Executive Director

Posted 6 months ago

The Cancer Research Foundation (CRF), an ambitious organization with a strong history and brand, has been impactful recognizing and funding young investigators, and cultivating relationships through affiliations with key Midwestern medical institutions.  CRF has successfully leveraged an operating budget of under $1M and a small team to fund important research.  For the first time in its 60-year history, CRF is seeking a nonprofit professional to lead the organization and accelerate fund development activities in order to  further advance its impact in the cancer research field.


To Fund Raising Stars with Bold New Ideas

CRF aims to fund tomorrow’s cancer game-changers today. Over the years, the foundation has supported meaningful research resulting in progress and discoveries that have advanced the fight against cancer. More than 180 researchers have been given the seed capital to launch their ideas in the fight against cancer.


Founded in Chicago in 1954 by Maurice Goldblatt after losing his brother Nathan to the disease 10 years earlier, CRF has invested in cancer research for over 60 years.  The non-profit aims 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.  CRF’s most successful program 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.

By working closely and cultivating relationships directly with midwestern Comprehensive Cancer Centers, currently the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis, the organization is closely connected to researchers in the community and has developed internal skills to identify and reward promising young investigators who are engaged in  preventing, treating and curing cancer.

Located in Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighborhood, with a current full-time office staff of one person, the organization’s reach extends far beyond its footprint. Thanks to a dedicated board of 11 long-standing members, CRF has focused on identifying and supporting novel ideas in cancer research and talented early-stage cancer research investigators for more than 60 years. While core Goldblatt Family members remain actively involved in governing the organization, more than half of the board is unrelated and the entire board is committed to attracting new board members.

Revenue has relied on targeted federal grants, outreach to a dedicated donor base, and endowment  income.  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 grows its operations.

Recently, CRF established its home office as a Chicago Chapter, the first step in its vision of creating a number of similar chapter organizations in individual metro areas. Once the processes and systems for securing cost effective and on-going sources of revenue are established, CRF has created the legal entity to expand to additional strategic locations.

The Position

The Executive Director will work hand-in-hand with the Chair of the Board and is responsible for the overall leadership and management of operations and activities.  The Executive Director will design and create a comprehensive, cost effective fund development campaign to provide on-going sources of revenue to insure income stability and growth. The Executive Director will grow the CRF’s donor base, improve its fundraising results, budget and manage the agencies revenue and expenses to greatly increase marginal income.

The Executive Director, reporting to the Board of Directors, 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.

Finally, the Executive Director will be conversant in the scientific endeavors of the organization and will be able to communicate those endeavors to all stakeholders.

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
  • Communicates the activities of the organization through oral, written and electronic media to all stakeholders
  • 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 today’s support staff of one individual and plans appropriately for future expansion
  • Oversees all office functions including compliance, financial reporting, and vendor relations


  • Leads all fundraising activities consistent with the goals and objectives established with the Board of Directors
  • Develops and implements an annual fund develop plan including annual campaign
  • Creates moves management plans for major and mega gift donors
  • Develops new donors and cultivates and stewards existing supporters
  • Proposes and implements annual events
  • Recommends, implements and oversees a comprehensive donor management system
  • Collaborates with key stakeholders and develops collaborative campaigns
  • Identifies, implements an oversees a robust grants program sourcing support from government agencies, foundations and corporate sponsors
  • Communicates outcomes to all donors
  • 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 and recognize achievements
  • Design and implement forums for disseminating information about Young Investigators endeavors and their results
  • Identify and participate in appropriate meetings and conferences

Board Support and Leadership

  • Serves as liaison to the Board and works closely with the Chair to inform the board on progress, advance board policies and support the organization’s strategic direction
  • Partners with the Board to identify, cultivate and recruit new Board members
  • Motivates the board to support fundraising initiatives personally and to leverage their personal and professional networks
  • Recommend and establish board committees
  • Utilize board member’s skills to further their goals of the organization

Financial Management

  • Develops and monitors annual operating budget with board approval
  • Reports to board monthly on performance and variances
  • Provides suggestions and solutions to addressing budget variances
  • Monitors receipts, expenditures and cash flow

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 the 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.


CRF will compensate the Executive Director up to $150K annually and provide a stipend of up to $10,000 for health benefits.

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