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Hopelink names Thomas as its new CEO
Following an extensive nationwide search, Hopelink has named Lauren Thomas as its new chief executive officer. Thomas will lead the largest nonprofit organization serving North and East King County, which helps 60,000 homeless and low-income families and individuals every year through a network of social services.
Thomas has served as Hopelink president and interim CEO since Oct. 31, when Marilyn Mason-Plunkett retired due to health reasons. Prior to her interim role, Thomas guided daily internal operations as chief operating officer/chief financial officer at Hopelink since 2010.
She has more than 25 years of leadership experience, strategy development, business operations and mission delivery focusing on the not-for-profit sector. Prior to joining Hopelink, Thomas was COO for eight years at Wellspring Family Services, a Seattle agency addressing homelessness and providing domestic violence intervention, counseling and children’s emotional development services.
Thomas started her not-for-profit career at the Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants. She is a certified public accountant and a professional in human resources. She serves on the board of Eastside Human Services Forum, is a 2013 graduate of Leadership Eastside and a 2006 graduate of the national Alliance for Children and Families Executive Leadership Institute. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Montana.
The Hopelink board of directors retained an outside executive search firm to fill the CEO position. The search process took more than four months and received more than 70 applications from across the country. The Hopelink CEO Search Committee, through a series of reviews, screenings and extensive interviews, measured candidates against board-approved selection criteria, chose semi-finalists, finalists and last, presented a recommendation to the Hopelink board of directors. On March 26, the board voted to approve the appointment of Thomas as Hopelink’s new CEO.
Board Chairman José Piñero said, “The rigorous search produced a number of exceptional candidates, and in the end, Lauren Thomas proved she was the best person to lead Hopelink. Thomas demonstrated the vision, passion and expertise to take Hopelink to the next level in its mission to help families in need move from crisis to self-sufficiency. We, the Hopelink board of directors, are thrilled to have Lauren Thomas guide this amazing organization, which is so loved by the local community.”
Thomas said the position will enable her to combine her passion for the organization’s mission with a commitment to implementing best practices in serving the community.
“I’ve lived on the Eastside for more than 30 years, and I am committed to the vision of a community free from poverty,” she said. “As a business person, I also know we must be good stewards of the support we have been so fortunate to receive in this generous community. As the Hopelink CEO, I will be able to share my passion — share our mission — while pursuing innovative approaches to reducing poverty and helping more people become self-sufficient. “And I can’t underestimate the good fortune of working with an amazing and dedicated staff and volunteers. Hopelink is truly poised to take on all of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.”
Thomas will begin her new position March 29.