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With permission from Cristo Rey Network

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Chief of Staff

Operations

About Bellwether Education Partners

Bellwether Education Partners is a national, nonpartisan nonprofit of over 50 professionals dedicated to helping education organizations become more effective and achieve dramatic results, especially for high-need students. To do so, we work in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and provide a unique combination of exceptional thinking, talent, and hands-on strategic support:

  • Our Policy and Thought Leadership practice works to shape the broader education landscape by conducting policy analysis, research and writing, and idea generation, and by advising education entities on policy and public affairs.
  • Our Talent Services practice has two complementary offerings. Talent Advising helps clients build talent-ready organizations where diverse teams can work, develop, and thrive. Executive Search identifies and places education leaders through comprehensive recruiting, supports organizational search processes, and conducts individual career coaching.
  • Our Strategic Advising practice works with leading education organizations on their most pressing strategic and operational issues. We partner to create bold but achievable plans, while ensuring that leaders and stakeholders are in alignment around the path forward.

Why bring all this together? Bellwether was founded on the belief that the only way to ensure that all children have access to high-quality schools is to take a holistic approach to education’s most pressing challenges. Having all three areas of expertise makes our work stronger by tying innovative thinking to perspectives regarding on-the-ground realities.

In this way, Bellwether has carved out a special and desperately needed niche in the education reform landscape. We aren’t just a think tank, a consulting firm, or a human capital organization. We are all of the above and more, providing comprehensive, coherent, and lasting solutions to education’s most long-standing and complicated problems.

Organizational Culture

Bellwether takes our mission of serving educators, students, organizations, and communities seriously. But we try not to take ourselves as individuals quite so seriously. We do challenging work, and we know how to have fun. From jumpsuits and talent shows at retreats, to PowerPoint presentations on werewolves and vampires at team meetings, we embrace our individuality — our quirks, talents, and diversity of viewpoints. We welcome different experiences and perspectives because we know that our team is stronger for having a variety of political, cultural, and educational beliefs represented. 

Bellwether strives to make the work rewarding and sustainable so we can find harmony between demanding jobs and full personal lives. We are proud that our team has poets, hockey players, food bloggers, activists, teachers, karate black belts, church leaders, cyclists, and much more. Our flexible work environment allows many of our team members to work where they like, and when they like (within reason, of course). This allows us to operate in ways that feel most productive to us and do more of what we love doing on our own time.

These qualities are clear in the core values that guide our work and reflect what is truly important to us as an organization:

  • Mission Mindset: We are dedicated to dramatically improving outcomes for lowincome students. Our nonprofit status allows us to focus on this mission, and it guides the people we hire and the clients and projects we support.
  • Tailored Excellence: We work with our clients to develop customized, innovative solutions. We direct our unwavering focus on quality toward successful outcomes for our clients.
  • Synergy: We believe the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Our Talent Services, Strategic Advising, and Policy and Thought Leadership teams make each other better.
  • Integrity: We exemplify the highest standards of individual and organizational ethics. We carefully balance client confidentiality with transparency to other clients and the public.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: We believe that to achieve our mission, we must be a diverse and inclusive organization broadly reflecting the various communities we serve.
  • Flexibility: We believe in the philosophy of “working smarter, not harder.” We trust our co-workers and teams to do excellent work in the manner they see fit.
  • No Drama: We have no tolerance for drama or the politics of education affecting our work. We respectfully and proactively deal with frustrations, disagreements, and unexpected hurdles.

Further, we value many forms of diversity and believe race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic issues play an especially acute role in the education sector and consequently our work. By actively seeking and hiring talent with diverse backgrounds and experiences, and maintaining an environment where divergent ideas and perspectives are freely expressed, we increase our collective ability to deliver thoughtful, relevant solutions and analyses for our clients and the education sector.

About the Position

The Chief of Staff is a senior level position that provides direct support to the Managing Partner and the partner team to ensure that Bellwether achieves its strategic objectives at the organizational level. The Chief of Staff will work closely with the partner team to lead the annual planning process, ensure the Bellwether Board is engaged appropriately and functioning well, and lead strategic initiatives and special projects determined by the partners as critical to Bellwether’s long-term success.

The Chief of Staff will also guide the planning and strategic implementation of operations, finance, HR, technology, and knowledge management. S/he will supervise the Knowledge Manager and direct the knowledge management function.

The Chief of Staff is accountable to the Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Mary Wells.

In this context the Chief of Staff’s primary responsibilities and duties will be:

Partner Facilitation/Support

  • Serve as critical thought-partner to the Managing Partner and to the Bellwether partner team, while providing sound counsel and maintaining complete confidentiality
  • Lead content creation and planning for all partner meetings (weekly) and retreats (quarterly); follow-up on all decisions and next steps
  • Work with Partners to establish full-team retreat content priorities; partner with Operations Director to manage planning and execution

Annual Planning

  • Work with the leadership team to lead the annual planning processes to ensure alignment with strategic priorities
    • Clearly define and communicate outcomes and timelines of organizational planning process (organizational priorities and goals, staffing, performance management, budgets), ensuring alignment across the organization during these planning processes
    • Lead the effort to have disciplined processes to create and track progress against organizational priorities

Core Team Leadership

  • Create an operational plan that aligns to our strategic plan across business lines and core priorities; support Operations Director and Knowledge Manager with planning and project managing to goals
  • Work with Operations Director and Managing Partner to cultivate a core professional development program and outline career pathway options
  • Advise Knowledge Manager on process/policy design and implementation; be a proactive voice in supporting effective change management across the organization
  • Guide the Knowledge Manager’s work on the the evolution, integration, and maintenance of all systems including Salesforce and integrated applications (e.g. HR/Recruiting, Qualtrics, and content management)
  • Oversee all organizational financial priorities
    • Review and disseminate all monthly and quarterly reports provided by bookkeeper
    • Create the annual budget and develop a forecasting model

Board Engagement

  • Ensure Bellwether board is engaged appropriately and functioning well
    • Identify high priority topics for board input and manage the creation of draft materials for quarterly board meetings
    • Pinpoint opportunities to engage board members on strategic issues and follow-up with them between meetings as appropriate
    • Support Partners with board recruitment
    • Refine our board fundraising strategy

Asset to the Team

  • Lead or serve as a critical team player on special projects
    • Spearhead an org-wide account planning process that builds Bellwether’s eminence in the field; work with Sr. Communications Manager and Partners to maximize efforts
    • Oversee the implementation of our internal strategic planning
    • Perform analysis and strategic consultation on major issues impacting the organization
  • Serve as a resource for all teams in an “Impact & Sustainability Advisor” role; provide confidential, impartial, and informal support to help team members navigate issues that may be affecting their work or well-being
    • Listen objectively and support team members in crafting resolutions
    • Gather information on general impact and sustainability trends; share with other leadership team members as needed      

Qualifications

Bellwether is a strong fit for professionals who possess strong personal drive and motivation, demonstrate exemplary professional behavior and values, and who are resourceful, responsible, tenacious, independent, and self-confident.

Additionally, the successful candidate will have the following:

  • exceptional reasoning, problem solving, and strategic thinking skills with the ability to think ahead and plan over a 1-3 year time span;
  • at least eight years of professional experience with six years of experience in a role requiring operational planning and project management;
  • track record of successfully managing through influence and/or cross-functional leadership;
  • at least two years of professional experience directly managing a team;
  • extremely well developed skills around organization, balancing multiple priorities, and tracking issues through to completion;
  • comfort with financials and with managing a budget;
  • demonstrable understanding of system and database management;
  • a well-rounded inter-personal skill set with the capacity to build strong relationships across tenure, work effectively in a team environment, and facilitate problem-solving;
  • ability to work proactively in an ambiguous and dynamic small organization;
  • maturity, flexibility, humility, sense of humor, and roll-up-my-sleeves attitude;
  • a strong academic record: a bachelor’s degree; a graduate degree, ideally in business, is preferred but not required; and
  • comfort with occasional travel (5-6 times per year)

Compensation

Bellwether Education Partners provides competitive compensation and an attractive benefits package that includes a performance bonus based on individual and firm success, health care coverage, and a 401(k) plan with an employer matching contribution policy.

Location

Our work is national in scope, and our team is primarily concentrated in three major cities: Washington, D.C.; Chicago; and San Francisco. Although we maintain offices in these cities and strongly encourage our team to regularly access their local office, our flexible working style allows our professionals to work where they have built their lives, thereby enabling Bellwether to hire the best person for each role, regardless of geography.

To Apply

Applications or inquiries about the position should be directed to:

Kyndall Parker-Joseph, Chief of Staff

careers@bellwethereducation.org.

The review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Applications should consist of a letter of interest and a current résumé and should be submitted electronically.

Bellwether Education Partners is committed to providing equal opportunities. It is our policy to ensure that all individuals with whom we are in contact are not discriminated against on the basis of age, race, ethnicity, color, disability, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran’s status. Further, as described above, Bellwether is committed to building a diverse team and strongly encourages individuals from all backgrounds to apply.