Chief Development Officer


The Education Trust seeks a strategic, entrepreneurial leader to serve as its Chief Development Officer (CDO). Reporting to the CEO, the CDO will be a senior-level strategist and key member of the leadership team. This is an attractive opportunity for an individual who thrives on building programs from the ground up and can cultivate and steward high-level relationships with donors.

The successful candidate will have established networks within the philanthropic community and experience with fundraising, marketing, and communications. While all applications are welcome, The Education Trust is most interested in candidates with a background in campaigns or start-up organizations with demonstrated accomplishment in building robust networks and partnerships. Candidates must exhibit a passion for growing organizations and an appetite for building individual- and major-donor programs.

The CDO will create a development plan with a focus on diversifying the organization’s funding base through individual and corporate giving. Additionally, the CDO will oversee a highly productive development function; maintain strong relationships with a robust community of national, regional, and local foundation funders and cultivate new relationships; partner with the vice presidents and other programmatic staff to develop funding proposals; collaborate with communications staff to develop publications aimed at the cultivation of individuals and major donors; and provide high-level staffing and support to the CEO for development-related engagements.

The Education Trust has retained the services of Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to assist in conducting this important search. All inquiries, applications, and nominations for this opportunity should be directed to the search firm as indicated below.

About the Organization

Since our founding in 1992, The Education Trust (Ed Trust) has been a powerful force for education equity, advancing the rights of students from low-income backgrounds and students of color, pre-K through college. Our advocacy is founded on rigorous data-driven research as well as meticulous and fearless policy work, informed by engagement with educators to improve practice. The organization’s national offices are in Washington, D.C., with state-based offices in California, Michigan, and New York.

Under the leadership of President and CEO John B. King, Jr., former U.S. Secretary of Education, the organization has moved into a new phase strategically and operationally. Ed Trust is launching an ambitious expansion into state-level advocacy, both through supporting diverse coalitions (including civil rights organizations, business leaders, and equity-focused educators) and increasing engagement by parents and communities. As part of this effort, at the national Ed Trust office, we are looking to increase and diversify our funding base to assure adequate and flexible resources to support strategic initiatives as we engage more individuals in the fight for educational justice.

About the Position

Ed Trust is seeking a strategic, energetic leader to grow our development capacity during an extraordinary period of expansion. In this newly created leadership position, the Chief Development Officer (CDO) will craft, implement, and manage a diversified fundraising plan designed to increase revenue, strengthen our movement, and bolster our impact. The position serves as the chief fundraiser for the organization and works closely with the Chief Executive Officer, the Board of Directors, and other members of the Senior Leadership Team to ensure that the organization is well positioned in a rapidly evolving and competitive environment. As the leader of the development team, the CDO will leverage our existing base of foundations and will identify and cultivate new funding relationships in order to strengthen financial resources to support ambitious organizational goals.

Challenges and Opportunities for the Chief Development Officer

Design and Direct the Development Strategy

  • Devise, implement, and oversee a multi-faceted development plan with quantitative goals and benchmarks to diversify funding streams, including foundations, corporations, major gifts, and individual giving, positioning us to meet and exceed annual revenue goals.
  • Monitor and strategically advance progress toward goals in collaboration with the finance team.
  • In partnership with the Senior Leadership Team, design, support, and advance the plan for growth, including financial and development projections over a three- to five-year period.
  • Identify and implement the necessary systems, tools, and processes to support successful development efforts, including but not limited to implementing a technology-based system for tracking donor communications.
  • Engage senior leaders and board members in the fundraising process to strengthen the organization’s fundraising culture and ensure that strategies are clearly understood by all stakeholders.
  • In partnership with the VP for Operations and Strategic Leadership, develop and cultivate the Board as partners in development.

Drive and Steward Fundraising Activities

  • Oversee all development activities: prospecting, solicitation, and stewardship.
  • Manage a personal portfolio of individuals and foundations.
  • Partner with the CEO to direct funder engagement and follow-up, including helping to prioritize the CEO’s calendar for development purposes.
  • Work with content leaders to create proposals for compelling projects that map to our strategic priorities, initiatives, and milestones.
  • Work with state office leadership to create a shared development culture based on trust, encouraging shared systems, and collaboration as appropriate.
  • Identify new networks of supporters and partners at national, regional, and local levels to expand and diversify our funding base.
  • Collaborate with the communications team to create donor communications and donor-focused materials.

Lead Our Fundraising Team

  • Manage and increase staff capacity, including building systems and processes to support fundraising efforts.
  • Set goals, monitor work, and evaluate results to ensure that departmental objectives are aligned with the needs of the organization.
  • With development staff, enlarge the fundraising team by educating and engaging staff across the organization as participants in fundraising. As appropriate, raise their levels of understanding of philanthropic partnerships and diverse sources, as well as the importance of development as a core skill for a nonprofit professional, and the relationship of grant-making and other giving to our budget.

Engage with Our Community

  • Network and enlist the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations to build relationships with current and future donors.
  • Share our work and mission with the broader community to attract new funding sources.
  • Conceptualize and lead Ed Trust donor events in collaboration with the communications team.
  • Represent the organization at donor meetings, selected conferences, and networking events.

Skills Desired:

  • Proven track record in securing multi-year grants and increasing revenue from individual and institutional donors.
  • Experience and passion for building out new and diverse lines of funding.
  • Evidence of managing growth and organizational change, and doing so with grace and determination.
  • Ability to inspire enthusiastic buy-in from staff for participation in development activities.
  • Talent for delivering persuasive and compelling presentations about our work and expansion.
  • Communication and interpersonal style to cultivate and deepen ties with partners, board members, and donors to accomplish fundraising goals.
  • Capacity to balance the responsibilities of being a manager and leader within the organization, with a rigorous travel schedule that involves meeting with potential and current funders.
  • Ability to prioritize critical tasks with grace and timely follow up in a fast-paced environment.
  • Commitment to building a positive organizational culture that values continuous learning, excellence, transparency, honest feedback, perseverance, and sense of humor.
  • Passion for social justice, in particular educational equity for students from low-income backgrounds and students of color, the urgency of this issue, and the need for change.
  • Personal dedication to diversity and inclusion.
  • Warm, collegial, and professional approach to all interactions with Ed Trust staff at all levels – respecting differences and the strengths they bring to the workplace.


  • 10+ years of experience in nonprofit fundraising, with a strong track record of successfully cultivating relationships and raising funds in accordance with annual performance targets.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of grant planning, budgeting, administration, and requests/proposals.
  • Proven leadership and organizational management skills, with the ability to motivate staff during an ambitious period of growth.
  • Ability to work with and motivate staff to meet and exceed all fundraising goals.
  • A “self-starter” and goal driven to initiate donor visits and fundraising calls.
  • Ability to navigate in a fast-paced, outcome-driven environment.
  • Demonstrated track record of “follow through” on tasks and goals.
  • Ability to travel for development and donor prospecting.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills.

Applications and Nominations

Review of applications, nominations, and expressions of interest will begin immediately and continue on a confidential basis until an appointment is made. Nominations, applications, and inquiries should be sent in confidence to:

Ericka Miller or Keight Kennedy
Isaacson, Miller

Electronic submission is strongly encouraged.

The Education Trust is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages diversity in all facets of the organization’s work.