Sunflower Hill Interim Executive Director Announced

September 27, 2021

Janet Cohen to Start in October – Edie Nehls to step down as Executive Director

Sunflower Hill Board of Directors announced today that Janet Cohen will join the organization as interim Executive Director. Edie Nehls, the organization’s current Executive Director announced in early September that she would be resigning, effective at the end of October. Nehls and Cohen will work collaboratively over the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition.

Cohen is a veteran non-profit consultant, providing interim, training, and executive services for non-profits throughout the United States. Sunflower Hill Board President, Kathy Layman, stated “we are very excited to be working with Jan as we begin our search for a permanent Executive Director to lead us into the future. The wealth of expertise and skills that she brings strengthens our position as we prepare for significant growth over the next few years.”

Cohen served as the Director of New Business Ventures at Hope Services for three years, was an affiliate consultant with CompassPoint non-profit services in the Bay Area for six years, a senior consultant with the National Center for Social Entrepreneurs for five years, and Chief Executive Officer of Project HIRED, a nonprofit employment service serving individuals with disabilities, for 10 years. Her experience in numerous interim Executive positions has primarily been focused on disability services and resources, earned income, workforce development, and stewarding non-profits during periods of transition in leadership.

As the Sunflower Hill interim Executive Director, Cohen will oversee day-to-day management, working closely with the staff to implement key organizational goals. She will also collaborate closely with the Board of Directors to advance the next steps of the organization, focusing on key initiatives identified during the organization’s recent strategic planning process. Cohen will also provide support to the Board as they search for a permanent Executive Director.

“I am looking forward to having a positive impact during this transition by supporting staff and the Board, while assisting with exploration and ideas for future services and funding for this very important and valued non-profit organization,” said Cohen. “There is a huge need for housing and engaging activities for individuals with disabilities. It’s important and exciting to work with an organization that is doing an amazing job in providing both of these.”

Nehls joined the organization as its first Executive Director in 2018. During that time, she transformed the organization’s day-to-day operations, implemented administrative policies and procedures, professionalized and grew the expertise of the staff, and grew revenue streams. Nehls worked closely with SAHA, an affordable housing development partner, on the construction, opening, and ongoing operation of the organization’s first residential community, Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch. In addition, Nehls led the organization through a global pandemic, quickly shifting its programming online to maintain relevancy for constituents, while ensuring the health and safety of staff.

“Edie’s enthusiasm and professionalism has been an incredible asset to Sunflower Hill, and she will be missed,” said Kathy Layman, Sunflower Hill Board President. “During her tenure she has proven to be a positive change agent, working closely and collaboratively with the Board of Directors to grow both Board and Committee membership, and to create a positive work environment where staff and Board are energized and engaged. Thanks to Edie’s efforts, I am incredibly optimistic about the future of Sunflower Hill.”

In her resignation, Nehls said, “I feel tremendously fortunate to have been involved in the work of Sunflower Hill over the past three and a half years. It has been an incredibly meaningful and purposeful experience. I’m very grateful to have worked alongside such a collaborative Board of Directors and talented and passionate colleagues. While my decision to step down was not easy, I’m excited and optimistic for the future of Sunflower Hill.”