Executive Director of Innovation & Incubation

Chicago Public Schools

Posted: 1/5/2021

Position Type: Full-Time (Paid)

Function: Administration/Operations

Primary domain: Education

City: Chicago

Postal code: 60615

State: Illinois

Country: United States

Organization Information:


Not Available



Mission statement:

To provide a high-quality public education for every child, in every neighborhood, that prepares each for success in college, career, and civic life. 

Position Details:

Job Description:


About Chicago Public Schools

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the third largest school district in the United States, serving over 340,000 students in more than 600 schools and employing nearly 36,000 people, most of them teachers. CPS has set ambitious goals to ensure that every student, in every school and every neighborhood, has access to a world-class learning experience that prepares each for success in college, career, and civic life.  In order to fulfill this mission, we make three commitments to our students, their families, and all Chicagoans: academic progress, financial stability, and integrity. Six core principles are embedded within these commitments – student-centered, whole child, equity, academic excellence, community partnership, and continuous learning.

The Mission of the Office of Innovation & Incubation (I&I)

Based on the District’s commitments and principles, the mission of I&I is to provide students with access to high quality and innovative education through incubation of quality schools and programs, accountability, and high-quality oversight. The I&I team serves as a liaison between schools and District departments, and provides direction and support to 137 unique campuses across the District, including traditional and options charter and contract schools, Alternative Learning Opportunity Programs (ALOP), and SAFE Schools. The I&I office also guides the incubation process for new district neighborhood, charter, and contract schools. 

About the Executive Director of Innovation & Incubation

The leader in this highly visible and dynamic role will report to the Chief Portfolio Officer and will spearhead the development and implementation of all strategic priorities for the office, including overseeing all activities related to the authorization and renewal of new schools and academic programs; providing academic, financial, and operational oversight over all schools in I&I’s portfolio; providing training and support for these schools in these key domain areas; and identifying innovative models and best practices across the charter and district educational settings.  A key attribute of this leader is their unyielding commitment to continuous improvement and an unwavering belief that all students can achieve at high levels.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Executive Director of Innovation & Incubation will be accountable for the following areas of responsibility: 

Strategic Implementation Process Leadership

  • Implement a rigorous process for the opening of new schools and the renewal of existing schools including application launch and community engagement to drive effective decision-making.

  • Evaluate the design, development, and readiness of all new, innovative school models and programs while ensuring that the District adheres to any and all legal and regulatory requirements.

  • Incubate new district neighborhood, charter, and contract schools.

  • Oversee the process to award new academic programs to district-managed schools.

  • Identify and lead the implementation of evidence-based practices in I&I schools and programs that maximize opportunities for CPS students

  • Manage the performance and effectiveness of the I&I office. 

 Active Progress Monitoring of School Performance 

  • Evaluate school performance against the District’s academic, financial, and operational expectations.

  • Monitor school adherence to any and all compliance-related provisions as defined in the Illinois School Code and contracted in the school’s agreement with the Chicago Board of Education.

  • Utilize multiple sources of data to improve school outcomes and instill this practice in others.

  • Report on school performance data to ensure transparency and data-driven decision-making at District and schools.

  • Structure school remediation plans and monitor progress.

  • Oversee Options Schools and Programs, including key functions to support the Chicago Student Success Initiative.

Purposeful Stakeholder Engagement and Communication

  • Provide consistent and transparent engagement with key internal and external stakeholders to develop, manage, and execute CPS’ new and existing school development processes.

  • Disseminate key information to charter boards, leadership, families and communities to support informed decision-making and drive outcomes.

  • Coordinate and implement communication and training for schools, boards, and parents to support engagement and impact change.

Inclusive Change Leadership 

  • Ensure broad communication to stakeholders regarding research-based, innovative models, and best practices to inspire and compel others to create quality learning environments and efficient operations.

  • Manage, lead, and develop a team of 17 staff members to execute aforementioned strategies.

  • Commit to equitable distribution of resources across the district to support student success.

  • Maintain knowledge of all pertinent state and federal laws, and align I&I’s practices with NACSA’s Principles & Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing. 

Key Competencies

The ideal Executive Director of Innovation & Incubation candidate will demonstrate the following critical attributes:

Influence, Leadership, and Interpersonal Effectiveness 

  • Navigates political structures, relationships, and dynamics to improve results and amplify access for students.

  • Prepares the Chief Portfolio Officer and other District leaders for effective decision-making conversations, anticipating and organizing key questions and data that support productive discussions to direct key implementation priorities and support authorization and renewal actions.

  • Builds coalitions, resolves conflicts, and works collaboratively with diverse stakeholders at all levels of the organization and in the broader CPS community.  

  • Is fearless in the face of conflict; keeps composure when conversations are challenging and decisions are unpopular. 

  • Maintains a keen awareness of the interests and motivations of others, and acts with integrity in a politically-charged environment.

  • Demonstrates a sense of urgency around closing achievement gaps and the need for instructional improvement; takes targeted action to ensure success.

Individual Leadership and Team Engagement 

  • Gains the trust and respect of the I&I team and District colleagues, cultivating personal accountability among staff for excellent service, problem-solving, and engagement of best practices related to the I&I office’s impact. 

  • Leads a creative, innovative, and high-functioning team; delegates and leverages the team effectively to drive for impactful results and achieve ambitious goals.

  • Supports the professional development of members of the I&I team, and maximizes opportunity for every team member to take thoughtful risks and find innovative solutions in service to CPS students and families.  

Problem Solving, Decision Making, Planning, and Organization 

  • Exhibits outstanding critical thinking skills, including the ability to analyze data, identify trends, pinpoint problems and root causes, ask probing questions, set goals, track resources, and develop innovative solutions.

  • Demonstrates excellent execution and leadership skills and the ability to successfully lead members of the I&I team in balancing multiple projects that have significant community impact. 

  • Collaborates with civic and political leaders in the community to raise awareness of innovative options, and to secure resources to make diverse learning options possible and available to every CPS student.   

Innovative Thinking 

  • Pursues and implements innovative ideas and methods.

  • Committed to seeking out and sharing current research and evidence-based best practices.

  • Builds consensus among diverse stakeholders around a clear vision for student-focused, innovative school design.

  • Possesses a deep understanding of systems-level operations, management, and organizational design and uses this knowledge to ensure improved outcomes within charter/contract/option schools.


Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited college and/or university in education or aligned content area; Master’s degree strongly preferred.  

  • A minimum of seven (7) years of senior leadership experience in a Charter Management Organization, public school district, or large nonprofit organization is required, with corresponding evidence of effective team leadership and management.     

  • Demonstrated effectiveness in an educational leadership role that involved implementing successful strategies that improved outcomes for students.  Experience in school or network leadership, particularly in a charter or innovation setting, is ideal. 

  • Familiarity with CPS’ educational landscape is strongly preferred.


Not Specified


Commensurate with Experience

Posting Expiration Date:


How to Apply:

Application Instructions

Qualified candidates, please visit https://bit.ly/3ahRHLD to submit a completed online application and a resume that clearly demonstrates the above minimum qualifications. 

For More Information:

We strongly encourage interested applicants to review recent CPS’ vision, commitments, and core principles at CPS Five-Year Vision

Alma Advisory Group is supporting the search for this position. Please contact Kathleen Shiverdecker at [email protected]  with any questions about the role or interview process.

Posted By: Alma Advisory Group


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