Organization: The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Location: Chicago, IL

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About The Family Institute:

(The Family Institute at Northwestern University)

The Family Institute at Northwestern University (TFI) is a collaborative, integrated mental health system committed to strengthening and healing individuals, couples and families from all walks of life through clinical service, education and research. An affiliate of Northwestern University, TFI was founded in the 1960’s as a unique organization leading the way in all facets of systemic, relationship-based multi-discipline therapy.

Each month, TFI helps hundreds of individuals, couples and families live healthier, stronger lives. TFI’s focus is three-fold: therapy, academics and research:

Therapy and Counseling: TFI provides comprehensive counseling at four locations across the Chicago metropolitan area for clients from all walks of life. Last year alone, more than 7,000 men, women and children sought out TFI to provide the help they need. Through the unique Bette D. Harris Family and Child Clinic, TFI offers a sliding-fee scale, so clients throughout the Chicago metropolitan area pay what they can afford. TFI’s clients receive personal and prompt attention, clinical excellence, professional discretion and confidentiality. Services include: diagnostic assessment, psychological testing and consultation, as well as individual, group, couple and family therapy. TFI offers a wide range of specialized treatments including behavioral, systemic and psychodynamic approaches. Whatever the treatment modality, TFI looks at and treats the whole person in a safe and supportive environment.

Academics: The Family Institute offers two highly selective graduate degree programs conferred by Northwestern University: Master of Arts in Counseling and Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. Both programs offer unparalleled training and opportunities to achieve unique professional goals. TFI’s Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy faculty members are distinguished leaders at the forefront of their respective specialties and are passionate about what they do. TFI has expanded their education offerings to an innovative on-line counseling program in partnership with Northwestern University and 2U, an online technology platform leader and expects to see significant growth in this area.

Research: Through research, TFI scientifically investigates their interventions to better understand the therapeutic process and to develop improved treatments. As the leading center for relationship-based therapy, with a large and diverse client population, The Family Institute is uniquely positioned to pursue path-breaking research on individuals, couples and families. The Institute has led the way in developing and assessing the impact of using feedback data in therapy to improve outcomes.

The Family Institute is a unique, innovative nonprofit organization, governed by its own independent Board of Directors and responsible for its own funding. TFI’s staff practice locations include Evanston, Chicago, Northbrook and LaGrange Park.

For more information about The Family Institute at Northwestern University, please visit

The Opportunity:

The Chief External Relations Officer is The Family Institute’s top marketing, communications and development leader, reporting directly to TFI’s President, Jana Jones. The Chief External Relations Officer will sculpt the organization’s strategic marketing, communications and development plan, firmly positioning TFI as an innovative and inspirational leader in today’s rapidly changing landscape.

This is a pivotal leadership role at TFI, responsible for helping the President articulate the organization’s external relations strategy and vision, providing leadership to inspire an expansion of funding support, and managing important relationships to drive transformational funding initiatives. Both a sophisticated strategist and an entrepreneurial trailblazer, the Chief External Relations Officer will ensure that the organization’s brand, identity and message resonate with and compel TFI’s donors and clients.

One of the five leaders that comprise TFI’s Executive Team, the Chief External Relations Officer will participate in shaping a shared vision for the future, developing and executing strategy, leveraging best practices, managing organizational change, and creating a high-performance and high-quality culture. As an integral member of the Executive Team, the Chief External Relations Officer is responsible for aligning the organization’s vision and business plan with its marketing, communications and development strategies and their execution.

The Chief External Relations Officer will design and lead TFI’s successful external relations and development efforts, ensuring continued growth and diversification of multiple revenue streams with the emphasis in philanthropy. S/he will execute an overarching external relations strategy for TFI’s programs and mission, manage a staff, and will be responsible for:

  • Providing strategic direction to TFI on all matters relating to external relations: managing the marketing, development, public relations and digital direction for the organization;
  • Implementing a communications and marketing strategy executing brand objectives, analyzing market research and creating actionable data-based tactics;
  • Conceiving proactive marketing strategies for all relevant channels including external and internal communications;
  • Creating a true culture of philanthropy throughout the organization;
  • Achieving strong fundraising success for TFI through a robust and comprehensive development strategy including a permanent major gift plan; and
  • Increasing awareness and recognition for TFI and their mission.

The Chief External Relations Officer will oversee the strategic direction, leadership, and management of all fundraising and communications activities designed to deepen awareness of and financial sustainability for the organization. The Chief External Relations Officer will work closely with the President, leadership team, Board of Directors, and both internal and external stakeholders to develop and execute successful strategies for increasing fundraising capacity.

Candidate Profile:

The Chief External Relations Officer will develop a vision for TFI’s marketing, communications and development strategy, inspiring the support of the entire organization around it. S/he will be a creative, innovative and high-energy leader with a curious, inquisitive and analytical mindset. The Chief External Relations Office will have a proven track record of delivering superior marketplace performance and will lead TFI to ‘think outside of the box’ while being deeply committed to the mission of the organization.

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

Strategic Leadership and Management

The Chief External Relations Officer will be a strategic and visionary leader who will establish a creative yet practical course of action for building a new development and communications strategy for TFI that reflects the history and tradition of excellence. S/he will have the skills to effectively build, develop and lead the external relations team. The Chief External Relations Officer will have a proven record of converting strategy into effective execution. S/he will have experience effecting change in a large organization, strong organizational and process management skills and ability to translate TFI’s goals into clear objectives to the Executive Team and staff. The Chief External Relations Officer will be a builder with the ability to set priorities decisively, delegate responsibilities, assure accountability and allocate resources to ensure results.

Development Expertise and Proven Track Record

Working in a collaborative manner, the Chief External Relations Officer will build relationships and promote TFI. S/he will be a proven fundraiser coupled with a deep understanding that successful fundraising and the development of partnerships with allied organizations are fundamental responsibilities. S/he will play a lead role in diversifying the TFI’s revenue streams. S/he will work in close collaboration with the Executive Team, Board and staff to identify, approach and cultivate partners and donors to help advance the organization’s objectives. S/he is politically adept and can articulate the TFI’s vision and direction to a wide range of audiences and constituencies. S/he will be energized by the prospect of building a culture of philanthropy.

Marketing and Communications Expertise

TFI’s Chief External Relations Officer will be an experienced leader with a curious mindset and a high level of intellectual horsepower. S/he will have a proven track record of setting and implementing innovative marketing strategies and serving as a catalyst and leader within the organization. S/he will have an expert understanding of branding, digital marketing, social media, web and mobile development and management. S/he will be analytical and data-driven, able to conceptualize and analyze both problems and solutions and identify key metrics that will help TFI work towards its strategic objectives.

Ambassador for the Organization

The Chief External Relations Officer will build rapport and promote TFI with all constituents. As an external voice of the organization, s/he will articulate and broaden the vision of the organization to its current supporting community and future stakeholders. The Chief External Relations Officer must be a confident public speaker and have a solid understanding of how to utilize advertising and public relations for an organization such as TFI. S/he will build strong brand equity and awareness and will establish partnerships and seek opportunities to promote TFI. S/he will be a dynamic, energetic and credible leader, which will be conveyed both internally to the organization and externally to the community and can deal effectively with people of varying philosophies, backgrounds and cultures.

Passion for the Mission

The Chief External Relations Officer will have a passion for TFI’s mission and a commitment to helping families to live healthier, stronger lives. S/he will embrace TFI’s culture, while continually innovating to help expand its brand and reach. The Chief External Relations Officer will be an empathic, charismatic leader, treating others with respect and will have strong faith in humanity. S/he will be an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.

A Bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree in a related field is preferred.


Marissa Martin and Melanie Damm 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 Melanie directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

The Family Institute at Northwestern University 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 about Koya Leadership Partners, visit