uAspire is non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all young people have the financial information and resources necessary to find an affordable path to and through college. Their singular focus is on college affordability and removing financial barriers so that every student has an equitable opportunity to graduate from college and succeed in life.
Started as ACCESS in 1985 to provide financial advising to Boston’s college-bound students, uAspire has since evolved into the leading national service provider and voice on the issue of college affordability. By 2022, uAspire’s strategic plan aims to impact the lives of 3,000,000 young people through:
- Student Advising: In person and over text, the organization supports students one-on-one to maximize financial aid, minimize loan debt, and make informed financial decisions about the best post-secondary option for them.
- Training: Online and in-person the organization provides professional development for school counselors and college access providers, sharing their expertise so they can effectively support their students.
- Policy & Systems Change: To level the playing field for young people from all economic backgrounds, uAspire works to improve financial aid systems so everyone has a chance to graduate with a degree they can afford.
uAspire believes that college is the most powerful engine for economic mobility. A college graduate is 2.2 times more likely to be employed and will earn 1.8 times more income, than a high school graduate. Today only 12% of students from low-income families graduate college. The organization imagines a day when all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential and is on a mission to make that possible.
For more information, please visit http://www.uaspire.org/.
The uAspire CEO role is a rare and exciting opportunity for an experienced leader who brings demonstrated organizational leadership and a deep commitment to the power of education to change lives and communities. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the next CEO will have proven experience across key internal and external functions including team leadership, operational excellence, fundraising, policy work, change management and advancing equity. This leader will recognize the tremendous opportunity in front of the organization at this time and be prepared to position uAspire as a premier leader and resource in the space.
Internally, the CEO will set bold and ambitious goals, motivate and retain a top-notch staff and maintain excellence in the content and delivery of uAspire’s programming and services, ensuring that it continues to adapt and innovate to best meet the needs of the communities it serves. Externally, the CEO will embrace serving as a policy advocate and thought leader as well as the chief communicator and ambassador for uAspire in order to elevate the organization’s profile and reach. They will inspire, broaden and deepen support from donors, including foundations, high-net worth individuals and key stakeholders. The CEO will develop strong relationships at the highest levels, generating support to advance and strengthen the mission, vision, strategy and brand of uAspire.
This is a full-time position with a strong preference for the leader to be based in the organization’s headquarters in Boston, MA.
Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
Strategic Leadership and Governance
- Provide vision and direction to lead uAspire’s growth strategy; work collaboratively with the Board of Directors to establish and implement strategic priorities that further the mission and goals of uAspire;
- In collaboration with the Board and Executive team, execute and continuously refine uAspire’s strategic plan and goals to operate a growing entrepreneurial organization.
Organizational and People Management
- Develop and support the Executive team, identifying opportunities to deepen functional expertise as well as to further develop leadership skills;
- Create and champion effective internal processes that enhance transparent, collaborative decision-making between teams, and ensure multi-directional communications and feedback loops throughout the organization;
- Work with the Executive Team to help support, coach and be an advocate in career growth, mentoring and development;
- Encourage a results-oriented culture which uses data and analytics to measure impact, inform decision making and advance the work of uAspire;
- A transparent and decisive leader, the CEO will be comfortable holding leadership and staff accountable and actively help resolve conflicts while working closely with stakeholders;
- Model and champion uAspire’s values, mission, and vision throughout the organization, including a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Serve as the external face of the organization, enhancing uAspire’s visibility, brand recognition, and credibility;
- Serve as a thought leader and advocate in the field of college affordability and persistence, engaging with leading thinkers and contributing to the growth and success of the movement;
- Develop and implement a marketing strategy that advances uAspire’s public profile and utilizes innovative approaches to increase awareness of its services and program;
- Develop and manage strategic relationships with key partners and build a broad base of support and a network of champions for uAspire’s work.
- Work with the Board of Directors to design and implement fundraising strategies that increase and diversify uAspire’s revenue streams;
- Cultivate, solicit and steward key individuals, foundations, and corporate donors, and ensure ongoing engagement of existing donors in uAspire’s work;
- In partnership with the Board, create and cultivate relationships with major donors (individuals, corporations, and foundations).
The ideal candidate will bring the following skills, experiences, and characteristics:
Strategic and Visionary Leader: The CEO will bring demonstrated success leading and growing a high-performing organization, ideally, one with a national/regional structure. They will bring an inspirational and entrepreneurial approach to growth and impact, including a demonstrated ability to build support for ambitious goals and drive measurable growth.
Seasoned Organizational Leader: The CEO will have ability to effectively lead and manage a national organization, with the capacity to identify talent in leaders and develop it in a way that benefits both the individual and the organization. A natural manager, they seek out opportunities to develop senior leadership and ensure that staff at all levels have opportunities for growth and learning. A creative problem solver, they will work collaboratively with the team and demonstrate superior active listening skills and the ability to make and build support for decisions.
Cultural Champion/Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: The CEO will unify and reinforce a positive, highly engaged team and culture and will need to exhibit an abiding passion and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion values. The person must demonstrate a successful track record in advancing organizational DEI objectives and influencing others to approach all work with an equity lens. The CEO will know when and how to focus on organizational culture through listening, observing, and consistently using the organizational values as a guiding star for decisions and behavior.
Proven Fundraiser: Determined and motivated, the CEO will bring demonstrated success meeting ambitious growth goals and securing large gifts from a range of funders, from institutions to individual donors, foundations, and corporations. Dynamic, energetic, and creative, they will inspire confidence in the Board, donors, partners, and other constituents.
Tireless Advocate: The CEO will share in uAspire’s core mission that a college degree—and the opportunities it brings—should be affordable to all. Their passion for motivating others to support the organization and its mission will be infectious and unparalleled. With an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as a deep humility and respect for the experiences and stories of individuals, they will have the ability to interact and engage with a diverse set of stakeholders.
Authentic and Inspiring Spokesperson: An exceptional communicator and relationship builder, the CEO will represent uAspire externally with a variety of stakeholders and partners. They will understand how to raise the visibility and profile of uAspire and build a network of relationships and support that position the organization as a leader in the college affordability field.
Koya Leadership Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Erin Reedy and Miecha Ranea Forbes are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role please visit this link or email Erin and Miecha directly. All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
uAspire is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented applicants.
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 www.koyapartners.com.