Organization: Building Excellent Schools

Location: Location Flexible, US

Express Interest

About Building Excellent Schools:

Building Excellent Schools (BES) is a national nonprofit organization that trains high-capacity individuals to take on the demanding and urgent work of founding and leading high-achieving, college preparatory urban charter schools. BES is committed to improving the academic achievement of the most underserved students in US cities. Eighty-seven percent of students in BES schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, 50 percent are black, and 41 percent are Hispanic. To date, leaders trained by BES have founded 95 schools in 25 cities, educating over 25,000 students. BES anticipates that by fall 2018, BES Fellows will lead 160 schools educating 27,000 students.

For more information on Building Excellent Schools, please refer to the final section of this position profile and visit

The Opportunity:

BES seeks a visionary and strategic CEO to lead the organization through its next phase of growth and impact by expanding the Fellowship program to train and support more mission-driven leaders to create the best urban charter schools in the nation.

The CEO will join BES at a time of transition and great opportunity. After two decades of charter schooling, an effective model for urban education has emerged. Thanks in large part to the work of BES, we now know how to close the achievement gap. BES is uniquely positioned to continue to evolve that model and bring it to scale across the country, affect the lives of tens of thousands of children, and powerfully contribute to the national conversation on the transformation of American public education.

BES’s founder, Linda Brown, is transitioning out of her role as leader of the organization. She will continue to contribute to the organization during the new CEO’s first nine to 12 months by cultivating and recruiting Fellows and ensuring a successful transfer of leadership and knowledge to her successor. This is a unique opportunity for an experienced and growth-minded executive who is excited to learn from one of the charter school’s pioneers while laying the foundation for her/his leadership of Building Excellent Schools.

The CEO will report directly to a seven to nine-member Board of Directors, and direct reports include the Chief Academic Officer and Director of Development. BES has a staff of 30 people, approximately half of whom are based in Boston and half who work remotely from over eight locations.

It is preferred that the CEO be located in Boston, where BES is headquartered, but exceptional candidates could be based elsewhere.

The CEO’s primary responsibilities will include:

Strategic Leadership & Vision

  • In partnership with the Board and the senior leadership team, develop and implement strategic priorities across the organization
  • Oversee the continued expansion of BES’ impact through its flagship Fellowship and more recent Network and Pre-Network programs
  • In close collaboration with the Chief Academic Officer and others, continue to raise the bar for academic achievement for BES schools
  • Attract, develop, and retain highly qualified staff who can work effectively as a cohesive team
  • Champion and model the organization’s culture and core beliefs

Fundraising & External Relations

  • As a key external spokesperson and the lead fundraiser, enhance the recognition of BES as the premier program preparing leaders to found high-achieving, college preparatory urban charter schools
  • Deepen and extend relationships with key current funders as well as identify and secure funding from foundations, corporations, and individual donors

Operations & Financial Management

  • Ensure the financial sustainability of the organization and the continued optimization of BES’ operational processes
  • Provide vision and executive leadership to identify, implement, and optimize the organization’s operational processes so as to provide effective support for the evolving needs of the organization
  • Directly supervise the Chief Academic Officer and Operations team

Board Relations

  • Partner closely with the Board of Directors to drive strategic vision, leverage the experience and expertise of the trustees, and thoughtfully grow the Board as the organization moves forward
  • In partnership with the Board of Directors, design and implement clear expectations for the Board’s contributions to the governance and success of the organization

Candidate Profile:

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

  • Unwavering belief in the transformative power of quality charter schools
  • Proven record of effective leadership at an executive level
  • Deep strategic leadership skills, including the ability to drive a collaborative approach to significant growth in scale and impact
  • Skilled at analyzing, interpreting, and using data to identify best practices/ areas for improvement and drive results
  • Able to set priorities among competing goals
  • Able to articulate and generate a sense of urgency
  • Exceptional ability to identify and attract high capacity, mission-driven talent
  • Exhibits excellent judgment; adept at thinking strategically and translating plans into action
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills and persuasive presentation skills, with keen attention to detail
  • Record of effective fundraising and external relations or relevant transferrable experience in these areas
  • Deep cultural competence, including the ability to build and lead diverse and inclusive teams
  • Generous, hopeful, emotionally and intellectually intelligent, with a lively sense of humor
  • Internalizes a high level of personal responsibility for results
  • Inspires others to perform and embrace change
  • Highly self-aware and confident, with the ability to sublimate personal ego to the organization’s advancement
  • Avid learner
  • Shares the BES core values

Building Excellent Schools is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBT applicants. 


Molly Brennan and Sam Simmons of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role, please submit a compelling cover letter and resume here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Additional Information About BES:

BES History

The history of BES dates to the beginnings of the national charter school movement. In 2001, in response to the poor academic outcomes of Massachusetts’ first charter schools, the Massachusetts Charter School Resource Center set out to ensure that new charters would be truly excellent, founded by talented leaders and grounded from the start in proven strategies and design elements. The Building Excellent Schools Fellowship was launched to provide intensive, full-time training to individuals to build new charter schools of the highest quality. The model was so successful that in 2003 the organization expanded its training to support schools outside of the state and re-formed as Building Excellent Schools, a self-governed nonprofit corporation. From serving three states in 2004 to 12 today, BES has an unparalleled wealth of experience in training high-capacity leaders who, in turn, found top-performing schools.

BES Core Values

Everything BES does – from training leaders to open new schools to supporting them in growing successful replication schools – stems from the organization’s core belief that academic achievement must drive every element of a school. This is why BES schools routinely outperform their surrounding districts by an average of 20 percentage points in math and 13 percentage points in English language arts and thoroughly prepare their students for success in college.

BES Schools

BES has been selecting and training Fellows to effectively found and lead high-performing charter schools for more than two decades. Although BES is headquartered in the heart of downtown Boston, its Fellows lead schools in urban centers around the country. BES Fellows share a common goal: to close the achievement gap in the communities that they serve.

BES Fellows found and lead schools that incorporate 10 principles of school design – proven practices that have been used in schools across the country that have documented success in closing achievement gaps:

  1. An unwavering belief that all students can, must, and will learn at high levels
  2. A clear, college-bound mission understood/ supported by all
  3. Inspiring and demanding leader(s), adamant about academic results
  4. Teachers who are strategic, engaging, knowledgeable, and laser-focused on academic results
  5. A structured organization and culture that embraces urgency and efficiency and celebrates achievement
  6. Deep and rich curriculum, from skill mastery leading to college prep work
  7. Assessments frequent and rigorous with data analysis connected to immediate action plans
  8. Clear and frequent communication with parents on academics and behavior
  9. Warm-strict system of high behavioral expectations for all, consistently applied
  10. Extended time for learning with multiple layers of student support 

BES Results

BES schools have measurable, impressive impact on their students. BES is a formidable engine for creating thousands of high-quality seats for the students with the greatest needs, using tested, highly effective, proprietary leadership development methods and mechanisms.

For more details, please refer to the most recent BES Report Card and Annual Report.

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