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.

About the Organization

There are more than 16 million children growing up in poverty in the U.S., and less than 10 percent of them will graduate from college. These statistics are not a reflection of our children's potential; we know that children growing up in poverty can and do achieve at the highest levels. Rather, these statistics reflect the systemic lack of access and opportunity for children in low-income communities.

Teach For America (TFA) finds, develops, and supports an ever-expanding network of outstanding and diverse leaders committed to expanding opportunity for children in schools, school systems, and in every sector and field that shapes the context in which schools operate. Representing the diversity of America and sharing the experience of having taught successfully in our most challenging public schools, TFA corps members and alumni form a network of change agents inside and outside of education who are grounded in the tremendous potential of our most underserved children and connected to families and communities impacted by educational inequity.

Founded by Wendy Kopp in 1989, Teach For America has since expanded to 36 states and 53 regions, reaching more than 10 million students. Now 53,000 strong and growing each year, the TFA community is leading across all sectors, including as teachers, school and school system leaders, elected officials, policy and advocacy organizers, social entrepreneurs, and business and civic leaders. We support the individual and collective leadership of this network as they work hand-in-hand with students, families, and allies in the effort to realize educational equity and excellence for children across the nation.

Our Core Values:

Our core values define who we are at our best and guide our work together.

  • Pursue Equity: We work to change practices, structures, and policies to realize educational equity for all children. As we do so, we actively examine our roles in perpetuating inequitable systems.
  • Strengthen Community: We assume responsibility for our collective strength by developing relationships, building diverse and inclusive coalitions, and challenging one another to be our best. We act with empathy and extend grace to ourselves and others.
  • Achieve Impact: We pursue ambitious, meaningful outcomes that lead to access and opportunity for all children. We hold ourselves to high standards, make data-informed decisions, and orient to long-term success.
  • Choose Courage: We act on our beliefs and values, especially when it's hard. We center our efforts on the aspirations of our students and their families.
  • Act with Humility: We acknowledge the limitations of our perspectives. We seek different points of view and historical context to evolve our thinking and actions.
  • Demonstrate Resilience: We see every challenge as an opportunity to think expansively about solutions. When faced with obstacles, we deepen our resolve, adapt, and persist with optimism.
  • Learn Continuously: We operate with curiosity and embrace new ideas to innovate and constantly improve. We take informed risks and learn from successes, setbacks, and each other.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness at the Center of Our Mission

At Teach For America, we aspire to embody the commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness we envision for our nation. Unequal access to opportunity along lines of race, class, and other aspects of identity has deep roots in American history, and institutional racism and classism contribute to inequitable access to educational opportunity in our country today. Therefore, understanding race, class, and the intersectional nature of oppression along these and other lines is critical to eliminating educational inequity and creating an education system in which all students can flourish.

Realizing educational equity and excellence will take a broad and diverse coalition of people—of diverse races, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, political views, and other aspects of identity and spheres of influence—united around a common purpose and shared values. We know that the change effort must be shaped by those of us who are most directly impacted by educational inequity. We also know that progress is only possible if each of us works effectively across lines of difference—with students, parents, partners, and each other—and if each of us understands and leverages the assets we bring to this work based on our identities and life experiences.

This understanding guides our strategy as we pursue our mission, and impacts how we allocate resources to recruit, select, train, support, retain, and engage corps members, alumni, and staff. In all we do, we act on the following beliefs.

→ Diversity is crucial for successful change efforts and is one of Teach For America's greatest strengths.

→ The full potential of our diverse network will be reached only when we are an inclusive community.

→ The predictability of success or failure for our students or individuals in our organization should not correlate with any social, cultural or other identity-based factors.

In striving to grow as individuals who lead with a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusiveness, we focus on:

  • Understanding of self and self in relation to others. We examine our worldview and experiences to understand how they're influenced by power, privilege, oppression, and biases. As we deepen our understanding of self in relation to others, we seek out diverse perspectives and experiences to challenge our assumptions and expand our perspectives.
  • Understanding and interrupting systemic racism, classism, and other forms of oppression. We understand that our society and education system have been shaped by multiple forms of oppression, in particular racism and classism. We understand the role and impact of unconscious bias in establishing low expectations for children's capabilities, and we also see this play out in the workplace. Therefore, we commit to work together `to envision and implement new ways of operating that disrupt these systems and practices.
  • Working toward equity. We leverage this understanding to surface and interrupt inequitable practices in our schools as well as within our organization. In classrooms, we are committed to ensuring all students have the necessary resources, supports, and academic preparation they need to ensure full agency in their lives. In our organization, we're committed to allocating our resources and setting organizational policies, systems, and practices to reduce and eliminate gaps in experience and outcomes by demographic group.
  • Building inclusive coalitions. We recruit and retain a corps and staff that reflects the inclusive coalition we need representing our nation. Simultaneously, we ensure those of us who have faced educational inequity shape our direction. We intentionally build authentic relationships across lines of difference; facilitate honest and productive conflict among diverse groups; create structures, policies, and processes that enable this effort; and value the diversity of ideas and perspectives required in this effort.

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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