Debate Spaces Executive Director

Posted by
Debate Spaces
Somerville, MA
Published 15 days ago

Debate Spaces is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to connecting and empowering middle schoolers worldwide by leveraging the power of debate to foster critical thinking, cultural empathy, and civic engagement. We are seeking our first full-time Executive Director (“ED”) to spearhead our work, bring our life-changing content to more students around the globe, and develop a sustainable fundraising model.

Debate Spaces (DS) was founded in 2016 when co-founder Matt Summers created a space for middle schoolers to come together across the gaping social and economic divides in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Students were empowered to have critical conversations, learn important debate and advocacy skills, and build friendships. When Matt returned to the United States in 2017, co-founder Tessa Holtzman formalized Debate Spaces as a non-profit, bringing together students from across the greater Boston area. In 2020, Debate Spaces moved fully virtual, allowing us to facilitate engagement between students from dozens of countries. Our monthly workshops expose students from a wide range of geographic, economic, racial, and religious backgrounds to experts and timely, solutions-oriented debates on pertinent topics like climate change, racial justice, Islamophobia, vaccine inequity, and more. Continuing our commitment to exposing students to think concretely about global and local equity is of the utmost importance, as is carrying out the values of diversity and inclusion that motivate our work. Students around the world are feeling isolated (especially during the pandemic), are targeted by misinformation, and lack the training to have critical conversations. Debate Spaces is reaching out to students and giving them a window into broader experiences and perspectives. We want to leverage this moment when people are hungry for engaging remote content and find ways to allow cross-continent friendships and learning opportunities that will endure for decades. Our model is highly scalable, and growth potential is limited only by team capacity. 

This ED position has substantial room for growth as Debate Spaces evolves. Reporting to a dynamic Board, the ED will take the lead in scaling the organization and managing the team that runs the program. Over time, as Debate Spaces expands, the ED will have the opportunity to recruit, lead, and supervise a bigger team, manage a larger budget, build new relationships, coordinate with an expanding range of partners, and more. 

Debates Spaces’ aim is to grow to serve hundreds of middle schoolers each month, deepen the impact of our top-flight programs, and develop a sustainable fundraising approach that will allow us to thrive for decades to come. Success will require an Executive Director who brings a passion for our mission, an ability to grow our impact, and experience in (or readiness to learn) non-profit management. The ED will have as much autonomy and creative control over the organization as they are ready to take on. They will also be supported by a part-time Program Director and volunteer Deputy Program Director who run the monthly programs and supervise the teaching fellows; an eight-person Board of Directors who provide advice and a breadth of experience; two co-founders who will manage the ED’s onboarding and provide as much continuing operational support as the ED wants and needs; and a volunteer Deputy ED who brings financial expertise and on-the-ground experience with our students.  

This role is full-time with flexible scheduling. Debates Spaces’ virtual program currently occurs one weekend day per month (September-May) and the Executive Director will be expected to attend.


Leveraging Partnerships and Community

  • Drive forward local, domestic, and global partnerships, including with schools, school systems, and educational nonprofits. Explore ways to expand our reach by leveraging their networks, creating innovative joint initiatives, and supporting their work
  • Maintain, grow, and mobilize DS community including Parents for DS and Lawyers for DS


  • Lead development and implementation of a sustainable funding strategy including grants, family foundations, individual donors, community fundraising, and corporate sponsorship. With two years of financial runway, the ED will be able to focus on long-term, sustainable opportunities
  • Represent Debate Spaces at fundraising events, write grant applications and reports, cultivate relationships with donors, create and maintain relationships in the Boston philanthropic community and beyond

Program Oversight 

  • Manage Program Director and recruitment of programmatic staff (including teaching fellows and volunteers)
  • Set programmatic goals, monitor and evaluate programs, and develop a theory of change
  • Oversee a marketing contractor to create social marketing campaigns and cultivate online presence and brand

Board Relations

  • Regularly engage and communicate with Board on strategic direction and translate goals into actionable plans

Financial and Operational Management

  • Work with Deputy ED to manage funds, update the budget monthly, develop financial projections, and leverage resources for impact
  • Oversee accountant, payroll processes, and legal support

Qualifications and Qualities:

  • Ideal candidate will bring 5+ years post-college work experience (that may include relevant graduate school) in nonprofits, education, debate, management, entrepreneurship, and/or strategy
  • Requires a deep commitment to our mission of connecting and empowering youth
  • Experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and/or education is strongly preferred
  • Debate, international experience, curricular development, and/or teaching experience is helpful
  • Preferred candidates will demonstrate inspirational leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, financial literacy, a growth mindset, an empirical approach, and intercultural competency 

Salary Range:  $70k - $85k (commensurate with experience) with benefits 

Location: Must be based in the United States (ideally Massachusetts). Virtual day-to-day work with monthly engagement with key stakeholders in-person in Boston

Start Date: Spring 2022

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Debate Spaces is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the core of our organization. We are committed to fostering an inclusive environment that celebrates our differences and allows everyone to bring their full selves to work. “We are greater than, and greater for, the sum of us.” -Heather McGhee

Debate Spaces is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to connecting and empowering middle schoolers worldwide by leveraging the power of debate to foster critical thinking, cultural empathy, and civic engagement. We are seeking our first…

Details at a Glance

  • Time Commitment
    Full Time Schedule
  • Job Type
USD $70,000 - USD $85,000
/ year


Position has benefits.

Position has benefits.


Work may be performed anywhere in United States
Associated Location
40 Harrison Street, Somerville, MA 02143, United States

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