Vice President, Operations

Vice President, Operations

Sustainable Development Solutions Network

New York, NY   |   July 21, 2020

About Sustainable Development Solutions Network

The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has been operating since 2012 under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.  The SDSN mobilizes research, academia, the private sector and civil society to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and implement the Paris Climate Agreement.

We aim to accelerate joint learning and promote integrated approaches that address the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world. SDSN works closely with United Nations agencies, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector, and civil society.

The SDSN has offices in New York and Paris hosted by SDSN Association (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization) and SDSN Association Paris (an Association 1901), respectively. Both organizations operate one integrated budget and share the same Board. The SDSN is directed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, who also serves as Chair of the Board of SDSN Association. A Leadership Council provides substantive direction but does not assume any fiduciary oversight or responsibilities for the SDSN Association and SDSN Association Paris. A Networks Strategy Council advises on the regional and national networks, and membership of SDSN.

For more information on SDSN, please visit

The Opportunity

The Vice-President, Operations is responsible for the operational management of SDSN. The Vice President works closely with the programmatic leadership to manage the financial, human resources, legal, and operational functioning of SDSN. This position reports to the President of SDSN and works closely with the Director, Finance and Operations. This position is based in New York with some international travel possible. Specific responsibilities include the following as well as Any other tasks as mandated by the SDSN Board and President:

Operational Management (40%)

  • The Vice President, Operations will manage the activities of SDSN. This includes:
  • Working closely with the Director of Finance and Operations to ensure that SDSN has a strong and well-functioning finance and operations team, in line with the organization’s needs
  • Working with the Director of Finance and Operations to ensure that the annual budgets of SDSN are in line with financial forecasts and revenue projections and working closely with the other Vice Presidents to determine salary and reporting structures, aligned with programmatic budgets.
  • Overseeing the management of SDSN’s organizational and grant specific audits
  • Overall responsibility for all contractual relations of SDSN, including but not limited to contracts with SDSN Association Paris, and other offices, sub-grant agreements, and service contract agreements with external partners, and all Memoranda of Understanding.
  • Working with the President, Director of Finance and Operations, and other Vice Presidents to oversee the design and structuring of all new grant and gift agreements, including inputs on drafting, reviewing and ensuring compliance with SDSN protocols, legal requirements, and donor conditions
  • Overall responsibility for building human resources for SDSN, including management of payroll and benefits systems, employee management, and performance systems

Legal and Financial Compliance (35%)

  • The Vice President will have overall responsibility for legal and financial compliance. This includes:
  • Managing compliance with the laws of the State of New York, with U.S. Federal laws and international treaties as applicable, including Uniform Guidance, OFAC/SDN compliance etc. and with New York City laws and regulations
  • Managing the filing of Federal, New York State and/or city tax returns and fulfilling any other reporting requirements, including, but not limited to the 990
  • Ensuring compliance with HR related U.S. federal, state and city laws as relevant
  • Managing the full suite of institutional insurance coverage for SDSN
  • Contributing to maintaining and revising the SDSN policy and systems manuals
  • Liaising with legal counsel in the United States and managing the relationships with legal counsel
  • Serving as the Data Protection Officer for SDSN

Board Management (10%):

  • The Vice President is responsible for:
  • Convening board meetings, setting the agenda, and preparing documentation for the same
  • Working closely with the Board to maintain and improve the human resource, financial management, donor reporting, contractual, and compliance systems for SDSN Association
  • Working with the Director of Finance and Operations to prepare documentation for reporting to the Board
  • Manage the budget of SDSN Association, and develop strategic work plans for submission and approval of the Board
  • Act on Board recommendations and requests, on an as needed basis
  • Provide support to the Board of Directors’ Finance, Audit and committees

Strategy and Leadership (5%)

  • The strategy of SDSN is determined by the senior leadership of SDSN, including the President, and the Vice-Presidents, working closely with the Leadership Council and the Networks Strategy Council of SDSN. In this context, the Vice-President, Operations is responsible for:
  • Contributing to the overall strategic direction of SDSN with the rest of the leadership team under the leadership of the President
  • Working closely with the President and other Vice Presidents to translate the overall strategic vision into operational programs
  • Serving as the point person for other Vice Presidents and working closely with the Director of Finance and Operations to help set up new programs, budgets, negotiate gift and grant agreements for the program, and ensure that new priorities are translated into SDSN programs that comply with the legal, financial, and regulatory protocols of the organization.
  • Working with the Director of Finance and Operations to develop and update necessary protocols and policies for human resources, financial management, compliance, contractual engagements, grant and gift management, etc. for the organization

Team Management (5%)

  • The Vice President manages the Finance and Operations team of SDSN Association. This includes:
  • Supervising the Director of Finance and Operations who leads the finance and operations team and who also reports directly to the President; and working with the Director to manage the financial, operational, and human resource systems of SDSN
Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:

Operational Management

  • Functional expertise in at least one operational area (e.g. Finance, HR, etc.) with significant exposure to other functional areas
  • Experience in a complex organization with 20+ employees
  • Experience in one of the following: streamlining workflows, process management, or continuous improvement
  • Skilled in change management

Nonprofit Financial Management

  • Experience managing financials in a large or complex nonprofit; prior experience as a CFO is a plus
  • Understanding of U.S. federal and New York state grants, financial compliance, and reporting requirements
  • Experience reviewing contracts and working with legal counsel

Mission & Culture Alignment

  • Passion for sustainability and/or climate change issues
  • Comfort working in a fast-paced, complex organization
  • Solutions-oriented mentality; problem-solver
  • International experience and comfort working across cultures and geographies
  • Detail-oriented
  • Flexibility and openness to different and new ways of doing things; is able to see the merits of perspectives other than his/her own

Leadership & Team Management

  • Ability to manage up to senior leadership and a Board
  • Builds trusting relationships with superiors, peers, and direct reports
  • Ability to motivate a team
  • Strong communicator; ability to communicate to multiple stakeholders across multiple cultures/geographies
  • Inspires confidence; able to push back on senior leaders in areas of expertise

In addition, strong candidates will offer:

  • An advanced degree or credential (e.g. MBA, CPA, CFA, etc.)
Compensation & Benefits

SDSN offers a competitive salary and benefits package commensurate with qualifications and experience.


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


Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to unlawful considerations of race, color, creed, religion, gender, sex, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, genetic information, military or veteran status, age, and physical or mental disability, or any other classification protected by applicable local, state, or federal laws.

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