Chief Advancement Officer

The Chicago Lighthouse
Illinois, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Closing date
Oct 15, 2021

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Position Type
Executive, Fundraising, Fundraising Administration
Employment Type
Full Time
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The Chicago Lighthouse
Chief Advancement Officer
Chicago, Illinois

Founded in 1906 on Chicago’s West Side, The Chicago Lighthouse has been a pioneer in innovation across the areas of vision care, rehabilitation, education, employment and technology for over 100 years. 

The Chicago Lighthouse was founded by a group of socially prominent Chicago women out of a growing concern for the future of the city’s blind community. Early activities included collecting donated food and clothing from area women’s clubs, as well as teaching employable skills like weaving and carpentry for permanent job attainment. Over the next several decades, The Lighthouse’s mission grew to include clinical vision care with the establishment of the first low vision rehabilitation clinic in the Midwest in the early 1950s. In 1955, The Lighthouse opened the doors of its new facility in Chicago’s Medical District, dedicated by world-renowned advocate for the deaf and blind Helen Keller. The 1960s and ‘70s introduced a broad array of new services in schooling, vocational training and support for individuals with multiple disabilities. As the 21st century dawned, The Lighthouse added satellite low vision clinics throughout Chicagoland and established a partnership with the Veterans Administration that would further expand the organization’s mission to include a growing demographic in need, Veterans. Former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley called the Lighthouse one of the most “comprehensive social service agencies in the United States” given the diversity of programs and beneficiaries of Lighthouse services.

Today, The Chicago Lighthouse serves more than 67,000 people each year through 35 unique programs and services that help clients optimize remaining vision, meet developmental and educational milestones, find employment, and lead more independent lives. As the organization looks forward, it is committed to growing that impact by expanding critical programs, forging collaborative partnerships, and creatively approaching the challenges patients and clients face daily. In just three years, the number of Lighthouse employees has nearly quadrupled with expansion into the social enterprise arena, focused on customer care services. The Lighthouse’s nationally prominent low vision clinic has become a world-class example of comprehensive rehabilitation and demonstrates the evolving role of the organization as a pioneer in vision care innovation. 

The Lighthouse has embarked upon a restructuring of its organizational management and governance model to enhance management of its diverse scope of operations and optimize growth. A key element of this initiative is the integration of Development, Special Events, and Marketing and Design & Social Media teams as the expanded Financial Development department, overseen by the newly established role of Chief Advancement Officer.

Amid this backdrop of tremendous organizational growth and investment, The Chicago Lighthouse seeks candidates for Chief Advancement Officer. Reporting to the President & Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Advancement Officer will oversee creative and innovative income development strategies and campaigns in support of the Lighthouse’s Clinical Services Enterprise, Research & Social Services Enterprise, and Social Business Enterprise objectives and key performance indicators. The Chief Advancement Officer is responsible for designing and implementing a comprehensive, donor-centric development plan, with a focus on raising private support for the annual budget, as well as generating funds for major and planned gifts through an endowment campaign. The development plan should build upon the success of existing fundraising efforts, creating new pathways for donor acquisition, while retaining and upgrading current donors and constituents. The Chief Advancement Officer will provide strategic direction and oversight for a comprehensive and cohesive approach to elevating the organization’s market recognition in support of income development, leveraging marketing, communications, and public relations resources. The Chief Advancement Officer manages an overall team comprising approximately 13 positions, including the Chief Development Officer, Chief Creative Officer, and Director of Special Events. 

The ideal candidate will have the following personal and professional skills, qualities, and competencies:

  • Commitment to The Chicago Lighthouse mission of providing opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired. Ability to communicate this mission and impact to the broader community with clarity, passion, and authenticity.
  • Five or more years of progressively responsible nonprofit fundraising experience across multiple functional areas, such as individual giving, institutional giving, annual giving, planned giving, stewardship, board relations, and participation in a major capital campaign.
  • Strong record of providing strategic and operational leadership, including creating and managing a budget, while ensuring efficient processes and resource allocation. Demonstrated ability to recruit, manage, coach, motivate, and ensure ongoing professional development of staff; foster a transparent and collegial work environment; and increase effectiveness consistent with best-in-class industry and philanthropic standards.
  • Experience in developing the case for support and strategic fundraising plans, and then executing plans to achieve goals and objectives.
  • Successful track record of personally cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding major gifts from individual and institutional donors at the level of six to seven-figures or greater. Experience integrating giving programs at various levels to cultivate greater donor commitments.
  • Demonstrated ability in planning and executing integrated, strategic marketing and communications in support of achieving fundraising, event, programmatic, or other organizational goals.
  • The ability to extract and analyze data to make effective, efficient decisions about donor strategy and process.
  • Working knowledge of modern data management practices and innovations that can streamline advancement processes and contribute to the integration of related functions.
  • A forward thinker with a track record of utilizing new methods of constituent engagement and connectivity, who will be driven by innovation in developing advancement best practices in the current and post-COVID-19 world.
  • Ability to work evenings and weekends and to travel regionally and nationally, as required, consistent with public health guidelines.
  • Bachelor’s degree required.

The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired is an Equal Opportunity Employer in full compliance with local, state, and federal Civil Rights & Affirmative Action laws. The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired maintains a strong policy of accommodation and a consistent practice of employing qualified individuals with disabilities. All applicants will be afforded equal employment opportunity without discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin or ancestry, citizenship status, age, physical or mental disability unrelated to ability, sexual orientation, military status, order of protection status or unfavorable discharge from military service.

The Chicago Lighthouse has retained the Diversified Search Group to assist in this confidential search process. Inquiries, nominations, and applications (current resumes and cover letters) should be directed electronically to:

Gerard F. Cattie, Jr.
Managing Director
Practice Leader – Fundraising & Advancement
Diversified Search Group
The Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue, 49th Floor, New York, NY 10174 | 212.542.2587


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