Executive Director

Posted 2 months ago

Cancer Research Foundation (CRF) History

Founded in Chicago in 1954 by Maurice Goldblatt after losing his brother Nathan to the disease 10 years earlier, the CRF has invested in cancer research for the last 60 years.  The non-profit’s goal is to create the opportunity for major breakthroughs in cancer science by making grants where the impact of the funds provided will be greater than usual and by supporting researchers where and when financial support is needed most. One of the CRF’s most successful grant programs is the Cancer Research Foundation Young Investigator Award; over the past 25 years the CRF has funded over 180 Young Investigators and numerous past awardees are now leaders in cancer science.  Often, early stage funding like the Young Investigator Award is difficult to source; early career scientists need support to create the first data sets that larger organizations require for initial funding.  The Cancer Research Foundation sees itself as an organization of “cancer research venture philanthropists” making opportunistic early stage investments in promising ideas and people.

With an annual operating budget of approximately $1M and assets of $7M, Cancer Research Foundation is poised for growth.  Recently, the CRF established its Chicago Chapter, the first step in its vision of creating a number of similar chapter organizations focused on supporting cancer research in individual metro areas.  With an engaged board, a strong history, an enviable name, and solid relationships with the research institutions at which it funds, CRF is poised to grow its ability to support important high risk/high reward science as it extends its grantmaking footprint and prepares to open new Chapters in other strategic locations.

The Position

The Executive Director, reporting to the Board of Directors of both the Cancer Research Foundation and the Cancer Research Foundation Chicago Chapter, serves as the chief executive officer, and is responsible for the overall leadership, strategic direction, board relations, chapter development, marketing and resource development and the fiscal health of the organization. The Executive Director will further the CRF mission and brand and will lead its expansion of activities in Chicago and beyond.  The Executive Director will continue to grow the CRF’s donor base and improve its fundraising results. Finally, the Executive Director will be conversant in the scientific endeavors of the organization.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities include (but are not limited to) the following:

Executive Leadership & Management

  • Serves as liaison to the Board and works closely with the Chair to set strategic direction, implement tactical plans, and inform the Board on progress
  • Serves as chief fundraiser and develops and implement comprehensive resource development plans
  • Collaborates with partners in the medical, foundation, and donor communities to advance CRF’s mission
  • With Board approval, sets annual financial goals, communicates progress, and ensures success
  • Recruits new Board members and engages existing Board members
  • Manages support staff and oversees all office functions including compliance and financial reporting, and vendor relations


  • Plays a leadership role in all fundraising activities consistent with the goals and objectives established with the Board of Directors
  • Develops new donors and cultivates and stewards existing supporters
  • Develops a major gifts strategy and moves management plans
  • Develops, evaluates and implements an annual event plan
  • Recommends and implements a comprehensive donor management system
  • Collaborates with key stakeholders and develops collaborative campaigns
  • Establishes and implements multi-year and annual fund development plans
  • Motivates Board members to support fundraising initiatives and to leverage their personal and professional networks

Marketing and Communications

  • Develops clear messaging to position the organization. Serves as main spokesperson with all stakeholders and constituents that are key to CRF’s success, including but not limited to Board members, staff, individual and corporate donors and recipient organizations.
  • Develops a communications plan and budget utilizing social media, electronic and direct mail channels
  • Develops and implements a public relations plan to communicate activities

Experience and Qualifications

The ideal candidate will have demonstrated leadership experience with a nonprofit organization and a track record of success. The successful candidate will also have operational and mission-related experience, a fundraising and marketing background, a personal commitment to the CRF mission, and ability to oversee the development of new strategies for the future.

Requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s Degree; advanced degree preferred
  • Leadership experience with a nonprofit organization
  • Demonstrated experience in developing and executing fundraising strategies
  • Proven track record in revenue growth, with an emphasis on major gifts and knowledge of event fundraising
  • Successful management of budgets and track record of achieving revenue growth
  • Experience in Board development and staff management
  • Strategic thinking and skills
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office software; experience using donor and constituent management databases
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Comfortable working in a medical research and scientific environment
  • Innovative, inclusive and forward thinking with commitment to CRF’s mission

Other Competencies:

  • Vision—Thinks in big-picture terms and articulates a broad perspective to help create a common purpose.
  • Trust and Integrity—Predictable, shares information and power, supports a culture of candor and supports others in their ability to generate trust. Acts professionally, ethically, and morally; functions as a role model.
  • Participation and Community—Inspires people to get involved and pitch in with their knowledge, effort, and enthusiasm.
  • Learning—Self-aware’ understands his/her own strengths and shortcomings, promotes creativity and innovation.  Takes initiative to stay current in appropriate areas.
  • Diversity—Actively encourages and cultivates an appreciation of the positive aspects of people’s differences and encourages a culture of mutual respect.
  • Efficiency–Manages time and resources effectively.
  • Credibility—Recognized as an effective leader who will reflect CRF’s values.

Search Process: How to Apply

This search is being conducted by Gail Luxenberg, Associate, Tuft & Associates .
To apply for this position, please submit your resume and cover letter electronically, using one of these options:

  • Email your resume and cover letter to Catherine Babjak, Manager, at cbabjak@tuftassoc.com; 312.642.8889

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Job Features

Job CategoryOpen
LocationChicago, IL