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Executive Director of Challenge Success (based at Stanford's Graduate School of Education)

Challenge Success
California, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Posted date
Aug 10, 2021

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Position Type
Executive, Executive Directors
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
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Challenge Success partners with schools, families, and communities to embrace a broad definition of success and to implement research-based strategies that promote student well-being and engagement with learning.

We believe that all students should be valued for their own interests, unique talents, and individual definitions of success.

We find that extrinsic metrics such as grades, test scores, and selective college admissions have become the primary markers of success in too many communities.

We know that this narrow definition of success can interfere with healthy child development and effective education, leaving many kids feeling stressed, marginalized, or misunderstood.

We want all kids to do well in school and to master certain skills and concepts, but a largely singular focus on academic achievement has resulted in a lack of attention to other attributes of a successful life.

Our work helps to transform the student experience and foster learners who are balanced, engaged, and prepared for the wide variety of opportunities and challenges they will face as adults.

We believe that real, lasting change requires the entire school community — educators, parents, and students — to both identify challenges and drive the solutions.

This belief is demonstrated in our approach:

  • Grounded in research about effective education and healthy child development
  • Engages and educates all stakeholders in the school community
  • Focuses on elevating the voices and perspectives of all students


Challenge Success is a firmly anti-racist organization that continuously examines and revises our work to further engagement and well-being for all of our students, schools, families, and communities, including those for whom identity, culture, and socioeconomic status have resulted in exclusion.


Challenge Success seeks a visionary leader, excellent communicator, and effective strategic thinker with strong management and fundraising skills and a passion for improving schools, families, and the well-being of our nation’s children. The organization has entered a new chapter in its evolution, and the Executive Director of Challenge Success will take the organization to the next level by leading these internal and external priorities:

  1. STRATEGIC GROWTH: The Executive Director will work with the Board of Directors, Co-Founders, Advisors, and Staff to build on the organization’s current growth trajectory and strategically plan for the next iteration of outstanding programs, research, and partnerships. Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts will be central to this work, both as a way to strengthen internal operations as an anti-racist organization, and externally as Challenge Success works to increase DEI efforts with our school partners that foster student belonging and wellness.
  2. FUNDRAISING AND FISCAL MANAGEMENT: Challenge Success’s current operating budget is $2M. Our five year average annual growth has been nearly 30% in all areas: school participation, students served, program fees, fundraising, staffing, and overall revenue. The Executive Director will further develop our fundraising model to leverage existing donors, increase our donor base, continue to bring in corporate sponsors, and pursue grants. The Executive Director will oversee the design and implementation of a sustainable, long-term financial model. 
  3. LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT OF DAILY OPERATIONS: Challenge Success is a high-quality professional “home” where experts feel valued and want to work. The Executive Director will continue to cultivate an inspiring, respectful, trusting, collaborative, relationship-driven, and results-oriented work environment where the mission of Challenge Success can thrive. Facilitating the professional growth of 14 geographically diverse staff members is central to this work. 

Challenge Success is a nationally-recognized organization with a proven track record of transforming the student experience in hundreds of schools across the US and abroad. The Executive Director has a unique opportunity to help grow the organization’s leadership role in the education field at a time when student well-being and engagement with learning is more important than ever.    


Executive Director candidates will have the following professional competencies and personal qualities:


The Executive Director will have a demonstrated interest in improving the health and well-being of our nation’s youth. A background in education, academia, and/or research, along with a strong DEI advocacy track record, are essential qualifications to lead the evolution of the current program. 


The Executive Director will forge and nurture strong relationships with all stakeholders, including staff, board members, donors, and partners. Kind and clear communication skills are essential to this work, as is a commitment to being ethical and inclusive. In this outward-facing role, public speaking and strong EQ will help strengthen and build important connections. Experience hiring and retaining staff, as well as leading remote teams, would be especially helpful in successfully managing our talented staff currently located across all US time zones. 


The Executive Director will have expertise in institutional advancement, fundraising, and management of revenue streams. A background in nonprofit leadership and high touch engagement with donors would allow for a seamless transition into the role. 


Challenge Success is quickly growing out of adolescence and into adulthood. Our next Executive Director will have the experience and knowledge required to facilitate and execute the organization’s next stage of development. Creating and executing a strategic vision, as well as fostering innovation and organizational processes, will strengthen our impact on schools, families, and students. Change-management and collaborative leadership will be essential to this work.  

Challenge Success is based in the San Francisco Bay Area but the hybrid nature of this position can accommodate candidates living out of the area.


The annual base salary for this role will be competitive and commensurate with experience. Compensation includes a comprehensive benefits package. 

Challenge Success embraces equal opportunity and is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. We strongly encourage applicants from all backgrounds and perspectives. 


This search is being conducted by an internal Search Committee at Challenge Success with the support of the Board of Directors. To apply for this role, please email Applications should include a resume and cover letter. To nominate a candidate for this role, please use this nomination form. All communications will be honored as strictly confidential. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled.  

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