Executive Director

826DC - Washington, District of Columbia

Job Category: Programs

Job Type: Paid

Job Term: Full Time

Compensation: $100000 - $115000

Application Deadline: March 22, 2024

About Our Organization

About 826DC

826DC is a nonprofit arts education organization that helps Washington, DC students build their writing skills, share what matters to them, and forge a lifelong relationship with writing. 826DC offers free writing and publishing programs for students ages 6-18, supporting young people with their creative and expository writing skills and helping teachers inspire their students to write.

Led by writers and educators who value writing as a form of personal expression, 826DC recognizes that for any individual to fully step into their own power, writing must be part of their skill set. 826DC programs center students and cultivate a sense of fun as part of learning and the creative process.

The small nonprofit works with more than 2,000 students each year and partners with over three dozen schools across all eight wards. 826DC works with students in classrooms and community spaces throughout the city, as well as in a dedicated writing center in DC's Columbia Heights neighborhood.

826DC's programs include the After-School Writing Lab, hosted on-site at 826DC; in-school short- and long-term residencies in collaboration with K-12 teachers on writing, editing, and publishing; thematic writing workshops; two-hour writing and bookmaking field trips; and the Young Author’s Book Project, a full-year classroom program culminating in a published book and celebrated via a popular publication event for authors and their families.

The 826DC writing center also hosts a magic-themed novelty storefront, Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Company. In addition to generating revenue by selling gifts, student publications, and 826DC merchandise, the store serves as a creative entry point for the community to discover and engage with 826DC's work.

826DC is one of nine chapters in the 826 National network.​​ In 2002, the first chapter was founded in San Francisco as 826 Valencia by educator Nínive Calegari and author Dave Eggers, and was named after the street address of the first Writing Center. Through digital resources and in-person programs, the 826 network serves close to 350,000 students each year. Learn more at 826DC.org

Job Summary

Leadership Opportunity

826DC seeks an Executive Director to enthusiastically steer its highly successful and unique model into its next era. Guided by a shared exuberance for the mission, an existing strategic plan, firm financial footing, and a track record of success, the next Executive Director has the opportunity to meaningfully ensure young people throughout DC have a lasting, positive relationship with writing and creativity that catalyzes their ability to step into their fullest possibility. 

The Executive Director is responsible for the overall administration and management of 826DC, including fundraising, business operations, and educational programs. They direct planning and evaluation, policy development and administration, personnel and fiscal management, and public relations.

Washington, DC suffers from a staggering disparity in wealth, which minimizes many students’ access to high-quality educational resources in and outside the classroom. Post-2020 Covid lockdowns, DC public schools saw a significant decrease in English Language Arts (ELA) proficiency rates, particularly in early grades and among Black and Latinx students. 

826DC addresses the urgent need for high-quality writing education by leveraging an imaginative, rigorous, and arts-focused writing curriculum to inspire youth to develop a lifelong practice of writing. 826DC primarily serves African American and Latinx students in Title I schools. In 2023, the organization had a revenue budget of approximately $1M composed of public and private grants and individual contributions. Increasing this budget to support staff capacity and programs will be a key part of the new Executive Director’s portfolio. 

The next Executive Director will have a passion for the power of writing and a drive to ensure that power is accessible to students with limited financial, educational, and community resources. They will also have enthusiasm for youthful energy, appreciation for a wide spectrum of self-expression, and dedication to student-centered programming. 

In an organization driven by a strong sense of social justice, the next Executive Director will be committed to embracing a collaborative, human-focused management style that engages staff and volunteers alike. 

The position reports to a 12-member Board of Directors and manages a small and dedicated professional staff in Washington, DC that includes a Director of Education, an Associate Director of School Programs, a Director of Development, an Associate Director of Communications and Development, a Program Operations Manager, a Community Programs Manager, a School Residency Coordinator, a Store Coordinator, and an After-School Writing Lab Assistant. 

Responsibilities

Key Responsibilities

Like all leaders of small nonprofits, the next Executive Director should bring a balanced approach as a visionary and operational executive. They should have the capacity for organized, focused work, an ability to manage multiple projects, and an openness to changing situations and opportunities. Keen self-awareness and high emotional intelligence are also highly valued. Specific areas of responsibility include: 

Strategy, Vision, and Leadership 

  • Enthusiastically guide strategic direction for 826DC’s mission, vision, and goals in collaboration with the Board of Directors, staff, and stakeholders. 

  • Foster a culture of care, creativity, mentorship, transparency, curiosity, fun, and effective internal communication among staff, students, volunteers, and the Board of Directors.

  • Advance diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout internal policies, operations, and organizational culture as well as programmatic initiatives. 

  • Maintain ongoing programmatic excellence, rigorous program evaluation, and consistent quality of finance and administration, fundraising, communications, and systems.

  • Implement the current 2022-2025 strategic roadmap. Set measurable goals that reflect the needs of the organization; monitor and report timelines, resources, and activities related to goals to the Board of Directors.

  • Collaborate with staff and Board to develop strategies that expand financial and human resources as well as programs that benefit underserved and under-resourced students. 

  • Maintain and expand 826DC’s local and regional reputation as a creative arts education leader through dynamic civic engagement and partnership development with area leaders, educators, artists, and institutions. 

  • Collaborate with the Board of Directors on good governance, including recruiting and onboarding new Board members, and advising in key programmatic, management, and resource development activities.

  • Actively recruit, engage, and energize 826DC’s staff and volunteers. 

Fundraising, Advocacy, and Partnerships

  • Serve as an external voice locally, regionally, and nationally that communicates program results with an emphasis on the growth and achievement of students.

  • With the Director of Development and Board members, ensure a comprehensive fundraising strategy that includes annual and long-term plans to expand fundraising and earned revenue activities that support existing and new programs, general operations, and long-term financial goals. 

  • Leverage 826DC’s location to advocate on the local, regional, and national level to raise awareness around writing as a tool for youth empowerment and self-expression.

  • Cultivate relationships with individual, corporate, and institutional funders, including identifying new prospects and engaging lapsed donors. Serve as the primary solicitor for support from major institutional, corporate, and individual donors.

  • Establish strong working relationships and collaborations that advance 826DC’s mission with a range of key partners on a local and national level, including schools, education leaders, government agencies, funders, and others. 

  • Manage the refinement of all aspects of communications—from digital presence to external relations—with the goal of creating a stronger brand and raising 826DC’s visibility.

Organizational Development and Management

  • Direct and develop a team of professionals with a human-centered approach that values transparency, collaboration, and autonomy. 

  • Ensure organizational values of empathy, kindness, curiosity, joy, authenticity, and creativity are infused in program design, delivery, and the experiences of staff, volunteers, students, and community members. 

  • Manage day-to-day operations, including human resources, finances, legal and regulatory compliance, and facilities management, in collaboration with staff. 

  • In partnership with staff, manage all programs, services, and activities to ensure that program objectives are met. Alongside development staff, ensure compliance with funding sources and regulatory requirements.

  • Work alongside the Director of Education to determine program evaluation practices and with the Director of Development to ensure evaluation requirements for grants are adequately met. 

  • Implement Board-approved personnel policies and facilitate strong working relationships, clear communications, and effective decision-making among staff and volunteers.

  • Nurture a strong relationship with the Board of Directors; seek and support Board involvement in the organization’s strategic direction; serve as a liaison between Board and staff; provide regular reports.

  • Set annual financial goals in partnership with the Board. Provide strategic leadership in maintaining, diversifying, and growing revenue. 

  • Direct budget preparation, manage income including grants and contracts, monitor expenditures, support long-range budget planning and analysis, and administer grant awards in accordance with funders’ regulations.

  • Lead 826DC’s participation in the 826 National network, including reporting, compliance with network-established best practices, collaboration, and representation. 

  • Oversee business development and 826DC retail and earned revenue operations.

Job Qualifications & Requirements

Experience, Skills, and Qualities 

The position of Executive Director is an exciting opportunity that requires a diverse set of skills and experiences. The Board is seeking qualified candidates who can lead the organization with vision, skill, empathy, and creativity. While we understand that no single candidate can possess every qualification listed below, the following are priority areas:

  • No less than 5 years of leadership roles in nonprofit, public sector, or academic settings; experience in arts, youth, or education institutions is highly valued but not required.

  • A strong equity and justice frame, with high levels of emotional intelligence, integrity, cultural sensitivity, and interpersonal skills.

  • Understanding of formal and informal educational writing and literacy programs that center students, publishing best practices, and field trends, including awareness of the impact of Generative AI and other technology on writing pedagogy. 

  • Adept fundraising skills and the ability to secure long-term relationships with foundations, corporations, and individuals through annual giving and signature events. A broad network within the local, national, and international writing, publishing, and funding communities is considered a plus.

  • A hands-on and approachable work style, comfort with technology, and an ability to work in a highly collaborative environment to build positive and mutual relationships with students, board members, staff, volunteers, and the community.

  • A significant supervisory record coaching staff, developing high-performing teams, and setting an inclusive, positive workplace culture. 

  • Enthusiasm for public speaking, with extensive skills and ability to interact with a variety of collaborators, including partner organizations, grantmakers, and local education and government leaders.

  • Strong marketing, public relations, and fundraising experience with the ability to engage a wide range of stakeholders and cultures.

  • Experience implementing strategic plans and transforming systems, tools, and processes that sustainably take an organization to the next stage of growth.

  • Excellent organizational management practices, including budgeting, financial management, human resources, grants, contracts, facilities management, and legal compliance. 

  • Past work with or serving on a nonprofit board. Understanding of the importance of governance, board development, and collective decision-making.

  • Proven ability to engage and recruit high-quality volunteers.

Considered a Major Plus:

  • Spanish-language proficiency.

Other Information

Compensation

The budgeted salary is $100,000-$115,000 with a benefits package that includes: a 36-hour work week (half-days on Fridays); 100% employer-covered healthcare, including vision and dental, for employees; competitive parental leave policy; generous PTO and flex-time policy; 401K with 1% match; annual professional development stipend; funding from the National network to attend conferences; and connection to cohorts of peers across the 826 Network.

Location

826DC is based in Washington, DC. The organization has a hybrid work arrangement.

Equal Opportunity Employer

826DC is dedicated to equal employment opportunity. It has been and will continue to be the policy of 826DC to be fair and impartial in all of its relations with its employees and applicants for employment, and to base all employment-related decisions upon valid job-related factors, without regard to race, sex, ancestry, gender, gender identity, national origin, color, disability, age, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, marital status, religion, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, or any other status protected by law.

 

How to Apply

Application Process

The Board of Directors has retained the services of Good Insight, a national executive search firm serving small nonprofits. Interested applicants should submit a resume and a cover letter that describes their interest in and qualifications for this role, emphasizing related leadership experience. Visit www.good-insight.org/careers to upload application materials. Direct confidential inquiries to Claire Huschle, Senior Consultant, at 826DC@good-insight.org. 

For best consideration, apply by March 22, 2024. Qualified applicants will be contacted on a rolling basis. Early applications are encouraged due to the pace of the search.