Managing Director + Head of Programs at A Better Chicago


A Better Chicago is a venture philanthropy fund devoted to dramatically improving educational opportunities for low-income students. The organization invests in a select portfolio of high performing nonprofits that are putting low-income students on a path toward high school and college success.

Current challenge and A Better Chicago’s solution:

Despite decades of reform efforts, only 14% of Chicago Public School students are graduating from college by the age of 25.

In response, A Better Chicago is harnessing best practices from the private sector to find, fund and scale a portfolio of high-performing nonprofit organizations that puts low-income students on a path to high school and college success. Through a combination of funding and management support, A Better Chicago is providing Chicago’s most effective nonprofits with the financial and intellectual capital to thrive. 

Key elements of A Better Chicago’s model include:

  • Rigorous due diligence: A Better Chicago carefully screens organizations and only funds those that have strong leadership, a compelling program model and a demonstrated commitment to outcomes measurement
  • Add value: It takes more than just money. A Better Chicago provides assistance in areas like strategic planning, executive search and leadership development—all of which are critical to building strong organizations and achieving meaningful outcomes
  • Results: A Better Chicago’s team works tirelessly so that every dollar raised has the maximum possible impact. The organization openly shares its performance because it believes in accountability. It's part of how A Better Chicago is transforming philanthropy
  • 100% impact: A Better Chicago’s board of directors and leadership council cover all of the organization's operating expenses, so 100% of donations are invested in high-performing organizations

Since launching in 2010, A Better Chicago has:

  • Raised $17 million to invest in Chicago’s most effective education nonprofits
  • Built a founding board, leadership council and staff
  • Reviewed 450+ organizations and built a portfolio of 12 high-performing organizations
  • Developed partnerships with leading professional services firms to help its grantees tackle their most pressing strategic and operational challenges

Looking forward:

In 2015, A Better Chicago launched a bold plan to transform educational opportunities for low-income students. By 2025 it will:

  • Double its portfolio from 12 to approximately 25 grantees
  • Invest significant financial and intellectual capital in our grantees to help them increase their service capacity by a combined 80,000 students
  • Achieve a 60% college graduation rate for its portfolio, compared to Chicago Public Schools’ current rate of 14%

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The Managing Director + Head of Programs (“MDP”) will be responsible for developing and implementing A Better Chicago’s program strategy that will dramatically improve educational opportunities for low-income students. A leader in Chicago’s education field, the MDP will leverage her/his unique role to champion innovative strategies to improve student outcomes, strengthen and scale a portfolio of best-in-class organizations, and raise the bar for impact in the nonprofit sector. Additionally, as a member of the management team, the MDP will provide leadership on key organizational decisions.

Specific responsibilities include:

o Organizational planning and leadership

  • Collaborate with the organization’s management team and board to define the organization’s vision and long-range plan; lead development of the program strategy
  • Translate program strategy into annual operational plans and budgets; manage execution, accountability, and internal communications within the programs team
  • Build, manage, and mentor a team of program professionals, including four direct reports plus interns
  • Support expansion of A Better Chicago’s impact by working closely with the marketing and development teams; ensure they have the information needed to establish and maintain strong relationships with donors and partners
  • Represent A Better Chicago at conferences, events and other meetings as needed

o Relationship building and stakeholder engagement

  • Build strong working relationships with key external stakeholders (e.g., Chicago Public Schools, the Mayor’s office and philanthropic leaders) to advance program objectives
  • Engage with the board of directors and leadership council to ensure they possess an accurate understanding of A Better Chicago’s work and are equipped to make informed investment decisions
  • Lead the program committee of the board to solicit input on program strategy and investments; engage them in critical grantee meetings, as appropriate
  • Build the field by engaging in relevant collaborative efforts and informing other funders’ investment decisions, as appropriate

o Portfolio management

  • Establish policies and best practices to guide A Better Chicago’s portfolio management efforts
  • Directly manage 2-4 grantee relationships; earn and maintain the respect of grantee leadership teams; serve as active board observer for grantees
  • Support and advise portfolio directors in managing their relationships with grantees
  • Assess the portfolio’s performance on an ongoing basis, enabling and promoting an internal culture of learning, continuous improvement, and the drive to capitalize on emerging opportunities 


The ideal candidate will possess the following qualifications:

  • Passion for A Better Chicago’s mission and core values
  • 10+ years of experience in the private, nonprofit, or public sector with a strong track record of achievement, including 5+ years in a leadership role
  • Strong understanding of the public education sector
  • Thought leadership: ability to be the principal architect for ABC’s program strategy; exceptional strategic thinking and analytical skills; sound judgement
  • Entrepreneurial leadership: ability to proactively mobilize internal and external resources around a compelling vision
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Outstanding people manager who can build, mentor and inspire a capable team
  • Excellent interpersonal skills; ability to build strong relationships and work with individuals at all levels
  • Bachelor's degree required; Master’s degree preferred

COMPENSATION: Salary and benefits will be competitive and commensurate with experience.



A Better Chicago is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes candidates from diverse backgrounds.