The CEO is accountable for the design, development, and implementation of Spark’s vision and strategy, the execution of Spark’s mission, and the continued and sustained growth of the operating model. Building on the successful leadership of Spark’s Co-Founder and current CEO, Spark seeks an experienced leader who can leverage the organization’s track record and scalability to lead it into its next phase. Under the next dynamic leader, Spark is positioned to become a self-sustaining, nationally-recognized organization with the potential to impact thousands of young people. Spark’s experience and track record of impact will position a new CEO to shape local and national policy and influence broader discussions around youth development and successful transitions to adulthood, while connecting major corporations and organizations to this unique approach.
During the first year, the new CEO will be expected to:
• Build capacity in and provide support to the four Executive Directors as they continue to expand Spark’s impact in each city;
• Evaluate different models for scaling nationally;
• Raise $1M to support the operating budget for the national team.
The CEO reports to a generative and highly functioning national Board of Directors, with 13 members representing senior experience in a variety of sectors. Spark has also built regional Executive Boards and Advisory Boards, which are non-fiduciary and managed by the regional Executive Directors. The CEO is supported by four key national roles, as well as Executive Directors in each Spark region: the Chief Advancement Officer (CAO), the Chief Operating Officer (COO), the Chief Program Officer (CPO), the Chief Growth Officer (CGO), and Executive Director (ED) roles in each region.
The responsibilities of the Chief Executive Officer are built around the following four competencies:
Culture and Vision
• The CEO plays the central role in setting and nurturing a vibrant, ambitious, mission-driven culture that values learning, transparency, passion and performance, as described in the Core Values.
• The CEO leads the design and development of strategies to implement that vision, securing alignment with the Board and throughout the organization. With Spark positioned for significant growth in current cities and eventually expanding into new geographies, the CEO is expected to lead Spark to become a powerful voice in the national discussion regarding keeping middle school students "on-track" to participate through high school and into college and a career.
• The CEO is ultimately responsible for the realization of Spark’s mission – creating life-changing apprenticeships for youth in underserved communities.
Strategy and Operational Sustainability
• The CEO will be expected to lead strategic planning for the organization, including facilitating alignment with the Board and staff on the organization's key annual priorities and performance management plan to ensure those priorities are successfully executed.
• Operationally, the CEO is expected to implement requisite organizational infrastructure, systems, and processes that support the growth model of the organization and ensures its sustainability. This includes but is not limited to the establishment of key talent acquisition, development, and retention strategies to increase the probability of organizational success through a period of exponential growth.
• Financially, the CEO must ensure that accountability systems are in place to account for all incoming and outgoing dollars to support and sustain the organization. This includes reporting to the Board on at least a quarterly basis the comprehensive, transparent picture of financial health and well-being of the organization - including a retrospective accounting of significant financial transactions and major contributors as well as a thoughtful and accurate forecast of prospective revenue and expenses.
• Programmatically, the CEO is expected to present an accurate, authentic, and data-driven evaluation of organizational, programmatic, and regional strengths and opportunities as well as a strategic plan to correct any material deficiencies and seize available opportunities.
External Relations & Resource Development
• In partnership with the Chief Advancement Officer and regional Executive Directors, the CEO is the organization’s lead fundraiser (the 2013 budget calls for the CEO to directly raise $1M and support the regional EDs in raising an additional $2.6M). To accomplish this goal, the CEO will manage direct relationships with foundations, corporate leaders and major individual donors.
• The CEO is Spark’s chief ambassador, managing an active set of relationships across Spark’s geographies. In order to open doors and create opportunities for Spark, the CEO manages a diverse set of relationships with National Board members, key partners and funders, Spark staff, and thought leaders in education, philanthropy, policy and other relevant sectors.
• The CEO is responsible for powerfully presenting the organization’s mission, success, and growth potential in a wide variety of venues, including conferences, fundraising events, media interviews, and other creative marketing and branding opportunities.
• Ensuring cohesion, productivity, a positive, engaged, and vibrant culture that accomplishes the short- and long-term organizational goals is expected to be a priority for the CEO.
• Facilitating best practices across the senior team and making assessments regarding the organizational structure required to support the exponential growth of SPARK will be under the purview of the CEO.
• A culture of innovation, growth, responsible risk-taking and continuous improvement is role-modeled by the CEO.
• Designing effective coordination, alignment, and the balancing of functional responsibilities between and among expanding national and regional staffs is valued.
To maintain a strong connection to Spark’s culture and impact in each region, and for general management and support, the CEO visits each current Spark region regularly, averaging quarterly trips to each region. The CEO also travels for occasional conferences (1-3 per year), and for unique opportunities around policy, fundraising, or future growth. In sum, the CEO role entails approximately 25% travel. The Board's preference is to have the desired candidate be based out of San Francisco - to grow from where the organization was founded and has taken root. However, as several national staff work from Spark’s Chicago office, the Board may consider Chicago as a home base for the right candidate.
In each of the following areas, Spark seeks a compelling candidate with the capacities listed below and a demonstrated track record of putting them into action. Direct experience in the education sector and in leadership of nonprofit organizations is preferred though not required.
• Passion & Commitment – To help solve a national crisis; to inspire underserved students to realize their full potential; to help strengthen the US education system; to build bridges between successful corporations and communities in need; to Spark’s mission and potential to powerfully impact tens of thousands of young people in the US; to inspire others to participate in Spark’s mission.
• Exceptional Relationship & Fundraising Skills – To rapidly build strong, trusting relationships with people from all walks of life, from Spark’s students and their families, to the major institutions and donors who enable Spark’s work. Sophisticated relationship skills, which enable the CEO to stay in consistent touch and carefully manage key relationships.
• Management & Coaching Skills – The ability to coach team members with diverse areas of specialization, inspiring confidence, effectiveness and persistence in an ambitious and goal-oriented environment, while enabling a positive work culture. Demonstrated experience managing high performing executive teams.
• Strategy & Growth Management – The ability to envision impact and map a strategy toward it, while working with the senior team to put in place initiatives and tactical projects that set the organization up for successful, sustainable growth. Ability to address immediate organizational needs, while continually driving toward long-term goals, with buy-in from all stakeholders.
• Education: Given the importance of education to our clients, a bachelor's degree is required and a graduate degree is preferred.
• Salary: Competitive salary commensurate with experience.
• Health Benefits: Full health coverage, including medical, dental, life and vision insurance.
• Learning Benefits: Spark staff and students are fellow learners, and the organization highly values staff’s personal learning pursuits. To that end, Spark offers an Annual Paid Sabbatical to each full-time staff member, enabling staff to “walk the talk” and experience the excitement of being a Spark student. Each sabbatical is a week-long “deep dive” into a learning topic of interest to the staff member, regardless of their professional role, and is supported by the organization with a learning stipend and paid time off; as with Spark students’ learning opportunities, the sabbatical concludes with a “teachback” to share learning with other staff.
• Retirement Benefits: Spark matches contributions through a SIMPLE IRA plan up to 3% of salary.
• Paid Time Off: Spark has a unique flexible time-off policy, which empowers staff to collaboratively determine and schedule time off as needed. Rather than setting and tracking specific numbers of days off, Spark staff may take time off based on the status of their work- related goals and results within the organization. This policy is part of Spark’s focus on a balanced and healthy life for staff.
• Non-monetary compensation: The opportunity to be the leader of an energetic, innovative, hard-working and rapidly growing team, within an organization that has the potential to significantly change American middle school education.
$140k - 155k
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