Executive Director, Detroit

The Role

Teach For America-Detroit's 2020 vision has been vetted and championed by local stakeholders. The Executive Director's mission is to shape Teach For America's next chapter in Detroit and to ensure that we fulfill the promises that we have made to our community. We seek an innovative leader who can contribute to and accelerate the city and region-wide conversation on the transformation of our public schools. Our Executive Director is responsible for ensuring that Teach For America lives up to its promise to be a source of the diverse leadership needed to effect systemic change. This leader will work shoulder-to-shoulder with existing champions and enlist many new advocates – including parents, students, community leaders, donors, and elected officials – in the fight to ensure the success of all children living and dreaming in the Motor City.

Teach For America's Executive Directors are part of the national Senior Leadership Team at Teach For America and are at the forefront of improving the state of education in this country – impacting the future of thousands of children. The Executive Director reports directly to the Senior Vice President of Regional Engagement and will partner with local leaders and within Teach For America to define what will be required of us to achieve our breakthrough results.

The Team

Once known as the Arsenal of Democracy, the Paris of the Midwest, and the home of the Motown Sound, Detroit is now reinventing itself as a center of innovation, art, and entrepreneurial spirit. An increased national spotlight is slowly revealing to outsiders what locals have known for years – that Detroit is a city of energy and passion that is on the cusp of a renaissance. In this spirit, Teach For America – Detroit is in pursuit of its 2020 vision to create proof-point schools that perform at the top quartile in the state by meeting a critical need for education talent. Closing out its sixth year, it has entered a critical impact and sustainability phase.

In 2010, with the investment and support of the city and state, Teach for America launched the Detroit region with 100 corps members. Since then, we have welcomed more than 700 recent graduates and professionals to join our ranks as educators and advocates in the city of Detroit and are positioned to grow to over 1,000 alumni in the next five years. However, we know that the presence of small successes in individual classrooms is not enough to shift the landscape. In Detroit, we believe that we must create proof-point schools that are nourished by emerging neighborhoods, and we have the ability – in partnership with community leaders – to achieve this for our students.

In Detroit, you not only have the opportunity to help improve a school system; your work will contribute to the continued revitalization of one of America's most historic and culturally-important cities. While outsiders often picture desolation when they think of Detroit, we see an incredible opportunity to ensure that students in Detroit are fully prepared to enter into our regional economy and to bring the turnaround that our neighborhoods and citizens deserve.


Primary Responsibilities

Partner with a diverse group of community leaders to define the vision for the future to end educational inequity in Detroit by:

  • Listening to diverse perspectives to synthesize the dynamic educational context in order to inform regional vision and direction
  • Building new and leveraging existing relationships and structures to gain insight and support
  • Acquiring knowledge of political landscapes to deepen approach and capital to impact students and teachers
  • Convening and mobilizing diverse groups of stakeholders to fight for educational equity
  • Identifying public relations opportunities which we can maximize

Provide strong culture leadership to Detroit by:

  • Continuing to build and maintain a culture that is grounded in our five core values – transformational change, leadership, team, diversity, and respect and humility– in partnership with staff, corps members, and alumni
  • Exemplifying our core values in all actions with internal and external constituents
  • Creating an environment that fosters diversity and inclusiveness
  • Demonstrating adaptability in approaching and communicating with diverse audiences to cultivate support; build new alliances and partnerships; bridge gaps between communities and people; and share the story of Detroit to inspire action
  • Making meaning of the dynamic educational climate for staff, corps members, and alumni in order to build common narrative, foster leadership development, and catalyze collective action

Lead fundraising efforts and engage and cultivate stakeholders by:

  • Deepening our political capital and fundraising capacity to ensure that Detroit maintains its meaningful position in the educational fabric of the community
  • Being responsible for a current budget that exceeds 3.8 million dollars
  • Focusing on significantly growing and diversifying a sustainable funding base that will include gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations, and districts
  • Cultivating and building a regional advisory board that will help maximize Detroit's impact, narrative, and sustainability in the region

Inspire and lead the Detroit team to accelerate impact by:

  • Attracting, hiring, and developing a team of diverse and talented staff members
  • Ensuring that the proper infrastructure exists to maximize performance of all people and resources
  • Effectively managing other executive/high-level staff members
  • Coaching and developing regional staff members to exhibit strong cultural leadership skills and orientations

Execute the fundamentals of executive management by:

  • Developing a comprehensive multi-year strategic plan to reach our regional vision
  • Exercising good judgment when facing new challenges and viewing situations through multiple lenses to weigh options and consequences
  • Constructing decision-making processes to engage multiple perspectives at the appropriate times to move work forward


Prior Experience

  • Significant leadership experience (minimum of 7-10 years) with a verifiable track record of achieving excellence and successful outcomes leading a complex enterprise; setting bold vision for impact and leading others to reach ambitious goals in support of that vision; defining and leading others towards a culture of excellence; managing individuals to goals; managing managers; and achieving success in change management
  • Demonstrated achievement in fundraising or ensuring financial sustainability of an organization, including an ability to mobilize people and to create champions of an organizational mission
  • Understanding of the complexity of the local political climate that impacts Detroit
  • Proven experience forecasting, navigating, and influencing policy processes and outcomes
  • Convincing public speaking and storytelling record to engage and inspire audiences in the Detroit story of impact
  • Experience building and working in partnership with a Board of Directors, in addition to possessing a strong understanding of the roles of the Executive Director


  • Strong alignment with, passion for, and commitment to the mission and values of TFA
  • Sense of urgency around accomplishing goals and objectives
  • Uncommon level of personal responsibility, professional maturity and humility, commitment to personal growth, and understanding of one's own leadership style and its impact on others
  • Strong sense of self-awareness and understanding of one's strengths and areas for development
  • Strong gravitas, communication skills, relationship-building skills, presence, and maturity that engender respect and facilitate a strong partnership with very senior-level staff members, high-profile community stakeholders and civic leaders, staff, corps members, and alumni
  • Highly-developed cultural leadership skills that allow him/her to make meaning out of highly-complex and charged contextual factors
  • Commitment to exploring issues of race, class, and privilege
  • Ability to deal with ambiguity and conflict
  • Excellent judgment and sound decision-making skills
  • Willingness and ability to learn about the Detroit education landscape and establish oneself as a key partner in the local movement to fight educational inequity

Work Demands

  • Ability to work some evenings and weekends
  • Ability to travel within the region daily and ability to travel to in-person meetings in various U.S. cities quarterly


  • Bachelor's degree required

Apply Now

To be considered for this role, you must submit an online application, as well as a tailored cover letter detailing you interest in the role/the Detroit region and your qualifications and leadership/management experience (size of team led, etc.). Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the link to the online application.

Benefits and Salary

Salary for this position is competitive and depends on prior experience. In addition, a comprehensive benefits package is included. Learn more at www.teachforamerica.org/about-us/careers/employee-benefits.

Commitment to Diversity and Equal Opportunity Employment Policy

Teach For America encourages individuals of all ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds to apply for this position. We are committed to maximizing the diversity of our organization, as we want to engage all those who can contribute to this effort. Learn more about our diversity on staff: www.teachforamerica.org/about-us/careers/life-at-tfa/workforce-diversity-and-inclusiveness.

Teach For America is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all qualified individuals and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, marital status, veteran status, pregnancy, parental status, genetic information or characteristics (or those of a family member) or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.

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