Chief Advancement Officer

Chief Advancement Officer

Communities In Schools

Arlington, VA   |   May 13, 2020

About Communities In Schools

Founded in the 1970’s, Communities In Schools (CIS) strives to bring community resources inside public schools, where they are accessible, coordinated and accountable. Founder Bill Milliken said, “It’s relationships, not programs, that change children. A great program simply creates the environment for healthy relationships to form between adults and children. Young people thrive when adults care about them on a one-to-one level, and when they also have a sense of belonging to a caring community.”

Communities In Schools’ mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. They believe that transformative relationships are key to unlocking a student’s potential. With a strong focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, they strive to break down immediate and systemic barriers to create and sustain equitable outcomes for students across the country.

CIS programs are conducted annually throughout the United States, serving 2,300 schools; 1.56M students with over 42,000 community volunteers and 131 CIS affiliate organizations across the country. Their programs for students include: needs assessments, developing a support team to develop a plan to prioritize supports that address academic and non-academic needs, deliver tiers of support for the school student and families; monitoring students and school progress, and evaluate and assess parents and student support systems.

Serving students that live in poverty, the CIS model has proven impact with over 86% of students meeting or having made progress toward at least one of their academic goals. 91% of participating Seniors graduated from High School, and 99% of students stayed in school through graduation.

Communities In Schools Mission & Values

At Communities In Schools, we are “all-in” for kids. It is our passion—it is our mission. At the National Office, we collaborate with local affiliate organizations, to provide resources and create communities of caring adults who work hand-in-hand with educators to make sure young people have the tools they need to stay in school and achieve in life. We are the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization serving students in sites across the country. We achieve this mission by hiring bright, creative, and innovative team members who have a passion for what we do.

At CIS, we are committed to cultivating an engaged culture where all are recognized and valued for their contributions. We intentionally build experiences, provide space for individual and group voices across multiple dimensions. We also hold the following talent beliefs:

  • Every staff member is passionate and committed to our mission. Our work is grounded in the success of our students.
  • Our decisions and priorities are guided by how we can fulfill our mission and serve kids with quality.
  • As a National Office, we have a duty to live our values and integrate principles of diversity, equity and inclusion across our organization and lead by example.

In turn, we are committed to continuously improving decision making, incentivizing creativity, and building engagement. We do this by building a diverse workforce, fostering a climate of inclusion and shaping business practices and policies that promote equity.

For more information on CIS, please visit

The Opportunity

Communities In Schools is seeking a Chief Advancement Officer (CAO) who will spearhead all fundraising; branding and communications; and policy and advocacy work for the organization. The CAO will partner closely with the Board of Directors to successfully support fundraising efforts from conception to closing. This position is charged with seizing near-term opportunities for revenue, engagement and awareness, while also building infrastructure, capacity and reputational capital for long-term sustainability. They will manage a team across the three primary functions (advancement; branding and communications; policy) and will be responsible for the integration of these functions in a way that is demonstrable in both internal operations and communications as well as the coherence and alignment of external work product. The successful CAO is an experienced leader who has effectively fostered integration, collaboration and cross-functional operating within teams and organizations in order to increase results and amplify impact.

This role is ideal for a seasoned fundraiser who is passionate about education and helping young people and who is also an experienced people manager with a focus on developing talent. This is a full-time role that will report to the new CEO and serve on the executive team of Communities In Schools. Please see below for details on the responsibilities of each function:

  • Advancement (fundraising): Create and enrich external relationships, uniting a diverse and passionate movement in support of the students served by CIS. This function is tasked with creating and executing a comprehensive strategy that will cultivate and steward the financial resources and voices needed to advance the critical work of CIS. The purpose of this function is to secure private, philanthropic support from individuals, corporations and foundations to fund the national office’s operational budget and plan for future sustainability. Securing this support is done by nurturing relationships with key stakeholders, such as board members, funders, alumni, volunteers and advocates.
  • Branding & Communications: Identify, communicate and add value to a unique brand that allows CIS and integrated student supports to be visible and available to every community in America. To do this, the function helps manage the CIS brand by identifying key internal and external audiences (consumer and business) for brand-aligned messaging; developing and executing marketing campaigns to bring the brand to life; determining optimal channels (advertising, marketing, PR, media, digital) to reach audiences; creating and disseminating thought leadership content to achieve specific policy goals; counseling, training and providing direct brand/marketing support to the CIS network; seeking strategic partnerships and initiatives to accelerate brand and marketing efforts; and measuring results and analyzing data to determine the impact of various marketing and branding efforts/spend for future planning and decision-making.
  • Policy & Thought Leadership: Create favorable policy environments to support integrated student supports and enable the network to access public funds to serve as many students as possible. This function gathers intelligence about relevant issues and topics to decision makers and policy makers at both the federal and state levels. This intelligence includes budgeting and advocacy action that might shape or influence advocacy alerts to the network and constituencies. It also includes pushing for policy changes that create more opportunities for students to access integrated student supports. Additionally, the policy function leads or participates in coalitions that help further CIS’s policy goals. Finally, it has a key role in establishing and maintaining CIS as a thought leader in policy, research and integrated student supports.
Candidate Profile

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

Significant Nonprofit Development Experience: The Chief Advancement Officer will be an experienced leader in the field of advancement with a measurable track record of success across multiple fundraising functions. They will have demonstrated expertise – specifically in the nonprofit space – across a wide range of fundraising channels with particular focus on major/principal individual giving, foundations and corporate donors. The CAO is a high touch leader who will serve as expert council to the CEO, Board of Directors, and the advancement staff in identifying and devising fundraising strategies. The CAO will also have experience leading the planning and implementation of donor cultivation and fundraising events, budget management and accountability, and policy and advocacy.

Demonstrated Experience Partnering Cross-functionally: The Chief Advancement Officer will have significant experience leading teams of varying functions and finding innovative ways to break down or prevent silos within the work while integrating the functions and people effectively. The CAO will lead the advancement; policy; and the branding and communications team. The seasoned leader will be expected to facilitate opportunities for cross-collaboration and partnership for these teams in a seamless way which supports the overall fundraising and branding work both internally and externally.

Strategic Leadership and Vision: A trustworthy thought partner to the CEO and to the Board of Directors, the Chief Advancement Officer will be a strategic thinker with the vision, capacity and experience to understand and balance a complex array of needs. They will be an intuitive planner with a demonstrated ability to set priorities, develop and implement thoughtful, clear, action-oriented growth strategies for CIS. They will be a superior project manager who will possess rigorous analytic skills and the ability to think creatively and collaboratively about Communities In Schools’ broader goals, while continuing to actively solicit feedback. The CAO will have humility and agility, and will be able to navigate multiple priorities, knowing when to shift direction and focus while also able to make practical, long-term decisions in a timely, thoughtful way.

Passion for the Mission: The Chief Advancement Officer will embrace and have a true passion for the mission of Communities In Schools and serving vulnerable students and families across the country. Inspired by the organization’s mission to inspire youth towards school success, the CAO will be a thoughtful and engaged leader. The CAO will be a team player capable of working closely alongside the CEO, Senior Leadership and the Board of Directors to support the overall mission, and to position Communities In Schools to achieve the greatest possible impact for continued and future success. They will embody the values of Communities In Schools and will inspire and motivate others.

Experienced Manager and Developer of Talent: The Chief Advancement Officer will have significant experience managing people and teams and have a demonstrated track record of operational excellence in previous roles while simultaneously being an ardent developer of talent. This leader will be a decisive, results-oriented leader with a collegial, team-oriented working style. They will have a proven record of visible and effective management tactics and the demonstrated ability to build, coach, motivate and retain a solid team of professionals that is focused on impact, operational excellence, accountability and efficiency. They will empower and cultivate staff through active and effective communication, honest and constructive feedback and delegation, and promotion of intra- and interdepartmental teamwork and collaboration.

Equitable and Inclusive Collaborator: The Chief Advancement Officer is a leader with an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and its value to successful teams and organizations. They will bring a cultural acuity and a deep sense of emotional intelligence to all relationships and interactions in their role as a leader for Communities In Schools and an external spokesperson. With an approachable, yet direct style, the CAO will be a natural relationship-builder with an innate ability to develop, sustain and enhance excellent relationships internally and externally at CIS. The Chief Advancement Officer will have the character, dexterity and emotional intelligence to engage with a diverse set of stakeholders including staff, Board members, donors, students and families in an authentic and earnest way that demonstrates humility and a profound respect for the experiences and stories of individuals.


Koya Leadership Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Miecha Ranea Forbes and Christy Farrell are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role please visit this link here or email [email protected] or [email protected]. All nominations, inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Communities In Schools is committed to a workforce that is representative of the varied communities we are privileged to serve. We provide a work environment that does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, mental or physical disability, genetic information or any other basis protected by applicable law. Communities In Schools prohibits harassment of applicants or employees based on any of these protected categories.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners, a member of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit