Program Director

Chicago, IL

Friends of the Children–Chicago is looking for a passionate, committed Program Director to take the lead in tailoring and implementing a proven national model to the realities of Chicago’s most vulnerable families. Our model is proven to break the cycle of generational poverty for children who face the most barriers by providing paid professional mentors to thousands of youth across the country.  The Program Director will be relentlessly driven to manage and expand our innovative, evidence-based model in Chicago. They will be a fierce advocate for children facing systemic and institutional barriers and will be effective at communicating the urgency of our mission and success of our outcomes. They will also develop close relationships with caregivers and the partner organizations who serve them, maximizing our program impact across both generations. The Program Director will work with community leaders and partner with organizations to change the way the world treats and views our most vulnerable youth.  They will lead and inspire mentors, implement the child selection process, and cultivate and maintain relationships with schools, families, and community. 

Are you this amazing leader? Here’s what we have to offer you: 

  • A committed Executive Director who will partner with you to establish and grow the organization

  • A strong, cohesive National team committed to innovation and high standards. 

  • A team of talented employees who are passionate about working together to create an extraordinary organization. 

  • Respect for work-life balance. You’ll work hard, and we expect you to recharge your batteries. 

  • A comprehensive benefit package. 

  • Salary range: Competitive depending on experience 

  • Most of all, you get to lead an exceptional organization that helps children facing incredible odds change their life story every day. 

At Friends of the Children – Chicago you will get to think globally and act locally.  You will be part of an established growing national network that provides professional mentors to thousands of children across the country.  As Chicago’s Program Director, you’ll receive expert support from our National team, which is headquartered in Portland, Oregon.  You’ll also work with a talented team of leaders from the 19 other sites across the country, who collaborate to support implementation of the model and our award-winning national scaling plan. 

Friends of the Children is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to addressing discriminatory practices, and to working toward racial equity and inclusion. The equal employment opportunity policy of Friends of the Children provides fair and equal opportunities for all employees and job applicants regardless of race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, or genetic information, in compliance with applicable federal, state and local law. Friends of the Children hires and promotes individuals solely on the basis of their qualifications for the job to be filled. 

Are you ready to use your skills to make an impact in the Chicago community? Do you want to know more? See the job description below:

Basic Function/Position Objective:

The Program Director must exhibit perseverance and an entrepreneurial spirit in their pursuit of establishing and growing the Friends of the Children Program. The Program Director is responsible for designing, coordinating, implementing and sustaining programming, as well as for program research, modification and presentation as required. The Program Director is also responsible for: supervising, guiding, developing and evaluating the efforts of all professional mentors (“Friends”), and for the overall integrity of the Program. The Program Director is responsible for coordinating, implementing and sustaining the child identification and selection process, and for the overall cultivation and maintenance of relationships with schools, families and key community members.

The Program Director is a member of the senior management team and is expected to keep other members of senior management informed about the status of the Program. The Program Director is expected to interact constructively and proactively with members of the community, with partner schools and, when asked by the Executive Director, with potential donors and other third parties.

Essential Functions/Core Job Accountabilities:

  • Understand National program model and make modifications and adjustments as needed to best serve the reality of Chicago and the youth and families in our program.
  • Actively participate as a member of the senior management team in leading the organization, participating in strategic planning and budgeting, and making, implementing, and upholding decisions or policies related to the operations of the organization. Effectively lead organizational change.
  • Supervise, inspire, develop and evaluate efforts of Friends. Serve as role model and mentor for Friends, ensure that they have the resources necessary to perform their jobs, act as team facilitator and organizational motivator, and facilitate effective communication in all directions.
  • Manage the performance of Friends, including completing and conducting annual performance appraisals. Utilize data to inform work and to hold Friends accountable for work performance: adequacy of time spent with children, quality and diversity of activities with children, and administrative/reporting responsibilities.
  • Work with National program staff to design and implement initial Friends training, as well as ongoing training and other required performance improvement activities.
  • Know and understand the needs and issues of the families served. Meet with each Friend one-on-one each week, and review Roadmaps Plans for each child on a monthly basis.
  • Lead and facilitate effective, weekly staff meetings informed by data and ensuring focus on child and Friend successes, setbacks, issues, concerns and ideas. Share with team organizational information or issues and solicit feedback from team to share with the leadership team.
  • Communicate effectively and appropriately in all directions regarding organizational issues, concerns, policies and procedures. Raise and resolve issues appropriately.
  • Solicit and obtain feedback from a minimum of two parents/caregivers of children per month. Document and maintain all feedback and include in Quarterly report.
  • Participate in regular conference calls with Program Directors of other chapters, and otherwise communicate with personnel at National Office and other chapters about the Program. Research, develop, implement and sustain best practice programming to serve current and future needs of the organization.
  • Manage the child identification and selection process; including developing and sustaining a robust, formalized process, and training and supervising process participants.
  • Develop and maintain strong relationships with our partner schools to allow for effective program implementation and sustainability. Design and implement a process to ensure others are trained/developed to work in this capacity as well, to further strengthen our efforts to cultivate and maintain these critical relationships.
  • Utilize Program data to help develop, implement and sustain program excellence. Ensure the quality of program delivery at all levels.
  • Develop, implement and oversee other projects as required.
  • Be relentlessly committed to ensuring that youth reach their long-term outcomes.
  • Work with Executive Director to ensure compliance with budgets and Program  guidelines.
  • Communicate regularly and effectively with Executive Director about key aspects of the Program, including status of children, performance of Friends, recommendations for improvement of the Program, and potential issues with Staff members or children
  • Develop and nurture partnerships with community resources who can support and empower our youth and families. Serve as the primary point of contact for community partners.
  • Attend meetings, functions, and media events on behalf of the organization. Represent FOTCC in a professional manner at all engagements.

Additional Responsibilities:

  • Oversee the recruiting, selection and hiring of new Friends or other staff as required. Provide trainings.
  • Demonstrate effective, appropriate, and professional supervisory skills and behaviors.
  • Develop trusting, supportive relationships with families and guardians of the children we serve.
  • Oversee the coordination of critical issues that arise with youth.
  • Responsible for the quality, integrity, and timely entry of Program data.
  • Ensure compliance with and accountability to organization’s policies, procedures, and practices as outlined in the Employee Manual and Friends Handbook. Contribute to the development of any of these as required. Help move the organization to one of increased accountability and zero tolerance.
  • Review and approve team expense and time reports before submitting to Director of Operations.
  • Understand and inspire others to buy into the organization’s mission, vision, values and principles and be able to clearly articulate the organization’s function.
  • Collaborate with and benefit from National team resources.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Development-Related Responsibilities (varies between 5-10 hours a month)

  • Serve as effective, compelling spokesperson for the organization at community and donor events.
  • With development team, strategize donor and funder site visits. Participate when appropriate.
  • Make appropriate assignments for Friends to participate in events, work collaboratively with Director of Development.
  • Participate in individual donor cultivation calls and personal solicitations.
  • Work collaboratively with development team by providing information for newsletters, proposals and report content.

Skills, Knowledge and Abilities:

  • At least 7 years of experience working with vulnerable communities and at least two years of supervisory experience.
  • Extensive knowledge of Chicago’s West Side communities, including their strengths and challenges.
  • At least two years of experience implementing trauma informed programming or services for vulnerable Chicago communities.
  • Strong interpersonal, written and verbal communication skills; organizational and time management, delegation and follow-up skills.
  • Ability to cultivate and sustain relationships and work effectively with a wide variety of constituencies, including staff, program children, parents, schools, organizational supporters, Board members, and community partners.
  • Ability to effectively use Microsoft Suite of applications to manage, communicate and collaborate with team members. Strong understanding of ETO database forms and how data entered impacts Chapter and National Scorecard Metrics.
  • Ability to represent, effectively and professionally, the organization to a wide variety of audiences.