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Chicago Debates

Executive Director

KEES has been exclusively retained by Chicago Debates in its search for an Executive Director. Executive Director

Chicago Debates is searching for a leader with a strong appreciation and respect for policy debate who is driven to advance enrichment, educational, and growth opportunities for Chicago’s young people as they grow into future leaders. The Executive Director must be able to attract and maintain the commitment of educational leaders in order for students and teachers to realize the full benefits of Chicago Debates’ programs. The organization’s success also depends upon the Executive Director’s leadership in ensuring consistent financial support from institutional and individual donors, foundations, and public funds. Candidates who relish the opportunity to advance solid programmatic offerings and secure new funding opportunities will find this role exciting and engaging. Candidates with a background in leading small organizations, balancing multiple priorities and creatively utilizing resources will be a good fit for this opportunity. The Executive Director must be adept with community partnerships, Board relations, staff leadership, fundraising and fiscal management. A flexible, optimistic, and proactive outlook is essential.

Some specific requirements include:

  • At least 5 years of experience at an organizational leadership level, particularly in a nonprofit organization, educational or related field; at least 2 years managing a team of professionals.
  • Experience with and commitment to the communities that Chicago Debates serves, including CPS and students who have experienced educational inequities.
  • Proven ability to develop and build a highly productive, effective team by enhancing collegiality and professionalism within the organization and training, mentoring, and retaining staff.
  • Track record in developing and executing strategies to successfully increase revenue and diversify funding sources. Demonstrated ability to identify, solicit and steward corporate, foundation and individual gifts.
  • Accomplished background in building strong external relationships with a variety of constituencies, including partner organizations, staff, volunteers, elected officials, business representatives and other stakeholders.
  • A Bachelor’s degree is required, with relevant advanced training or degree preferred.

Chicago Debates is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability, marital status, veteran status, or any other occupationally irrelevant criteria.


To assure confidential tracking of all applicants, no applications will be accepted via email. ALL INQUIRIES WILL BE HELD IN STRICT CONFIDENCE.

This search is being managed by Laura Weinman, Vice President, and Stacy Harker, Project Manager of KEES. Questions may be addressed to

KEES (formerly Alford Executive Search) is a nonprofit executive search firm that builds diverse teams and dynamic leaders in the nonprofit and public entity sectors. A woman owned and operated firm, KEES offers a full array of nonprofit consulting services including executive search, leadership development, interim staffing, and HR support. For more information, please visit

Chicago Debates seeks to empower Chicago youth with the transformative power of academic debate to find their voice, succeed in college and career, and become leaders in their community. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the organization was established by a group of business and civic leaders passionate about finding a way to broaden access to debate to students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Since its inception, in partnership with CPS, Chicago Debates has reached as many as 90 Chicago middle and high schools. And at the same time, Chicago Debates has become one of the most competitive policy urban debate leagues in the country and a national model for other urban debate leagues and educational organizations.


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