Director of Programs


1276 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622




Jul 08, 2020

Position Description
Summer 2020


826CHI is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. More information can be found at

826CHI is a creative organization that highly values collaboration, creative, and strategic thinking. Our work is grounded in goals set by our strategic plan and put into motion through collaboration. At 826CHI, we take both pride and joy in our work and operate with a high degree of professionalism. Staff members work both independently and as part of a team. Our model is inherently community-based and responds to the history, dynamics, and culture of Chicago.

Commitment to Inclusion
As an organization committed to encouraging youth in their creative expression, personal growth, and academic success, 826CHI recognizes the importance of diversity at all levels and in all aspects of our work. In order to build and maintain the safe, supportive 826 environment in which great leaps in learning occur, we commit to inclusion: We will not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, nationality, marital status, English fluency, parental status, military service or disability. We strive to put our values into action through planning, decision making, and community building.


The Role
826CHI seeks a dynamic and experienced nonprofit leader to serve as the Director of Programs. The Director will contribute vision, expertise, and strategy to 826CHI’s programs and growth. 826CHI is expanding to serve more students in Chicago Public Schools in the upcoming two years. This is an exciting opportunity to join the organization during a time of expansion and play a key leadership role in driving impact.

826CHI seeks someone with a proven passion for writing and learning exhibited through a documented involvement in teaching writing. This person is a skilled communicator (to all ages and all levels of learners), flexible with their schedule (this position requires some evening and weekend availability), willing to travel across the city to reach students and classrooms, and engaging, creative, and dedicated to 826CHI’s mission.

Key Responsibilities

Strategic Leadership
- In partnership with the Director of Development and Executive Director, lead 826CHI’s team of 15 to shape and implement strategic vision for 826CHI’s programming and community engagement efforts
- Direct 826CHI’s five core programs (After-School Tutoring & Writing, In-Schools partnerships, Workshops, Field Trips, and Publishing)
- Collaborate with the Director of Development to coordinate support of programmatic initiatives, including participation in site visits and presentations to foundations and major donors.
- Provide leadership, mentorship, and coaching to all programming staff; directly manage two program managers and three program coordinators.
- Lead efforts to identify, plan, and coordinate full-team and individual professional development opportunities, including Program Team retreats
- Serve on Leadership Team and collaborate with fellow leaders to advise the Executive Director on strategic organizational decisions related to new partnerships, programming needs and opportunities, fundraising opportunities, and administration
- Work in conjunction with Operations Manager, Accountant, and Program Managers on the development and oversight of program budgets, guiding resource allocation and resource deployment
- Determine staff work plans that align with 826CHI strategic goals
- Participate in hiring decisions for program staff; assist in onboarding new staff within programs and across the organization
- Oversee ancillary groups such as parent ambassador groups, support dual language initiatives
- Manage and support program volunteers, fellows, and interns

Program Effectiveness and Operations
- Strengthen the impact and effectiveness of 826CHI’s programs through effective planning, curriculum development, implementation, and evaluation to carry out the organization’s strategic priorities
- Oversee the coordination and delivery of all 826CHI programs; ensure that the expectations of funders, partners, participants, and other stakeholders are consistently met
- Co-create volunteer professional development and learning resources with the Volunteer team
- Provide program information and outcomes to the Development and Communications teams on a regular basis; promote a culture of philanthropy across the Program Team
- Drive data collection and reporting for program evaluation initiatives, including the National Writing Project, quarterly dashboard, and annual chapter reports to 826 National
- Oversee the 826CHI student publishing program; support the expansion of 826CHI’s library of innovative, professionally designed collections of student-authored writing
- Oversee Program data collection, input, and analysis in dashboard and ensure progress toward annual and strategic goals
- Organize and lead annual planning sessions and quarterly reporting sessions on program goals

Community Engagement
- Identify, build, cultivate, and manage strong relationships with the Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Public Libraries, DCASE, Ingenuity, partner colleges and universities, and other key community partners
- Plan and lead structured diversity, equity, and inclusion conversations with staff and community, such as the Justice And Equity Dialogues series
- Oversee and develop relationships with Chicago authors, artists, and education leaders to support publication projects and program development
- Direct the development of 826CHI’s Teaching Artist model and cohort
Oversee and develop relationships with contractors (i.e. designers, copy editors, printers) to support publishing projects and other program materials
- Represent 826CHI publicly at relevant conferences, cohorts, and community meetings
- Serve as the chapter’s programmatic liaison to 826 National
- Support Executive Director with administrative tasks, as needed

The ideal candidate is a team player with a track record of effectively directing and evaluating
programs, a steadfast commitment to improving the quality of K-12 education, a desire to work in a
collaborative and inclusive culture, and a passion for youth empowerment through writing and

Reporting and Compensation
This is an exempt, full-time position that reports to the Executive Director.
Salary offer begins at $57,000 and is commensurate with experience.
We offer a compensation package that includes 99% employer paid health premiums and 75% employer paid vision and dental premiums, employer-matched 401(k) retirement account, and generous paid time off, staff-wide professional development opportunities, and supportive staff culture.


Skills and Experience

  • 5+ years of professional experience in a programmatic leadership or oversight role at an organization, ideally with a non-profit
  • Experience in building and managing a large, diverse department/team and mentoring staff
  • Exceptional relationship management and communication skills (written and oral) with a variety of stakeholders, including staff, senior management, partners, and board members
  • Exceptional organizational, time, and resource management skills
  • Excellent judgment and creative problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work well both independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team in a fast-paced, entrepreneurial setting
  • Ability to participate in open communication to build community and foster team goals inclusive of the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives
  • Experience working in a K-12 school, education, or youth development nonprofit
  • High level of intercultural competence and experience working in urban communities; proficiency in Spanish a bonus
  • Strong proficiency in Google Docs; experience in Salesforce preferred
  • Ability to travel to partner schools in neighborhoods across Chicago
  • An enthusiastic belief in the 826CHI mission

Competencies associated with this role
-Ensures day-to-day operations within purview are having maximum impact toward organizational strategy
-Makes culturally competent decisions and/or applies cultural competencies to the development of new processes
-Demonstrates highly developed awareness of how one’s leadership and behaviors directly and indirectly impact others; anticipates and understands implications
-Creates a culture of professional development, continuous feedback, and mutual support among staff within purview and in collaboration with other directors
-Influences critical stakeholders including board members and funders in ways that foster desired support for the organization




Experience Level


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