24 Sep 2020

Operations / Administration Chief Executive Officer

The Literacy Lab
 Washington, District of Columbia, United States

Job Description

The Literacy Lab seeks a CEO to continue the organization’s 11-year history of making a significant and measurable impact on closing the literacy gap by providing research-based and evidence-proven literacy interventions to preschool and early elementary school students in low-income communities. The CEO will succeed Co-Founders/Co-CEOs Tom Dillon and Ashley Johnson.


Organization History and Mission

Founded on the core belief that literacy is a human right, The Literacy Lab’s mission is to provide children from low-income communities with individualized reading instruction to improve their literacy skills, leading to greater success in school and increased opportunities in life. Teach for America alumna Ashley Johnson co-founded The Literacy Lab after she saw firsthand the urgency of improving literacy in low-income communities.

Since 2009, the organization has provided research-based and evidence-proven literacy interventions to more than 30,000 children at risk for third-grade reading failure in six target regions across the U.S. – Baltimore, MD; Kansas City, MO; Milwaukee, WI; Richmond and Tidewater, VA; Western MA; and the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Since 2016, the organization has also run the innovative Leading Men Fellowship in several of its regions.

The organization’s specialized approach to closing the literacy achievement gap includes:

  • Evidence-based individualized literacy intervention – The Literacy Lab is one of a few organizations in the country to implement the Reading Corps model, a full continuum of evidence-based intervention strategies that provide young students, grades Pre-K through 3, with daily support during a critical period of development.
  • Leading Men Fellowship – In response to the lack of diversity in the early childhood education workforce as well as lack of opportunities for young men of color, The Literacy Lab launched the Leading Men Fellowship in 2016 in partnership with DC Public Schools. Through this program, the organization recruits, trains, and coaches young men of color who are recent high school graduates who have not yet completed college to serve as Pre-K literacy tutors in their communities and intentionally exposes them to a career in education. The Leading Men Fellowship currently serves Washington, DC; Richmond, VA; and Milwaukee, WI.
  • Supporting Future Educators – The Literacy Lab’s model offers rigorous training in science-based reading intervention and fosters tutors’ and Fellows’ interest in careers in education. Tutors and Fellows gain hands-on experience working directly with students as well as extensive training and coaching in best practices of reading instruction along with comprehensive personal and professional development.


Team and Staffing

Governed by a 9-member Board of Directors with a $13 million operating budget, The Literacy Lab’s dynamic team of 66 staff members across six offices brings significant experience in education and is dedicated to improving literacy among children and empowering future educators. For more information, please visit



Recent Accomplishments and Developments

In the 2019-2020 school year:

  • Nearly 150 school sites in 6 states opened their doors to Literacy Lab tutors and Leading Men Fellows.
  • 40 Leading Men Fellows served in Pre-K classrooms and developed as emerging educators.
  • 300 full-time AmeriCorps tutors delivered data-driven literacy interventions to Pre-K through 3rd grade students every day.
  • 6,392 students received daily intervention from Literacy Lab tutors to build to grade-level reading proficiency and Kindergarten-readiness targets.


Organizational Focus Areas

In addition to ensuring a smooth CEO transition, The Literacy Lab will focus on addressing the following areas as they enter the 2020-2021 school year:

  • Continuation of COVID Response: Respond and adapt to the impact of COVID-19 on school partners, funders, staff, and stakeholders in a way that ensures that The Literacy Lab is able to continue to fulfill its mission, to meet growing needs, to measure and report on its impact and outcomes, and is financially sustainable during and beyond the pandemic.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. Practice and infuse the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in its work at every level of the organization by assessing and updating organizational practices, increasing its knowledge and understanding, encouraging individual and collective action, and strengthening accountability structures.
  • Leading Men Fellowship: Develop a cohesive strategy to deepen and strengthen the breadth and scope of the Leading Men Fellowship within each of The Literacy Lab’s existing regions to ensure the long-term viability, marketability, and sustainability of the program for students, Fellows, and school site partners.


The Position

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the CEO provides leadership both inside and outside the organization, continually increasing the organization’s mission impact. The CEO has current management oversight of: Chief Program Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer (a new position that the new CEO will hire), Director of Advancement, Director of Government Relations, and Regional leadership. The CEO is supported by a portion of a Special Assistant’s time.


Key Responsibilities

The CEO provides strategic leadership both internally and externally and continually seeks opportunities to advance The Literacy Lab’s mission. Primary responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing and leading organizational strategy and vision in pursuit of The Literacy Lab’s mission; guiding the direction of The Literacy Lab by leading strategic planning that engages all stakeholders.
  • Maintaining a climate that values diversity, equity, and inclusion internally and externally and focuses on antiracism.
  • Fostering an organizational culture that values high performance, high-quality services, successful and measurable outcomes, and rigorous evaluation with an eye toward professional development and growth.
  • Building ownership mindsets, management skills, and accountability for staff, resulting in a team that is thinking critically and strategically to successfully navigate competing priorities and the complexity of nonprofit decision making.
  • Guiding the implementation of research-based, data-driven programs and services; regularly analyzing data and acting on it to improve programmatic outcomes and the organization on the whole.
  • Providing leadership in fundraising to ensure diversified and sustainable funding by overseeing development strategies, targeting federal, state, local, and philanthropic sources, and ensuring the organization has the necessary resources to fulfill its mission.
  • Ensuring retention of existing private grants, and maximizing public support through careful management of the AmeriCorps grant process and state funding opportunities.
  • Ensuring sustainability and scalability of the Leading Men Fellowship by securing new public and private funding and executing programming with fidelity and consistency across all regions.
  • Fostering relationships strategically with a wide and diverse range of partners at the local, state, and national level.
  • Protecting and strengthening The Literacy Lab’s brand by deepening and refining all aspects of communications, from web presence to external relations.
  • Collaborating with The Literacy Lab’s Regional Directors to identify and strategize on opportunities for expansion and ensuring sustainability and outcomes in their regions.
  • Motivating the staff across multiple regions and encouraging their critical thinking, self-awareness, and growth.
  • Improving dissemination of information externally to the public and internally across six geographies using data to support the story of the organization’s impact; improving the use of storytelling and qualitative data/anecdotes to complement the evidence base.
  • Ensuring that financial resources are used carefully and in a way that maximizes the organization’s impact while overseeing all financial systems and maintaining fiscal accountability and integrity.
  • Partnering with and serving alongside the Board of Directors in its oversight, governance, and development functions to enhance the organization’s ability to carry out its mission.


Skills and Attributes

Ideal candidates for this position will share The Literacy Lab’s belief that literacy is a human right. Furthermore, ideal candidates will exemplify a variety of experiences and attributes, including:

  • Leadership experience within mission-aligned organizations in both the nonprofit world and the education sector; knowledge of how to manage and leverage the business, philanthropic, and service delivery components of the organization to build upon its success.
  • Demonstrated experience leading a data and performance-driven organization, department, or program.
  • Proven results operationalizing and evolving diversity, equity, and inclusion practices across an organization.
  • An innovator and stellar strategist with a successful track record aligning multiple stakeholders around a common vision and related strategies; experience advancing inclusive strategic planning processes.
  • Persuasive interpersonal communication skills that demonstrate high emotional intelligence.
  • Relationship building skills to engage key stakeholders and individuals in the education field to grow programs across various school districts; experience forging relations with government officials.
  • Experience advancing or building the strategic communications for an organization is a plus.
  • Excellent and effective fundraising skills; proven experience identifying fund development initiatives and forming relations with philanthropic institutions.
  • Well-honed business acumen, proven experience with fiscal management, and the ability to create a sustainable business plan for a growing organization.
  • Experience managing a large organization or team (ideally of 50 or more people) across multiple geographies; fluidity managing a remote team is a plus.
  • Experience managing a high-functioning, diverse team; a motivational leader style with demonstrated experience fostering trust and professional development across a team.
  • Experience supporting a high-functioning Board of Directors in its governance role.
  • At least 10 years of senior management and leadership experience.

How to Apply

To apply, upload resume, cover letter, and salary requirements by clicking here*. For other inquiries, contact Adrienne O’Rourke at Resume reviews begin immediately.   The Literacy Lab provides equal employment opportunities without regard to race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, pregnancy or recent childbirth or related medical condition, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, the use of a guide or support animal because of blindness, deafness or physical handicap of any individual, citizenship, veteran or military status, genetic information, marital status, familial status, domestic or sexual violence victim status, possession of a GED instead of a high school diploma, or any other protected characteristic under applicable federal, state or local laws.   About Raffa – Marcum’s Nonprofit & Social Sector Group On behalf of The Literacy Lab, Raffa – Marcum’s Nonprofit & Social Sector Group is working with the Board of Directors to advance the search. Founded in 1984 and recently merged with Marcum, Raffa is, and always has been, a mission-driven professional services firm seeking to do more for nonprofits and socially conscious companies like The Literacy Lab. Learn more about our work at   Link to apply:

Bureaus: Washington D.C.. Job Categories: Full-Time. Job Types: Operations / Administration. Salaries: 100,000 and above.

Job expires in 2 days.