I am very pleased to announce that last week, GiveForward named Josh Chapman as our new CEO. Josh possesses the perfect blend of operational expertise, a proven track record of execution, entrepreneurial spirit, and humble leadership. I could not be more excited nor could I be prouder that such a quality person will be taking over the reins of the company Ethan Austin and I started nearly seven years ago.
Whenever a company seeks new leadership, the question “Why?” comes up from investors, friends, and family, especially if a company is doing well. For us, the answer is pretty simple. We’ve accomplished a lot, but we believe we can do so much more.
Ethan and I are both immensely proud of what we’ve built. GiveForward has helped people raise nearly $160M for loved ones’ out-of-pocket medical expenses, memorial funds and more. As one of the first crowdfunding platforms in the world, we pioneered an industry and have helped redefine the way people give. Not many are lucky enough to have seen such impact from their work.
But about 18 months ago, Ethan and I started to wonder what would happen if we had a really experienced leader at the helm to take us into the next phase– someone who has seen the movie, knows the plot turns, and has a pathway to greatness. We imagined the possibilities of what we, first time founders, could learn from a more seasoned leader and what he or she could bring to the future of GiveForward. We ultimately decided that hiring a new CEO was the best decision for the company’s future, for our shareholders, and, most importantly, for the impact we could have on the world.
Of course, there are other, more personal, aspects to the story, as well. At the time, I, like many founder CEO’s, was struggling with feelings of inadequacy as I led a senior team where there was a mutual lack of trust and confidence. I was allowing every peak and valley of GiveForward to invade my personal life, bringing stress and anxiety home with me daily. I knew that I wanted to have more children, but I was afraid that I couldn’t manage the level of responsibility that CEO, mother of two, stepmother of one, and wife of a Chicago police officer requires.
Fortunately for me, the search took a very long time. During that period, I had the room to expand on my own leadership skills. I started working with a coach, read a lot about conscious leadership, built a senior team of A players, joined an amazing CEO group, and got pregnant with my second son, Aedan.
Over the last 18 months, I’ve actually been able to overcome most of the insecurities that had me wishing for a new CEO in the first place. In fact, I would say I’m the most confident I’ve been at GiveForward in our history. I’ve led our team through a new and more inspired vision (which you will experience soon!) and helped close the biggest partnership we’ve ever pursued.
I now know that I could continue to be a very solid CEO of GiveForward for years to come. But GiveForward deserves more than solid–it deserves phenomenal.
And we did meet several phenomenal leaders in our search. Until Josh, though, we hadn’t found anyone that complemented Ethan and me in the ways we needed. We met many impressive CEO’s from fantastic companies and were flattered when people with big exits considered leading our small business. But at the end of the day, we craved an operator–someone with a desire to create structure and help execute at a level we’ve never seen before. We wanted someone willing to get their hands dirty. Someone who could recognize the magic that we’ve built among the team that we have and preserve that culture and passion as we transition into the next stage of our business.
Josh is that person. As VP of Operations at Cars.com, he has seen a consumer-facing company achieve scale. He has launched new products and increased the efficacy of teams and processes. In his previous roles, he built new lines of business from the ground up, including a project with Xerox that he started with 30 employees and built over three years into a division with 2,000 employees and $65 million in revenue.
Josh is so accomplished at such a young age, yet he has no ego and instantly commands the respect and appreciation of those around him. And most importantly, he gets us. He is compassionate and empathetic. He listens and asks great questions. He brings value to every conversation and opens our eyes to new possibilities.
As GiveForward embarks on an exciting new chapter of our business, Ethan and I feel grateful that such a positive and strategic leader is joining our team.
Please help us in welcoming Josh Chapman to GiveForward and to Chicago’s amazing and vibrant startup community.
So what will I be doing? I’m excited to say that my new title is pretty awesome. As Chief Strategy Officer, I’ll be able to focus on the areas of our business that I love–product, business development, and representing GiveForward in the healthcare and startup communities.