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DRI Embarks on Search for a Chief Executive Officer

  • Published May 09, 2019
    Modified July 09, 2020

Today, I am pleased to announce the official launch of DRI’s search for a new Chief Executive Officer to succeed longtime Executive Director John Kouris, who announced his retirement to the DRI Board of Directors in late February. The DRI Executive Committee has retained Development Resources, inc., of Washington, D.C., to assist us in our national search for a CEO who will lead and direct the full-spectrum and expansive set of programs that DRI members have relied on for decades to assist in their representation of businesses, insurers, and individuals in civil litigation. The search firm DRi specializes in nonprofits and has a demonstrated record of success in helping organizations, like DRI, identify outstanding executive leadership candidates. (And yes, the search firm also refers to itself as “DRi.”) For more information on the search firm, please view its website at

As was the process when John Kouris was hired, the Executive Committee will conduct candidate interviews and make the final selection/decision on the hire. However, the Executive Committee absolutely recognizes the need for input from additional DRI leaders and members, and the value that input will bring to the selection process. To that end, we have appointed a small “Search Advisory Group” to provide guidance to our consulting firm and to the Executive Committee. The Search Advisory Group consists of eight key DRI stakeholders, who represent a wide variety of experiences and perspectives: Stephanie Wurdock, Steve Plunkett, Dianne Averell, Jeff Lowe, Audrey Seeley, Matt Yde, Jill Rice, and Ricardo Woods. In consultation with senior DRI staff, members of the Search Advisory Group, and the Executive Committee, our search firm has compiled an executive position overview as follows:

Building on its wide-ranging perspective as the only open-membership organization for civil defense attorneys, DRI sees numerous opportunities to innovate and to continue expanding its influence to engage new members of the civil defense bar and to ensure the legal interests of business, insurers, and individuals are guarded. The new chief executive officer will lead the design and implementation of a strategic plan to achieve this expansion, with a focus on continuing to broaden DRI’s membership base and to enhance its role continually as both the servant and voice of the civil defense bar. The new CEO will have wide latitude to evaluate existing efforts and establish a broad vision of member outreach, programming, and service delivery.

The ideal candidate will have:

  • At least 10 years of senior experience in a not-for-profit or relevant business organization;
  • Professional experience in a legal research organization, law firm, or not-for-profit.
  • Record of developing and implementing successful strategic plans that attract supporters and energize members and other stakeholders;
  • Sophisticated understanding of organizational planning/design;
  • Experience building and leading high-performing multi-disciplinary teams, including legal, finance, human resources, development, and operations staff;
  • Excellent communication skills and strong marketing, public relations, and networking experience across a wide range of stakeholders and cultures; and
  • Juris Doctor and Bachelor’s degrees.

Interested candidates can learn more and apply at or by emailing All applications will be held in confidence and must be received by June 30, 2019.

This is an exciting time for DRI. Change is often challenging, but the collective DRI experience offered by those involved in the search process and, in consultation with the experience and guidance from Development Resources, inc., brings peace of mind in our search for a new dynamic leader. I look forward to updating you soon on the progress of the search.


Toyja Kelley

DRI President

May 1, 2019