Scott Bowling faced the greatest challenge of his career after the merger between Exceptional Children’s Foundation and the Kayne Eras Center in 2007 and 2008.
“In addition to combining systems, policies and procedures of two large nonprofits, a significant amount of planning, thought and effort needed to be invested to effectively integrate the two organizations’ cultures,” says Bowling, ECF’s president and CEO.
As a result, today ECF is the only organization of its kind that can provide support to a person challenged by developmental disabilities from birth through the senior years. From 16 sites in communities throughout Los Angeles County, ECF offers established programs in Early Start, Kayne Eras K-12 school, Fine Arts, Developmental Activity, Residential Living, Independent Living Skills, Work Training and Supported Employment, reaching nearly 2,300 children and adults with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, acquired brain injuries and related conditions.
Because of his efforts, Bowling was named one of the 2010 Smart Leader honorees by Smart Business and Chase Bank. We asked about how he put together the two organizations and how ECF impacts the community.
Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.
One of the greatest challenges followed the merger, which was legally consummated on July 1, 2008. It was the critical first step of identifying the members of the Integration Task Force that paved the way for the successful integration.
With both organizations represented, the key target areas identified and plans to facilitate ‘oneness’ were developed and implemented. Among the myriad areas of focus were: board development and board participation policies, personnel policies and procedures, strategic planning, logo redesign, constructing a workable organizational structure, redesigning the ECF website and marketing materials, and numerous staff and community events to promote us ‘coming Together.’ It was a tremendous challenge, and one our team overcame, together.
How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?
The merger was motivated by ECF’s vision to expand its impact on the community, while creating a replicable service model. By combining the Kayne Eras Center, a multiservice nonpublic school and agency into ECF, we are able to respond to the needs of the community unlike any other nonprofit organization in the state.
Today, ECF is the only organization of its kind that can provide support to a person challenged by developmental disabilities from birth through the senior years by offering: Early Start, Early Head Start, K-12 education, therapeutic services, center-based and community employment services, developmental activities, fine arts training, and residential housing and support services.
With the provision of these comprehensive, lifespan services to over 2,200 individuals with special needs a year, ECF cultivates/develops a work force for businesses throughout Los Angeles County, helps students to overcome learning barriers and prepares them for advanced education and contributes toward a more productive society.
ECF also employs over 400 staff and shapes communities from 16 program locations. Furthermore, our advocacy efforts help to create more inclusive neighborhoods and foster greater awareness of the benefits offered by people with special needs.
How to reach: Exceptional Children’s Foundation, www.ecf.net.
The Smart Leaders Class of 2010
In November 2010, Smart Business and Chase Bank recognized 10 business leaders for their commitment to business excellence and the impact their organizations make on the regional community. Treated to a keynote address by MemorialCare CEO Barry Arbuckle, these 10 leaders comprise the honor roll:
- Scott Bowling, CEO, Exceptional Children First
- James Chu, CEO, ViewSonic
- Adam Coffey, CEO, Web Laundry
- Renee White Fraser, president and CEO, Fraser Communications
- Bryan Green, founder and CEO, Advantage Fitness Products
- Lawrence Jackson, president and CEO, Long Beach Transit
- Greg Jenkins, partner and co-founder, Bravo Productions
- General Robert Nolan, commander, Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base
- Neal Schore, president and CEO, Triton Media Group
- Nien-Ling Wacker, chairman and CEO, Laserfiche