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Chief Operations Officer

Location: Novato office

Report to: Chief Executive Officer

Organization Summary

Located in Novato, CA, the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) is a mission driven nonprofit and industry leader in providing professional development and support services related to Project Based Learning (PBL). We do this by gathering, developing, and sharing high quality PBL instructional practices and products and by providing highly effective capacity building services to teachers, schools, and districts.

We have a strong commitment to educational equity and believe that regardless of geography or background, all students who have access to quality PBL instruction will deepen their learning and achieve success in college, career and life. 

Our organization is restructuring to enhance our commitment to create greater student impact and educational equity for all students in K-12. To deepen and expand our support to students, teachers and educational leaders, we plan to redesign our product and services, grow strategically through regional or market segmentation, strengthen our internal organizational capacity for delivery, and build an evidence base and gold standard for quality PBL. 

At our northern CA headquarters, we have 23 employees and we have 90 contract faculty members distributed throughout the country.  We are growing rapidly and are generating $11M in revenue through grants and fee for service.  For more information, please visit us online at

Position Summary
Our revenues have steadily increased and we are now poised to dramatically expand our growth. Our board and Executive Director are seeking a mission-focused, strategic and innovative executive with experience scaling an organization, building a collaborative culture and developing high performing teams among our group of talented and diverse individuals.   
Reporting to the Executive Director, the newly created position of Chief Operations Officer will oversee four direct reports and a staff of 14 responsible for Finance and Accounting, HR, Legal, Sales and Marketing/Communications. As a peer to the Chief Program Officer (CPO), the COO is responsible for operationalizing a strategic growth plan and leading internal operations.

Key Priorities for the COO

  • Working closely with the Executive Director, lead the strategic growth through regionalization or market segmentation
  • Organize internal operations to reflect a culture of continuous improvement, collaboration and high performance while remaining lean and innovative
  • Develop and monitor the organization’s brand, sales, and communication strategies


Financial Management and Oversight
Working with the Senior Director of Finance and Administration, manage and oversee all financial and business planning activities, including:

  • Financial plans
  • Business policies and accounting practices
  • Financial reporting
  • Support and advise the ED
  • Budgeting process
  • Oversee reporting and monitoring of organizational performance metrics
  • Provide overall financial oversight and monitoring
  • Ensure that relevant financial data is presented to the ED and senior management team

Leadership, Strategy & Staff Development

  • Serve on the executive team as a key organizational leader and representative internally and externally
  • Collaborate throughout the organization to promote close and productive interdepartmental relationships and communication
  • Actively promote BIE’s values and practices
  • Support the professional development of the management team
  • Manage performance improvement and employee relations issues with a high degree of expertise, tact, and sensitivity
  • Ensure organizational best practices in recruiting diverse, highly qualified candidates who reflect the communities BIE serves

Fund Development Support, Communications & Marketing

  • Fund Development is handled by the ED supported by grant writing and communications
  • Assure development and maintenance of appropriate systems to fund development including but not limited to donor management, research and cultivation, gift processing and recognition
  • Oversee the development of innovative and strategic communications materials and products to engage external audiences and partners. Develop content for the communications sections of our online properties, and define the communications business requirements that will serve to inform their design. Support the web and technology function by developing communications campaigns to support new releases of online capabilities in order to ensure adoption. Provide strategic and preparatory support to the ED and executive team leaders in their roles as spokespersons and public speakers reaching out to diverse audiences.
  • Develop the organization’s sales and brand strategy including brand guidelines for print and digital mediums


  • Oversee recruitment, hiring, compensation, benefits administration; professional training and development, employee orientation and legal compliance
  • Oversee risk management and legal activities
  • Information technology
  • Organizational reporting and monitoring: provide guidance and leadership through management of the BIE metrics and measurement reporting process
  • Office management: physical plant and equipment
  • Board of directors –provide staff support and guidance to BIE’s board and act as staff liaison to relevant board committees

Qualifications and Attributes
The successful candidate must believe in the core values of BIE, be driven by the mission and be comfortable breaking new ground to lead social change and have demonstrated experience scaling an organization and leading and building the capabilities of a bright diverse team.
Additional requirements are:

  • General Management—broad experience with the full range of business functions and systems, including strategic development and planning, budgeting, business analysis, finance, information systems, human resources, and marketing, sales and communications
  • Strategic Vision and Agilityability to think strategically, anticipate future consequences and trends and incorporate them into the organizational plan
  • Leadership and Organizationexceptional capacity for managing and leading people; a team builder who has experience in scaling up organizations; capacity to enforce accountability, develop and empower top-notch leaders from the bottom up, lead from the top down, cultivate entrepreneurship, and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the team; and, place people in a position to succeed
  • Resultsproven track record of exceeding goals and a bottom-line orientation; evidence of the ability to consistently make good decisions through a combination of analysis, wisdom, experience, and judgment; high level of business acumen including successful P&L management; problem solving, project management, and creative resourcefulness
  • Impeccable integrity, clear communicator in writing and verbally, decision maker
  • Flexible and able to multi-task; can work within an ambiguous, fast-moving environment, while also driving toward clarity and solutions; demonstrated resourcefulness in setting priorities and guiding investment in people and systems
  • Action Oriented—enjoys working hard and looks for challenges; proactive; not afraid to take charge of a situation; will take unpopular stands when necessary
  • Solid educational background—undergraduate degree required; MBA or similar advanced degree highly desired

BIE is an Equal Opportunity Employer offering a competitive base salary plus medical, dental and health and 403 (b) retirement plan.  If you are interested in confidentially exploring this exciting opportunity, please email a cover letter specific to this role and a resume to Donna Davidson, [email protected].

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