Organization: The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Location: Chicago, IL

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About The Chicago Council on Global Affairs:

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs (the “Chicago Council” or “the Council”) drives public conversation and engagement on important global issues. The Council is an independent, nonpartisan organization that conducts thought-provoking research and serves as a platform for the world’s leading thinkers and doers to inform, engage, and influence policy and debate.

Citizen engagement in global affairs is crucial to America’s future strength and prosperity. The Chicago Council is an inclusive organization that brings together people with different perspectives to focus on the world’s most pressing challenges. Our work deepens public understanding of, and shapes US decisions on, critical issues that extend beyond national borders — from global security to trade, global agriculture to immigration, global cities to energy and water. Through original research, renowned opinion polling and world-class events featuring top global leaders, the Chicago Council turns often abstract and complex policy ideas into tangible and clear insights for the public, business leaders and policymakers.

For nearly a century, the Council has been connecting the world to Chicago and Chicago to the world. Each year, the Council hosts roughly 200 events featuring leaders, policymakers and other experts from around the world, discussing the most important global issues of the day. Additionally, the Chicago Council’s in-house experts and fellows produce high quality research and insightful commentary on a wide range of global issues. Looking to our future, the Council also drives initiatives designed to help develop the next generation of global thought leaders and influencers.

Under the leadership of Ivo H. Daalder, former US Ambassador to NATO, the Chicago Council is on an ambitious path of growth and expansion. Since Ambassador Daalder became President in July 2013, the Council successfully launched the Chicago Forum on Global Cities, a high-level, multi-faceted three-day international forum held annually in Chicago; extended the breadth of Council programming; expanded research, resident expertise and foundation relationships; and revamped the Council’s work in developing future global leaders.

Our organization, much like our city, makes connections and shapes perceptions beyond our borders. With half of the world’s population already living in cities – a share that is expected to grow to two-thirds by 2050 – global cities like Chicago have an increasingly important role to play in framing and ultimately helping to solve the common challenges faced by communities here in America and around the world. As we have done for well over 90 years, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs will continue to lead the way.

For more information on the Chicago Council, please visit:

The Opportunity:

The Chicago Council is significantly expanding its studies and research effort in the coming years. The Council seeks a new Vice President of Studies to lead this expansion. The overarching objective of the new Vice President will be to expand the credibility, visibility and reach of the organization as a top-tier think tank and build a sustainable funding base for its research efforts.

The Vice President of Studies will provide leadership and direction to generate new ideas and influence policy debates in the United States and abroad. The Vice President will be charged with significantly increasing the range and depth of substantive contributions by the Chicago Council in each of its research focus areas: public opinion, global agriculture, global cities, global economy, global energy, immigration, global security and global water. Some of these areas are well established at the Council (notably its polling and global agriculture work). Others will need to be developed or expanded in the coming years.

The Vice President will be responsible for overseeing the Chicago Council’s research across multiple areas of expertise, including the work of Council fellows, task forces, study groups, conferences and symposia and multi-year initiatives.

Specific Responsibilities of the Vice President will include:

  • Enhance the Chicago Council’s position as a major, highly credible and influential voice in all subject areas addressed by its senior fellows and research agenda. Special attention will be needed to establish the Council as a nationally recognized thought leader on issues of global cities, global energy and global water, and to sustain and enhance the Council’s reputation as a thought leader on public opinion and global agriculture.
  • Manage a team of senior fellows and research associates to advance the Chicago Council’s research agenda. This includes ensuring that the work of the senior fellows is of the highest caliber and that they are regularly engaged in the policy dialogue and media in a highly visible way; developing and monitoring department budgets; overseeing the successful scoping and implementation of all research projects; and providing day-to-day oversight of a steadily growing team of research fellows.
  • Develop, manage and implement the growing portfolio of research projects and studies. Ensure research projects are disseminated widely to decision makers and opinion leaders in relevant policy, corporate and civic communities, and garner significant attention in policy and business dialogues and in traditional and new media.
  • Work in close collaboration with the Council’s team to identify, approach and cultivate partners and donors to help advance the institution’s objectives. Secure sustainable and multi-year funding for the growing range of Council research projects and studies from foundations, corporations and individuals. Lead the effort to double the current research budget of nearly $5M annually over the next five years.
  • Identify and recruit well-respected thought leaders to inform, lend credibility and enhance the visibility of the Chicago Council’s research.
  • Establish research relationships with scholars at universities within the Midwest and beyond, including through non-resident fellowships with the Chicago Council. Explore possible partnerships with other think tanks and organizations to leverage expertise and expand the Council’s reach and visibility.
  • Serve as a public spokesperson regarding the Chicago Council’s studies and research efforts to enhance its local, national and global visibility and stature.
  • Work with a collaborative and energetic senior management team that oversees the overall direction of the Chicago Council, carries out strategic initiatives and ensures that all Council activities are integrated and communicated effectively at local, national and international levels.

Candidate Profile:

The Vice President will have the character and confidence to work comfortably in a highly visible role and effectively with a global range of constituents, both within the Chicago Council and externally. The Vice President will be a recognized thought leader in one or more areas of international affairs and foreign policy. S/he will have an accomplished policy research record with substantial experience and demonstrable familiarity with key public and private US and international foreign policy institutions. S/he will also have demonstrated management skills and experience in fundraising for research.

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

Strategic Leadership: S/he will be a strategic leader who is experienced at setting and achieving a strategic plan. In doing so, s/he will be familiar with supporting a culture of collaboration among senior leadership and the studies team to advance an agenda.

Management Abilities: The Vice President will be experienced in managing day-to-day operations, allocating resources in support of a strategic plan, setting and meeting quantified objectives and running fiscally sustainable initiatives. S/he will have the ability to identify and nurture a talented team that embraces the mission and brings organizational development and improved operational effectiveness. The Vice President will have the ability to set priorities decisively, delegate responsibilities, assure accountability and allocate resources to ensure results. With the ability to engender trust, honesty and integrity, the Vice President’s management style will be organized and efficient while at the same time inclusive, allowing for the building of consensus, recognition of teamwork and the ability to resolve conflict.

Relationship Builder and Collaborator: The Vice President will be comfortable in a role expanding and enhancing the credibility, visibility and reach of an organization. S/he will be skilled at actively and strategically seeking partnerships and building coalitions with other think tanks and organizations to leverage expertise and expand reach and visibility. The Vice President will be a confident public speaker and a strong and dynamic communicator who can represent an institution effectively to all constituents across global communities.

Fundraising Expertise: The Vice President will be a proven or emergent fundraiser who understands that successful fundraising and the development of partnerships with allied organizations are fundamental keys to success.

Passion for the Mission: The Vice President of Studies will exhibit an intellectual curiosity and a global mindset. S/he will have experience and credibility designing policy research projects that garner media and policy attention. S/he will embody the values and mission of the Chicago Council and will inspire and motivate others. On the most fundamental level, s/he will be committed to educating the public on foreign affairs and will promote that passion throughout the organization. S/he will embrace the history and culture of the Chicago Council while having an eye consistently focused on the future and how to continue to be a global thought leader, increasing the range and depth of substantive contributions by the Chicago Council in each of its research focuses.

An advanced degree (doctorate preferred), with a focus on international affairs or a related field of study, is required.


Alison P. Ranney and Marissa Martin of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role, please email Alison and Marissa directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

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: