New boss at Diversified Search after rapid growth and Chick-fil-A connection

Dale E. Jones, who oversaw the growth and mergers that quadrupled the sales of the diverse Philadelphia-based research group to over $ 100 million a year, but drew protests from some staff after joining the board of directors of the fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A, has resigned as CEO of the executive placement company after nine years in management positions.

Aileen K. Alexander, a former Army captain who worked in Congress and was managing partner of investment giant Korn Ferry before joining Diversified as vice president in June, succeeded Jones as chief executive , reporting to Founder and President Judith M. von Seldeneck. , The investigator learned. The company confirmed the measures in a statement on Monday.

In a statement in response to The Inquirer, the founder praised Jones, 60, as a “transformative leader.” Under his leadership, and funded by an investment from ShoreView, a private investment firm based in Minneapolis, Diversified added BioQuest, in San Francisco, which recruits life science professionals; Grant Cooper, based in St. Louis, who focuses on healthcare executives; Media-based Storbeck Search specializing in colleges; as well as Koya Partners, which recruits association leaders.

Alexander, 45, was hired as a potential chief executive, but the momentum gathered pace when Jones was sidelined by heart problems that twice landed him in a hospital earlier this year . “His family confiscated his cell phone” while helping him regain his health, said von Seldeneck. Jones will continue to be a senior advisor to corporate directors and CEO clients.

A graduate of Morehouse College and active in Christian organizations, Jones wrote moving accounts personal trials, including an earlier hospital stay. He first joined the Chick-fil-A board in April 2019 and was a longtime family friend of Sr. Truett Cathy, a Baptist Sunday School teacher who founded the channel that made him a billionaire.

Cathy was instrumental in campaigns against same-sex marriage before her death in 2014. In 2012, her steadfast position sparked boycott calls from marriage equality activists, including Philadelphia elected officials, and counter-protests from fans of the company. The company has since distanced itself from that position and pledged not to donate to certain organizations that had been labeled anti-LGBTQ.

But that did not alleviate the discomfort of young members of Diversified’s own staff, especially in the Boston-based nonprofit office, according to company sources.

After Diversified bought Koya in June 2019, von Seldeneck faced an internal discord that recalled what his corporate clients encountered when the CEO’s goals conflict with staff values ​​and agendas. or clients, sometimes resulting in calls for help from the company in sensitive recruiting efforts. .

To help keep the peace, Jones reluctantly resigned from the Chick-fil-A board. But after checking in with von Seldeneck, he joined that board earlier this year, sparking further protests from some nonprofit staff.

This was an unexpected result of Diversified’s own diversification: the dispute served to highlight tensions between what insiders called the nonprofit culture and the general staff of the company, where Chick’s policy shift -fil-A was easily accepted.

“Like many rapidly changing companies, we are also addressing a workforce with different values ​​and expectations,” said Maureen Alphonse-Charles, senior vice president in charge of talents, diversity and equity at Diversified, in a statement. She added that the firm had hired its own external consultant “to actively engage with our colleagues” on “integration” issues.

Von Seldeneck said the internal talks were unrelated to Jones’ medical issues and his retirement from the top post.

“No one has been more committed to diversity than this company,” she said, noting that a large part of its job is to recruit people from diverse backgrounds.

Von Seldeneck said the rapid growth pace established under Jones will continue, with two more acquisitions likely in the coming months.

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