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Three Questions With: BJ Davis, Senior Consultant, DRiWaterstone Human Capital | Part 2

Meet DRiWaterstone’s senior team! This week, continuing our conversation with Senior Consultant, BJ Davis, to find out, in her own words, what drives her and why DRiWaterstone is one of North America’s top executive search firms for the non-profit and social impact sectors. 

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DRiW: How do you describe your role at DRiWaterstone? 

BJD: I get to be a casting director – a nonprofit talent casting director. I work with incredible organizations making an impact in many ways, and I have the ability and eye to find talent that they’re not going to find on their own or that they may not think to consider.  

I was doing research for a VP search recently, and when we were presenting candidates to the CEO, he was blown away by the talent, the breadth of skills, and the different sectors from which candidates came from. And he said: “You think they’d really want to work here?” Absolutely they would! That is my role – to find amazing people who will be the unexpected find and thrill the client with whom I am working. 

DRiW: How does your background influence your approach to executive search? 

BJD: I’ve been in the social sector for 25 years. And innately when I was hiring, I always acted like a recruiter. I like to say I listen to people and not read resumes. I’ve always wanted to source certain people that would align not only with the position, but be a leader and culture add to my teams. I don’t want to wait for them to come to me. People may feel hesitant to apply because they don’t “check all the boxes”, but for me not all the boxes are on a piece of paper. 

My work is deeply rooted in social justice. That foundation combined with one of my strengths, connectedness, and I tend to see how we are all part of the greater picture. Because of this I explore unlikely avenues and I just think inclusively. That’s how I show up. I try to bring things to the table that our clients may not think of. It just comes from a different space.  My experience in leadership, comes from various roles, in the LGBTQ movement, reproductive rights, in environmental and climate justice spaces, it all allows me to see and resource different talent across the board. There may be someone from a job I worked on 10 years ago or someone from El Paso who is working on a Board and they’re going to have the skills and alignment for a position I am recruiting for. I bring that network and all those just outside of it into the circle for consideration. I can utilize all of the different spaces I’ve worked in and leverage the connections I’ve made to deliver top in class talent for our clients. 

DRiW: What do you love most about working in the non-profit and social impact sectors? 

BJD: First and foremost, it’s the people. I love people. I love stories. I love getting to know people. I love walking into a room and meeting as many people as possible – but in genuine ways. It’s an authentic curiosity I have always had. I want to know how you ended up in this room with me and what’s your backstory. This work gives me the opportunity to meet brilliant people, and people who are doing incredible things in the world, and it inspires me every day. 

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At DRiWaterstone, we work with mission and purpose-driven organizations across the U.S. to help them build mission and purpose driven teams. We’d love the chance to work with you – reach out today and book a meeting with our team and find out how we can help. 

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At DRiWaterstone Human Capital, we have the opportunity to help a diverse roster of clients fill roles that are integral to their ability to meet their strategic goals. We are also fortunate to work with some of the best candidates in the non-profit and social impact space.  

Meet Dawn Ridley, Vice President of Development at Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center in Maryland. DRiWaterstone helped place Dawn at Luminis Health; prior to that, we worked with her as a client when she engaged the DRiWaterstone team on close to a dozen searches for her previous employer. 

We recently sat down with Dawn to catch up and learn more about her experience working with the DRiWaterstone team.  

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DRiWaterstone (DRiW): Tell us a bit about Luminis Health and your role there.  

Dawn Ridley (DR): I’m the Vice President of Development and Vice President of the Foundation at Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center. Doctors Community Medical Centre is almost 50 years old and is serving the community in suburban Washington, DC; Luminis Health was formed in 2019, when Doctors Community Medical Center and Anne Arundel Medical Center merged.   

I’m charged with building on the existing donor base. We had a successful history of fundraising events, but then the pandemic hit and threw us for a loop. However, it helped us further develop our annual and major giving programs as we had to move away from events.  

I love working for my local community – it’s really rewarding. The hospital is about 18 minutes from my house, and I’ve never had a job in my community like that. I’m also new to health care and I find it really rewarding to work on issues that are important to me – to work with leadership, clinicians and the community on issues like health equity .  

DRiW: What was it like working with the DRiWaterstone team as a candidate? 

DR: It was a good experience. They were very responsive and provided lots of information. In addition to the prospectus, they gave me some additional context which helped me better understand the priorities of the organization and what the key characteristics would be for the person in the role. It helped me get excited about the opportunity and gave me a better understanding of what was needed.  

One of the challenges when you’re in the middle of the job search process is understanding the timelines. As a client, I might be excited about a candidate, but then something prevents me from moving forward quickly – things happen that slow you down or slow the process down. That can be nerve-wracking for a candidate if they don’t know. DRiWaterstone provided that context. They helped me manage the process all the way through to the offer, which was important.  

DRiW: What about your experience working with them as a client – how was that? 

DR:  They were responsive, and we worked closely together - we built a relationship. I found them collaborative in helping us identify our needs, understanding how to approach the market, and helping us fine-tune what we were looking for. And then there were the logistics of it all – it’s a lot when you’re going through the hiring process! I’d have days of back-to-back interviews and they were fantastic at helping to manage that.  

As a candidate I felt I was getting the same care and engagement as I did when I was a client. 

DRiW: What surprised you most about your experience working with the DRiWaterstone team? 

DR: It was a positive surprise, but I would say their flexibility and their respect for me as a client and as a candidate. They were always willing to talk on my schedule – no matter how late, or even on a Saturday.  It’s tough out there. You hear about being ghosted or about positions disappearing. I’ve had that happen, with recruiters hunting me down and then going radio silent, but that didn’t happen with DRiWaterstone.  So, I think the respect, engagement, and communication really stood out with DRiWaterstone. 

DRiW: What advice do you have for other candidates looking to change roles in today's job market? 

DR: I would say be intentional and clear about what you’re looking for, while also maintaining some flexibility.  Then it’s about building relationships – with your network and with a firm like DRiWaterstone.  

Recruiters have seen it all, and they’re talking directly to hiring managers, so they know what’s important in this market. We all bring qualifications to the table, but a recruiter can help you with alignment – they can say: “You have XYZ skills and that’s what this organization needs.” Even if it’s not something you’ve thought about before, they can see nuances that you can’t see. For example, I went from higher education to health care and that’s not something I had considered before.  

You might not be clear on how you line up with the marketplace, or on where there are opportunities to build your skillset and be more competitive. It’s important to connect those dots and that’s the value that a team like DRiWaterstone brings to the table. As candidates there’s an opportunity to use that to our advantage, and to have those conversations.  

Finally, remember that timing and fit is a lot of it. Sometimes you’ll have just missed a search that you’d be perfect for, or you’re just a bit too early in the market for that big job. Or another candidate may have that one piece of experience an organization is prioritizing over all else, and there’s no way for the candidate to know that.  It can be frustrating, but it’s not a judgement on you. 

DRiW: Why do you work in the non-profit sector? 

DR: I’ve been in non-profit for a long time. I love aligning mission with business. Even now as a fundraiser, it’s about understanding the mission and seeking out support for that goal. The more seasoned I am in my career, the more I find that making an impact matters to me. That’s not to say I’d never go to the private sector, but I appreciate the social impact component. That’s important to me.  

Fundraising is an extension of that. I’m able to use my skills to drive the mission.  I also have a respect and appreciation for the work being done – I love the work our clinicians and others are doing in the community, and they need support to do it. I’m grateful I’m able to use the skills that I’ve developed to support initiatives like behavioral health, health equity and community health. It’s my job to connect the dots for people and to secure the resources necessary to support what we’re doing.  

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At DRiWaterstone, we have the pleasure to work with some of the best clients and candidates in the non-profit and social impact space. To learn more about how we can help you build high performance teams and drive growth, email us – we’d love to talk! 

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