Chief Executive Officer

Location: Flexible within North Carolina
Start date: On or about January 1, 2022
Role type: Full time
Travel: Approx. 25% in-state travel and occasional national conferences and events 

Who We Are:

The Innovation Project (TIP) is a nonprofit collaborative working group of North Carolina public school district superintendents created to envision the future of education and design equitable, learning-centered strategies to shape that future. TIP’s work is driven by the themes of rethinking, reimagining, and redesigning public education. We focus on whole child approaches and strategies that position districts as hubs of their communities. These touchstones orient the projects we undertake and the networks we build across our school districts and communities to accelerate and sustain innovation. In 2020-21, TIP launched our Solution Creators Action Network (TIP-SCAN) to support our districts in moving from the COVID-19 crisis to lasting transformation through bold and courageous leadership. 

The Opportunity: 

TIP formally began on July 1, 2015, and has since become a vibrant North Carolina nonprofit and 501(c)(3) organization and a vital part of the North Carolina education innovation landscape. TIP currently has 17 district members and a six-member board of directors made up of member districts’ superintendents. TIP is run by a core leadership team supported by an extensive network of contract partners. At any given time, TIP is actively engaged in numerous ongoing initiatives. We maintain partnerships with state and local education leaders, higher education institutions, private industry, and other education-focused nonprofit organizations. TIP is funded through member dues and philanthropic support including general operating grants and project grants.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) works with TIP’s district members to design and execute strategies aligned with the organization’s mission, vision, and guiding principles. The CEO leads the processes of 1) critically analyzing innovative educational practices and policies in North Carolina and nationally, 2) working with forward-thinking district leaders and an extensive network of local and national partners to design and implement promising policies and practices in North Carolina districts, and 3) scaling successful innovations to benefit public schools and communities across the state. 

This is an exciting opportunity for a candidate who believes in the power of transformational district leadership and who is eager to collaborate with superintendents and their teams to realize the promise of innovative strategies to shape a more effective, equitable, and learner-centered future of education. 

TIP is a nonpartisan organization. We partner with state and local government leaders regardless of party affiliation to add R&D and innovation capacity to inform their work. We do not take political positions or lobby for specific policy outcomes. 

Our Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate for this role will be an innovative thinker who is prepared to lead an innovation-focused professional learning community of superintendents and other district leaders. The ideal candidate will understand district operations and district leadership but be able and willing to rethink, reimagine, and redesign district systems to better serve students, particularly those who have traditionally been marginalized or underserved within existing systems. The ideal candidate will be comfortable pushing superintendents to think outside the box and to work towards TIP’s mission of identifying/designing and implementing innovative and transformative practices so students and communities can thrive. 

In addition, the ideal candidate will have strong interpersonal skills and be able to work with many different stakeholders. The ideal candidate will be: 

  • Innovative – innovative by nature and connected to other innovators and resources within and outside of education 
  • Results-driven, with evidence of impact as a leader 
  • Collaborative – ready to listen, willing to help everyone participate, and adept at deciding who to pull into conversations so all voices are heard
  • Equity focused – committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, with a track record of working to produce life-changing outcomes in systems serving students of color and other disadvantaged students
  • Flexible – nimble within a nebulous and shifting environment; comfortable with not knowing; able to pivot and not take shifts personally 
  • Courageous – willing to stand up for what we believe as an organization and also willing to push and challenge superintendents 
  • Productive – able to argue productively and celebrate where we land  
  • Knowledgeable and influential – understanding of where we are trying to go and able to connect with others who can work with us to get there 
  • A systems thinker or strategic thinker – able to understand how different pieces connect and to capitalize on connections 
  • Resourceful – deeply skilled in management of time, resources, and people; able to support TIP as a network of superintendents and, in appropriate contexts, to influence public education throughout the state. 

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

The CEO will be responsible for managing a core leadership team to accomplish job duties including the following: 

  • Set the vision for TIP in collaboration with board, membership, staff, and partners. 
  • As principal executive officer of the organization, oversee the day-to-day business and affairs of TIP and carry out the strategic priorities and policies of the Board. 
  • Hire and supervise a small, nimble team of innovators with complementary skills and experience united by a deep commitment to innovation and a belief in TIP’s mission, vision, and guiding principles. 
  • Develop, enhance, and maintain TIP’s relationships with leaders of state and national education organizations including other nonprofits and leaders at DPI, the State Board of Education, the Governor’s Office, and the General Assembly. 
  • Establish and maintain strong relationships with current and potential funders. Manage all development activity, including writing or directly supervising the drafting of grant proposals and overseeing all ongoing grants. 
  • Plan and execute in-person and virtual meetings and events to introduce TIP members to innovative practices and to create and sustain a professional learning community of innovative district leaders.
  • Develop a personalized approach to assessing and meeting each member district’s unique needs with respect to innovation.
  • Facilitate partnerships and oversee/manage projects serving TIP districts and executed largely or entirely by external partner organizations. 
  • Serve as Secretary of TIP’s Board of Directors. Set meeting agendas in collaboration with TIP’s Board Chair, keep minutes, issue meeting notices, and serve as custodian of TIP’s corporate records. 
  • Oversee annual budget process. Work with the accounting team, auditors, and financial institutions to responsibly handle all finance-related aspects of the organization’s functioning, including payroll and taxes. Work with funders and partners to satisfy all grant-related fiscal reporting obligations. 
  • Evaluate the efficacy, impact, and resource requirements of each ongoing program and partnership. 
  • Develop and execute TIP’s communications plan, including the organization’s website, social media engagement, and member communications. 
  • Elevate TIP’s status in the broader education community in North Carolina and nationally. This may include serving on boards of other nonprofits and government committees, writing articles, giving presentations, and conducting media interviews about TIP as an organization or individual initiatives. 


The Innovation Project provides full-time employees with a competitive benefits package that includes a retirement plan; dental, vision, and disability coverage options; organization-wide holidays; and professional development opportunities. 


The Innovation Project is an equal opportunity employer. We value diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we encourage candidates from historically underrepresented groups to apply. To apply, please forward a resume and cover letter to Dionne Lester, TIP’s Director of Operations, at Please submit materials by the end of the day on Friday, October 15, 2021. 

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