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Executive Director of Strategic Advancement

University of Virginia
Virginia, United States
Salary Not specified
Closing date
Jun 30, 2022

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Position Type
Other Fields
Employment Type
Full Time
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The University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy (Batten School) is seeking a creative, engaging, and entrepreneurial professional to serve as the Executive Director of Strategic Advancement Opportunities.  This position plays a critical role in advancing the Batten School mission by linking school priorities and capabilities with the interests of potential donors to ultimately generate philanthropy that funds the growth trajectory of the school. Now in its fifteenth year, the Batten School generates knowledge that addresses pressing public policy challenges and broadly prepares students for ethical and effective leadership and public service.  With continued robust growth, the Batten School attracts action-oriented students in rigorous graduate and undergraduate degree programs and fosters an exceptional faculty conducting research and engaging a wide range of stakeholders on issues impacting public life, a dedicated staff team, and a growing and committed alumni and donor network.


This is an exciting moment in the development of the Batten School. Over the next decade, we aim to increase our reach into new and underserved student communities, further bolster research discoveries, connect policy makers with the Batten School community to shape policy solutions, and invest in our community, program excellence, and requisite infrastructure.  This trajectory also creates exciting opportunities to partner with other schools and organizations, such as the newly formed Karsh Institute of Democracy, to support the broader ambitions detailed in the University of Virginia 2030 strategic plan.


The Executive Director of Strategic Advancement Opportunities (SAO) will work as a member of the senior leadership team to shape and realize the strategic objectives of the School. Specifically leading efforts to strengthen the recognition and financial support of the Batten School, the SAO will have primary responsibility of translating school priorities and donor interests into philanthropic opportunities that compel donors to give.  The Executive Director will tap into personal, organizational, and corporate networks beyond the UVA community to identify prospective philanthropic interests that align with the Batten School and have the professional expertise to initiate and develop productive philanthropic relationships.  To support these goals, the SAO will develop a deep understanding of the Batten School community and capabilities and shape public positioning and engagement activities that communicates the School’s strengths and potential with the donor community.


The SAO will report directly to the Dean of the Batten School and work closely with the Director of Development, faculty, staff, and the volunteer board of the Batten School Foundation which exists to support and administer charitable contributions to the school. Significant autonomy is expected of this position with requisite travel to support relationship development activities and to engage as the programmatic expert with principal and major gift prospects.  Resident location of the position is flexible though we expect significant time will be spent in the DC and New York markets as well as on grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia.




§  Develop personal relationships with the Dean, faculty, and staff, and become an expert in school capabilities, priorities, and needs to effectively create a coherent portfolio of actionable philanthropic priorities and specific proposals that resonate with high-potential donors.  §  Take the lead with the Batten School’s Communications and University Advancement teams to develop and implement an appropriate principal-level marketing and engagement strategy that complements the Advancement Team’s prospecting, cultivation, and stewardship activities. §  Personally engage in high-potential prospect identification and cultivation outside of the current UVA network to qualify, pursue, and close principal and major gifts to the Batten School. §  Offer strategic and tactical direction to Batten School leadership, the Batten School Foundation Board, volunteers, and others involved in the fundraising process. §  Support the Dean and coordinate with the Director of Development, Batten School Foundation Board, Alumni Board, faculty, staff, students, and other stakeholders to implement a cohesive, integrated, and continuous-learning approach to creating Batten School Philanthropy. CANDIDATE PROFILE


The successful candidate will have a passion for the Batten School mission, including familiarity with public or social sector organizations, public policy, and/or higher education, and will create a compelling case for giving to the School. Curious and engaging, the right candidate must take a proactive approach in understanding the Batten School community and both breadth and depth of capabilities and possibilities to advance the school mission. They will have the ability to understand donor motivations and connect their philanthropic interests with the needs and vision of the School. A strong candidate will have the ability to work collaboratively and be resourceful in a complex environment and, preferably, a demonstrated development track record of closing principal and/or major gifts in a university, non-profit, think-tank, or other social venture.  We seek an energetic and charismatic leader with the ability to manage complex relationships and participate in the ongoing work to shape the School’s strategy with an understanding of philanthropic opportunities.


Skills and Competencies


  • Fundraising expertise for academic institutions, nonprofits, and/or other educational or service-oriented entities, and exposure to a breadth of fundraising sources: individuals, corporations, and foundations.
  • Experience proactively and creatively identifying and engaging non-alumni prospects and donors.
  • Demonstrated experience with strategic planning, with the ability to clearly define and consistently achieve or exceed goals.
  • Ability to work effectively with senior leadership, faculty, and other school stakeholders.
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills as well as planning and organizational skills.

Required Qualifications


  • At least 8 years of relevant experience, including success closing principal and/or major gifts.
  • Proven ability to communicate across a broad range of audiences, including crafting evidence-based positions. Ability to deliver a clear and compelling message.
  • Must have experience with financial budgeting responsibilities.
  • A bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree is preferred.




Interpersonal Characteristics  


  • Highest level of integrity.
  • Ability to juggle multiple priorities; self-directed and motivated.
  • Strong interpersonal skills with a high level of emotional intelligence.
  • Thoughtful, transparent, and exceptionally collaborative.
  • Committed to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment.


To Apply


UVA Executive Search Group, an internal search firm in the Office of the President, is assisting in the recruitment of the Executive Director of Strategic Opportunities.


Confidential inquiries and nominations should be directed to AJ Davidson, Senior Search Consultant, at  


To apply, submit a letter of interest and resume at The search will be carried out with full confidentiality.


Additional information can be found at


The University of Virginia is fundamentally committed to the diversity of our faculty and staff. We believe diversity is excellence expressing itself through every person's perspectives and lived experiences. We are equal opportunity and affirmative action employers. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status, and family medical or genetic information.

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