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DRiWaterstone Candidate Stories: Dawn Ridley 

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.  


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.  


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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Recruiting in the summer can be difficult—even for the most seasoned HR leaders and search committees. The reasoning? Senior executives (candidates as well as those on search committees) often take time off in the summer, meaning their time is at a premium. But vacation time doesn’t have to stall your recruiting efforts!  

Stay on top of your recruitment and talent acquisition strategy, and increase your chances of securing the senior leadership team members you’re seeking, by following these four tips for summer recruiting: 

Stay Patient, Persistent and Flexible 

While new opportunities can be attractive to potential candidates, those who aren’t actively looking for a change may not be as quick to jump at your meeting invitation while on vacation or taking time away to be with friends and family. Go into summer recruiting with the knowledge that you may experience longer wait times between an initial outreach with a candidate and their response. And be prepared to follow up! If a candidate is out of the country or taking time to disconnect, they may not be checking their messages or devices as often as they would at other times of the year. 

Make a conscious effort to be flexible with your time (and your team’s time)—if possible, set up meetings/interviews that work well with the candidate’s schedule and be considerate of any travel-related change in time zones. Adapting to their schedule shows that you respect their time away and it may increase your likelihood of securing time together. Can they meet early in the morning before heading out to sightsee? What about later once the rest of the family have settled in for the evening? Remember that the candidate is on their vacation, and it may be more convenient for everyone to wait until they arrive back home. 

Expand Your Candidate Pool with the Power of Technology 

Thanks to the pandemic, remote interviews have become the norm when it comes to recruitment and talent acquisition. With the expansion of technology comes more significant opportunities for attracting and retaining the top talent you are searching for. Leveraging the power of technology expands your candidate pool because you’re no longer limited to interviewing the best candidates in a set region. It also allows you (and the candidate) the opportunity to meet whenever and wherever it is most convenient - making it easier to fill senior positions with the best qualified candidates (not just the best qualified candidates in your area). And thanks to technology, candidates don’t need to be at a desk in front of a computer to have a conversation or conduct an interview; taking an interview from a tablet while on the deck at the cottage, or on a phone while at a quiet road-side rest stop is a great way to accommodate busy summer schedules and keep the recruitment process moving forward. 

Be Mindful of Other Commitments 

It’s always important for search committees to consider the needs of the core candidate demographic for any open position, but this is especially true when approaching candidates over the summer. For example, candidates with young families typically commit to their localities and schools by late June each year. If you are considering hiring someone who would need to relocate to a different city, you’ll need to allow them enough time to prepare for that to happen. That means planning your recruitment strategy early and acting quickly to help place your final candidate in the position in a timely manner.  

Take This Time to Refine Your Employee Value Proposition 

While the summer slowdown may be affecting the number of candidates you’re receiving, it doesn’t mean this time is in vain. Spend these next few months before Fall refining your recruitment strategy by focusing on your employee value proposition. With the increased competition for top talent in the nonprofit and social impact sectors, candidates can choose which organization and position is right for them. To set yours apart, spend time developing an employee value proposition relevant to your candidate, including their goals and interests. What you offer to someone younger may differ from someone older—so keep that in mind when it comes to relaying the unique benefits and experiences candidates can look forward to if they choose to work for your organization. 

Having Trouble Finding and Recruiting Top Talent? We Can Help. 

No matter which seasons your recruitment efforts happen in, having a partner who can help is key. Effectively recruiting high-performance leaders takes time, knowledge, and the right resources to ensure they align with your mission and your performance goals. DRiWaterstone Human Capital’s team has over 20 years of experience working with purpose and mission-driven clients, including nonprofits, foundations, associations, and social impact organizations. We have placed top candidates in organizations that are enacting real-world change.  

Are you ready to partner with us? Contact us today to get started. 

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