The Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has hired an out-of-state firm to launch a national search for a chief executive after its first effort was scuttled amid controversy 15 months ago.
The 70-year-old business group has retained David Gomez & Associates Inc., a Chicago-based boutique search firm that specializes in finding minority executives.
“It’s about time we have the new face of the organization,” said chamber chairman Ricardo Ortiz.
The chamber wants to have a CEO in place within 90 days, he said.
It has been without a leader since April 2009, when former CEO Cici Rojas took a job in another state. The group formed an internal committee that received help from a local headhunter for its first search for a replacement last year.
The chamber considered a dozen firms nationwide before choosing David Gomez & Associates, Ortiz said.
“They presented the best option as far as what they were willing to do,” their fee and a guarantee, Ortiz said.
David Gomez & Associates has done executive searches for 32 years for clients such as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
The chamber was thrown into chaos in May 2009, when a dozen community leaders and small-business owners approached the board with allegations of financial misconduct, a “tainted” CEO search, partisanship and other issues. The community leaders demanded that the search stop and certain board members resign. Within days, more than one-third of the board quit and the CEO search came to a halt.
Earlier this year, two independent financial audits found no wrongdoing.
“For the last 10 years, I’ve donated my whole life to helping Latinos advance in the corporate and nonprofit arenas,” said David Gomez, president of the search firm. “Whenever there’s controversy – no matter what they’re going through – I’ll help them with that.”
David Gomez & Associates’ website boasts that half of its job candidates are minorities and 45 percent are women.
Next week, the chamber plans to meet with David Gomez & Associates to iron out the search criteria, time frame and number of candidates sought, Ortiz said. The chamber board will make the final decision.
Acting CEO Yolanda Tafoya said she won’t apply for the permanent job but will retain her chief operating officer post.
At a meeting last week, Ortiz asked more than 20 chamber members what traits they would like to see in a CEO.
Patricia Gorman, a Dallas small-business consultant and real estate agent, said she’d like to see the chamber create a strategic plan for a new CEO to follow, especially if the person is from outside the Dallas area.
Enrique Torres, a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual in Dallas, wants a new CEO to support venues where members can network with business leaders.
As it prepares for a new leader, Ortiz said the chamber is financially stable and stronger as a result of the “adversity in the past year.”
The 1,800-member group posted $301,808 in net profits for the first seven months of this year. The chamber has shifted its focus to programs for members, such as contract procurement and microlending, instead of events, Ortiz said.
Chamber board member Armin Cruz added that the group is more focused on helping member companies grow beyond $1 million in revenue.
The chamber also is accepting nominees through Aug. 31 for six open seats on its 18-member board of directors.