Request for Proposal – Executive Search Firm

Issued April 26, 2023


May 24, 2023 – Questions Due
June 8, 2023 – Proposals Due
Week of June 26 – Interviews (zoom)

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Creative Pinellas is issuing this Request for Proposals for the services of an Executive Search Firm with experience in selecting CEO’s for Local Arts Agencies to assist in the recruitment of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Firm will assist the Creative Pinellas Search Committee in attracting, interviewing, and hiring a CEO.  Services include finalizing the position description, developing a recruitment plan, enacting the CEO hiring process, conducting a nationwide search, vetting, and presenting qualified candidates, assisting with final selection criteria, and providing guidance for the offer. The Firm will coordinate its efforts with the Creative Pinellas Search Committee.


Creative Pinellas, the Local Arts Agency for Pinellas County, plays a vital leadership role in nurturing, supporting, and growing the arts community and enhancing the County as an arts and Cultural Destination.  Established in 2011, Creative Pinellas is an innovative and dynamic 501(c)(3) arts and cultural organization.  With 7 fulltime and part time staff members, Creative Pinellas manages a 10,000 square foot gallery (former arts museum) and has an office where workspace is made available to area arts organizations.  The organization has awarded grants to over 180 professional and emerging artists ($825,000), sent over 200 artists and arts leaders to the Co. Starters business program, partnered with the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team on an artists’ poster series, with Pinellas County on mural programs, and with area foundations community building and on arts and mental health, and is currently embarking on a countywide cultural plan.

As the public face of Creative Pinellas, the CEO provides strategic and operational leadership and direction for the organization and is responsible for fostering external relationships with donors, funders, governmental and community partners, and elected officials.  The CEO reports to Creative Pinellas’s Board of Directors.  The Search Committee will be looking for the Firm to assist in the recruitment of an individual with experience and expertise in the arts and cultural sector, and ideally with an arts agency, who is able to think and plan strategically, to build community with a diverse set of stakeholders, balance multiple competing priorities, is comfortable with continual change, and who demonstrates good judgment about which opportunities to pursue.

The current CEO has been serving at the organization for the past 7 years and  plans to retire in December 2023.  The Creative Pinellas Executive Search Committee seeks to identify a new CEO over the coming months with a deadline of December 11, 2023.

Roles and Responsibilities: 

In collaboration with the Creative Pinellas Executive Search Committee, the Firm will: 

  • Finalize a job description suitable for a nationwide search that is consistent with the Creative Pinellas CEO Succession Plan as well as the future needs of the organization.
  • Provide information and come to an agreement about how vetting candidates will be done.
  • Coordinate with the Creative Pinellas Search Committee chair throughout the process.
  • Conduct a nationwide search to identify a diverse pool of highly qualified individuals to serve as the new Creative Pinellas CEO.
  • In coordination with the Creative Pinellas Search Committee, develop candidate evaluation criteria.
  • Vet qualified candidates to identify those both willing and most worthy of consideration; perform initial interviews, present top candidates to the Executive Search Committee.
  • Inform each candidate in final selection that their names will be shared with the Creative Pinellas Board of Directors.
  • Assist in the final interview process and in developing an offer for the most qualified candidate, to include benefits and terms of employment.
  • The executive offer will be evaluated by the Creative Pinellas Executive Search Committee as part of the final selection process. 
  • It is expected that the CEO will serve a provisional 6-month term, subject to extension thereafter upon satisfactory performance.

Proposals are due to Creative Pinellas by June 8, 2023, at 5pm EST. A decision will be made on or around July 1 and work should begin within seven days  thereafter. The Creative Pinellas Executive Search Committee seeks to successfully conclude the search as in a timely fashion so it is desired that the entire search process within five to months from execution of the contract (i.e., on or before  December 11, 2023)

RFP Submission Requirements

Proposals should be no more than 15 pages, not including references, and address the following:

  • Organization Description: Brief history and summary of your firm and expertise, highlighting experience with non-profit organizations and executive roles. Including bios of team members who will be working with us.
  • Recruitment Approach: Describe the process to be used to find a successful candidate for the Creative Pinellas CEO role, including team members, and process for carefully vetting candidates.
    • Detail how you will accomplish the above scope of work (how do you build your candidate pool), including a clear delineation of the firm’s responsibilities and the expectations of Creative Pinellas. Include any networks to be used on behalf of this search.
  • Deliverables: Delineate all deliverables and how success will be measured throughout the process.
  • Proposed Timeline: Estimate the start and end dates for each phase of the search process.
  • Budget: Proposed cost along with narrative description of what is included in this cost and pricing structure, including additional costs beyond the standard service fees.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Share experience, networks, and metrics for recruiting diverse leaders.
  • References: Provide three references of like Local Arts Agencies.
  • Examples: Provide two historical examples including:
    • A successful Executive Director/CEO search, to replace an Executive Director/CEO who had been with the organization at least 5 years. Please provide contact information for both the Executive Director/CEO and, if possible, the board member contact with whom the firm contracted.
    • A recent Executive Director/CEO placement of an individual with a BIPOC background. Please provide contact information for the Executive Director/CEO as well as the board or staff contact with whom the firm worked most closely.
  • Any potential conflicts of interest
  • What happens if you cannot find a candidate during the original search or if the candidate leaves within less than 18 months?

Proposals will be submitted electronically in a single PDF file.

By submitting a proposal, the firm authorizes Creative Pinellas to contact references to evaluate the firm’s qualifications for this project.

Evaluation Criteria: 

All proposals will be evaluated based on the following key criteria:

  • Performance capability, that is the extent to which the proposal demonstrates the firm’s ability to provide the depth and breadth of experience, skills, knowledge and creativity generally required by this project
  • Understanding of and commitment to Creative Pinellas’s mission, values, programs and strategic objectives.
  • Demonstrated experience with similar or larger sized arts and cultural nonprofit organizations and diversity leadership placement.
  • Completeness and quality of response, including clear deliverables and reasonable approach.
  • Proposed cost and timeline.
  • Contingency plan if search is not successful or candidate leaves prior to a full year of employment.
  • References.

While the order of is not meant to indicate their  relative importance, Creative Pinellas acknowledges that selecting best value providers requires a balanced combination of (1) reasonable rates, (2) strong experience and demonstrated expertise in providing Executive Search Services in the arts and cultural sector, and (3) a demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion through ownership or existing collaborative relationships.

Disclaimer: This RFP does not commit Creative Pinellas to select any firm, award any work order, pay any costs incurred in preparing a response, or procure or contract for any services or supplies. Creative Pinellas reserves the right to accept or reject any or all submittals received, cancel or modify the RFP in part or in its entirety, or change the RFP guidelines, when it is in the best interests of the Creative Pinellas to do so.