Director of Strategy and Operations/Chief Operating Officer

An Invitation to Apply for the Role of Director of Strategy and Operations / Chief Operating Officer

About the Opportunity

The Tobin Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization aimed at fostering innovative scholarship on the most pressing national challenges of the 21st century, seeks a Director of Strategy and Operations / Chief Operating Officer. Over the past eleven years, Tobin has built an interdisciplinary network of over 800 leading scholars, from Nobel Laureates to promising graduate students, who are together working to generate pioneering research toward understanding and solving important long-term problems confronting our economy and democracy. In addition to its work catalyzing new research on important public problems, the Tobin Project is embarking on a new effort to develop outstanding, problem-focused teaching materials in history and the social sciences

The DSO/COO will serve as a member of Tobin’s executive management team, working alongside the Director of Research to lead and manage the organization’s daily operations and strategic development. Reporting directly to and working closely with the President, the DSO/COO will assume primary responsibility for managing Tobin’s financial and other resources, help to create and execute our organizational and fundraising strategies, and collaborate with the Director of Research to lead and develop Tobin’s team.

About the Tobin Project

The Tobin Project is motivated by the belief that rigorous scholarship on real-world problems can make a profound difference, improving lives and strengthening the country over the long term. Our work is informed by the knowledge that many of the nation’s most important policy innovations, from advancing civil rights to taming financial crises, were built on intellectual foundations arising out of academic research. Unfortunately, incentives within the university do not always facilitate scholarship focused on society’s most pressing problems, often encouraging scholars simply to “fill gaps in the literature.”

Since its founding in 2005, the Tobin Project has developed and refined an effective model for promoting high-quality research with real-world relevance. Our approach rests on two main activities: identifying inquiries with the greatest potential to improve society and then building communities of leading scholars dedicated to answering those questions.

Tobin’s novel approach was recognized with a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2013 and has drawn together some of the country’s premier economists, historians, political scientists, and other leading social scientists, as well as senior public officials, in new research projects on many of the nation’s most important unanswered questions. (For more on our organizational model and past work, please read press coverage in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Harvard Magazine. To learn more about our current projects, please visit our website.)

The Tobin Project is now looking to grow its impact by incorporating the creation of top-notch teaching materials into our work. We have already helped to seed a successful and widely-taught curriculum on the history of American democracy (covered in The Atlantic), and we are planning to create new curricula on world history and economics to be taught at both the high school and undergraduate levels. Looking forward, Tobin hopes to expand this effort and create a diverse library of outstanding teaching cases on a wide array of subjects.


The DSO/COO is responsible for working with the Director of Research, President, and Board of Directors to lead and manage the organization and for envisioning, directing, and growing the following key areas of the Tobin Project:

  • Project management and planning: Guide strategic decision-making around the setting of organizational priorities, with respect to both initiatives and resources, and work with staff to develop and execute programming;
  • Human resources and human capital development: Oversee performance management of existing staff, recruitment of new staff, and management of payroll and benefits and maintain a creative, dynamic organizational climate and staffing model that attract and motivate a diverse group of top-performing individuals;
  • Accounting and financial planning: Manage development of annual budget, audit and tax reporting, financial reporting to donors and Board of Directors, and investment planning;
  • Fundraising and donor relations: Work closely with the President and other staff to develop and execute an effective fundraising strategy, steward existing donors, and facilitate growth of Tobin’s base of support; and
  • Infrastructure and operations development: Maintain official records and policies to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local regulations and oversee development of information and technology systems to support the organizational model.


The Tobin Project is seeking an exceptionally well-organized, execution-minded, strategic, and motivated leader to fill the DSO/COO role. A successful candidate will care deeply about the power of ideas to reshape the intellectual climate and to inform public policy over the long term.

The ideal candidate will possess many of the following qualities:

  • Proven management and decision-making skills in setting and achieving objectives, defining and implementing strategy, and managing and motivating staff
  • Entrepreneurial orientation and capacity to think creatively and strategically about complex problems
  • Strong organizational and project management skills, with exceptional attention to detail and an ability to juggle competing priorities and deadlines
  • Strong analytic, accounting, and financial management skills and demonstrated experience with financial planning and accounting
  • Effective communication skills, including strong writing and presentation skills
  • Capacity to understand cutting-edge academic research and communicate its essence to a non-academic audience
  • Ability to develop and maintain executive level relationships with board members, donors, and other external stakeholders
  • Comfort working in an entrepreneurial, mission-driven environment
  • MBA, MPP, or other advanced academic and professional training and/or 3 years of experience in a leadership/management position, preferably in a mission-driven organization

To Apply

More information about the Tobin Project may be found at:

Start date for the position is summer 2020. Applications will be reviewed as received, and candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience. Applications should include a cover letter describing your interest in the position and your qualifications, a resume, a writing sample, any relevant transcripts, and where you learned of the position. Applications should be sent to:

The Tobin Project is an equal opportunity employer.