February 28, 2024

In this episode, you’ll hear how a new nonprofit executive can start-up innovative investments in employees from scratch, even in a 60-year-old organization with 200 staff. 

Shaheer Mustafa tells his story about his work at HopeWell, a major foster care nonprofit in Massachusetts. When he took management of the $25 million budget with hundreds of staff, there was no internal capacity that you would expect from an HR team. Since then, he has leveraged government and philanthropic investments to build-out a sophisticated set of investments in staff, and focused on increasing representation, leadership, and voice of people with lived experience in the foster care system throughout the organization. And he kept it going through the challenges of the pandemic.


HopeWell website
HopeWell FY2023 Annual Report
Education Support (RISE)
First Place for Youth, Alameda County, Calif. and My First Place
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
Shaheer Mustafa on LinkedIn
HopeWell on LinkedIn


Shaheer Mustafa (LICSW, CCDP) became President & CEO of HopeWell in 2016, guiding the growth of HopeWell’s programs and partnerships with an emphasis on creating positive, measurable outcomes. Bringing a mix of public service and private nonprofit experience to his role, he manages organizational resources and nurtures an inclusive and transparent culture. 

Prior to joining HopeWell, Shaheer served as Director of Areas (Arlington and Coastal Area offices) at the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, managing child protective services across 31 cities and towns. He has supported children, families, and teams of staff throughout his career, including in previous roles as Director of the Knight Children’s Center (a residential home and treatment program at The Home for Little Wanderers) and as an Assistant Program Director at Wayside Youth & Family Support Network.  He began his career as a therapist, supporting children and families using strengths-based models of practice.

Shaheer is a Boston College alum, holding an undergraduate degree in sociology and master’s degree in Clinical Social Work. He also holds certificates in Diversity Management from Cornell University’s School of Industrial Labor Relations and in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Boston University. 

Shaheer is often called upon as a trusted source and valuable perspective on issues related to foster care and the child welfare system, with his work being highlighted in numerous publications and media reports. He is currently a Core Instructor with the Institute for Nonprofit Practice in affiliation with Tufts University, and previously taught at Simmons College Graduate School of Social Work’s Urban Leadership Program.  

Shaheer serves as a board member for the Children’s League of Massachusetts and as Vice Chair for Provider’s Council.  He recently completed the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Children and Family Fellowship, a prestigious program dedicated to the development of executive leaders who are working to advance equity for children and families around the country.


Season 6 is sponsored by Loftis Partners. They've launched the Pay Equity Collective, a peer learning experience that provides capacity building, strategic resources, and a supportive community for nonprofits seeking pathways to pay equity. Visit payequitycollective.com to learn more! Loftis Partners – Empowering organizations and advancing equity, one collective step at a time!