When Scot R. Marken moved to Washington in 2012, he was welcomed by Vivian G. Bass, CEO of the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes.
“She was really helpful and gracious,” recalled Marken, who will be taking over for Bass, who is retiring, on July 1. “It was a big change for me. I moved here for a variety of reasons, primarily for family reasons, and she immediately reached out, and has been extremely supportive as a colleague and a mentor ever since.”
The 48-year-old self-described social entrepreneur will leave his job as CEO of the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County to lead the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities live independently. Marken also serves on the board of Nonprofit Montgomery. He lives in Bethesda with his wife, Cheryl, and two teenage children.
Marken said that Bass shared her organizational knowledge from her 30-plus years at JFGH, going over best practices.
“I just have a tremendous respect for her, and so frankly knowing that I would be following her was a big appeal for me to apply for the position, because I respect her a lot,” said Marken.
JFGH supports more than 200 people in more than 70 sites through its non-sectarian residential, transitioning youth and social programs. It conducted a national search for a new CEO before deciding on Marken, who has spent 23 years in the nonprofit sector, including eight years as the CEO of the philanthropy association Donors Forum of South Florida.
“Scot’s experience at building a wide range of organizations gives him a unique perspective,” Stefan Tucker, president of JFGH’s board of directors, said in statement. “Wherever he’s been, he demonstrated leadership and innovation that achieved success.”
Marken said he is learning about the organization as he prepares to start this summer, saying he will “definitely be in listening mode” when he begins, learning about the history of JFGH and connecting with stakeholders. He said his focus will be on continuing the quality services offered by what he called “a really strong organization.”
He stressed the importance of continuous innovation, saying that he will look into what can be done next with programming for residents.
“One of the first steps will be, in addition to learning the history, is what are the most innovative practices that are out there and how do those fit into what JFGH is doing,” Marken said.
“I really am very excited,” said Marken. “It’s a really great organization, and every day I’m learning more about it and become more excited about the work that’s being done.”
He said: “I believe strongly in the mission. It’s a great opportunity for me to combine my passion and my professional skills.”