Peer Mentor to Interim Executives

Jane completed a successful term as Interim CEO, CatalystX in 2019, and has held two prior successful Interim Executive roles. Jane Garthson, an experienced association chair, Interim Executive Director, and former senior manager in the Ontario government, can be a professionally trained virtual advisor to your Interim or new CEO or Executive Director. Jane can also help you select your Interim Executive, and recommend the best search firm for your needs. Jane no longer accepts Interim Executive positions herself.

To ensure she could provide wise advice on a fully professional, methodical, intentional and transformational approach, Jane obtained certification from the Interim Executives Academy, run by Third Sector. Through Third Sector and other initiatives she has been involved in, Jane has an amazing international network of experienced not-for-profit executives she can call on if an unfamiliar situation arises in your organization.

What does Jane Garthson bring to the role of Peer Mentor to Interim Executives?

  • A proven methodology to enhance the progress and outcomes of the Interim Executive’s assignment;
  • Experience in the role in several very different not-for-profits (see below)
  • A mission-driven approach to situation analysis and priority-setting at every session;
  • Detailed assistance with the format and style of regular reporting to the Board;
  • A source of quick, expert advice, on request of the Interim, on issues as they arise, from someone who has been there ;
  • A focus on preparing the organization for the recruitment and success of the next leader, if applicable;
  • A mentor with no “skin in the game” if the board chooses to investigate alternative structures such as strategic alliances and mergers;
  • A person who will seek to ensure the Interim takes care of themselves during the stress of learning a new organization, building staff resilience to change, putting out fires and juggling critical and urgent tasks;
  • A source of confidential listening as Interims deal with difficult issues and find their own best solutions.

Interim Executive

Are you worried about an executive director position coming vacant or already vacant because of a sabbatical, maternity leave, illness or sudden parting of the ways?

Need to ensure the organization keeps moving forward during the leave or permanent recruitment?

What does a professional Interim Executive bring to an organization? A seasoned leader who:

  • can hit the ground running with hands-on interim leadership for not-for-profits too important to their community to fail;
  • has chosen to move from one challenging Interim Executive role to another, bringing extensive experience and skills that would be difficult to attract to the permanent role (and might be beyond the compensation level you could afford long-term);
  • has built a network of experienced Interim Executives in the nonprofit sector for specialized advice, regular information exchanges and professional development;
  • if possible, has graduated from the Interim Executives Academy or other education specific to this emerging profession.

The goal:  That the new permanent (or returning) Executive is given every chance for success in that role.


In 2017, I became Executive Director on two days notice of a charity that had 1,000 active volunteers, no staff (ever), only a few remaining board members, some confidential issues I can’t mention here, and a lot of doubt about whether the organization could function or survive without the specialized expertise of the fee-for-service Executive Director who had departed on two days notice. Here’s what the Chair and Vice Chair (both of whom were absolutely amazing in their roles) had to say afterwards:

“Jane Garthson became Toronto Cat Rescue’s (TCR) interim ED during a gap in leadership in the spring of 2017.  Her strong leadership skills, human resource knowledge, and keen eye for governance were an asset through the seven months she was with TCR.  Jane led the search for our first staff and conducted an executive search for a new ED.  She supported the board through recruiting more board members.  And, she helped to initiate the development of an internal structure to support the organization and future growth.  Jane’s expertise and advice helped the board immensely in understanding their role and transitioning the board from operations to a traditional governance model.  Jane’s willingness to step into this leadership role during a time of uncertainty and big transition is very much appreciated.”

I’m delighted to report that the organization found a permanent Executive Director and is thriving.

What happens when your organization hires an Interim CEO or Executive Director?

  • The Board has the time to conduct a thoughtful, unhurried executive recruitment process if applicable;
  • Your organization continues to serve its mission, make progress on strategic priorities, generate revenues and engage its community;
  • The Board receives great strategic advice on decisions and issues;
  • The work of Board and staff members is not disrupted by the need to fill in for the Executive Director’s duties;
  • Excellent candidates apply for the permanent role, if applicable, because they see a wisely led organization and no pre-chosen individual (i.e., no internal person is acting in the role);
  • The organization has planned for a smooth transition and a positive environment of success for the new or returning permanent executive.

For tips on executive transition, check out the blog post Six Issues in Executive Transition Part 1, then read Part 2 as well.