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Chief Operating Officer/Chief of Staff

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Project Name: Science Philanthropy Alliance

Position: Chief Operating Officer/Chief of Staff

Location: Hybrid, NYC

Status:  Full time, Exempt

Reports to: President, Science Philanthropy Alliance

About the Science Philanthropy Alliance (“SPA” or “the Alliance”)

The mission of the Science Philanthropy Alliance is to advance scientific discovery through visionary philanthropy.  The Alliance provides its employees with an incredible opportunity to influence and augment basic science research by the philanthropic community.

The Science Philanthropy Alliance is a large group of people and funding organizations (currently 37 foundations) that have come together to increase philanthropic support for basic scientific research to accelerate scientific discovery. We accomplish this by understanding the opportunities and complexities philanthropists face in their quest to fund basic science. We provide advice, networking and convening opportunities for individuals and foundations so they can help address scientific questions, apply innovative solutions to big problems, discover ways to be more impactful through philanthropy, and thus further our knowledge about the natural world. We empower them to advance their scientific interests and priorities. We do this by utilizing our deep connections in the worlds of science and philanthropy. By serving as impartial advisers to philanthropists, promoting collaboration among those who are interested in funding the earliest stages of scientific discovery, and bringing together donors with top scientists, the Alliance aims to substantially increase philanthropic funding for fundamental research. Our goal is to create a large and purposeful community of funders who invest in scientific inquiry that leads to widespread public benefit. Our expert science advisory team includes Nobel prize winners, former university presidents and directors of research institutes, and top scholars in fields of medicine, biology, oceanography, astrophysics, chemistry and more.

Chief Operating Officer (COO)/Chief of Staff (COS)

The Alliance seeks its first COO/COS, a dual role. Reporting to the president, the Chief Operating Officer’s primary role will be to manage staff and oversee operational activities of the organization; in this role the COO will manage the Assistant Director of Operations and other staff and vendors supporting operational functions. The current primary operational goal of the Alliance is to spin off from being a managed project to an independent, sustainable nonprofit organization, specifically a public 501 c3. The COO will have the major responsibility to see this effort through to conclusion, working with the Alliance’s president and various contractors hired to assistant the effort. The goal is to initiate the spin in late 2023 and fully effect it in calendar year 2024. The COO will establish an operations strategy for this move. The COO will be responsible for all financial and business operations for the Alliance.

As Chief of Staff, the candidate’s primary role is to ensure that the president is pursuing and is prepared for external engagements that enhance the mission of the Alliance; in this capacity the COS will be ably assisted by the Strategy Director and Program Manager.

The COO/COS will be a thought-partner to the president, effectively serve as the deputy to the president, and representing her to the external community in appropriate engagements and venues.

The successful candidate will bring staff management and significant budget management experience, familiarity with philanthropy, excellent people and project management skills. The candidate will be tasked with establishing norms to cultivate an inclusive, focused, metrics and outcomes-oriented team.

The COO/COS will work closely with the president and Strategy Director on implementation of the Alliance’s new strategic plan, and preparation for board meetings, an activity greatly facilitated by the Program Manager. The candidate will establish and track organizational and individual performance metrics to track progress and build accountability. Finally, the candidate will complement the work of the president and all advising staff and activities to build the community of basic science research funders and to establish and maintain relationships with like-minded individuals in the greater philanthropic community.

The candidate’s responsibilities will include:


  • Lead all internal operations.
  • Lead much of the effort to spin-off the Alliance from a project of RPA to a 501 c3, including working with contractors for this effort and taking on necessary responsibilities as the implementation plan for the spin-off develops.
  • Support and advise the president on matters of strategic importance to the organization, including cultivating external contacts.
  • Advise the president on proposed significant policy or infrastructure changes with evaluation of impact on organization and its staff.
  • Support work with the advisory board; in particular, take responsibility for the activities of board’s Governance and Nominating Committee.
  • Manage or oversee staff (everyone indirectly on operational and financial matters, and oversee the operations staff, including contractors, directly)
  • As a valued member of the leadership team, work collegially with the president, program manager, strategy director, communications director, and senior advisors.
  • Manage recruiting, hiring and training of new staff, assisted by the leadership team.
  • Attend in-person meetings of the Alliance and other travel as needed.
  • Manage vendors and hiring of contractors.
  • Ensure that event contractors and communications are working together to support both members and advising activities, such as meetings.

Finance and Accounting:

  • Take overall responsibility for budget and financial planning, supported by the assistant director of operations.
  • As spin-off is implemented, develop or acquire a financial accounting system appropriate for the Alliance’s needs.
  • Ensure successful transition of staff payroll upon spin-off.
  • Oversee membership recruitment and retention, and grants, an activity largely managed by the assistant director of operations.
  • Oversee the production of timely reports, including financial, board (organizational metrics), advising metrics and staff performance.
  • Liaise regularly with the Alliance’s current fiduciary sponsor, RPA.
  • Ensure financial requirements of the current fiscal sponsor are completed in a timely manner.
  • Manage annual budget process and presentation to the board.
  • Develop tools that the leadership team can access to budget information that enables strategic decision-making.
  • Ensure strategy to build and maintain the Alliance’s operating reserve.
  • Develop processes, as spin-off implementation ensues, to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations for tax returns, preparation of audited financial statements, and annual reports.
  • Assume oversight for preparation of all financial reports.
  • Manage risk and insurance for the organization and for the board.
  • Oversee reporting to member foundations, including preparing requested budgets and financial reports (an activity generally managed by the assistant operations director).

Human Resources:

  • As spin-off ensues, ensure HR benefits for staff are maintained.
  • Establish and communicate clear HR policies.
  • Contribute to performance evaluations of the staff.
  • Assist president with compensation decisions.
  • Manage benefits selection and enrollment.
  • Create processes to recruit, hire and onboard new staff.
  • Display knowledge of diverse groups, working with a multicultural workforce, and sensitivity to and appreciation for cultural differences.


  • Manage any legal relationships, especially as relates to staff HR issues or to organization’s spin-off.
  • Ensure any/all legal agreements are reviewed, timely, and followed.

Information Technology:

  • Analyze current technology infrastructure, recommend improvements, and transfer to alternate systems as needed.
  • Ensure staff is trained on new technologies.
  • Ensure digital information is secure.

Internal Systems:

  • Oversee establishment of administrative procedures, policies, and organizational norms; devise metrics for measuring organizational impact.
  • Oversee data management (which is under the purview of the assistant director of operations) to support organizational metrics.

Education, Skills, and Experience

The successful candidate will have many of the following qualifications and attributes:

  • Experience managing and empowering a team.
  • Experience as an operations executive with expertise in accounting and/or finance.
  • Ability to Develop and analyze reports that allow for strategic decision making.
  • Experience in and knowledge of university systems, fundraising campaigns and/or strategic planning for a major company.
  • Experience interacting with other sectors (university, government, industry)
  • Excellent organizational and analytical skills.
  • Experience selecting and managing third party vendors to deliver organizational services.
  • Compelling communication, consensus building, and facilitation skills
  • Ability to manage multiple concurrent projects and prioritize accordingly.
  • Well organized, a consensus builder, and adept in creating effective interpersonal relationships.
  • Ability to construct plans and adhere to deadlines; attention to detail.
  • Excellent oral presentation and writing skills.
  • Ability to engage others in collaborative decision-making.
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills and a professional executive presence for engaging with key stakeholders, the board, and member CEOs.
  • Effective problem solver

Additional professional background

  • 7+ years leadership in a university, non-profit setting, or relevant industry position.
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution required, and an advanced degree preferred.

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

The Science Philanthropy Alliance is currently a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a 501 c3 nonprofit. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors celebrates the uniqueness of our staff, our partners, and the communities we serve. We are committed to inclusion with the goal of cultivating a culture of belonging and acceptance. We strive to embed this value in our philanthropic work to advance a more just, equitable and sustainable world.

Position Salary, Location & Travel

The salary range for the Chief Operating Officer/Chief of Staff is $260,000 – $300,000 with a competitive benefits package. Some domestic and international travel is required.

The location is an office in New York City. Candidate can enjoy a hybrid work arrangement, with the expectation of spending about 10 days per month at the location or attending relevant philanthropic events in NYC on behalf of the Alliance. Candidate is expected to attend in-person SPA Member meetings (twice annually at various locations).


 To apply for this position, please submit a cover letter and resume to careers@sciphil.org by December 10, 2023.

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