Chief Operating Officer
Title: Chief Operating Officer
Reports to: CEO
Connecting innovation and education to dramatically transform the way students learn, LEAP Innovations® leads the nation in developing and scaling personalized learning practices, technology and innovations in classrooms throughout the U.S. Located at 1871, Chicago’s premier incubator for technology and entrepreneurship, LEAP is quickly positioning Chicago as the national hub for education innovation. LEAP has also launched the country's most comprehensive personalized learning framework, as well as the first survey tools to measure practice in the classroom.
Sponsored by major foundations and donors, LEAP currently works with over 90 schools across the Chicagoland area, improving the lives of thousands of students. Winner of the 2016 Chicago Innovation Award for social innovation, LEAP Innovations is poised to increase reach and impact by deploying thought leadership, services and tools across the country.
- The mission of LEAP Innovations is to create access to equitable, high-quality personalized learning experiences for all learners, ultimately helping each one to reach their full potential. LEAP operates at the intersection of educators and edtech innovators—researching and implementing personalized practices and tools.
- LEAP is defining and articulating the teacher practices that best meet individual student needs; determining the school- and classroom-level models that best personalize learning; and constructing the research methods and tools to best evaluate the impact of personalized learning and edtech programs on student achievement. Similarly, from the edtech side, LEAP aims to help edtech companies utilize LEAP’s research and educator feedback to create tools that are more aligned with teacher and student needs.
- LEAP has built a scaffolded trajectory of programming to accomplish these goals, including the LEAP Pilot Network, in which school teams select, pilot and evaluate personalized learning technologies and practices within individual classrooms, as well as whole-school redesign programs, in which school teams design transformative, school-wide personalized learning models.
- Every person deserves the chance to reach his or her potential.
- Quality education should be available to everyone: anytime, anywhere.
- Innovation can transform teaching and learning.
- The private and public sectors must collaborate to advance education and keep our country competitive.
- The time is now.
VISION FOR THE FUTURE
The team at LEAP envisions a future in which there are no boundaries to learning – a future in which each and every student’s learning experiences in and out of school create a seamless, accredited, unique pathway that is tailored to that student’s needs, strengths, interests and limitless ambitions.
Over the next five years, LEAP will work toward this vision in two key ways:
Regional Expansion: LEAP will strengthen its impact by expanding its local work, serving an additional 165,000 students at 325 schools and developing additional focus areas such as early childhood, after school and juvenile justice.
National Impact: Through its work in Chicago, home to the third largest school district in the country, LEAP will build the foundation of tools, resources and knowledge to scale its personalized learning work across the country. These tools and resources include the LEAP Learning Framework, which defines and provides strategies for the implementation of personalized learning, and the LEAP Personalized Learning Surveys, which measure the degree of personalization in a learning environment and are now being used across 11 states. Additionally, LEAP will conduct rigorous research to aggregate and analyze data on teacher practice, student outcomes and product efficacy.
AREAS OF RESPONSIBLITY
The LEAP COO will be responsible for turning the LEAP organization into a well-oiled machine by standardizing the best of today and building a foundation that is ready to take advantage of future opportunities. This role is responsible for broad oversight and integration of LEAP’s operations and programs, including school piloting, professional development, whole-school transformation, and edtech initiatives. Additionally, the COO will work closely with the CEO to identify and leverage program and product offerings that can be scaled nationally. The COO will also oversee all of the administrative and operational functions including finance, HR, and IT. Ultimately, the COO will ensure alignment and effective integration across the organization, including programs, research, products and operations.
- Design and implement the systems and processes needed to ensure the consistent execution of LEAP’s core activities
- Identify opportunities to streamline and standardize the core operations of LEAP leveraging technology and state of the art thinking about how to deliver high touch experiences in the most scalable way possible
- Conceive and implement the mechanisms needed to maintain close alignment between the education programming, research and validation efforts, and the product commercialization engine Strategic Thinking and Planning
- Design and lead a planning and accountability process that ensures each function is operating with a clear set of quarterly goals / milestones and is on track to deliver them
- Develop and implement a system for tracking and reporting on the progress of strategic plan implementation
- Set performance standards in the organization and support the team to ensure that they are able to deliver on them
Program and Product Oversight
- Develop a deep understanding of LEAP’s programming and identify and implement continuous improvements to increase efficacy and efficiency
- Support the translation of insights from LEAP’s classroom partners into tangible and usable implications for edtech partners, which meaningfully impact their product development
- Create a solid organizational foundation from which LEAP can scale its impact through new products, services, and thought leadership
- Own the new product development process and incubate new ideas stemming from the core programming Integration and Team Leadership
- Lead, coach, and develop LEAP’s high-performance senior management team with an emphasis on developing capacity in strategic thinking, general management, and team development
- Cultivate a healthy organizational culture that reflects LEAP’s core values and serve as a role model to the team for effective working practices and inspiring leadership
- Establish a system of ongoing alignment and communication between education programming, research and product development that ensures that there is effective cross-functional coordination and appropriate levels of communication
Fiscal and Operational Oversight
- Partner with Finance Director in the development and submission of an annual operating budget; manage the implementation of the budget to ensure timely and accurate fiscal reporting
- Safeguard the continued financial viability of LEAP’s operational units through sound fiscal management.
- Ensure that the administrative functions are operating at levels of performance that enable LEAP to achieve its ambitious goals
- Partner with the Talent Director to recruit and onboard team members; ensure consistency and equity in the process
- Spearhead the annual performance evaluation process and develop a culture of real-time and productive two-way feedback
The ideal candidate will be a mature, proven leader with 10+ years of work experience with general management responsibilities, oversight of a high performing team, and experience in scaling a business. In addition, she / he will have:
- A bachelor’s degree, MBA or equivalent is preferred
- Experience as a member of an Executive Leadership Team as the COO or an equivalent role
- Excellence in designing and leading high stakes projects to completion
- Success in change management and maintaining stability during times of rapid growth, ambiguity, and uncertainty
- Ability to rapidly shift altitudes from strategic to executional and to proactively identify and remove obstacles
- Proven ability to foster a healthy organizational culture, to encourage teamwork and collaboration, and to build a sense of community and pride
- A demonstrated track record in building strong relationships across a diverse and highly active stakeholder base
- A passion for education as demonstrated through academic study, volunteerism, or work in public sector roles, and a commitment to LEAP’s mission
- A positive outlook and appreciation for working in a dynamic, results-oriented environment in which expectations are high for both the quality and speed of work
- An affinity for working in partnership with a high-octane founder with a strong vision for the organization