Executive Director

University of Chicago

University of Chicago

Sales & Business Development
Chicago, IL, USA
Posted on Friday, February 2, 2024


BFI - Administration

About the Department

The Becker Friedman Institute for Economics (BFI) works with the Chicago Economics community to turn its evidence-based research into real-world impact. The Executive Director leads BFI’s comprehensive effort to bridge the divide between academic researchers and decision-makers in the business community and government by translating and packaging the rigorous work of the Chicago Economics community into accessible formats, and proactively sharing those findings with relevant decision-makers and thought leaders around the globe. BFI is a collaborative platform serving the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, the Harris School of Public Policy, and the Law School. For more information visit https://bfi.uchicago.edu.

Job Summary

The Executive Director position is a key leadership role responsible for overseeing and directing the overall operations and strategic initiatives of the Becker Friedman Institute, encompassing multiple faculty-led research initiatives and programs. This position is highly focused on setting and implementing goals, identifying growth opportunities, and overseeing the Institute's internal operations and external engagement encompassing finance, human resources, operations, communications, events, and academic programs. The optimal candidate will exhibit a proven record in program management, partnership development, policy engagement, global engagement, and staff management to promote operational excellence. This role will offer a chance to collaborate directly with a network of prominent academics and policy makers, contributing the advancement of economics research across the University of Chicago economics community.

This role develops strategic priorities and plans for a unit. Develops and advances programmatic initiatives and sets high-level organizational structures for processes and systems. Achieves the financial objectives of the unit and ensures that all departments comply with unit guidelines. This position has a team of managers to carry out the work in the areas of Academic Affairs, Communications, Facilities, Finances-Grants-Budget, Human Resources, and/or Technology.


  • Works with BFI faculty leadership to develop and execute a strategy for advancing the core BFI objectives: (1) investing in and supporting faculty research; and (2) communicating research findings to the broader marketplace of ideas in media and policy.
  • Responsible for the successful functioning of all BFI programs, including research, outreach, events and conferences, the BFI visitor program, pre- and post-doctoral fellowship programs.
  • Recruits, leads and inspires a team of professionals across multiple skill sets, from grants, HR, and finance, to events and communications, to successfully advance BFI’s mission.
  • Provides strategic direction, overseeing the effective implementation of new initiatives through comprehensive management and guidance.
  • Works with BFI staff to develop new programs and tools to highlight and advance the research outputs of the Chicago economics community, BFI research initiatives, and BFI programs.
  • Takes a leadership role in liaising with donors and potential development partners, representing the institute's strategic and philanthropic objectives.
  • Acts as the chief ambassador of BFI to University leadership, fostering collaborative relationships and effectively communicating the institute's mission and initiatives.
  • Serves as a liaison to academic, research, and administrative units within the division and of the University.
  • Oversees day-to-day operations of BFI, including all departments, initiatives, and programs, ensuring efficiency and effectiveness in all aspects of the institute and compliance with applicable University policies in human resources and finance.
  • Works with Associate Directors and Senior Managers to continuously identify and execute policies and systems for effective operations of the institute.
  • Manages employees through subordinates, usually other managers. Establishes performance goals, allocates resources and assesses policies for direct subordinates.
  • Working with the faculty and staff leadership, leads stakeholder engagement efforts for BFI, ensuring effective communication and collaboration with diverse stakeholders, including academia, industry leaders, community organizations, and government bodies, to strengthen relationships and support the institute's objectives.
  • Builds and maintains positive relationships with key stakeholders, including the BFI Advisory Council, staff, partners, and donors. Represents the organization at public events and foster a positive public image.
  • Establishes and nurtures relationships with key partners in governments, non-profits, foundations, multilateral aid agencies, and the private sector, fostering collaborative initiatives and advancing the institute's mission and goal.
  • Working with faculty leadership and development staff, formulates and implements innovative fundraising strategies, aligning them with organizational objectives, to secure crucial financial support for the mission and initiatives of the organization.
  • Fosters meaningful and enduring relationships with donors, sponsors, and supporters through personalized engagement strategies, ensuring a deep understanding of their philanthropic interests and maintaining a connection that encourages continued financial backing for the organization's mission and initiatives.
  • Leads the planning and execution of comprehensive development initiatives, exploring diverse fundraising avenues, and staying abreast of industry trends to optimize fundraising effectiveness and contribute to the long-term financial sustainability of the organization.
  • Directs and inspires multifunctional teams encompassing finance, events, human resources, communications, operations, and academic programs, aligning their efforts with the overarching goals and strategic vision of the institute.
  • Oversees seamless coordination and collaboration among teams, ensuring that operational activities are efficiently executed across finance, events, human resources, communications, operations, and academic programs. Fosters an integrated approach to achieve organizational objectives.
  • Provides strategic guidance to each team, facilitating the development and implementation of new programs as well as professional growth and development. Fosters an environment that encourages innovation, collaboration, and excellence within finance, events, human resources, communications, operations, and academic programs.
  • Implements performance evaluation mechanisms to assess team effectiveness and individual contributions. Continuously seeks opportunities for process improvement, innovation, and optimization across all functional areas, promoting a culture of excellence and goal attainment.
  • Serves as a liaison to academic, research, and administrative units within the division and of the University.
  • Manages employees through subordinates, usually other managers. Establishes performance goals, allocates resources and assesses policies for direct subordinates.
  • Performs other related work as needed.

Minimum Qualifications


Minimum requirements include a college or university degree in related field.

Work Experience:

Minimum requirements include knowledge and skills developed through 10+ years of work experience in a related job discipline.



Preferred Qualifications


  • Master's or Ph.D. in a relevant field such as economics, business administration, public policy, or a related discipline.


  • 10-12 years of substantial experience in a leadership role, preferably as an executive director or in a senior management position within a research institute.
  • Proven track record of successfully leading and managing diverse teams in areas such as finance, events, HR, communications, operations, and academic programs.
  • Demonstrated expertise in strategic planning, organizational development, and implementation of initiatives that align with the mission and goals of the institute.
  • Extensive experience in fundraising and development, with a successful history of cultivating relationships with donors, sponsors, and supporters.
  • Strong background in stakeholder engagement, including collaboration with government entities, non-profits, foundations, multilateral aid agencies, and the private sector.
  • Knowledge of and experience in the field of economics or the specific focus area of the institute, with a solid understanding of current trends, issues, and best practices.
  • Experience working on an international scale and a deep understanding of the global economic landscape.

Preferred Competencies

  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal. Represent the institute effectively to various stakeholders, including academics, policymakers, and the broader community.
  • Communicate to large groups as well as one-on-one with students, senior management, faculty, alumni, and others.
  • Demonstrated success in building collaborative relationships with diverse constituencies.
  • Prioritize, delegate, and manage effectively.
  • Understand and communicate research goals and progress.
  • Work under pressure.
  • Demonstrated background in leadership, highly self-directed and skilled at managing and motivating staff.
  • Demonstrated success in navigating the challenges of working within a complex, decentralized environment.
  • Exposure to, and an understanding of, an academically rigorous research university environment.
  • Use of analytical and problem-solving skills to exercise sound, self-motivated, independent decisions.
  • Successfully manage a workload which balances long-range planning with the unanticipated daily demands of managing a busy operation.
  • Knowledge of local and national philanthropic communities and cultural institutions.

Working Conditions

  • Travel domestically and internationally.
  • Work some evenings and weekends.

Application Documents

  • Resume/CV (required)
  • Cover Letter (required)

When applying, the document(s) MUST be uploaded via the My Experience page, in the section titled Application Documents of the application.

Job Family

Administration & Management

Role Impact

People Manager

FLSA Status


Pay Frequency


Scheduled Weekly Hours


Benefits Eligible


Drug Test Required


Health Screen Required


Motor Vehicle Record Inquiry Required


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