Executive Director

Position Description


The Opportunity Institute (OI), a 501(c)(3) organization, promotes social mobility and equity by improving outcomes from early childhood through early career. We focus primarily on education, which plays a critical role in opening opportunities, and closely related social policies. OI brings together thought leaders in early childhood development, PreK through 12 education, juvenile and criminal justice, and higher education to collaborate across policy sectors for broader and deeper impact. The OI team, numbering 25 and growing, boasts a wide range of experience and uses a rich set of professional and disciplinary tools to promote policy change and conduct demonstration programs.  We are based in Berkeley, California, with a small office in Washington, DC. For more about our work, visit www.theopportunityinstitute.org. 


Reporting to the President and co-founder, the Executive Director (ED) will advise the President on strategic matters and mission. The ideal candidate will have: experience, expertise and a deep commitment to social mobility, poverty, educational opportunity, racial justice, and other dimensions of equity; extensive policy-level experience in state or federal government service; experience of managing a comparably sized organization; and expertise in one or more areas of social policy other than education. With the President’s guidance as appropriate, the ED will have overall responsibility for day-to-day management of OI, including but not limited to: supervision of the senior program staff including the director of operations and HR, the director of communications, and the chief financial officer; leading fundraising efforts; and board relations. This is an exciting opportunity to help shape the direction of a promising and ambitious new organization. It is a full-time position in Berkeley, CA.  


Leadership and Management:

  • Lead brainstorming about new lines of work; engage thoughtfully in team discussions about direction and scope of projects before making decisions—in conjunction with the President as appropriate.
  • Exhibit (develop as needed) a high level of expertise in education policy, social mobility, and related fields of work.
  • Lead strategic planning, with guidance from the Co-Founders and Board of Directors, to ensure fidelity to their vision and goals.
  • Provide leadership and inspiration to a group of dedicated, passionate “pragmatic idealists.” Support and motivate OI’s staff.
  • Manage day-to-day operations, along with the Chief Financial Officer and a team of Senior Vice Presidents.
  • Establish effective decision-making processes.
  • With the CFO, lead the budget planning process. Advise the CFO on the budgetary planning and cash flow management in alignment with OI’s goals.
  • Cultivate and maintain a strong and working relationship with our Board of Directors.
  • Lead, coach, develop, and retain The Opportunity Institute’s senior management team.
  • Oversee the financial status of the organization and supervise the CFO. 

Development and Communications:

  • Set and meet goals for fundraising for the organization’s major budget elements, while building a long-run strategic plan for growth.
  • Establish and maintain a presence among national funders and influentials in the social mobility, poverty, equity and/or education fields.
  • For project-specific fundraising efforts, coordinate and partner with Senior Vice Presidents on their fundraising goals, and help them meet them.
  • Oversee all aspects of external communication, including fundraising materials and an organization communications strategy that fits with our culture, strategic goals, and mission; supervise the director of communications.
  • Exhibit knowledge about all our project work, plans for future work, and values. Demonstrate the poise to speak cogently and persuasively about all of our program areas and plans for future work.                                                                           


The ideal ED will have a base of knowledge and experience in a field of work related to OI’s mission of advancing social mobility and equity from early childhood to early career.  S/he will have a unique skill set that includes excellent leadership and management skills, as well as the ability to be OI’s public face and point of contact with external stakeholders. The ED should have proven leadership, coaching, and relationship management experience.

Concrete demonstrable experience and other qualifications include:

  • Advanced degree or substantial comparable experience, ideally a JD, Ph.D., MPP or EDD.
  • Substantial policy-level, federal or state government service.
  • At least 10 years of management experience evidencing the skills needed to lead a growing organization of OI’s size and complexity, or greater.  Prior nonprofit management is desirable.
  • Significant fundraising experience with the ability to effectively communicate, think on your feet, and engage a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Experience with and demonstrated commitment to issues of social mobility, equity and poverty.
  • Demonstrated commitment to the social justice sector, with a passion for OI’s mission and a desire to work in a dynamic, mission-driven environment.
  • Excellence in organizational management with the ability to coach staff, manage and develop high-performance teams, set and achieve strategic objectives, and manage a budget.
  • Experience effectively collaborating with a board of directors.
  • Exceptionally strong written and verbal communication skills; a persuasive and passionate communicator with excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to work effectively in collaboration with diverse groups of people.
  • Strong commitment to the professional development of staff; successful track record of recruiting and retaining a diverse team. 


If you believe you are a good fit for this position, we would welcome a cover letter and resume. Please send them to jobs@theopportunityinstitute.org, with your cover letter in the body of your email, and attach your resume.

The Opportunity Institute is an equal opportunity employer committed to a diverse workplace.