Chief Executive Officer

Req Number: EL987
Location: Chicago, IL
Posted: 1/23/2019
Category: Government/Not-For-Profit : Education
Job Type: Permanent

A Better Chicago (ABC) is seeking a new CEO to succeed the organization’s founder. This is an incredible leadership opportunity for a bold, passionate, and entrepreneurial-minded executive to make historical impact on the lives of Chicago’s youth. A Better Chicago is a unique and ambitious venture philanthropy fund with a mission to create educational opportunities for Chicago’s low-income, at-risk population, by collaborating with a portfolio of grantees that are having the greatest impact on Chicago’s students. S/he will be responsible for growing the organization through its next chapter and continuing to increase the impact it has on the Chicago community and region.


Founded in 2010, A Better Chicago is a venture philanthropy fund that is changing how Chicago fights poverty by investing in bold ideas that create opportunity for our youth.

Current challenge and A Better Chicago's solution:

Despite decades of reform efforts, only 18% of Chicago Public School freshmen are graduating from college by the age of 25. In response, A Better Chicago has developed an ambitious goal of dramatically increasing our region’s college attainment rate by scaling our region’s most impactful nonprofit programs. 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

Adding value: It takes more than just money. A Better Chicago provides strategic support in areas like business planning, executive search and leadership development—all of which are critical to building and scaling strong organizations

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 our operating expenses, so 100% of all donations are directly invested in our portfolio of outstanding nonprofits

Since launching in 2010, A Better Chicago has made compelling progress:

  • Raised over $30 million to invest in Chicago's most effective education nonprofits
  • Built a founding board, leadership council and high-performing staff
  • Reviewed 700 organizations and built a portfolio of 11 high-performing organizations
  • Developed partnerships with leading professional services firms to help grantees tackle their most pressing strategic and operational challenges



Reporting to the board of directors, the Chief Executive Officer is responsible for collaborating with A Better Chicago’s key stakeholders to establish a bold vision for impact, and then leading the organization to achieve its objectives.


Why this is your dream job:

For the visionary and dynamic leader, serving as CEO of A Better Chicago is an extraordinary opportunity. First, you will join and lead an organization—with a strong foundation and team in place—that is committed to becoming a world class social enterprise. Second, you will have the opportunity to make a profound impact on Chicago and hundreds of thousands of youth, who are enormously talented but need a great education to realize their potential. And finally, you will have the opportunity to re-imagine how the nonprofit sector can be a more powerful force for change in our society. If you ever wanted to apply your skills in a way that’s going to make the world a better place, this is it.


Why this is a challenging job:

This is a demanding role. To start, A Better Chicago is a young organization with a lean team. And yet, we are proud of the fact that we have high standards and ambitious goals. You will need to find a way to build a highly successful organization on a limited budget. Second, this role requires an innovative and entrepreneurial leader who can both generate the “big idea” and then mobilize the support to make it happen. Finally, as CEO, you will need to be effective at both understanding and respecting a diverse range of perspectives, while also having the courage and ability to take a stand and develop a coherent approach that is aligned with our mission. The right person will be excited about these aspects of the role.


Specific responsibilities include:    

Strategy & Planning

  • Serves as the primary strategic architect for the organization
  • Collaborates with internal and external stakeholders to develop, evaluate and refine A Better Chicago’s key objectives, strategies and budgets
  • Ensures that A Better Chicago’s resources and activities are aligned with its priorities

Board Engagement

  • Builds strong, trusting and dynamic relationships with A Better Chicago’s board of directors
  • Collaborates with the board to determine and build alignment around A Better Chicago’s direction and priorities
  • Ensures the board has a holistic and accurate understanding of the organization’s performance, strengths, challenges and opportunities
  • Provides the board with the right level of timely information and context to make informed decisions

Leadership & Management

  • Creates a dynamic culture that maximizes performance and attracts world class talent, holds a “talent-first” mindset
  • Sets an example by consistently role-modeling A Better Chicago’s core values as defined in the experience and qualifications section below
  • Builds strong working relationships with A Better Chicago’s staff
  • Leads, coaches and develops an outstanding executive team
  • Manages execution of key priorities; ensures that A Better Chicago achieves its ambitious goals and consistently achieves outstanding work across the organization

External Relations

  • Serves as A Better Chicago’s chief external spokesperson and fundraiser, acts as a credible voice within the Chicago community
  • Builds and manages close working relationships with key external stakeholders, including funders, partners and city/state officials
  • Mobilizes the resources, partnerships and buy-in to grow and sustain the organization; secures six-figure and seven-figure commitments from funders and co-investors
  • Raises A Better Chicago’s profile and represents the organization by attending and presenting at conferences, fundraising events and other meetings


The next CEO possesses the passion, skills and qualifications to successfully lead A Better Chicago through its next phase of growth, innovation and development.

Specific requirements include:

  • Deep commitment to A Better Chicago’s mission to change the way Chicago fights poverty by investing in bold ideas that provide educational and economic opportunity to low-income youth
  • Demonstrated track record or aptitude for building, developing and leading high-performing executive teams, and creating high-performing cultures, to achieve ambitious targets
  • Proven ability or suggested potential for developing creative, ambitious and rigorous business strategies from scratch, defining near-term and long-term goals, and identifying and mobilizing resources needed to fulfill those objectives
  • Successful track record of or capacity for forging trusting relationships with a diverse group of stakeholders; and in building, growing and sustaining six- and seven-figure commercial partnerships with donors, clients or investors
  • Demonstrated professional track record of excellence and embodiment of A Better Chicago’s eight core values:
    • Courage – We proactively step up to challenges, make tough decisions and act decisively. We say what we believe, even if it’s unpopular.
    • Empathy – We respect and seek to understand a diverse range of perspectives from our teammates, partners and the communities we serve.
    • Impact – We consistently accomplish outstanding work. We hold ourselves accountable to delivering results. We have a bias toward action.
    • Judgment – We take a deliberate approach. We make wise decisions despite ambiguity. We cut through noise to focus on the most important issues.
    • Positive attitude – We bring energy, optimism and a sense of possibility to our work, especially in challenging times.
    • Self-awareness – We actively work to fully understand our abilities, our growth opportunities and how our actions affect others.
    • Stretch – We get better every day through constructive feedback, reflection and growth. We find creative solutions to overcome challenges.
    • Teamwork – We support and challenge our colleagues to be their best. We work collaboratively to solve problems. We put our team above ourselves.


An undergraduate degree is required. An advanced degree and/or pertinent experience is preferred.


A Better Chicago recognizes that the CEO role requires a highly skilled and seasoned leader. Therefore, the compensation for this role is very competitive and includes medical, dental and vision insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, and four weeks of paid vacation.



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


Korn/Ferry shall provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified candidates, and will refer candidates without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected basis.