Executive Director, Midwest Academy



The Midwest Academy is one of the leading centers for training social change organizers. From its founding in 1973 with funds from a labor back pay suit, the Academy has been the go-to training school for organizers across the progressive movement. Its trainers have distilled decades of experience in social justice organizing into practical lessons for social justice organizers. Organizers in labor, women’s rights, the environment, racial justice, immigrant rights, disability rights, corporate accountability and many more issues have found value in Midwest Academy’s skills-based approach to organizing.

We now seek a dynamic organizer with a drive to increase the Academy’s vital role it can play in the current moment of both peril and inspiration—to train the rising generation as well as those in long-standing organizations.

The Executive Director will lead the organization, adapting the curriculum to this changing moment, building on the stellar legacy. In addition to training in the Midwest Academy’s very hands-on/experiential style, the position includes fundraising and organizational outreach. The Director should be experienced in Midwest Academy theory of change; share progressive values; have a racial, gender, economic justice lens; and be able to design a program with energy to drive this program into the future.

The Midwest Academy offers three different courses:

Organizing for Social Change: Hone concrete skills that enable you to win issue campaigns and build strong, enduring organizations that can challenge structural racial, economic and gender inequalities.

Advanced Strategy Retreat: Develop or refine your organization’s current issue campaign strategy through presentations, individual work time, and group feedback.

Supervising Organizers Workshop: Evaluate and sharpen your supervisory skills in order to develop effective strategic and relational organizers and build the next generation of the movement.

The spectrum of groups that the Academy has trained includes Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, Color of Change, United We Dream and thousands of other groups from the neighborhood to the city, state and national levels.



The Director will have prime responsibility to:

  • Fulfill the Academy’s mission through visionary, responsive and creative thinking, which is rooted in current trends and movement prospect;
  • Lead the Academy’s fundraising; prepare and oversee major donor campaigns, capital campaigns, individual donations and fundraising events;
  • Develop and execute the short- and long-term strategic plan that will meet this responsibility;
  • Oversee all fiscal responsibilities including those necessary for auditing, budgeting, financial analysis and capital assets;
  • All aspects of human resource management including, but not limited to, staff hiring, supervision, training and mentoring;
  • Grant writing, applications, preparation, compliance and reporting, with special emphasis on seeking out new grant sources;
  • Communication and marketing to promote and seek contractual opportunities;
  • Establish and strengthen partnerships within the progressive movement; national, state and local groups, allies and other progressive training organizations throughout the country;
  • Develop and implement new marketing strategies and programs to ensure the growth and stability of the organization;
  • Oversee the design and implementation of the training, and participate;
  • Provide visibility as a spokesperson for the Academy.


Requirements and Preferences

The Director should:

  • Share progressive values that have guided the Academy in the support of movement and organization for democracy, justice and peace;
  • Be knowledgeable about the program and training approach of the Academy, with strategic planning, movement history, economic context, skills and building an expanding community for social change;
  • Be a skilled organizing trainer;
  • Demonstrate successful fundraising experience;
  • Have networking skill and connections with the progressive community;
  • Be an experienced supervisor;
  • Be able to manage diverse and demanding tasks;
  • Think creatively;
  • Have experience in multi-cultural, racially diverse organizing;
  • Be skilled at writing and public speaking;
  • Be able to travel as required;
  • Work well with the Board;
  • Create a joyful environment;
  • Ten years of organizing experience, in a mix of community and labor settings, preferred;
  • College or higher degree preferred.

The Executive Director reports to the Academy’s Board of Directors. The position can be based in Washington, DC; or Chicago; but there is some flexibility for the right candidate. The salary range begins at $100k, based on experience, with a good benefits package.

Candidates are encouraged to apply soon; we are prepared to hire when we find the right candidate.

To apply, please send resume and cover letter addressing why you want to do this work, for this organization, to:  [email protected]

Please include at least three professional references (references not contacted until you have had a successful interview) and writing samples.

As a separate attachment from the other materials, please include any salary range or required information. Thanks!

The Midwest Academy values a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. We strongly encourage applications from all qualified individuals of every race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status, and record of arrest or conviction.


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