Organization: The Buckley School

Location: Sherman Oaks, CA

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About The Buckley School:

The Buckley School was founded in 1933 as an independent co-educational institution by Dr. Isabelle Buckley. Drawing on her experiences abroad where schools emphasized well-rounded programs, Dr. Buckley developed her own “4-Fold Plan of Education,” which held the academics, arts, athletics, and ethical education as equally weighted in a child’s formal schooling. Her vision for early childhood education drew a loyal following during the early days of The Buckley School when new transplants to the area adopted her philosophy for its value in building a strong and stable community. Early campuses were located in Los Angeles, Tarzana, Encino, and two locations in Sherman Oaks. In 1964, Dr. Buckley purchased land that had been owned by the Glenaire Country Club and by 1973 was able to accommodate all divisions of the school at the Stansbury Avenue location. Buckley’ s educational philosophy has grown and adapted to meet evolving education needs, including new technology and experiential learning, supporting students with plentiful resources, meaningful personal connections, and a deep commitment to fostering a love of learning.

Buckley has an enrollment of 830 students across grades K-12, and 110 Faculty, 64 of whom hold master’s degrees and 77% of whom have 10+ years of experience. This results in an average class size of 17 and an 8:1 student to faculty ratio. Buckley outperforms on the ACT, SAT, and in advanced placement courses, and had 60 works honored among the 2015 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, including two national Gold Key Awards. Buckley’s Lower, Middle and Upper divisions are located on a single, 18-acre campus nestled in a wooded canyon in Sherman Oaks. Among other things, our facilities include 67 classrooms; two libraries; 725 computers and campus-wide WiFi; 35 interactive whiteboards; 20 interactive projectors; 150 iPads; an indoor gymnasium and theatre; a 4-acre outdoor field and stadium; an indoor pool; a weight-training facility; an outdoor basketball practice court; two Lower School play yards; a nature trail; and a garden and outdoor classroom/patio in Lower School.

Position Summary:

The Chief Development Officer (CDO) is responsible for leading a comprehensive development program for The Buckley School, which includes annual giving, capital campaign, major gifts, planned giving, foundations and grants, constituent relations, and events. In addition, the CDO is responsible for providing leadership to the School’s alumni relations and communications programs. The CDO serves as part of the Head of School’s Senior Management Group and manages a team of five.

A major focus of the School’s fundraising efforts, the Capital Campaign is a decade into its ongoing campus enhancement plan. Over the last several years, Buckley has added an Academic and Performing Arts Building, a Math and Science Building, a new library, administrative offices, and refurbished many classrooms and outdoor spaces. With this next phase of development, Buckley will build the multipurpose Center for Community and the Arts as the heart of campus.

These projects will include new classrooms, a world languages lab, a remodeled outdoor courtyard, and a college counseling suite, as well as an admissions suite to serve the modern K–12 campus.


The Chief Development Officer (CDO) will be responsible for the following:

Development Program

  • Formulates a comprehensive development program in consultation with the Head of School and the Board of Trustees.
  • Makes recommendations to the Head of School on the policy, staffing, and budget needed to accomplish development, alumni relations and communications goals.
  • Staffs the Board of Trustees Development Committee and attends other Board committee meetings as needed, including the Master Planning Committee and Budget and Finance Committee.
  • Leads strategic planning for development, which is driven by and supports the School’s strategic plan, priorities and goals.
  • Establishes organizational structure for development and supervises personnel.
    • Ensures that each staff member has an annual performance plan and performance standard and monitors progress in achieving performance standards.
    • Develops ongoing professional development program for staff.
    • Recognizes staff for accomplishments using creative and personalized rewards.
    • Screen, interview and hire personnel for the department in partnership with the Director of Human Resources.
  • Oversees annual giving program designed to raise unrestricted support for the School.
  • Oversees internal and external communications to develop an appreciation of School’s mission and vision.
  • Oversees marketing efforts to expand and enhance the School’s visibility, image, and reputation, including recruiting and retaining outstanding students.
  • Oversees alumni and community relations efforts to establish and strengthen ties with the School’s constituents, including parents, grandparents, alumni, alumni parents and friends.
  • Oversees gift processing and information systems, ensuring that internal systems and state-of-the-art technology are in place to support development efforts.
  • Reports regularly to the Head of School and periodically to the Board of Trustees on development programs and issues.
  • Provides direction and support to the Head of School in fulfilling his/her development responsibilities, ensuring prudent use of his/her time.
  • Establishes process to review and analyze ongoing effectiveness of fundraising programs.

Principal Gifts (ongoing and in a campaign)

  • Develops written strategies for each principal gift solicitation, and gives particular attention to matching potential principal gifts with the highest priority needs of the School.
  • Assists prospective donors and their advisors in clarifying gift planning goals, preparing and presenting appropriate proposals, and completing gift agreements.
  • Finalizes specific strategies for the cultivation and solicitation of principal gift prospects, including written proposal, and presentation materials.
    • Coordinates nature and number of contacts that assigned prospects receive.
    • Writes proposals and edits proposals written by others.
  • Facilitates relationships between current and prospective principal gift donors and the Head of School, Board members, campaign committee members and others as appropriate.
  • Uses Board members and volunteers as strategists and actual solicitors as dictated by the circumstances of each individual solicitation.
  • Accompanies and staffs the Head, Board members, campaign committee volunteers and others on cultivation and solicitation meetings with current and prospective donors.
  • Advises the Head on matters that affect the attitudes and interests of principal gift prospects and their propensity to give.
  • Directs staff on special activities, events, communications, and programs critical to strengthening relationships with current and prospective principal gift donors.
  • Records the progress of each solicitation and communicates all steps to others who are involved in or impacted by the solicitations.
  • Responsible for post-gift stewardship of each donor with the highest possible degree of personalized attention.

Capital Campaign

  • In collaboration with campaign counsel, translate campaign plans into actions in order that the campaign proceeds on schedule and successfully.
  • Updates the Head of School, Board of Trustees and the Campaign Committee regularly on the status of the campaign.
  • Monitors budget for campaign and ensure that expenditures respond appropriately to campaign objectives and strategies.
  • Coordinates Campaign Committee activities.
    • Plan and write agendas for committee meetings, including scheduling date, time and place.
    • Provide support materials
    • Ensure that meeting minutes and actions are recorded and distributed
  • Coordinates the enlistment of campaign volunteers at the leadership and major gift level.
  • Directs preparation of the volunteer handbook
  • Oversees the assignment of prospects to volunteers, including providing staff support to volunteers in fulfilling their cultivation and solicitation responsibilities.
  • Supervises the preparation of prospect proposals.
  • Cultivates and solicits leadership and major gift prospects personally and with the Head of School, volunteers and others.
  • Oversees the campus’s events structured to support the campaign, including cultivation events, campaign kick-off, groundbreaking, hardhat parties and building dedication.

Core Competencies:

The Chief Development Officer (CDO) will have a minimum of 10 years of demonstrated experience in fundraising or advancement; proven experience managing a team and achieving results; and a thorough understanding of all components of a successful fundraising program. S/he will have significant experience in all facets of development, preferably as a fundraising generalist, coupled with a demonstrated track record of success. Experience in coordinating a major capital campaign preferred. In concert with the Head of School and Board of Trustees, s/he will be responsible for envisioning and executing on a strategic development plan aimed towards The Buckley School’s future success and impact.

In addition, ideal candidates will have the following core competencies and personal qualities:

Expertise in Development: The CDO will be an experienced leader in the field of fundraising/ advancement with a measurable track record of success. S/he will have demonstrated expertise with a wide range of fundraising and communications channels with particular focus on major/principal donors and individual giving with success as a high touch leader engaging with all the School’s constituents. The CDO will be a flexible self-motivated team player who will serve as counsel to the Head of School and Board of Trustees in identifying fundraising strategies and devising the strategy. The CDO will also have experience leading the planning and implementation of donor cultivation and fundraising events as well as effectively working with the Board of Trustees.

Strategic Leadership and Management: The CDO will be a natural change agent with a demonstrated ability to develop clear, innovative strategies towards fundraising, donor cultivation, and communications, driven to meet high, attainable benchmarks. A motivated and results-oriented leader, s/he will be focused on the outcome of a given strategy, able to analyze and adjust expectations, processes and approach if necessary. S/he will be a superior project manager, able to make practical, realistic and data-driven decisions in a timely, thoughtful way, effectively leveraging her/his resources when appropriate. This leader will be an effective and visible manager who will build, nurture and retain a strong team of professionals focused on excellence, accountability, and efficiency.

Relationship Builder and Collaborator: The CDO will be skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships across all levels of the School, including the Board, the Head of School, parents, faculty, staff, and students. S/he will be a natural collaborator with a sophisticated ability to work in partnership with a diverse team of School leaders, staff members, donors, and community members. As an experienced fundraiser, s/he will be able to make the ‘ask’ when appropriate, including from Board members, as well as from principal donors and other funding sources. S/he will be able to think strategically while also maintaining focus on the details and individual tasks of a strategic plan.

Persuasive Communicator: The CDO will be a superior and diplomatic communicator, adapting her/his choice of language and the presentation of ideas to fit the audience needs and perspective in a manner that energizes, educates and inspires. The CDO listens intently and responds effectively to inquiries or challenges on a range of subjects. S/he makes effective and persuasive presentations on topics of importance to a Board, donors, staff, students, and external partners and stakeholders with complete transparency. Additionally, s/he will have excellent written skills with strong knowledge of marketing and communications tools/platforms.

A bachelor’s degree is required for this role.


The Buckley School has exclusively retained Koya Leadership Partners for this search. This search is being led by Michelle Bonoan and Melanie Damm. To express your interest in this role, please submit your materials through Koya’s online link here or email Michelle, and Melanie at the following:

Michelle R.S. Bonoan
Managing Director

Melanie Damm
Manager, Executive Search

All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential. The Buckley School is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBT applicants.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information, visit