HIRING: Executive Director

The Organization

At Chicago Votes, the goal is simple: we believe democracy works better when more people participate. We believe in good politics driven by the involvement of every Chicagoan. We believe in policy made by the people. Chicago Votes programming includes voter registration, get out the vote, working to ensure policies that build a robust democracy in Chicago and Illinois are created and implemented, and engaging young people in leadership development, voting, local policy decisions, and elections.

The Role

Chicago Votes seeks a strategic and creative Executive Director to shape, inspire, and manage the organization’s future in collaboration with a talented staff and two deeply committed Boards of Directors. The Executive Director will serve both Chicago Votes Action Fund, our 501(c)(4), and the Chicago Votes Education Fund, our 501(c)(3).

The next Executive Director must be driven, dynamic, and flexible. Executive Director must be able to navigate and thrive within our growing organization, while working to transform electorate engagement in Chicago and Illinois.

The ideal candidate can introduce an artist at a concert, introduce a City Council member at a debate, whip together an annual organizational work-plan, mentor an emerging staff leader, help a talented organizer perfect her field plan, and meet with high-dollar donors, all in the same week.

The right candidate must demonstrate capacity in the following areas:

Fundraising and Community Relations

  • Be “fundraising strategist-in-chief”: develop plans to increase funding through monthly memberships, major donors, big events and grants. The Executive Director must cultivate, maintain, and enhance relationships with donors, funding partners, potential donors, and other key organizational stakeholders
  • Act as spokesperson for the organization and identify public speaking opportunities that elevate and promote the voices of staff, fellows, and other emerging leaders
  • Work with political leaders, community leaders, and strategic partners and be comfortable operating within the political infrastructure and social/cultural climate of Chicago and Illinois

Staff and Volunteer Management

  • Ensure Chicago Votes has a diverse staff with appropriate skills to meet the needs of their positions
  • Provide supervision, direction, mentoring, professional development, and performance management to all staff and volunteers, directly and indirectly
  • Cultivate a working environment that invites and inspires staff and volunteers and develop high-quality training programs for staff and volunteers
  • Ensure Chicago Votes has a diverse volunteer and intern base, reflective of the diversity in Chicago, and offer meaningful volunteer experiences

Operations & Strategy

  • Create and continuously adjust sound and appropriate relationships, organizational structure, budget, and strategic plans aligned with the priorities of Chicago Votes
  • Oversee the financial and strategic performance of Chicago Votes in partnership with the Boards of Directors
  • Oversee operations manager in ensuring compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local regulations
  • Oversee the development and implementation of annual work plans and internal systems and processes needed to enable the organization to meet its strategic goals
  • Be a “strategic planner-in-chief”: provide overall strategic leadership, vision, direction, and guidance; set short- and long-term goals for the organization and continually update to ensure they are aligned with the priorities of Chicago Votes
  • Supervise day-to-day operations, directly and indirectly; manage direct reports
  • Foster shared leadership, inclusive decision-making, and positive relationships between the Boards of Directors, staff, volunteers, and organizational stakeholders; formalize operations, procedures, and processes
  • Supervise the BIG picture in a way that ensures Chicago Votes has the human, financial, and operational resources to fulfill its mission

Board Engagement  

  • Serve as the primary conduit between the two Boards of Directors, staff, volunteers, and organizational stakeholders; assist the Board in Board recruitment efforts
  • Provide Board members with the information and tools needed to govern and support Chicago Votes in a meaningful way; develop systems to formalize processes for communication with the Boards of Directors
  • Meet with the Boards of Directors on a quarterly basis
  • Provide Board of Directors with monthly updates on organizational work


Ideal Experience

  • 2+ years of nonprofit management experience at the executive leadership team level
  • 3+ years managing and working with staff, interns, youth, and consultants and working with a Board of Directors in a collaborative team environment
  • Experience raising and diversifying funds, through individual donor cultivation and stewardship, grant writing, and events
  • Strong fiscal management and budgetary leadership experience
  • Experience working on campaigns and/or issue advocacy
  • Strong relationships with leaders and organizations in the areas of politics, youth development, policy, and advocacy in Chicago and Illinois
  • Prior experience with an evolving organization transitioning to the next level
  • Note: We recognize that the right candidate may have different backgrounds and related talents that demonstrate the qualities and skills necessary to lead this organization and  encourage you to apply if you feel you have what it takes!

Ideal Qualities and Skills

  • Passion, energy, and drive for the mission of Chicago Votes
  • A profound belief in the ability of young people to make a positive difference in politics in Chicago and Illinois
  • Ability to maintain mission-focused stamina and inspire it in others, all while navigating strong personalities, multiple deadlines, ambiguity, and shifts in the political landscape and organizational needs
  • Integrity and a commitment to professional ethics, values, and fairness
  • Fundraising and strategy creativity and agility
  • Strong speaking (whether one-on-one or in front of hundreds), listening, and written communication skills. Bilingual/multilingual is a plus.
  • Ability to inspire, engage with, and lead a diverse community of youth, friends, volunteers, and supporters
  • Long-term relationship builder and networker who can catalyze participation and investment from a wide array of partners ranging from youth, grassroots community organizers, labor, elected officials, donors, foundations, Board members, and corporations
  • Strategic thinker and decision maker with a knack for planning, creating systems, and driving to results; proven ability to translate complexity and big ideas into appropriate, practical action

Compensation and Benefits

This is a full-time, salaried position. While hours will increase or decrease based on certain cycles, campaigns, and activity, the position requires a willingness to work some evenings and weekends. Chicago Votes is an inclusive organization, fostering and drawing on leadership from communities of color, immigrant communities, LGBTQ, and emerging young voter demographics.

Application Process

All applications will be held confidentially by the Boards. Interviews for the position will be conducted in early June; we anticipate a hiring decision made shortly thereafter. Chicago Votes is an Equal Opportunity Employer and strongly encourages the applications of women, people of color, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ community.

There are two steps to the application process:

  1. Resume, Cover Letter, and References
  • Please submit a resume and cover letter as soon as possible. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and consideration will be given to letters and resumes received by Noon CST, March 31, 2017.
  • Cover letters should be no more than 2 pages in length. In your cover letter, please share how your professional interests and passions specifically correlate to the mission and purpose of Chicago Votes. Answer the questions: Why this role at Chicago Votes? Why now?
  • Please submit your resume and cover letter and references by email, attached as a single PDF document (cover letter and resume combined into one document), emailed to: ChiVotesED@gmail.com. No paper submissions accepted. 

2. Interviews

  • Interviews will be conducted in April with staff and board members. Applicants selected for interviews will be contacted for an initial phone interview.
  • A member of the Chicago Votes ED Committee will reach out to you if/when you are selected for additional interviews for the position.