Envision Unlimited – Client Success Story

Nonprofit executive search firm KEES led multiple successful search efforts to fill top leadership roles at Envision Unlimited in Chicago, IL.

With a mission to provide quality services that promote choice, independence, and inclusion, Envision Unlimited has been a community partner since 1948. They have a legacy of evolving care delivered with empathy, every time and everywhere. Innovative services include novel day programs; community living options; employment, respite and mental health services, and foster care for children with disabilities. Envision Unlimited is a vocal and visible advocate in the disability community, and through outreach, evaluation, and service planning, resulting efforts help thousands of people become part of the community, transition to safe homes, and access support services.

Envision Unlimited retained KEES, a premier executive search firm specializing in searches for top nonprofit executive roles in 2020. Two successful placements have resulted, including a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) search partner.

KEES partnered with Envision Unlimited in their search for a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) upon the retirement of a long-tenured leader. The comprehensive search yielded a pool of talented candidates, and Lauren Smith was selected as the leader with the most strategic insight and experience and has been leading and evolving the Human Resources strategy for over two years.

Smith previously held executive leadership roles at the Children’s Place Association (CPA) where she led the life-cycle of human resources from talent acquisition, employee relations, compensation design, and employee and leadership development. Just before CPA, Smith directed the Employee Relations function at Columbia College (Chicago).

Further continuing the partnership, a comprehensive CFO search was launched, and Dennis James was ultimately selected from a passionate, diverse, and talented pool of regional finalists who could best lead the organization’s mission to fulfill its long-term goals.

Prior to Envision, he served as Divisional Finance Director with The Salvation Army North & Central Illinois Division, James was responsible for driving the financial strategy of the organization. Before joining the Salvation Army, James held various positions, including Chief Financial Officer at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chief Financial Officer at Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), Vice President at the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and various financial corporate roles.

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“We were seeking passionate, strategic, and collaborative leaders to help our organization grow into the future,” said Envision CEO Mark McHugh. “On behalf of everyone affiliated with Envision Unlimited, we thank the entire KEES team for their expertise and unwavering commitment to organizations serving the IDD community.


For more than 70 years, Envision Unlimited has served people with disabilities across all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. As the largest provider in the state of Illinois for people with intellectual, developmental, and psychiatric disabilities, Envision Unlimited is a full spectrum of care organization serving over 2,000 people. To learn more about Envision Unlimited, please visit www.envisionunlimited.org.


KEES (formerly Alford Executive Search) is a nonprofit executive search firm that builds diverse teams with dynamic leaders in the nonprofit and public sectors. A woman-owned and operated firm, KEES offers a full array of nonprofit consulting services including executive search, leadership development, interim staffing, and HR support. For more information, please visit www.kees2success.com.

As a premier search firm, KEES specializes in executive searches for top executive positions and has a successful history of placing accomplished nonprofit executives nationwide. This partnership builds upon KEES’ executive search history, commitment, and growth to building meaningful partnerships and relationships with nonprofit organizations serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.