Organization: Chicago Public Library Foundation

Location: Chicago, IL

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About Chicago Public Library Foundation: 

The Chicago Public Library Foundation (the Foundation) is dedicated to keeping the Chicago Public Library (the Library) at the forefront of 21st century learning. Created in 1986 by visionary civic leaders, the Foundation is an independent charitable organization that has invested nearly $80 million to launch and grow dynamic programs that transform lives and keep the Chicago Public Library truly world-class.

The Foundation works in public/private partnership with the City of Chicago to ensure outstanding programs collections and technology for Chicagoans of all ages. In 2015, the Foundation was named one of Chicago’s 20 Best Charities by Chicago Magazine.

The Chicago Public Library, established in 1872, is one of the nation’s premier library systems.  More than 12 million Chicagoans of all ages visit and use the resources of the Chicago Public Library annually. The Library serves Chicagoans from its 80 welcoming neighborhood locations, providing rich collections of books and other resources, technology, and cultural programming. The Chicago Public Library is where people go to improve their lives, nourish their intellect and connect with their community and the world.

Chicago Public Library’s success was noted around the world as it received a National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 2014. That same year, the Chicago Public Library was ranked the number one library in the United States, and third in the world, by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf Germany. In 2015, the accolades did not stop as the Chicago Public Library was the first and only Library ever to win the “Founder’s Award” from National Summer Learning Association for its groundbreaking Summer Learning Challenge. The Library is also the recipient of a Chicago Innovation Award and the Boeing Game Changer Award.

The Chicago Public Library Foundation is dedicated to the curious, inspiring Chicagoans to explore, grow and succeed. The programs supported by the Foundation bring learning, innovation and opportunity to people of all ages in every neighborhood of the city. These programs include:

  • Early Learning Centers and Programs: Stimulating success for Chicago’s youngest learners through key developmental activities of talk, sing, read, write and play;
  • Teachers in the Library: Afterschool homework assistance helps kids succeed in school and become confident learners, while providing guidance for parents as they navigate the school system and advocate for their children;
  • Summer Learning Challenge: Reading, Field trips, Science experiments and Creative discovery encourage, change, inspire and motivate children and parents to learn and explore in the summer time;
  • YOUmedia: Librarians, and community partners bring teens the latest digital tools and mentoring support to spark connected learning and creative self-expression in photography, music, video, graphic arts and game design in a safe and nurturing environment;
  • CyberNavigators: Experts connect Chicagoans to a world of information that is increasingly moving online, preparing them to take advantage of new technologies for skills building, employment and connections to resources, friends and family;
  • Maker Labs: Skilled instructors help teens and adults experiment with the latest tools in digital manufacturing technology—laser cutters, 3-D printers and specialized design software— through self-directed learning and in small classes with one-on-one assistance;
  • One Book, One Chicago: The annual, citywide conversation creates a community of readers through book discussions, author series, performances, art exhibits and films centered on common themes; and
  • Special Collections: Academic researchers, authors and interested patrons can delve into books, papers, recordings and other unique artifacts spanning Chicago’s vibrant history, from the Civil War to the World’s Fairs and Chicago’s vibrant theater history, as well as histories and artifacts of Chicago’s neighborhoods, racial and ethnic communities.

The Foundation is actively supported by annual gifts from individuals, companies, foundations and government grants. It has investment assets of approximately $30 million. Its 2016 budget is $9.6 million.

The Foundation produces two signature events annually:

  • The Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner which has been called “the smartest event in town” by Crain’s Chicago Business and raises over $1.5 million annually; and
  • The Junior Board Night in the Stacks, an evening of fun for young civic and business leaders.

In addition, the Sandburg Society, a major donor affinity group hosts exclusive author events in venues and private homes throughout the region.

The Foundation has a staff of eight, including six development professionals and two finance and administrative staff members.

For more information on the Chicago Public Library Foundation, please visit its website.

The Opportunity:

The Chief Development Officer (“CDO”) is a newly created leadership role at the Foundation. Reporting to the CEO, the Chief Development Officer will work closely with the CEO and the Board of Directors to create and implement a strategy for seven-figure sustainable annual fund growth. In addition to leading the planning process, s/he will be responsible to operationalize the plan to take the Foundation to its next level. Knowledge and familiarity of the Chicago philanthropic landscape is a plus.

Partnering with the CEO and the Board of Directors, the CDO will be responsible for building and stewarding robust, meaningful partnerships with current and prospective institutional and corporate funders, major individual donors, and others.

S/he will manage the Foundation’s development, finance and administrative staff, as well as relationships with outside contractors and vendors. The Chief Development Officer will serve as a liaison between the Foundation and the Chicago Public Library, particularly in areas of program development and evaluation most relevant to the Foundation’s fundraising goals.

Specific responsibilities of the CDO will include:

  • Create and implement a strategy for sustainable annual fund growth;
  • Assist CEO in providing leadership and day-to-day management for the Foundation staff and outside contractors;
  • Expand and develop fundraising opportunities through new, and ongoing strategic partnerships;
  • Cultivate new sources of revenue by creatively and strategically expanding the existing donor base;
  • Represent the Foundation and collaborate with a broad array of donors, professional, local and national audiences;
  • Coordinate the Foundation’s annual budgets, development plans, and performance targets for each staff member; provide coaching and support to ensure that targets are met or exceeded.
  • Ensure that each Foundation employee has a professional development plan, including skill building and learning opportunities;
  • Work with President & CEO to create a positive and supportive work environment in which employees feel motivated and encouraged to work together as a team;
  • Work with staff to ensure that all financial and grant-related reporting requirements are met in a timely fashion;
  • Draft, streamline and strengthen the Foundation’s development policies and procedures as necessary; and
  • Staff Board Program and Planning Committee, Resource Development Committee and other Task Forces.

Candidate Profile:

The CDO will enhance the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s overall approach to advancement – one that creates a true culture of philanthropy and collaboration throughout the organization, improves and develops sustained success in contributed revenue and ultimately fulfills the Foundation’s mission and achieves its vision.

The ideal candidate will have the following personal qualities and characteristics:

An Expert in Development

The CDO will be an experienced leader in the field of development with a measurable track record of success. S/he will have demonstrated expertise with a range of fundraising channels, with particular focus on strategic planning and operations. S/he will have a strong data and analysis orientation and an ability to use metrics to drive development decisions and achieve strategic objectives. Hand-in-hand with process orientation, the CDO will also be comfortable adopting an entrepreneurial approach to expanding and deepening new and existing donor support. The CDO must be accustomed to working in a collaborative manner, building relationships and promoting an organization.

Strategic Leadership and Management Acumen

The CDO will be a strategic and results-oriented leader who can set and articulate a vision for an organization’s next fundraising chapter, build and execute the strategic plan and then evaluate outcomes with a metrics-based approach. S/he will be an innovative and energetic individual who functions well in a fast-paced, team environment. S/he will be comfortable assessing, directing and enhancing the organization’s staff. The CDO will be an approachable leader who supports a culture of collaboration among the organization. With the ability to engender trust, honesty and integrity, the CDO’s management style will be organized and efficient while at the same time inclusive, allowing for the building of consensus and recognition of teamwork. A diplomatic and supportive professional, the CDO will enhance the Foundation’s culture of communication and collaboration.

A Relationship Builder and Collaborator

The CDO will be skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships at multiple levels with varied constituencies including the Foundation’s Board of Directors and staff, Chicago Public Library’s leadership, donors, community leaders and funders. The CDO will have an inspirational approach to building collaboration and buy-in and generating support from stakeholders. S/he will be a charismatic, high-energy leader who can talk with all constituents and successfully convey the Foundation’s objectives. The CDO will be skilled at building a strong internal culture of collaboration. S/he will build bridges, collaborating and engaging colleagues across the community.

A Passion for the Mission

The CDO will embody the values and mission of the Foundation and as a result, will inspire and motivate others. S/he will embrace the Foundation’s culture, while continually innovating to help expand its brand and reach. S/he will be an example for staff on how to handle challenging situations, understanding that at times, a sense of humor is an essential quality. The CDO will be an empathic, collaborative leader who treats others with respect. S/he will be an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.

A demonstrated knowledge of the Chicago philanthropic community is preferred, but not required.

A Bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree is preferred.


Alison P. Ranney, Marissa Martin, and Anne McCarthy of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here or email Marissa and Anne directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

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 about Koya Leadership Partners, visit