Chief Development Officer

New York, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Aug 24, 2020
Sep 22, 2020
Other Fields
Employment Type
Full Time

Chief Development Officer

Innocence Project

New York, NY


The Innocence Project was founded in 1992 as a legal clinic at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. It pioneered the use of DNA technology to prove the innocence of wrongfully convicted individuals and, to date, the Innocence Project (IP) has helped to exonerate 220 people. Over time, IP’s mission was expanded to include advocacy for policy reforms to prevent future injustices, support for the exonerated after release from prison, and education for legal professionals on best practices to prevent wrongful convictions.


Through its groundbreaking work, IP has fundamentally altered both the public understanding of the criminal legal system and the way it actually functions — IP was the driving force behind approximately 100 new state and federal laws that prevent and address wrongful convictions. In 2004, IP was established as an independent non-profit with an ongoing affiliation with Cardozo through a prestigious law student clinic. IP is a founding member and the headquarters of the Innocence Network, which includes 56 members in the United States and 12 outside of the United States, 40% of which are 501(c)(3) not-for-profits.


In April 2020, Innocence Project Board of Directors announced that Christina Swarns will serve as the organization’s second Executive Director. A passionate legal advocate, Ms. Swarns speaks and writes regularly on issues concerning race, law and criminal justice. Innocence Project has proven its ability to broaden the scope of its reform agenda and, under her leadership, the organization will create and launch an ambitious and exciting five-year strategic plan.


Innocence Project (IP) seeks a passionate, mission-driven Chief Development Officer (CDO) to lead the continued growth of philanthropic revenue. This pivotal leadership role is responsible for raising the operational budget of the organization and executing a strategic, long-term fundraising plan.


The CDO will provide overall vision, strategy and direction to the organization’s fundraising operations to meet its ambitious agenda. The individual will be responsible for actively marketing the organization externally to increase its capacity to raise money, expand its funding base, reach new constituencies, and identify and develop volunteer leadership. 


A member of the Senior Leadership Team who reports to the Executive Director, the CDO will work closely with, engage, and support the Board of Directors, colleagues, and volunteers on diverse fundraising initiatives. They will lead a development team of ten for optimal performance in a culture of cooperation and passionate commitment to the mission.


The successful candidate will ensure the strategic identification, cultivation, engagement, solicitation, and stewardship of individual, corporate, and foundation donors. In addition to maintaining a portfolio of prospects, they will effectively and purposefully position the Executive Director and Board members to solicit and steward major and principal gifts. Working collaboratively with the Chief Communications Officer, the ideal candidate will expand IP’s public image and visibility among targeted philanthropic constituencies. The successful candidate will reimagine and execute the annual fall and spring events in collaboration with the Event Consultant.


The selected candidate will be a strong leader and a highly entrepreneurial professional, with the development expertise to effectively inspire historic philanthropy. The CDO will be an inspirational fundraising leader, effective manager, and have experience engaging constituencies where the donor base is not immediately obvious. They will possess intellectual curiosity, agility, and a passion for and understanding of criminal justice reform. In addition to passion for the mission, the successful candidate will bring superior communication abilities, strong relationship management skills, creativity, and dedication to best fundraising practices.


Innocence Project has retained Freeman Philanthropic Services, LLC to facilitate this executive recruitment. Please send confidential inquiries and applications directly to Freeman Philanthropic Services, LLC via e-mail at


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