Chief Executive Officer

23 days ago
Full time role


Activate empowers scientists to reinvent our world and address climate change by bringing their research to market. The Activate Fellowship ...

View Company Profile

Job Description

*View full description here

The world is hungry for both new technologies and technology leaders that promote sustainability and a more just and equitable economy. As a champion of science innovation and a training ground for future science, technology, and business leaders, Activate has an outsized impact on these interconnected goals. Having grown from a founder team of four to nearly forty in the past seven years (and more than doubled in the last year) Activate sits in a financially secure position with a current annual revenue budget of more than $20 million. But we also sit at an inflection point in our evolution, seeking the next generation leader for a new phase of growth. The Activate Board and leadership believe that our community of fellows, funders, sponsors, supporters, and champions working in pursuit of Activate’s mission can be one of the most powerful forces for good. The next CEO will understand the power of science for good, with a present emphasis on climate change, but with a powerful opportunity to grow and expand over time. The next CEO will be excited to lead that effort of creating powerful, positive impact through a “community first” organization.

  • Attention to Community First – The Board and current leadership of Activate believe that our community of funders, sponsors, supporters, fellows, and champions, working in pursuit of Activate’s mission, represents a powerful force for good. The next CEO will be excited about leading the effort of creating positive, powerful impact and outcomes through a “people first” and “community first” science focused organization.
  • Science Credibility – Activate exists to empower scientists and does so with funding from government sponsors, such as DOE, DARPA, NYSERDA, and CEC, with support from Lincoln Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Columbia University, among others. Activate’s next CEO must have credibility within these scientific communities, whether through degrees, experience, or both. This requires comfort, through understanding or experience, navigating, working with, and further developing government champions and sponsors, as well as academic and federal laboratory partnerships.
  • Fundraising Experience – Activate’s CEO serves as its ultimate “closer” on philanthropic and governmental funding to support the fellows and the organization’s expansion. As a result, prior experience in the development of funding and in building partnerships is critical.

  • Inspiring Communicator – With the growing community of alumni fellows, an expanding base of governmental sponsors and funding stakeholders, and a dispersed and growing internal staff, the communication skills of Activate’s next leader will need to be practiced and refined towards the inspirational with proven effectiveness in communication and Position Profile Chief Executive Officer |8 storytelling. In addition, the next CEO needs to champion and inspire existing and potential fellows as they embark on their projects.

  • Vision for Long-Term Impact – The problems that Activate Fellows tackle are big and, in some cases, existential. They require long-term solutions, along with the patience and passion to pursue those solutions over the long-term. Activate’s next CEO will understand the long-term nature of this pursuit, as well as the unique role that Activate’s patience holds in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and will seek to lead and build with the resilience that allows for long-term, positive impact from Activate’s outcomes.
  • Growth Experience – Activate is a “fellows first” organization, so all growth will be in service of this primary purpose. In its current five-year plan, Activate is targeting growth towards 100 fellows per cohort, in multiple locations throughout the United States (whether through resident locations or the Activate Anywhere platform). The next CEO will work with the leadership team and the Board to meet these goals and to chart the course for Activate’s next phase of growth. As a result, experience in managing and leading a growth organization will be required of the next CEO, along with the vision for identifying and leading the next phase of Activate’s growth.

  • Success in the Midst of Uncertainty – The growth and expansion of the organization will continue to yield areas of ambiguity and uncertainty, particularly as we grow in an area that didn’t exist seven years ago. The next leader must understand a certain urgency in the growth impetus to leverage Activate’s strongest allies (the Activate Fellows) towards its growth objectives. At the same time, the next leader will celebrate Activate’s role in creating a dynamic ecosystem that fosters competitive behavior and will embrace the ambiguity and uncertainty inherent in doing both.

  • Experience Leading via Delegation and Distributed Decision-Making – The next CEO will have demonstrated experience leading through distributed functional decision-making, where functional team leaders have responsibility, authority, and accountability for their functional areas, involving the CEO as needed. This criterion requires someone with strong management skills, but also a low “self-orientation” in order to create a high trust quotient with the leadership team, Board, staff, fellows, and other stakeholders.

In addition, strong candidates will offer:

  • Entrepreneurial Experience – Activate exists to help scientists become entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial experience informs much of what we do in working with scientists and would be a valuable set of experiences for our next CEO.

  • Experience Leading a Mission-Driven Organization – Activate is a mission-driven organization with a raison d’etre focused on scientists on a mission and on catalyzing those individuals, as well as invigorating a diverse community pursuing science for good. Prior experience leading a mission-driven organization will be viewed as a positive. Executive experience managing a non-profit or research institute with $100 million or more in annual revenue from federal science and technology contracts would be valuable experience to help guide Activate’s excellence as a prime science and technology performer. Ideally, this experience would come with a national network that compliments via geography, industry, or otherwise (rather than duplicates) Activate’s current reach.

  • Science Background – A science background could be incredibly valuable for the next CEO, particularly as a validator with our primary stakeholders: fellows and government sponsors. The type of science background could be science policy, a particular hard science, or science innovation.

  • Prior Governmental Experience – The government plays a critical role in furthering pre-commercial scientific innovation, including through sponsoring our fellows. Prior governmental service in those innovation hubs will serve the next leader well.

Activate empowers scientists to reinvent our world and address climate change by bringing their research to market. The Activate Fellowship ...

View Company Profile