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Chief Operating Officer

Wisconsin Center for Education Research
Madison, Wisconsin
Posted Date
Sep 27, 2022

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Position Type
Executive, Executive Directors, Other Executive
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
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Chief Operating Officer

Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER)

School of Education, University of Wisconsin−Madison




The Wisconsin Center for Education Research (“the Center” or “WCER”), housed in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), invites applications for the role of Chief Operating Officer (COO). WCER seeks an experienced, collaborative, and mission-focused professional who can lead and implement organizational change in one of the nation's largest and most influential education research centers. The COO will play a critical role in advancing WCER’s mission to partner with schools in combatting persistent inequities in our education system and to creating learning environments where all students can build on their strengths and fully engage in their learning.

Building on its over 50-year history to improve teaching and learning, the Center is in the midst of an exciting and direction-setting transition to better align people, process, and purpose to advance its mission. Under the leadership of a dynamic Director who was appointed in July 2020, WCER has committed to amplifying its mission through an ambitious vision to grow its research funding footprint, expand its portfolio of products and services that support educators and learners, and enhance service delivery to the projects and researchers that call the Center home. At the core of this renewed and compelling vision is a commitment to affirming and integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) throughout its work. WCER is dedicated to being a workplace in which colleagues of color can thrive and bring their true selves. WCER is also committed to operating as a learning organization, one that embeds a culture of learning and continuous improvement in all its operations. WCER relies on evidence and data to make decisions and establish equitable, transparent processes that advance its mission and uphold its values.

Reporting to the Director of WCER, and working in tandem with the Center’s Deputy Director, the new COO will play a central role in shaping the Center’s organizational strategy. Drawing on a proven track record of leading and implementing organizational and culture change, as well as a core belief in the role of education to change the world, the COO will unite the various service units within WCER with a cohesive vision for providing consistently excellent service to the Center’s project leaders. The COO will spearhead efforts to reimagine business processes and administrative functions to raise the standard of support and unlock the full potential of the Center’s research. The COO will direct the budget and oversee the organization’s long-term financial health, and will serve as a culture change leader, integrating DEI, high-functioning decision making, purposeful collaboration, strategic planning, and project prioritization at all levels of the organization. The COO will be a key figure in ensuring the Center delivers on these aspirations, and sustains and extends WCER’s position as the preeminent center for research on today’s most pressing educational challenges.

The ideal candidate will be a versatile leader with an entrepreneurial approach to problem solving, the ability to bring others in, and along, and confront challenging decisions. The successful candidate will be an equity-oriented, process-minded leader and bring deep experience leading the operations of a complex organization. They will have an understanding of grant processes as well as operations that support paid services, external consulting, and revenue generating products, ideally in the context of PreK to graduate education. They will have a track record of creating the systems and processes that put strategy into action, and of creating and leading teams, mentoring and developing colleagues, and working in a collaborative and diverse environment.

UW-Madison has retained the national search firm Isaacson, Miller to assist in this important search. All inquiries, nominations, and applications should be sent in strict confidence to:

Lisa Savereid, Partner

Afi Tettey-Fio, Senior Associate

Isaacson, Miller

The University of Wisconsin System will not reveal the identities of applicants who request confidentiality in writing. See Wis. Stat. sec. 19.36(7). Candidates who are selected as finalists will be invited for campus interviews and their names will be announced publicly.

The University of Wisconsin is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer. We promote excellence through diversity and encourage all qualified individuals to apply.

If you need to request an accommodation because of a disability, you can find information about how to make a request at the following website: information-for-applicants/

Employment will require a criminal background check. It will also require you and your references to answer questions regarding sexual violence and sexual harassment.

The Annual Security and Fire Safety Report contains current campus safety and disciplinary policies, crime statistics for the previous 3 calendar years, and on-campus student housing fire safety policies and fire statistics for the previous 3 calendar years. UW-Madison will provide a paper copy upon request; please contact the University of Wisconsin Police Department.

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