Demos is a public policy organization working for an America where all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy.
Demos champions over-the-horizon policy solutions, shifting the narrative to clear the way for their acceptance and advocating until they take effect. At this moment of crisis for our democracy, Demos is fully prepared to employ all of its capacities – legal strategies, research and policy design, strategic communications, and partnership campaigns – to introduce, mainstream, and move bold and progressive ideas such as “Debt-Free College” and “Automatic Voter Registration” from cutting-edge concept to practical reality. This commitment to the full cycle of change has resulted in real victories, from landmark credit card reforms to nearly four million new voter registration applications from low-income citizens. Throughout all of its work, Demos is advocating not just for people, but for the very idea of the people – of one nation, united by a shared fate.
Demos’ work focuses on ideas and advocacy to engage the New American dēmos – young people, people of color, women, and working-class families – who are currently underrepresented in our politics and policymaking. These constituencies, if meaningfully motivated to engage, have the potential to reshape the public discourse and, ultimately, the future governing agenda in this country. Demos’ goal is to equip influential leaders – elected officials, activist networks, grassroots state and local movement-building organizations, and opinion leaders of all stripes – with the ideas that Americans believe can affirmatively change their lives.
Demos moves into a leadership transition with a healthy and strong institutional profile. The $13.5 million organization has seen meaningful growth in recent years. Staff experts in progressive policy solutions and organizational development serve as active and engaged members of the Senior Leadership Team and are regularly sought out throughout the political and social justice arenas for their knowledge and proficiency. Externally, Demos is known for its cooperative approach to partnership, working with fellow organizations and leaders in the progressive movement on integrated advocacy campaigns and contributing to the growth of the movement as a whole. Demos works in partnership with its 501c4 sister organization, Demos Action, a project of the Tides Advocacy Fund. In addition, Demos has played a unique role in shaping the national conversation about the role that race and racism play in driving political and economic inequality.
Founded in 2000, the organization is headquartered in New York City with offices in Washington, D.C. and Boston. With a deeply intentional and forward-thinking organizational culture, Demos has unified its staff of nearly 50 people around values tied to community-building, leadership development, and a commitment to collaboration and teamwork. As racial equity has shifted into the center of Demos’ strategic framework, the organization has undergone an internal transformation to reflect this change. Today, Demos serves as a multi-racial organization with 55% staff of color and is looked to as a model in the field for comprehensive racial equity transformation and practice.
This exciting moment of transition for the organization builds on a strong foundation and provides the platform for new leadership to guide the organization forward.
For more information on Demos, please visit http://www.demos.org.
Demos seeks an exceptional President to lead the organization to achieve even greater levels of strategic influence, impact, and innovation – knowing that these external indicators derive from a healthy organization with talented staff, strong partnerships, and a solid reputation in the field. This is a unique opportunity to assume leadership of a fiscally-sound organization that is in a period of high-profile growth, and that is culturally comfortable with experimentation and risk-taking. The timing of the current political and social moment is ripe for Demos to continue its trajectory of extraordinary impact.
The President reports directly to the Board of Trustees. Their responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:
Strategic Vision and Leadership for Racial Equity and for the Progressive Movement
- Drive strategies from all areas of Demos’ work toward its mission of an equal say and an equal chance for all
- Serve as an inspirational leader in the progressive movement, providing thought-leadership in policy and movement-building
- Push and equip movement partners and allies to incorporate racial equity into their work; Craft and lead Demos’ internal racial equity strategies
- Provide empowering and supportive leadership of a highly skilled staff of professionals across multiple locations
- Apply a focus on thoughtful and intentional organizational development with a commitment to professional growth for team members at all levels; Demonstrate attentiveness, availability, and willingness to invest in staff development and cohesion
- Partner with the Executive Team and Senior Leadership Team to enact sound and informed decision-making for staff leadership; Manage the balance of external responsibilities alongside internal leadership through high levels of communication and collaboration
Fundraising and External Affairs
- Partner with the Development Team and Board of Trustees to cultivate and steward key donor relationships with individuals and foundations, soliciting funds to support Demos’ mission and work
- Leverage the President role to build Demos’ brand and serve as a leading representative of Demos’ mission in public settings of all sizes with donors, political leaders, movement partners, press, and other stakeholders
- Identify, develop, and engage key staff and allies who can speak on Demos’ behalf and further the organization’s goals publicly
- Collaborate and partner closely with the Board of Trustees to implement the vision, mission, and policies set by the Demos Board and to deliver on organizational goals and priorities created in accordance with Demos’ strategic plan
- Serve as an active participant in the Board of Trustees’ standing committees and in the Board selection, recruitment, and training process
- Provide relevant and timely updates and information to the Board of Trustees
Ideal candidates will be highly strategic, engaging, and team-oriented leaders who can represent Demos’ mission and theory of change to a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders. Successful candidates will bring previous senior organizational leadership in the racial equity and/or social justice sectors, exceptional external relations skills, and a deep belief in the power of policy change for the good of a democracy.
The broad nature of Demos’ work allows for successful candidates to come from a variety of professional and lived experiences. Candidates may have experience in law, public policy, grassroots organizing, philanthropy, academia, or a combination of all of the above.
Leading candidates will have the following personal competencies and characteristics:
Policy Leadership and Demonstrated Impact in Social Change
The President will bring a compelling and credible policy voice to the national conversation, backed by an understanding of how to influence the public discourse and political ecosystem. Applying visionary and strategic thinking, as well as political astuteness, the President will have the skills and experience to align legal, research, communications, and campaign approaches to making policy change. The President will have an understanding of the vital connection between ideas, movement-building, and progress towards ambitious policy goals. They will have experience with the progressive movement and its strategies, and a history of centering the people and issues too often excluded from political power.
Fundraising, External Affairs, and Passion for Relationship-Building
As the leading fundraiser and ambassador for Demos, the President will thrive on engaging people and building relationships. The President will have a demonstrated track record in fundraising, ideally with knowledge of and existing relationships with relevant and aligned funders. They will have equal experience or ability in developing relationships with movement partners, political leaders, supporters, and other important stakeholders. Public speaking experience and charisma will be key, as the President will be tasked with frequent and high-level speaking engagements, media appearances, and other opportunities to raise the profile of Demos and the progressive movement.
Commitment to Racial Equity
The President will bring personal and professional experience that centers race with a clear commitment to tackling systemic racism in the United States. They will have the capacity and credibility to serve as a leading voice in the national dialogue regarding racial equity. In order to effectively lead the internal strategy around racial equity, the President will be committed to integrating racial equity into every part of the organization and may have demonstrated such skills in previous roles.
The President will be committed to leading with humility, approachability, and accessibility. They will understand the importance of building and maintaining a strong staff and effective cross-movement relationships. They will be enthusiastic to partner with senior leaders in developing the strengths and leadership of the staff. The President will have experience making challenging management decisions with the input and insight of appropriate stakeholders.
A bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree in a related field is preferred. Travel will be required.
Melissa Madzel and Molly Brennan of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role, please submit materials here. Materials should include a thorough resume and compelling letter of interest. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
Demos is an Equal Opportunity Employer – people of color, people with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.
Demos’ work on social, economic, and political equity and the pursuit of a just society is informed and inspired by the diversity of its staff. Demos celebrates diversity in gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, class, ability, life experiences, and background. Demos is committed to maintaining a work environment that recognizes, understands, respects, and encourages the unique contributions of each member of the Demos team.
About Koya Leadership Partners:
Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with mission-driven organizations 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 www.koyapartners.com.