Organization: Christopher House

Location: Chicago, IL

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About Christopher House:      

Founded in 1906, Christopher House is a family of schools providing education and resources to low-income children and their families, to succeed in school, the workplace, and life. Serving low-income families in Chicago, the organization seeks to break the cycle of poverty by providing a continuum of innovative schools and educational programs that give participants the tools and resources necessary to foster a stable, self-sufficient family. The family of schools includes:

  • Christopher House Infant School & Preschool prepares children, ages 6 weeks to 5 years for school, stimulates cognitive growth and develops emotional intelligence;
  • Christopher House Elementary School builds educational continuity from pre-school through elementary school and empowers achievement and perseverance in all students;
  • Christopher House After School drives students ages 5 – 18 years old to develop healthy behaviors, explore new opportunities, achieve academic excellence and succeed in post-secondary education; and
  • Christopher House Parent School offers education and support to help parents provide a safe, self-sufficient and nurturing environment conducive to educational success.

The vision of Christopher House is to create a national model for helping low-income, at-risk children and their families achieve success in school, the workplace and life. The organization partners with families to provide a continuum of innovative schools for students from birth through high school as well as adult educational programs that create stable, self-sufficient families.

Christopher House works with families to reach their full potential through education, partnering with parents and data. The organization provides high quality education to children and families to reach their goals. They partner with parents from pregnancy to high school to provide the tools and resources to foster a stable, self-sufficient family. They offer counseling, workshops and family advocates to break the cycle of poverty. Christopher House uses data to inform their practices and offer the highest-level of education and services to the nearly 5,000 children and family they serve.

Additionally, the organization serves as the Project Manager for the Chicago Benchmarking Collaborative, an alliance of seven education and human service agencies that collectively work with more than 12,000 low-income individuals throughout some of Chicago’s most underserved neighborhoods. The Collaborative builds a cross-agency and cross-sector infrastructure through which agencies collect carefully vetted data, share best practices and track the efficacy of data-driven strategies for program improvement. This Collaborative drives meaningful and tangible change for Chicago’s at-risk population.

The FY16 budget for Christopher House is $12.5 million. In 2015, the revenue was 78% government funded, 18% privately funded and 4% in-kind contributions.

For more information on Christopher House, please visit

The Opportunity:

The Director of External Affairs (Director) is Christopher House’s top development and communication leader, reporting directly to Lori Baas, Christopher House’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Through this hire, Christopher House will reach a new and aspiring level of philanthropic success that will advance the reputation and awareness of the organization.

S/he will oversee and lead the External Affairs team, currently consisting of five development and communications professionals. The Director will actively manage a donor portfolio by personally participating in cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. As an organization leader and member of the Staff Leadership Team, s/he will lead strategy and planning creating a culture of stewardship and philanthropy organization-wide.

The Director will be instrumental in driving Christopher House’s future success. S/he will enhance the overall approach to advancement – one that creates a true culture of philanthropy throughout the organization, improves and develops sustained success in contributed revenue and ultimately fulfills the Christopher House’s mission and achieves it vision. Inspired by a genuine passion for helping children and families thrive, s/he will work tirelessly to promote and expand the efforts of the organization, and will evangelize the organization throughout the community to help raise financial support, engaging with a wider range of potential donors and accelerating Christopher House’s reach and brand in the community.

Specifically, the Director will provide leadership and supervision overseeing organizational advancement efforts including, fundraising, external affairs, communications, marketing and media relations. The Director will work closely with the CEO, Board of Directors and Staff Leadership to raise organizational visibility, increase revenue and create awareness and excitement about the Christopher House mission, leadership and staff.

Key metrics for success of this role include:

  • Achieving strong fundraising success for Christopher House through a robust development program, including expanded engagement with individuals, corporations and foundations.
  • Building a vibrant network of major gift donors who feel connected to and supportive of the mission of Christopher House and are appreciated for their generosity;
  • Providing leadership and support to the Staff Leadership and Board of Directors, specifically the External Affairs Committee; creating an approach that builds a true culture of philanthropy throughout the organization;
  • Increasing the effectiveness and productivity of the team by serving as a coach and mentor, motivating team members with energy and passion, and ensuring clear expectations and accountability; and
  • Planning and coordinating events to increase awareness, energy and funding for Christopher House.

Candidate Profile:

The Director of External Affairs, along with the CEO will develop a vision for Christopher House’s development and communication strategy, inspiring the support of the entire organization. S/he will be a sophisticated, strategic and ambitious leader with an inquisitive and creative mindset.

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

Passion for the Mission

The Director will have a passion for Christopher House’s purpose of partnering with families to provide a continuum of innovative schools for students from birth through high school as well as adult educational programs that create stable, self-sufficient families. S/he will embrace Christopher House’s culture, while continually innovating to help expand its brand and reach. The Director 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.

Development and Marketing Expertise

The Director will be an innovative and energetic leader with a measurable track record of development success with a wide range of fundraising channels with particular focus on major gifts. With a creative and business mindset, and working collaboratively with the CEO, Board and Staff Leadership, s/he will have the capacity to develop and execute the development and communications strategy. The Director will have experience setting and implementing innovative marketing strategies. S/he will serve as a catalyst and leader within the organization. S/he will have a expert understanding of communications including: public relations, digital marketing, social media, web and mobile development and management. A tactical leader, s/he will have a strong data and analysis orientation and a proven ability to use metrics to drive development decisions and achieve strategic objectives.

Leadership and Management Acumen

S/he will be a strategic and results-oriented leader who, along with the CEO, sets and articulates a vision for the organization’s next fundraising and communication chapter, builds and executes the strategy and evaluates outcomes with a metrics-based approach. S/he will offer creative, yet practical, ideas to achieve the strategic direction. S/he will be an innovative and energetic individual who functions well in a fast-paced, mission-driven environment. S/he will have a track record of motivating and inspiring other to achieve impact through creativity and teamwork and of leveraging individual strength to meet organizational goals. S/he will offer creative, yet practical, ideas to achieve the strategic direction of both the team and the overall organization. An engaging and supportive expert, the Director will offer credibility both internally and externally.

Relationship Building and Collaborating

The Director will be skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships at multiple levels with varied constituencies including Christopher House’s Board of Directors, Staff Leadership and the External Affairs team. S/he will be a confident and articulate communicator with the ability to work fluidly across all levels. S/he will have a motivating approach to building collaboration and buy-in and generating support from stakeholders. S/he will be able to establish rapport and open communication with all constituents and successfully convey Christopher House’s mission and objectives. Collaborating closely with the CEO, the Director will implement a comprehensive and multi-faceted donor communication and stewardship strategy ensuring donor satisfaction. S/he will have a strong working relationship with key leaders and will be a proactive communicator at all times.

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


Marissa Martin and Turner Delano 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 Turner directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Christopher House 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