Executive Director, Higher Achievement, Richmond

Job Type

Full Time




4009 Fitzhugh Ave
United States


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

The Organization

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 grades 5 to 8. 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 Richmond, VA, Washington, DC, Alexandria, VA, Baltimore, MD, and Pittsburgh, PA. 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 2010, Higher Achievement operates in three Richmond neighborhoods: at T.C. Boushall Middle School, Thomas H. Henderson Middle School and at Binford Middle School and in one Henrico County neighborhood—at L. Douglas Wilder Middle School. 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. Today, the Richmond affiliate serves over 600 middle school aged scholars directly and indirectly.

Position Summary

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 Richmond where we are looking to serve more scholars in a deeper way on the road towards college completion/success. Reporting to the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and working closely with the Chief Development Officer (CDO), the ED will have overall operational responsibility for the Richmond affiliate by driving fundraising, relationship building, and community presence.

With more than 400 scholars served directly (and another 200 served in partnership), 17 full time staff, 120 mentors, over 20 part-time seasonal program staff, 14 advisory board members, and multiple community and school partners, 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 $1.8 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 (such as NextUp RVA, Henrico County Public Schools, Richmond Public Schools, Communities in Schools, etc.), and funders.
  • Leverage the Richmond team (Director of Programs, Manager of Development) 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 Richmond, 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 Richmond operating budget including expenses, revenue, and grant compliance.

Development, Fundraising, and Communications

  • Responsible for meeting the affiliate annual revenue goal (currently $1.8 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 bolster 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 Richmond.
  • 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 Richmond.
  • 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 $1.5 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 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. The Executive Director is expected to travel to the National office in Washington, DC 5-8 times per year; most travel is single day, with 2-3 overnight trips per year.


This full-time, exempt position offers a competitive 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.


This full-time, exempt position offers a competitive 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.

Professional Level

None specified

Minimum Education Required

No requirement

How To Apply


Please apply on our website at https://higherachievement.org/careers/; candidates are asked to submit a resume and cover letter highlighting their interest in this role and Higher Achievement's mission. Applications will be accepted until position is filled; interested applicants are encouraged to apply immediately. Please, no phone calls, emails or recruiters.

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.