Executive Director, Higher Achievement, Pittsburgh

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Senior Manager/Supervisor

Executive Director – Pittsburgh





Higher Achievement, a nationally-acclaimed education nonprofit organization, seeks an Executive Director at the Pittsburgh Affiliate.


Higher Achievement believes that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. We work to close the achievement gap for motivated - yet underserved - students from low-income communities. We intervene during the critical transition to middle school by providing year-round, multi-year support for students in the 5th – 8th grades. As students prepare to graduate from our program in the 8th grade, we help them transition successfully to advanced high school programs that keep students on track for college. As a result, 95% of Higher Achievement scholars graduate high school on time.


Founded in 1975 in Washington, DC, Higher Achievement has impacted the lives of more than 10,000 young people and currently operates achievement centers in Pittsburgh, PA, Washington, DC, Alexandria, VA, Baltimore, MD and Richmond, VA. Higher Achievement’s award-winning model of rigorous academic mentoring, individualization of services, and comprehensive academic support is guided by leading research for effective out-of-school time programs. More information about Higher Achievement, including recent press mentions and awards, may be found at: http://www.higherachievement.org


Launched in 2012, Higher Achievement operates in three Pittsburgh neighborhoods: Homewood, West, End, and the Hill District, the latter of which is through a partnership with the Center that Cares. We have chosen to focus our work in these communities because of the legacy of need and the opportunity to partner with established and esteemed community leaders.


Position Summary

The next Executive Director will succeed the founding Executive Director. The incoming ED will play a unique role in the organization’s history and help us advance to the next stage of growth and impact in Pittsburgh where we are looking to serve more scholars in a deeper way on behalf of college completion/success. Reporting to the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and working closely with the Chief Development Officer (CDO), the Executive Director (ED) will have overall operational responsibility for the Pittsburgh affiliate by driving fundraising, relationship building, and community presence.


With 140 scholars, 9 full time staff, 70 mentors, 10 part-time staff, multiple community and school partners, and 10 advisory board members, the ED must be adept at relationship management, staff management, broad stakeholder engagement, and visionary leadership. The ED is responsible for the affiliate’s revenue targets, approximately $1.2 million in fiscal year 2018. As such, the ED has dotted-line reporting to the Chief Development Officer (CDO) in the National Office with respect to fundraising goals and receives significant technical assistance and support from the National office on individual and corporate fundraising and grant writing.  The ED directly manages the Director of Programs, the Manager of Development, and the Operations Coordinator. 


Strategic Leadership and Management

  • Act as an inspirational leader - externally and internally -  who actively engages and energizes Higher Achievement scholars, families, staff, volunteers, partner organizations, and funders
  • Leverage the PGH team  (Director of Programs, Manager of Development team to meet affiliate goals for program outcomes, fundraising, financial excellence, and staff engagement
  • Maintain ultimate responsibility for local programmatic excellence and rigorous program evaluation through management of the Director of Programs
  • Help steward the implementation of the organization’s new Strategic Plan, which has established goals for increasing the number of scholars served in Pittsburgh, adding social and emotional skill development to our curriculum and providing the skills and pathway to high school graduation and college completion/success.
  • In conjunction with the Director of Programs, nurture existing school district and partner relationships, building new, strategic partnerships to support growth and sustainability
  • Maintain ultimate responsibility for the Pittsburgh operating budget, including expenses, revenue, and grant compliance


Development, Fundraising, and Communications

  • Responsible for meeting the affiliate annual revenue goal (currently $1.2 million)
  • Supervise the Manager of Development and oversee the implementation of a multi-year fundraising plan, mapped to anticipated growth and the need to diversify funding sources.
  • Collaborate with the National Office to ensure effective use of fundraising support and resources.  Responsible for the tracking and reporting of key performance metrics to effectively evaluate fundraising efforts.
  • Develop rich and meaningful relationships with a wide and growing body of supporters to support the annual revenue goal, including government, foundation, corporate, and individual investors.
  • Play a highly visible external role and serve as the main ambassador and champion for Higher Achievement and its scholars across Pittsburgh.
  • Build external relationships that support the development goals and the long-term sustainability of Higher Achievement including:
  • Cultivating new prospective donors
  • Stewarding returning donors
  • Networking and connecting with ambassadors
  • Steward and grow local champions on the advisory board to meet fundraising goals and enhance Higher Achievement's profile in the community.
  • Maintain a professional and positive public image of Higher Achievement, engage with local media outlets and build relationships, and liaise with the National Office on all media contacts. 


The duties listed above are intended only as illustrations of the various types of work that may be performed. The omission of specific statements of duties does not exclude them if the work is similar, related, or a logical assignment to the position.


Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Commitment to the mission and work of Higher Achievement
  • Ability to compellingly convey Higher Achievement's mission, impact, and needs across the community in an authentic way that honors our scholars and their families
  • Ability to leverage diverse stakeholders toward a common goal of student achievement in Pittsburgh
  • Minimum of 10-15 years overall experience strongly preferred; minimum of 5 years senior management experience required, including experience managing managers
  • Experience managing a budget of at least $1 million and knowledge of nonprofit revenue sources
  • Demonstrated fundraising experience including:
  • Highly skilled in relationship building and connecting people
  • Experience making asks and closing gifts
  • Demonstrated success in individual and corporate fundraising preferred
  • Experience building and maintaining within-sector and cross-sector partnerships, and when necessary, problem-solving through partnership challenges and conflict
  • Track record of effectively leading an outcomes-based team/organization, using data to drive decision making
  • Excellence in organizational management with the demonstrated ability to coach, manage, and develop high-performing teams
  • Strong skills in planning, organizing, attention to detail, and oral and written communication, including strong presentation skills


Higher Achievement Core Competencies: Higher Achievement believes that the following core competencies enable our employees to be successful, and as such, we expect that competitive applications will be able to demonstrate strengths in these areas:

  • Proactively builds relationships to advance Higher Achievement's mission.
  • Uses candid communication to express ideas and to listen to the thoughts and feedback of others.
  • Persistently pursues excellence by holding oneself to high expectations and seeking the best.
  • Possesses a growth mindset for learning new things and stepping out of one’s comfort zone.
  • Maintains a solutions-oriented mindset during planning periods and when challenges arise.


Physical Requirements and Work Environment: Work is regularly performed in an office environment with regular off-site meetings at partners, funders, and schools. Employee may spend long periods of time sitting, standing, and walking. Employee regularly lifts, carries, and positions objects weighing up to 20 pounds. Position involves regular use of a computer and keyboard, telephone, and face-to-face communication; employee must be able to communicate clearly and professionally in all of these situations.


Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.


Additional Information:  This position requires a criminal background check prior to hire. Occasional evening availability required.




This full-time, exempt position offers a competitive five-figure salary, and a comprehensive benefits package, consistent with other organizations of similar size, scope, and scale. Higher Achievement offers generous benefits, including: company-paid insurance (medical, dental, vision, life, and long and short-term disability insurance); eleven paid holidays; five weeks paid time off; commuter benefits with company match; retirement plan with company match; tuition reimbursement and professional development funds.



APPLICATION MATERIALS DUE BY: 5 PM, Monday, November 13, 2017


Higher Achievement has retained Nonprofit Talent to assist with this important organizational change process. Interested individuals wishing to confidentially discuss this opportunity may contact Todd Owens, Principal at Todd@NonprofitTalent.com or 412.512.3879. Please note that applications are not accepted at this email address.


Please direct all inquiries related to this position to Nonprofit Talent and do not contact Higher Achievement, or members of their Staff or Board.


Higher Achievement provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants without regard to race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, sex, gender identity or expression, age, medical condition, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, military status, caregiver or family status, political affiliation, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local laws.



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