Transforming St. Jude’s Ranch
Christine Spadafor is the former CEO of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children (SJRC) – a nonprofit organization founded in 1966 to serve abused, abandoned and homeless children. This page presents SJRC’s key accomplishments (Fiscal Year 2007 – Fiscal Year 2014) by CEO Christine Spadafor and her team. From turnaround to stability to growth – this team transformed SJRC from a struggling charity into a nationally recognized success story.
In 2006, SJRC with locations in Nevada and Texas was on the verge of bankruptcy. Given this precarious state, SJRC’s National Board of Trustees understood the urgent need for fundamental change. This much was clear: SJRC’s decades-old business model could no longer meet the needs of its vulnerable kids.
The Ultimate Goal
The Board hired CEO Christine Spadafor who designed and led an ambitious turnaround strategy. Spadafor’s ultimate goal: better therapeutic programs for more kids – a mission that would require transforming SJRC’s fractured organization and antiquated business model. She and the Board together engaged key stakeholders – SJRC’s executive team, its staff, the kids, the community and the volunteers — and enlisted their help in achieving a turnaround. With the clock ticking, this committed team went to work.
Within months, meaningful progress was evident: more kids were being served, quality of care increased, and revenue was growing. Over time, this unwavering focus on the children and consistent execution of the strategy brought impressive results (see slideshow above).
SJRC Becomes Dartmouth Tuck School Case Study
Seeing the exceptional ways the Ranch was serving the “hardest to serve” at-risk populations, the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth took note — and developed a textbook case study about the SJRC turnaround, now taught in the Tuck School’s MBA program.
Saving St. Jude’s Ranch: A “Textbook” Case Study
In the years since Christine Spadafor and her team executed these innovative strategies, the lessons of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children have been taught to MBA students and nonprofit organizations. Shown below are excerpts from two leading case studies — from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and the Nonprofit Quarterly.
SJRC Recognized by Top Consulting Firm
Others also took note that something extraordinary was happening at SJRC. As SJRC expanded the numbers and ages served and the expansion of programs and locations, performance results drew the attention of one of the nation’s top consulting firms, which ultimately donated more than $1M in pro bono services. This firm wanted to be part of this ongoing transformation — more services to more at-risk populations to improve their lives and to leverage the great work already done, making the Ranch a national beacon for nonprofit innovation.
In 2014 this firm designed a detailed, 3-year strategic roadmap for SJRC’s continued growth — both organic and by acquisition. In fiscal year 2015, however, SJRC’s newly reconstituted Board chose to go in a direction away from the recommended national model. Rather, the Board elected to return to the business model and organizational structure SJRC followed in 1966. CEO Christine Spadafor resigned in fiscal year 2015.
A Big-Hearted Mission Requires A Commitment To Community Partnerships
St. Jude’s Ranch for Children — CEO Christine Spadafor at Wells Fargo Convention
St. Jude’s CEO Christine Spadafor Speaks at the Andson Foundation Event
Testimonials About Christine’s Leadership
“In my two years as Chairman of t St. Jude’sBoard of Trustees, I always found Christine Spadafor to be a tremendous partner. She is creative, hard-working, highly principled, straightforward, and uncommonly bright. I cannot recommend Christine more highly.”
~ William Morley, Former Chair St. Jude’s Ranch Board of Trustees, President ExCL Group, LLC
“In all the years we worked together, I could always count on Christine Spadafor to do the right thing for the kids, for the organization and for our communities…I hold her in the highest regard and have enormous respect for everything she has accomplished in her remarkable career.”
~ Sheriff Bob Holder, Former Vice Chair St. Jude’s Ranch Board of Trustees
“Christine Spadafor is a smart and decisive business leader, who led a turnaround of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children…I had the pleasure to see Christine in action as a CEO and was deeply impressed. In addition to her terrific business skills, she also possesses remarkable empathy and is a kind and caring person. Truly the full package!”
~ Travis Fagan, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company
“For more than eight years I served under the leadership of CEO Christine Spadafor at St. Jude’s Ranch. During that time, I experiences Christine as a tireless advocate for the children and the staff…I admired her dedication to protect the more than 2,000 children that passed through the doors during her tenure.”
~ Joseph Jackson, Former Director of Human Resources, St. Jude’s Ranch
“Christine Spadafor is the rare breed of leader who combines passion with professionalism. I had the opportunity to work with her closely and see firsthand what she built at St. Jude’s Ranch – a first class organization that excelled equally at competence and compassion…she resurrected an oasis in the desert for kids in need.”
~ Eric Hart, Executive Director Mortgage Banking Customer Operations Chase Bank
“During Christine’s distinguished service as CEO of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, we worked closely together for 10 years on a host of challenging strategic and business issues – achieving outstanding results in the most professional and collaborative manner…I offer my highest recommendation.”
~ Cyndi Ortiz Gustafson, CEO Strategic Progress, LLC
“Staples executives toured operations at St. Jude’s Ranch under Christine’s leadership and were duly impressed. She built St. Jude’s Ranch in to a model for public-private collaboration and for the expanded delivery of desperately needed therapeutic services…Staples always knew that its contributions would be well-managed.”
~ Donald F. Ralph, Former Senior VP, Staples, Inc.
The Greatest Reward: Love From the Kids at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
NOTE: For protection of the children’s privacy, we do not share actual photographs from St. Jude’s Ranch. The images used on this site are intended to convey the spirit of these resilient kids.