Goodwill searches for new CEO

Horizon West resident Nima Hodaei resigned last month after barely a year on the job.

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  • | 1:13 p.m. May 9, 2019
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Barely a year after Goodwill Industries of Central Florida named Horizon West resident Nima Hodaei its new CEO, the search is back on.

Hodaei, 45, moved last summer from New Jersey — where he previously spent nearly two years serving as vice president of retail for Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County — to take on the role.

Michael Hsu, chairman of Goodwill’s board of directors, said one of the board’s roles is to ensure it has the best person in place for the role. He added the matter was a change the board needed to make. 

“We just had a parting of the ways,” Hsu said. “One of the things for us as a board that we are responsible for is making sure we have the right person in place to lead the organization.”

Former Goodwill board chair Laurence Hames, principal of Winter Park-based law firm Laurence C. Hames PA, has stepped in as the interim CEO. Hsu said Hames served on both the boards for Goodwill and its fundraising foundation for nine years and was chairman for two of those. Hames also is president of the board of supervisors for the Reedy Creek development district.

Goodwill’s board and search committee are now hard at work finding a permanent replacement.

“We have the search committee (going),” Hsu said. “I chaired the one that resulted in Nima’s appointment, and we have a secretary of the board chairing the current committee. … We also have an external search firm helping us, because this is a pretty important decision.”

Hsu said the search could take anywhere from four to six months, but it’s a process he and the board prefer not to rush. Currently, they are combing through applications and conducting paper, phone and on-site interviews. Hsu said the board is looking for a person who understands Goodwill’s mission and wants to be part of furthering it, as well as someone with the desire to act as a community partner.

“We’re, I think, the second-largest not-for-profit in the Central Florida area, and that comes with a lot of responsibility in terms of being a partner in the community,” Hsu said. “We are looking for someone (who) can be a good community partner. It’s a (large) company and employs (more than) 1,100 people, so it’s a pretty big corporation and undertaking. We’re looking for a lot of different criteria and skills.”

According to Goodwill’s 2017 IRS filing, former Goodwill CEO Bill Oakley — who spent 44 years with Goodwill and served as the CEO in Central Florida for eight years — had a base salary of $258,885. The 2018 filing, which would include Hodaei’s salary, has not been released.


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