Job Opening: Executive Director

Posted: 1/26/2021

MIT Job#: 19246

Visa sponsorship available: No

Applications rolling but encouraged by: March 1, 2021


MIT seeks a skilled and experienced Executive Director to lead MIT D-Lab and promote and support its mission broadly across the campus and around the world. Successful candidates will have the ability to communicate a compelling vision internally and externally, experience building successful partnerships and collaborations, and a track record of success in major fundraising. Experience navigating a university setting like MIT and leadership experience in the global development sector are both desirable. The Executive Director should have a minimum of seven years of progressively responsible experience and a bachelor’s degree (advanced degree preferred). Salary range of $103,392 to $125,000. All inquiries, nominations, and applications for this position will be handled in the strictest confidence. To apply, visit the Careers Across MIT website and search for job number 19246.


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a world-class, independent research university committed to generating, disseminating, and preserving knowledge and to working with others to bring this knowledge to bear on the world’s greatest challenges, seeks a skilled and experienced leader to serve as the Executive Director for MIT D-Lab.

Founded in 2002 by Amy Smith, Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, D-Lab began as a single class known as The Haiti Class. That first class – hands-on, project-based, grounded in community – established many of the hallmarks of D-Lab to come.

Today, MIT D-Lab works with people around the world to develop and advance collaborative approaches and practical solutions to global poverty challenges. With projects in more than 25 countries, D-Lab’s international partners—such as local nongovernmental organizations and social enterprises—define student projects, participate in research and the design of technologies, host design summits and trainings, and more.

D-Lab programs are organized under three pillars:

  • Academics: creating and delivering transformational student experiences in global poverty alleviation;
  • Research: advancing the scholarship and practice of global poverty alleviation and inclusive design pedagogy; and
  • Innovation Practice: working with diverse partners to advance and apply inclusive innovation as an approach to tackling poverty challenges.

With a professional staff of ~20 and two faculty directors, D-Lab offers a range of classes, research projects, and programming that is rigorous, impactful, and deeply connected to local partners. Over the past 18 years, D-Lab has developed 25 MIT classes that have enrolled more than 2,900 students, trained more than 10,000 people worldwide in design or business skills, and reached more than 2.25 million with goods and services. In FY20, D-Lab’s budget was $3.8 million; funding sources included sponsored research (39%), general Institute support (27%), expendable gifts (20%), and fee income (14%).

Organizationally, D-Lab’s MIT home is in the Office of the Vice Chancellor as part of the Office of Experiential Learning (OEL). OEL brings together many of the Institute’s programs and learning opportunities that emphasize hands-on educational experiences including D-Lab as well as the Edgerton Center, the PKG Public Service Center, and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

Duties and Responsibilities

The Executive Director provides leadership and vision and establishes priorities and partnerships for D-Lab, strategically directing the development, implementation, and sustainability of D-Lab initiatives. The ED oversees partnerships and collaborations with a wide variety of stakeholders and is responsible for representing and advocating for D-Lab within and outside of the Institute.

At a high level, the ED is responsible for the administration and management of D-Lab’s business operations, including staff and program management and evaluation, communications, partnerships, and finances. Optimizing the organizational structure, delegating responsibilities, and supporting staff in their professional success and growth are key responsibilities. In addition, the ED works closely with D-Lab’s Administrative Officer to oversee financial operations and, working with a full-time Development Officer, is responsible for its overall fundraising and stewardship activities.

Priority Responsibilities

  • Fundraising: The ED will lead D-Lab’s fundraising strategy and be responsible for bringing in foundational, organization-wide, unrestricted funding for the program. The ED’s fundraising activities should be high-level and take a long view, planning multiple years out and forming strategic long-term relationships with individual and institutional funders. The ED should also bring leadership, strategy, and capacity-building to fundraising processes across the program. The ED will be supported by D-Lab’s Development Officer for day-to-day programmatic proposal development and smaller gifts.
  • Partnerships: The ED will develop and maintain relationships and partnerships with other university centers and organizations, strategically positioning D-Lab within the Institute and in the broader global development sector.
  • Vision: The ED will set an organization-wide vision and strategic direction for D-Lab. They will communicate this vision in a compelling and inspiring way to both internal and external audiences.
  • Strategy: The ED will lead: 1) strategy related to organizational positioning (fundraising, partnership strategy); 2) strategy related to organizational growth and development (culture, DEI, staffing practices, decision-making structures); and 3) high-level programmatic harmonization and priority setting.
  • Team Leadership: The ED will provide inspiration, direction, and vision to the D-Lab staff and inspire commitment to shared, organization-wide objectives. The ED will also directly lead and coordinate the leadership team.
  • Financial Management: In addition to leading aggressive fundraising efforts, the ED will ensure D-Lab’s financial stability through oversight and execution of annual and long-range budget planning and OVC budget requests, general budgeting and accounting, and regular financial management and reporting.
  • Staff Management: The ED will make high-level strategic decisions about recruiting, hiring, promotions, compensation, and other staff matters; promote and oversee effective performance evaluation and management practices; and support professional development and recognition opportunities for D-Lab staff.

Personal Qualities and Professional Qualifications

The Executive Director will have a forward-thinking, collaborative leadership style and the ability to actively engage others in implementing an ambitious, long-term vision for D-Lab. A mature and confident leader, the ED will be a sought-after colleague by campus and community partners alike. The ED will be a natural and charismatic communicator, collaborator, and connector with the ability to identify new opportunities to advance D-Lab goals. The ED will have deep experience with and an unwavering commitment to the values that drive and guide D-Lab’s work (see bottom of page).

While no single candidate will have all of the ideal qualifications, MIT seeks candidates who bring many of the following experiences, abilities, and qualities:

  • A bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree desirable.
  • Minimum of seven years of progressively responsible leadership experience. Relevant experience may include: work in a university setting or higher education administration; leadership role at an international development organization or non-profit; field experience in developing countries with a technology focus; and/or other positions.
  • Superior communication skills including the ability to articulate a compelling message about the D-Lab mission to internal and external audiences with clarity and rigor; Dynamic and persuasive in written and oral presentations
  • Proven success building and sustaining relationships with internal and external partners (such as nonprofit organizations and public agencies); International and/or cross-cultural experience preferred
  • Proven success in fundraising, donor cultivation, and stewardship; Enthusiasm for fundraising and ability to work with a large number and wide variety of existing and potential donors (alumni and parents, corporate sponsors, foundations); Experience working with high net-worth donors and demonstrated success in securing major gifts
  • Experience in strategic planning, program and personnel management, budgeting, and finance; Experience managing a complex financial budget with multiple smaller revenue sources; Ability to oversee a professional staff of 20; Exceptional attention to detail and high levels of organization
  • Demonstrated experience in designing and implementing significant organizational change strategies; Ability to work respectfully and effectively with others inside and outside of the organization to foster constructive dialogue, build consensus, and achieve goals
  • Sound judgment, creative problem-solving skills, a positive attitude, and a sense of humor; Discretion in working on sensitive or confidential matters with students, colleagues, and community members
  • Strong reputation and extensive networks in higher education, global development, or other relevant sectors
  • Commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, global learning, and student development essential; Must be able to work with highly diverse stakeholders (staff, students, partners)
  • An appreciation for the unique, problem-solving, hands-on nature of MIT’s culture
  • Ability to meet a flexible work schedule, including some evenings and/or weekends and occasional travel

Supervision Received

Receive supervision from the Senior Associate Dean and Director of the Office of Experiential Learning.

Supervision Exercised

Provide direct supervision of 4 D-Lab staff members (Administrative Officer; Associate Director for Innovation Practice/Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Manager; Communications Officer; Development Officer). May supervise additional staff. Responsible for D-Lab staff of ~20.

To Apply

Inquiries, nominations, and applications are invited. Candidates are strongly encouraged to submit applications by March 1, 2021, although application review will continue until the position is filled. Candidates should provide a resume and cover letter that addresses the responsibilities and requirements described in the position description. All materials should be submitted electronically to the Careers Across MIT website (job number 19246). Inquiries may be directed to the search committee chair and Director of the Office of Experiential Learning, Kate Trimble.

MIT is an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, ancestry, or national or ethnic origin. The Office of the Vice Chancellor values diversity and inclusion and seeks to build and maintain a community and culture that celebrates and values diverse backgrounds, identities, and perspectives.

MIT D-Lab Values Statement

We believe in the power of participation and actively engage people in the process of creating practical solutions to the challenges they face.

We strive to work with integrity, humility and respect, and to maintain an optimistic belief that we can do something to create a better world defined by equitable opportunity, not by poverty.

We pursue this work with a commitment to excellence, to good stewardship of the resources we use, to accountability for achieving measurable and durable impact, and to taking joy in the opportunity to collectively build a better world.

We are committed to creativity, diversity, and inclusion in our work environment and our community, to constant learning and honest communication, and to the continuous improvement of our programs, products and partnerships.