where he will oversee planning, fundraising and communications for the Morgan’s Wonderland family of inclusive endeavors for individuals with special needs.
“Anyone who knows me and my family knows why this new opportunity resonates with me. It truly is a destiny role and one that I believe I was born to do. I could not be more proud, excited, and grateful about how this is all unfolding – in a manner that is fitting for this great mission at BBBS,” said Brent.
“Looking back at these past 13 years, serving as BBBS’ CEO has been a privilege and a highlight of my professional career,” he continued. “It has been a tremendous honor working alongside so many friends, supporters, staff members, volunteers, and community partners to make a difference for children and families in our community. I am proud of all that we have accomplished together.”
It’s a legacy both Brent and Leah are intent on preserving throughout this change in leadership. “Brent’s commitment to being available as a consultant is one of the things that will help ensure a smooth transition,” said Leah, “but the other key piece is the board of directors. They will help me understand the history of the organization and see where my focus needs to be. The other thing that is critical is maintaining open communication with staff. Communication at all levels will be important.”
As he prepares to leave BBBS, Brent says that “Literally everything on my calendar, every meeting, every task, now goes through the filter of ‘What does the agency, Leah, the board, need from me?’ And I find that fun and exciting, because I’m able to contribute when and where it makes the most sense.”
Brent plans to be present at BBBS’s signature fundraising event, the Ice Ball Gala, on December 4, to introduce Leah to donors and volunteers. The event provides yet another opportunity to facilitate a smooth transition between leaders.
“While there is a lot going on, I often wonder what this transition might have been like if we hadn’t had a strong succession plan in place. There would have been no opportunity for overlap or cross-training with the new CEO,” said Brent. “I’m so proud that we, as an agency and board, chose to be proactive in finding and hiring the right person for this position before I left.”
It’s due to such a forward-thinking approach that Brent feels certain that the agency is in good hands. “Leah is her own person, as am I, and she will do this her own way,” said Brent. “And that’s the way it should be. There is no one trait or model of good leadership.”
Both Brent and Leah are excited about the future and believe that this transition is happening at an optimal moment in time, when the organization is poised to reevaluate its goals, its budget, and its strategic plan.
“You know, BBBS is such a resilient and agile organization,” said Leah. “We were able to weather the storm of the pandemic, pivot on a dime, and transition to providing online services while still maintaining quality mentorships, at a time when they were needed most. Dealing with change is an agency strength, and it’s a challenge we’re up for.”
“I look forward to building new partnerships and reaching new volunteers and getting them excited about our mission. I am excited about the possibility of getting back to more in-person events, holding activities in our activity center, seeing matches, and thanking the community in person for making our anniversary possible,” said Leah. “I look forward to doing what we do best. Continuing this amazing standard of mentoring we’ve established over the past 50 years.”
Brent agreed, pointing to the agency’s history as a signpost to our future. “In the last 50 years, there have been a lot of stories regarding things we’ve had to fix, survive, or navigate to make it to where we are today. And we didn’t just survive, we have thrived in many ways,” he said. “We are well positioned to be one of the most impactful non-profits in town. Our agency is now in a position to grow, to innovate, and to perform at a higher level than ever before.”
We hope the agency’s bright future provides a beacon of light for our friend Brent Fields as he moves on to his new adventure, and that it creates a warm welcome for our new CEO, Leah Meunier.