Case Study: Interim CEO Aligns NonProfit Member Network of Eye Banks

Non-Profit, Vision Share, is the consortium of eye banks that banded together in 1998 to get corneas ready for transplant, into the hands of surgeons around the globe. With 18 eye banks, the consortium provides a space to share best practices, help advance innovation and technology, and pool resources to reach surgeons fast.

After having a full-time CEO on board for two years, the board determined they were not getting the results they were looking for.

“It was difficult on the eye bank,” Cynthia Reed, Board Member at Vision Share recalls. “We could maintain, but we weren’t able to grow. We had hoped for growth the past 2 years and it had not been achieved, so we really needed someone to step in and move us quickly while working to hire a new CEO. It was a pretty tall order from our perspective.”

Board member, Tony Bavuso, explained that what Vision Share was formed for was kind of gone. “We lost valued members of the consortium because of frustration – they couldn’t see the value they could gain,” he said. “There were a few of us kind of hanging in there to hold things together, but ultimately we needed strong leadership in the form of a new CEO who could address operational and relationship issues, and do value streaming both for members and our end users who are surgeons.”

At the same point, the state of eye banking had become competitive. There was excess tissue and Vision Share couldn’t afford to waste time moving forward, yet the permanent CEO search was estimated to take 6-9 months.

“We weighed that option against using an interim to stabilize our organization, achieve some of our growth goals at least in the short term, while getting us prepared to hire our next CEO,” Reed explained.

The board decided to go the interim route, reaching out to InterimExecs. Once we assessed Vision Share’s situation and identified the skillset that was needed in a CEO, we matched the board with Gregg Steinberg, who quickly took the helm as Interim CEO. Gregg kicked off the assignment at a meeting with the bulk of the consortium where he met all of the members, the outgoing CEO and staff members.

“It was a whirlwind introduction to the people and the politics of the consortium,” Reed said. “He was amazingly relaxed. He was personable, and put people at ease. He made people feel like he was going to be able to help us. He was very reassuring. He was very calming.”

Gregg set out a roadmap to get the organization back on track. The consortium was in the midst of setting up a new LLC structure, and Gregg discovered that the structure they were about to move into would collapse in a few years. Reed said it was Gregg’s wide range of business experience that allowed him to bring a fresh perspective to look at their model, re-organize the structure of the consortium and put new agreements in place in a way that was beneficial to all members.

While overhauling Vision Share’s structure, Gregg put together a cadre of CEO candidates for the board’s review, eventually bringing on board a full-time CEO who walked into a clear plan and process already under way.

“We really took advantage of having a set of eyes and a business brain from outside of our nonprofit industry take a look at us, evaluate us, and restructure us to put us on a path for success, and that is what InterimExecs did for us,” Reed said.