President & CEO - Forest Lawn Cemetery & Crematory Group

Catapult (Forest Lawn) - Buffalo, NY




Forest Lawn Cemetery & Crematory Group is an organization passionately committed to providing caring services to commemorate life, as well as the preservation and restoration of the cemetery and its affiliate’s historically significant buildings, landmarks, landscape, and archives. Forest Lawn is the largest cemetery group in Western New York, boasting 669 acres across all affiliated cemeteries, and the Forest Lawn Cremation Company is one of the highest volume crematories in the state.

Forest Lawn Group is currently seeking a new President and CEO whose primary role will be to ensure that this historic treasure and important community asset grows in reputation and value and continues to live on for generations to come. Forest Lawn is committed to attracting a diverse group of candidates from Buffalo-Niagara and across the country.

The CEO will join a highly experienced Senior Leadership Team with extensive knowledge and expertise in the areas of cemetery and cremation operations, management, financial competence, and leadership. The successful candidate will have experience working with and/or leading cultural institutions with a focus on art, architecture, nature, and history. They will bring a strategic and visionary leadership style, strong business acumen, a focus on community relationship building in all communities, fundraising, advocacy, and experience leading and developing teams.

The successful CEO will chart the strategic direction of the organization and build the necessary talent, systems, and culture to accomplish organizational objectives. Specifically focusing on creating a place where employees feel valued, resources are available to support the preservation and sustainability of Forest Lawn Group and its entities, and the Western New York Community and beyond is aware of the true magnificence, history, and legacy that Forest Lawn has to offer.


Forest Lawn is a not-for-profit 501(c)13 organization that is designated as a New York State & National Registers Historic Places and is regulated by the New York State Division of Cemeteries. As an organization that welcomes all faiths, we operate seven cemeteries and a crematory: Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York; Lakeside Cemetery in Hamburg, New York; St. Matthew’s Cemetery in West Seneca, New York; the Williamsville Cemetery and Gethsemane Cemetery – both in Williamsville, New York; Lancaster Rural Cemetery in the Town of Lancaster and Oakwood Cemetery in East Aurora, as well as Forest Lawn Cremation Company in Buffalo, New York.

In its 170+ years, Forest Lawn Cemetery has become an enduring chronicle of local history and a cultural landmark. Forest Lawn is interwoven in the fabric of the Buffalo community and as it looks to the future it will be necessary to preserve and promote the heritage, history, legacy, and diversity of this historical landmark.

Our next President and CEO will be an advocate who is dedicated to ensuring Forest Lawn and its entities have the strategy, talent, culture, funding, community recognition and investment necessary to ensure it will achieve Forest Lawn’s and the Heritage Foundation’s missions prioritizing service, growth, and achieving a contributing presence in the community.

Forest Lawn Cemetery Mission

The mission of Forest Lawn Cemetery is to provide caring service in the sepulture of human lives in an environment of commemoration of the life lived. Our priorities are service, growth, and achieving a contributing presence to the community which we serve. Our aim is to be the preeminent cemetery in the area of Western New York which we serve, providing facilities and service to its diverse composition and culture.

Forest Lawn Cemetery Heritage Foundation Mission

The mission of the Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation is for the charitable and educational purposes of assisting in the preservation of the natural beauty and historic integrity of Buffalo City Cemetery (known as Forest Lawn Cemetery) in Buffalo, New York, increasing public knowledge, awareness and appreciation of the unique cultural, historic, architectural, and natural resources of the Cemetery.


President & CEO Key Competencies:

  • Senior Leadership in a regulated field and/or cultural institution
  • Relationship Building & Diverse Community Leadership
  • Strategic & Visionary
  • Humble, Supportive & Motivating Leader of Leaders

The CEO reports to the Board of Trustees and the Directors of the Heritage Foundation. Direct reports include the following positions:

  • Vice President of Operations & Mergers
  • Vice President Finance, Treasurer
  • Vice President of IT Advancement
  • Corporate Secretary
  • Marketing/Public Relations Representative

Organization Overview:

  • Largest Cemetery in WNY
  • Acreage
    • Forest Lawn- 269
    • All Cemeteries- 669
  • NYS & National Registers of Historic Places
  • Total Revenue - $10 Million
  • Endowment - $35 Million
  • Total employees- approx. 50


Senior Leadership in a Regulated Field and/or Cultural Institution

  • Develop strategies to address funding, programming, and compliance matters in a highly regulated environment.
  • Establish and oversee innovative programming, education, tours, public outreach etc. to ensure the growth, preservation, and sustainability of Forest Lawn Cemetery and its entities.
  • Partner with the VP of Operations to identify and evaluate potential partnerships, mergers or affiliations in line with the vision and strategic direction of the organization.
  • Work closely with the Board of Trustees to ensure Forest Lawn’s fiduciary and compliance responsibilities are fulfilled in a transparent and responsible manner.

Relationship Building & Diverse Community Leadership

  • The CEO is a steward of the brand as well as the face of Forest Lawn and is, therefore, expected to be visible in all communities across our region and represent the organization in public with state legislators, partners and beyond.
  • Works internally to establish respectful and trusting relationships with the Board, Leadership team, and employees.
  • Works externally to build relationships in the community, and with the state to establish Forest Lawn as a respectable partner, with an engaged and capable workforce, and vision for growth and sustainability into the future.
    • Key partnerships include: Local and state cemetery leaders, funeral directors, the state cemetery board, arts and cultural experts, enthusiasts and philanthropist, the Buffalo Community, and families of Forest Lawn.
  • Collaborates with the Director of Community Engagement to lead fundraising efforts; develops and initiates grant proposals to establish new/innovative programs and funding streams to support the preservation and sustainability of Forest Lawn and its entities.
  • Leads the expansion of Forest Lawn’s and the Heritage Foundation’s fundraising efforts and serves as a critical cultivator and solicitor of donors.
  • Represents the organization and functions as a liaison to other agencies and the community.
  • Participates in statewide/national meetings and committees.
  • Participates in government advocacy activities in both Western New York and Albany, including being up to date on issues/legislation impacting the Agency and engaging in in-person advocacy.

Strategic & Visionary

  • The CEO will work closely with the Board of Trustees and Senior Leadership Team to chart the strategic direction of the organization and build the necessary talent, systems, and culture to optimize industry and organizational opportunities.
  • The CEO will work with the Senior Leadership Team to identify organizational goals and innovative strategies to ensure that Forest Lawn is successful in growth, sustainability, and cultivating a relationship in the community.
  • Fosters and implements change in alignment with the needs of the organization and the future state of the industry.
  • Provides day to day leadership related to planning, developing, organizing, implementing, directing, and evaluating the organization’s function and performance.
  • Creates a vision for the future, develops and operationalizes the strategic plan.
  • Stays current regarding the market and business trends that impact Forest Lawn, the industry, and funding.
  • Work with the Senior Leadership Team to provide leadership, guidance, continuity and strategic oversight across all organization operations and service lines, to ensure sound operations, support and growth for the organization and employees.
  • Demonstrates clear knowledge of laws, regulations, and guidelines within the industry to ensure compliance and that all operations meet regulatory and funding requirements.
  • Work with the VP, Treasurer to provide strategic financial leadership on issues affecting the organization i.e. evaluation of potential alliances, funding sources, acquisitions and or mergers and investments.

Humble, Supportive, & Motivating Leader of Leaders

  • In collaboration with Senior Leadership Team, the CEO will have a presence and create continuity across Forest Lawns entities.
  • Provides transparent and regular communication with constituents at all levels and locations.
  • Be an active, empathetic, and fully participating listener and advocate for the organization and its people.
  • Supervises, coaches, mentors, and collaborates with team to ensure alignment of objectives and understanding of opportunities and challenges.
  • Actively understands and stays abreast of the complex realities of the environment and uses this knowledge to provide purpose, direction, and motivation to leaders and staff.
  • Operates with the utmost integrity, transparency, and accountability at the Board and staff level.
  • Shows respect for the knowledge, effort, and time of others.
  • Perseveres in the face of individual and team challenges, and kindly offers additional time, knowledge, and resources to support team and organizational success.
  • Strives to appreciate and understand team members’ strengths, motivations, goals, and values, to provide people with opportunities for learning, development, and growth.
  • A servant leader who takes a strengths-based approach to development and performance evaluations.
  • Works to build a culture that believes in teamwork, collaboration, diversity, support and takes ownership for achieving objectives.


  • Bachelor’s Degree with 10 or more years of senior strategic level leadership experience in a regulated industry or cultural non-profit.
  • Track record of community and organizational relationships built on mutual trust and respect.
  • Strong business, operational and financial acumen, and significant experience in strategic planning.
  • Proven experience and success with fundraising and resource development as well as an ability to identify innovative and unique approaches to revenue generation.
  • Strong staff management experience required, with the ability and interest to work closely with staff members to set and achieve individual and team goals.
  • Must demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence and intellectual curiosity and desire to explore new ideas and innovative approaches to solving problems.
  • Inquisitive and humble to learn from an experienced, knowledgeable, strategic & tenured board and leadership team – leaning on experience but having the confidence to push for initiatives that promote impact and growth for the organization and community.
  • Experience with evaluation and integration of mergers & acquisitions and/or strategic partnerships.
  • Direct experience in government affairs and legislative advocacy preferred.
  • Experience working with diverse populations to create equity and inclusion and achieve common goals.
  • Superior communication skills, both oral and written; ability to work effectively with people at all levels of the organization to create buy-in and a sense of teamwork.

Posted On: Monday, May 22, 2023

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