Chief People Officer

Chief People Officer

Year Up

Preferred Location: Boston, New York, Chicago, or San Francisco   |   September 15, 2021

About Year Up

At Year Up, we believe every young adult has potential and deserves opportunity and economic justice. Year Up’s mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by ensuring that young adults gain the skills, experiences, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through careers and higher education. We are committed to equitable access to economic opportunity, education, and justice for all young adults. Advancing Year Up’s mission is more important than ever. A pervasive Opportunity Divide is preventing talented individuals from earning livable wages and building career paths with leading employers. Millions of young adults are barred from accessing the necessary resources, opportunities, and experiences to achieve upward mobility. At the same time, employers need to fill middle-skill roles but are using human capital practices that unnecessarily constrain their available pool of talent and perpetuate inequality. Year Up is a proven leader in addressing these challenges.

Over two decades, Year Up has provided a pathway for tens of thousands of young people to earn successful careers with strong growth potential. Leading companies—including more than one-third of Fortune 100 companies—rely on Year Up as a source of qualified, motivated talent to fill in-demand, middle-skill positions. Since its founding in 2000, Year Up has served more than 34,000 young adults. One remarkable measure of Year Up’s success is that our program has demonstrated the largest sustained earnings gains ever recorded of any workforce program assessed in a randomized controlled trial. Find the study here.

Year Up is a national 501(c)3 workforce development organization incorporated in Massachusetts. Year Up has a presence in 27 U.S. markets, including Arizona, San Francisco Bay Area, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Greater Atlanta, Greater Boston, Greater Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, the National Capital Region, New York City/Jersey City, Pittsburgh, Puget Sound, Rhode Island, South Florida, Tampa Bay, and Wilmington. We are also piloting alternative program approaches in Los Angeles, Hartford, CT, and other markets, working with other talent providers and community colleges to create a broader talent ecosystem that can scale to reach many more young people across the country.

In 2014, Year Up created YUPRO, a wholly-owned public benefit corporation, to support the career development of Year Up alumni and others who have successfully participated in post-secondary training programs through job placement, recruiting, and further skills training. Year Up’s advisory services arm, Grads of Life, works closely with corporations to create more inclusive talent practices, and offers consulting services such as frontline manager training. Grads of Life is currently working with the OneTen coalition to help member companies build out a community of practice and learn best practices around areas such as apprenticeships, and upskilling.

Having been several times voted one of the Best Nonprofits to Work For in the country by The Nonprofit Times, Year Up is a rewarding place to work. Our staff is passionate, supportive, mission-driven, and committed to positive change and continuous learning. We set high standards for ourselves and our students and live by a set of core values that reflect an unshakable belief in the talent and full potential of Year Up students and graduates. The work we do is life-changing, and we know that our team is essential in achieving our mission. Please learn more about our work here.

The Opportunity

The Chief People Officer is, first and foremost, a key executive partner and business leader at Year Up committed to driving success across all its impact areas, making sure that young adults are provided a runway to achieve their potential in education and employment. You will be a strategic advisor and mission driver, working with leadership to ensure that Year Up has the people, practices, culture, organizational design, and inclusive work environment to enable and sustain the growth and impact that we have committed to our young adults and other stakeholders. Reporting to the Chief Operating Officer and sitting on Year Up’s Executive Committee, you will be responsible for developing the human capital strategic vision required to advance the organizational strategy and delivering meaningful human capital insights to business leaders.

The Chief People Officer will ensure that employees experience high standards of HR service delivery. As the leader of the Human Resources team, you will bring experience and wisdom to guide leaders in key focus areas: HR Business Partnering/Employee Relations, Talent Acquisition, Talent Administration, Staff Learning, and Organization Development. In supporting HR leaders, you will provide vision, leadership, and management for all human resource services, policies, and programs in order to sustain a high-performance culture of belonging that emphasizes employee experience, engagement, leadership development, and succession planning. Taken together, these will inspire progress towards meeting Year Up’s goals, ensure process and quality improvement, and support our ability to attract and retain an exemplary, engaged workforce.

As a champion of organization culture, the Chief People Officer will set a standard for how to model organizational core values, operating principles, and leadership behaviors. The Chief People Officer will also lead with an intentional focus on building Year Up as an antiracist organization, embedding a deep commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging into every facet of the work that we do and how we do it. The Chief People Officer will quickly develop an understanding of the complexities of this work at the individual, team, and organizational levels, and bring a nuanced perspective on racial justice, systemic inequity, and the impact of white supremacy culture.

Finally, the Chief People Officer will interact with students as a coach, group facilitator, and advocate, participating in building a positive educational environment.

Key responsibilities will include:

  • Lead, develop, and drive the creation of a strategic talent practice to support Year Up’s mission and scale goals in collaboration with executive and other senior leaders across the organization. Bring a future-oriented approach to understanding potential skills needs as Year Up pursues opportunities to close the Opportunity Divide through scalable talent solutions and advisory work.
  • Demonstrate deep commitment to Year Up operating as an antiracist organization and lead with a nuanced understanding of evolving workplace applications of antiracism, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. This requires an understanding of the highly racialized nature of the United States society in which Year Up operates.
  • Create and advance sound, well-communicated organizational policies and practices (together with protocols for periodically refreshing them), that integrate perspectives from multiple stakeholder groups and industry best practices while supporting collective organizational goals. Policies and practices should honor Year Up’s commitment to a healthy feedback culture – one that elicits important ideas to facilitate the smooth functioning of the organization and inspires the belief that Year Up employees can bring their authentic selves to work.
  • Quickly develop an understanding of how work gets done across Year Up and foster mutual understanding across functions and geographic locations in support of one Year Up.
  • Inspire and provide strong leadership to all the HR functional areas, ensuring integration across the full team, identifying technology and other tools necessary to maximize the team’s effectiveness.
  • Collaborate with key stakeholders to build the internal talent pipeline and succession strategies to place appropriate talent where and when required to achieve business results.
  • Partner with leaders internally and externally to bring leadership development approaches to Year Up, ensuring appropriate levels of competency growth and ever-improving individual and collective performance.
  • Develop an overall total compensation/rewards strategy that supports recruitment and retention of high performing talent in keeping with our strategy.
  • Serve as an employee advocate and ensure that Year Up meets its commitments to its employees and always acts in compliance with relevant policies, laws, and regulations.
  • Use data and apply analytics to formulate people insights and recommendations to improve talent related decision making.
  • Influence key leaders in ways that will energize and support change and growth within the organization.
  • Support and advance the organization’s antiracism commitment through implementation of HR policies and practices that are aligned with our ambition to dismantle aspects of white supremacy that exist within Year Up’s culture.
  • Help lead the organization’s staff and Board of Directors in developing awareness, comfort, and confidence to address and champion equity in all aspects of the organization.
  • Lead with cultural competence, seeking to connect deeply with Year Up employees and students, bringing an authentic commitment to building relationships with others that acknowledges and values individual lived experience.
  • Serve as a coach/mentor for a small number of current students. Join and sometimes facilitate weekly group sessions with students.
  • Participate in staff meetings and trainings.
Candidate Profile

The Chief People Officer will be both a strategic business leader and a natural relationship-builder and communicator with deep levels of emotional intelligence. Bringing a forward-looking orientation with a focus on building for greater impact, the Chief People Officer will understand the inherent challenges of growth, scale, and organizational change and will effectively balance the needs of the organization, employees, and students.

While no one candidate will possess every quality outlined for this position, the successful candidate will bring many of the following professional qualifications and personal attributes:

  • Deep experience and expertise leading the human resources function of a complex organization, with a strategic orientation. This may be demonstrated by 15+ years of progressively increasing HR experience with at least 8 years in an HR Business Partner role and at least 5 years in a supervisory role.
  • Demonstrated success across multiple areas in HR, such as organization development and strategic workforce planning, managing/leading change, performance management and career development, coaching, talent assessment, compensation, and succession planning.
  • Strong knowledge of HR policies, procedures, and relevant legislation, regulations, and protocols related to employment practices, compensation and benefits, and general HR administration.
  • Ability to ensure that organizational decisions are made on the basis of data and analysis while being grounded in our mission, values, leadership behaviors, and our commitment to become an antiracist organization. Demonstrated success connecting human capital strategies and practices to business needs and goals to drive results; ability to translate strategy into action.
  • Demonstrated commitment to centering antiracism work resulting in a diverse, inclusive, and culturally competent organization and staff. An understanding that the Opportunity Divide is fundamentally connected to the history of race and racism in the United States.
  • Adept at understanding and communicating the context in which we operate, including the changing nature of work, the embrace of remote/hybrid teaching and learning, and the evolving social contract between employee and employer which calls upon employers to focus on career mobility.
  • Evidence of cultural sensitivity in past employment and life experiences, along with the capacity to speak to aspects of their own identity, including race, and how their identity has shaped their leadership behavior and philosophy.
  • Proven servant leadership skills, which require deep listening, empathy, and an appreciation of the interconnectedness of our work across functions and markets.
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills – a natural relationship-builder with strong emotional intelligence who can build trust and confidence easily.
  • Professional judgment, maturity, and the ability to identify and work through conflict.
  • A passion for working with youth, an unshakeable belief in their potential, and a strong commitment to the mission of Year Up.
Compensation & Benefits

The starting salary range for this position is $180,000 to $225,000 based on experience and ability to have broad impact early. The compensation package includes medical, dental, and vision insurance, 401k match, and generous PTO including sabbatical time and parental leave, as well as short- and long-term disability, life insurance, FSA, EAP, and a professional development stipend.

Year Up actively engages individuals from all backgrounds. We are committed to embracing diversity within our organization because we firmly believe that diverse employee teams help us to achieve our best organizational outcomes and provide the most effective support to our young adults as we work to close the Opportunity Divide. We are deeply dedicated to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive work environment. Learn more about our commitment to diversity:

As an equal opportunity employer, Year Up is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified individuals and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, marital status, veteran status, pregnancy, parental status, genetic information or characteristics, or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.


Cassie Scarano and Ariella Pasackow of Koya Partners have been 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.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part 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 Partners, visit