Ackerman Institute for the Family is recognized nationally and internationally as a preeminent provider of innovative approaches to professional training, clinical services, and community programs for families facing major life challenges in our complex society.

Download PDF of Position Description for President/CEO

The Position

The President/CEO will lead with a sense of innovation and agility as well as with a strategic focus on growth and expansion in an increasingly complicated and competitive environment to: 1) build the postgraduate training program; 2) provide the highest standard of assistance to vulnerable families – all in the context of the Institute’s commitment to promote equity and provide service to all families regardless of economic circumstance; and 3) support the development of innovative clinical research projects.


One of the first training institutions in the United States committed to promoting family functioning and family mental health, the Ackerman Institute for the Family is dedicated to building upon its rich legacy of helping all families at all stages of family life.

Founder Nathan Ackerman was committed to developing clinical innovations to address the myriad of psychosocial problems faced by families and couples. This tradition of developing innovative family therapy techniques to address these problems is at the core of Ackerman’s work.

Through its dynamic commitment to training, treatment, and research, Ackerman’s work
positively affects generations of families, provides mental healthcare professionals with new knowledge and skills, and brings innovative perspectives to community service agencies and other healthcare facilities.

Ackerman’s success is based on the Institute’s core beliefs: that the problems couples and families face are best addressed through a systematic examination of the family’s interactional patterns, organizing relational beliefs from one’s family of origin, as well as the impact of race, gender identity, ethnicity, financial circumstance, and education. The Institute believes that treatment goals are best achieved when therapist and family develop a collaborative, non-hierarchical relationship focused on identifying the family’s unique strengths as well as constraints. 

Clinical/research projects further extend the reach of the Institute by focusing on specific topic areas and by developing both clinical and preventative models. These ideas are fed back into the postgraduate training program and disseminated to community agencies and other educational institutions. A sample of some of the current Centers and Projects include: the Center for the Developing Child and Family; the Gender and Family Project; the Foster Care and Adoption Project; the Latino Youth and Family Immigration Project; the Serious Mental Illness and the Family Project; the Money and Family Life Project; and the Couples and Intimacy Project. 

The faculty is committed to deepening its clinical work with respect to the impact of marginalization and racism on the families served. 

Ackerman can be described as a combination “think tank” and implementer of innovative practices where teaching methods and clinical models are continually invented, practiced, and refined. The Institute provides: 1) postgraduate training in couple and family therapy both on site and in community service organizations; 2) direct services to families and couples through an onsite Office of Mental Health (OMH) clinic; and 3) clinical research initiatives known as “special projects” that focus on the development of new treatment models and training techniques. Many projects at the Institute have led to articles, books, and training tapes. Additionally, the Institute has enjoyed fruitful relationships with international training programs throughout South and Central America. 

Located in New York City, Ackerman trains more than 1,000 clinicians a year through extensive onsite and community-based programs. The Clinic provides over 6,000 family therapy sessions at its onsite clinic. The Institute’s operating budget for the 2023 fiscal year was $5.2 million, with an administrative staff of 19 and a part-time teaching/supervisory faculty of 17. 


Reporting to the Board Chair, the President is charged with the basic goal to maintain Ackerman’s preeminence in fields of research, clinical programs, and training. The President works with the organization’s senior management team to create strategies and programs that will assure achievement of the vision and mission set forth by the Board. To this end, the President is responsible for leading the planning and execution efforts of the basic areas of the Institute to ensure effective coordination for successful implementation of organization-wide strategies. In this effort, the President must:

Leadership, Culture, and Program

  • Oversee high-quality therapeutic services, research, and teaching with the highest level of integrity. Develop active recruiting efforts to continue to attract a world-class faculty to oversee and manage the training, clinical, research, and educational activities.
  • Support faculty with existing research, clinical, and educational programs in fields of expertise. Promote the addition and growth of new clinical programs and initiatives to increase the patient base and revenues.
  • Ensure an organizational structure, leadership process, and operating culture that facilitate a spirit of collaboration and communication among the faculty and staff.
  • Recruit a talented and vibrant student population and support trainees to provide family therapy services in diverse communities.
  • Develop a model for the exploration and validation of new ideas to increase the outreach, using its resources in the research, clinical, and educational arenas.
  • Provide entrepreneurial leadership toward the development of new revenue-generating programs.

Management, Administration, and Finance

  • In collaboration with the executive staff, utilize superior management skills, outstanding leadership, and clear communication to ensure that the day-to-day operations, activities, and programs are professionally and efficiently administered, holding the organization to the highest levels of transparency, accountability, and consistency.
  • Oversee the financial status of the organization, including the budgetary process, financial and cost reporting and analysis, expenses, levels of funding, and cash flow; work closely with the Board Chair, Executive Committee, Board Treasurer, and members of the Finance and Investment Committees to ensure that sound financial controls are in place and funds are spent wisely to preserve the organization’s financial wellbeing.
  • Evaluate operations for a post-COVID environment. Stay ahead of the curve, anticipating and preparing for new and expanding regulations.
  • Create an organizational structure that supports strategies and programs and provides the human and financial resources necessary to achieve the goals. Maintain an ongoing review of new directions and programs to be certain they are meeting their intended purposes and their financial assumption.

Resource Development and External Relations

  • Build a culture of philanthropy and strengthen philanthropic support through foundation grants, government contracts, and major gifts from individual donors.
  • In close collaboration with the Board, the faculty, and the Director of Development, oversee development strategies to substantially increase revenues for ongoing operations and sustainability.
  • Facilitate generous donations from the Board and tap the faculty talents for resources.
  • Increase sources and reach of greater earned revenue opportunities.
  • Develop a creative and active media relations effort to support fundraising and capital formation programs. Utilize all media avenues to raise the Institute’s profile and the public’s awareness of Ackerman.
  • Build greater visibility for Ackerman, ensuring that the media, the family therapy field, and the broader public are informed about its mission, exemplary training, clinical services, and research.
  • Create a plan to build an endowment for the Institute.
  • Actively participate, both locally and nationally, with committees and organizations that are of importance to the Institute.

Board Relations

  • Implement Board policies, goals, and objectives with understanding of bylaws and policy procedures.
  • Prepare and present detailed management, program, and financial reports as needed for Board information and governance.
  • Work with Board members to maximize their individual contributions with respect to time, talent, and connections.
  • With Board Chair, engage and coordinate efforts of Board committees. Work especially close with Development Committee Chair to gain optimal financial support from Board and capitalize on their resources and networks for maximum support. Recommend new Board members when appropriate.

Opportunities and Challenges

  • Build upon the uniqueness of Ackerman’s approach to family therapy while exploring ways to increase its impact and reach.
  • Secure participation from leaders in the field, long-term and new faculty, alumni, and program participants.
  • Determine the balance of online and in-person service for training and clinical services.
  • Increase and develop new funding streams to support and grow programs.
  • Assess the current marketplace to seek out new opportunities and other therapeutic modalities to expand Ackerman’s offerings.
  • Develop a communications strategy to disseminate top-quality training, clinical care, research, and educational opportunities to critical and diverse constituencies.
  • Demonstrate outcomes and assess and document practices to ensure greater accountability. Construct and clearly define outcome evaluation strategies for programs and activities.
  • Anticipate and proactively respond to the changing trends in economics and reimbursement systems for mental health clinics.


To effectively lead the Ackerman Institute in its diverse training, clinical, research, fundraising, and operating activities, the successful candidate must be or have: 

  • A strong experienced leader with credibility in the family therapy field to build upon Ackerman’s rich legacy to ensure results in financial management, people leadership, donor management, program expertise, and organizational growth.
  • A confident results-focused thought leader with the vision to set and implement a strategy to build the next generation for optimal impact.
  • The ability to manage a complex organizational framework, with diverse initiatives and disciplines, including academic, clinical, educational, and financial elements.
  • Demonstrated success in developing, leading, and implementing fundraising efforts on a regional or national basis.
  • A deep commitment to racial equity in all forms of the Institute’s work both internally and externally.
  • An excellent recruiter who can attract and retain top-quality students and staff.
  • Experience in and understanding of nonprofit management including research, marketing, finance, operations, and human resource development. Candidates can include but are not limited to leaders in the mental health field, academia, and health care.
  • A reputation as a leader with a high level of integrity who values and encourages open communication, collaboration, and outstanding performance.
  • Intelligence, creativity, high energy, and adaptability, with a sense of humor and personal perspective.
  • An articulate and charismatic communicator who can persuasively tell the story of Ackerman in large and small group settings and who can inspire and build diverse audiences and a new generation of supporters.
  • Graduate or professional degree expected. MD, PhD, MSW, or related mental health graduate degree. Expertise in one or more of the following fields is highly preferred: family therapy; psychiatry; clinical psychology; social psychology; social work; or public health.

Salary and Benefits

The salary range for this position is estimated at $275,000 to $325,000. Ackerman offers a comprehensive and competitive benefits package. 


Ackerman is an equal opportunity employer and considers all applications without regard to race, color, religion, creed, gender, national origin, age, disability, marital or veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected status. 

Ackerman Institute for the Family seeks a diverse pool of candidates and will offer a competitive salary. Applications, including cover letters and résumés, and nominations should be sent to the attention of Jane Phillips Donaldson and Paul Spivey at