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Talent Partners

Executive Excellence is a boutique firm offering talent development services to the nonprofit sector, specializing in the education space. We work as a thought partner to attract, retain and excel the skills of talented professionals who drive social change and lead with purpose to serve many of the most important missions in the world.

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Talent Partners for education space


As a young girl who struggled in school, I knew what it felt like to put in 120% effort to only be matched with a grade that was less than average. To my great fortune, I had people in my life willing to invest their time, energy and skill in building me up and showing me that quitting was never an option, despite any type of learning obstacle. Now, as an adult, I don’t pretend to have all the answers, rather just the questions to inspire insight and reflection that leads matching great people to great organizations, and coaching individuals and teams to find their own creative answers. Executive Excellence was founded with much admiration and respect to all the wonderful people I’ve met throughout my journey who believe in the growth and development of the human spirit in education, the workforce and beyond. It’s an organization dedicated to lifting people to new levels in their careers while showing them they are the change they want to see in this world. Executive Excellence offers people like you and me, who enjoy calling themselves “life-long learners”, services that can help promote excellence. We partner with many of the most important mission-driven organizations to help recruit, retain and develop their greatest asset—their people.

Donna Rossi Smithers, Principal and Founder of Executive Excellence

“Shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” -Les Brown

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Our Talent Partners manage the full life-cycle of the recruitment process. Our top priority is to find your organization the perfect fit and ensure your new hire is successful.


Executive Excellence partners with organizations to strengthen and retain top talent by defining roles, responsibilities and identifying goals. We create career paths and evaluation tools, like performance management assessments, that build structure and highlight top performance for both individuals and teams.


For any organization to be successful, its people need to champion the same message, collaborate on projects and work together to achieve success. At Executive Excellence, we evaluate an organization's culture to gain knowledge of core values and competencies. We implement organizational strategies to shift culture and harness talent to create synergies.


We believe the most important commodity in any business is its people. Executive Excellence practices the Columbia Coaching Certification Program's process and adds its unique style by building a strong relationship with each client, allowing a safe and open space for development. Customized coaching services include, but are not limited to: new manager coaching, leadership coaching, skill base coaching and transitional coaching. We also provide all new hires with one-on-one coaching for the first 90 days.


An operations partner at Executive Excellence can help you and your operations team build capacity during the critically important times of the school year. By owning specific projects and/or partnering with your operations teams, an operations partner will help you get organized by creating systems and structures that can live on well-beyond the contract.

Don’t see the services you need?
Call or email to inquire further. Executive Excellence partners with exceptional industry leaders who have unique skills and qualifications. Check out our “Talent Partner” tab.


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Donna has nearly 20 years of experience in human resources in the for profit and nonprofit sectors. She has dedicated most of experience, however, to the nonprofit space recruiting, retaining, and training top talent. In the mid-2000’s, Donna was a Director with Professionals for Nonprofits, leading executive searches for over 150+ different nonprofits in the NYC area. After this successful period in the search world, Donna recognized her growing passion in education and became the Program Manager for the Social Enterprise Program at Columbia Business School where she coached 500+ soon-to-be MBA graduates interested in socially responsible careers. In 2009, she was recruited by Eva Moskowitz, Founder and Executive Director of Success Academy Charter Schools, a high performing charter school network in NYC where Donna was the Director of Human Resources and Recruitment.  During her time there, she recruited 800+ teachers and support staff to grow the network from four to 14 schools. She also ran all culture and talent related initiatives like the annual performance review process and leadership development. In 2013, Donna became the founder of Executive Excellence, a talent recruitment and talent development company partnering with a variety of nonprofit organizations in an effort to help identify and grow talent with a personalized and best-in-class approach to search and leadership coaching. Donna holds a Master of Arts from the New School University and is a certified coach from Columbia University’s Certified Coaching Program.

Founder and Talent Partner


Talent Partner

Lara began her career in New York City 11 years ago as a Teach for America Corps Member and has spent most of her career in education and recruitment. After teaching for three years in New York City's public schools, Lara pursued a Master’s Degree in Global Public Health (MPH) at New York University while working at Harlem RBI, a nationally recognized youth development organization in East Harlem. As the Manager of Curriculum and Training, she was tasked with staffing her own team of teachers and discovered her love of working in talent. From 2012-2016, Lara worked at Harlem Village Academies, a progressive charter network of five schools, where she ultimately lead the recruitment team in the staffing of all network and school based roles. In additional to her MPH, Lara also holds a Masters in Education from Pace University.


Talent Partner

Abby began her career in education as a 2003 Teach for America (TFA) Corps Member teaching elementary school in the South Bronx. Upon completion of her TFA commitment, Abby moved to Dominica in the West Indies to broaden her perspectives, gaining invaluable skills in driving results with limited resources, curriculum development, and community partnership. Abby returned to NYC with a deeper commitment to the importance of understanding the needs of the communities she would later serve. She directed an afterschool program in Brooklyn for a year before joining the team at Hyde Leadership Charter School in the Bronx as a first grade teacher. After 7 years in the classroom, Abby discovered a passion for talent as a part of the school’s interview committee and became the founding Talent Recruitment Manager, and later Director of Recruitment from 2011-2015. After growing the talent department, Abby joined the team at Ascend Public Charter Schools in Brooklyn, where she ultimately led the recruitment team in staffing 12 schools with teachers, leaders, and staff. At the start of 2018, Abby moved on from Ascend to support non-profit organizations in recruiting top talent and training recruitment professionals in the skills necessary to build effective strategy and practices. Abby holds of Master of Science in Education from Fordham University.   


Talent Partner

Katherine Duerksen is a human resources and operations consultant specializing in nonprofit and charter school management. Until August 2011, she was the Assistant Director of Human Resources at Success Academies, one of New York City’s highest performing charter management organizations. The scope of her role allowed her to gain extensive knowledge across all divisions of human resources, notably benefits administration, performance management, HR systems. Additionally, she provides high level expertise in the areas of compensation, teacher certification, and HR compliance. Prior to joining Success, Katherine worked briefly in retail management after graduating with her BA in Anthropology and French from Hartwick College in New York. In 2012, she earned her Certificate in Human Resource Management from Cornell University and founded her business, Choosy Consulting. In the six years since she began consulting, Katherine has contributed to a variety of projects for both start-up and established charter schools and nonprofits in New York, New Orleans, and Denver, where she is currently based.


Talent Partner

Britt is an experienced partner to social sector and community leaders, helping to develop their organizational and programmatic effectiveness, resiliency and resourcefulness. For more than 15 years, she has worked across sectors where data, strategy and execution converge. She began her career as a research analyst for JPMorgan Chase, designing investment and philanthropic strategies for high net worth individuals. She then spent nine years at Thomson Reuters, a leader in information management and media, where she built and managed large-scale data operations, globally, and was instrumental in designing and leading organizational change initiatives following the company's $13 billion merger. Since forming The Collective Good LLC in 2012, Britt has developed actionable strategic plans for national advocacy groups, structured metrics and evaluation systems for large and small social justice organizations, and served as interim director of operations for a fast-growing education reform nonprofit. She holds certificates in Executive Nonprofit Management and Organizational Development & Change Leadership from Georgetown University as well as degrees from Spelman College and Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business. She is also a member of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement faculty.


Talent Partner

Victoria is a human resources and talent acquisition innovator who has spent her entire career within high-performing charter school networks. For the last 10 years, Victoria has been a leader within the charter school space and has a wide range of expertise in all areas of human resources ranging from talent, operations, organizational development, performance management, leadership coaching and people operations. She launched her career at Success Academy Charter Schools, scaling their network of schools from 4 to 46 schools. As a Director of Talent Management at Success Academies, Victoria built their headquarters team from 65 to 450 employees, in all areas of expertise from Marketing to Data Science to Academics. In addition to headquarters hiring, she created and built the processes for recruiting talent for school leadership, school operations and teacher hiring, growing their school-based employees from 450 to over 2,500 employees. In addition to talent acquisition, she spearheaded HR and Recruitment technology integrations and partnered with leadership on performance management, people operations, and organizational development.Most recently, she joined Zeta Charter Schools, a brand new charter school network, in the Summer of 2018, as their founding Director of People and Culture, where she helped to set a foundation for the talent, technology and processes that would allow them to build a next generation charter school model, focused on adult culture and social-emotional learning. As a Corporate Communications graduate from Baruch College, she has served as an Advisory Council Member for Lever in 2018 and in her free time, enjoys bikram yoga, marathon running, writing and traveling.

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"Executive Excellence's services are at the top of the tree. Many firms limit their support and help with only one part of the recruitment process - sourcing. With Executive Excellence, ROADS was able to receive support and expertise with every aspect of the recruitment process. . ."

Tanyanne Ball, Director of Human Capital, ROADS Charter High Schools

"Britt stepped in as interim Director of Operations for several months, helping us revisit our theory of change, think through performance metrics, identify key talent and tighten financial and operating controls. As a young organization, we benefited from her extensive experience as a process manager and organizational leader."

Alexis Morin, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Students for Education Reform

“My coaching engagement with Donna has been transformational. I’m delighted to recommend family, friends and other professionals who can benefit from her sincere and creative approach.”

Betsy McKenna, Educational Consultant/Leadership Coach & Founder, Exponential Returns

"Thoughtfulness, honesty, inclusiveness and respect is what makes Donna and her team stand out among other talent service providers. Donna's outstanding command of internal culture and business management always results in an exceptional work product and relationship."

Dianalynn Bodero, Former Head of Human Resources, Echoing Green

"Donna was a pleasure to work with. She guided me through all aspects of the application process and was a true advocate for me throughout. She made me feel prepared for the interview and I accepted a job offer for a role that I could not be more excited to dive into."

 Stephanie Vaye,

Executive Excellence Client





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