The Democracy Collaborative is hiring a Chief Operating Officer

Posted by: 
Ted Howard



The Organization:

The Democracy Collaborative (TDC) was established in 2000 as a research center at The University of Maryland College Park. Among its founders were Professor of Political-Economy, Gar Alperovitz and Ted Howard, who continues to serve as CEO. The initial purpose of TDC was to advance a new understanding of democracy for the 21st century and to promote new strategies and innovations in community development that enhance democratic life.

Today, TDC is a rapidly expanding nonprofit organization with ten full-time employees, and offices in the Washington, DC area and Cleveland, OH. TDC has broadened its work beyond research and already has a number of significant successes in consulting, on-the ground strategy, stakeholder engagement and creation of quality deliverables, all advancing the organization’s mission.

TDC’s goal is to change the prevailing paradigm of community economic development – and of the economy as a whole — in the United States, toward a new emphasis and system that is based on:

  • Broadening ownership and stewardship over capital;
  • Democracy at the workplace;
  • Stabilizing community and emphasizing locality;
  • Equitable and inclusive growth;
  • Environmental, social, and institutional sustainability.

TDC has been working to dissolve our nation’s broadening economic gap by returning wealth to individuals, families, and community-based organizations. Refocusing public and private resources to strengthen local institutions capable of building assets and keeping financial resources within the community, TDC believes, will help end generational poverty, create high-quality jobs and save America’s dwindling middle class. This is Community Wealth Building (CWB).

Programs and Services

As the premier innovator and leading national voice in the field of CWB, TDC is known for its research and advisory; it informs public policy, promotes new models and strategies, and establishes metrics to advance the field.

Research: Knowledge Building & Thought Leadership for the CWB Field

TDC is well known for the strength of its research program and has produced numerous influential books and reports that are expanding the knowledge pool for the CWB field. In addition, in 2005, TDC launched the web portal The site reports on new strategies and institutional innovations that strengthen local economies. It is the definitive source of online information about the growing CWB movement nationwide.

Advisory & Innovation: New Strategies, Models and Training

TDC is perhaps most widely known for its role as one of the architects of the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative of Cleveland, OH ( TDC was instrumental in developing the original economic inclusion and CWB strategy that underlies Evergreen; it played a leading role in designing the multi-stakeholder structure of the various Evergreen entities, including the holding company (Evergreen Cooperative Corporation). In addition to its work in Cleveland, TDC assists other cities and organizations around the country in developing locally appropriate CWB initiatives.

Field Building: Promoting & Communicating the CWB Vision

TDC’s senior leaders travel, speak and meet continuously with leading partners who are working to rebuild wealth for Americans while building the field of CWB. They participate as panelists and keynote speakers at scores of major conferences across the country. In the past few years, these venues have included: Council on Foundations, SOCAP, the Clinton Global Initiative-America, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, various conferences of regional Federal Reserve Banks, the National Cooperative Business Association, and the PolicyLink Equity Summit, among many others.

TDC has positioned itself as the expert integrator – the systems design component – of Community Wealth Building strategies, helping communities unleash entrepreneurship and contribute their dreams and assets. These model communities then become learning laboratories for TDC and the growing CWB field, cross-fertilizing successful practices for rapid innovation nationally.

The Future of The Democracy Collaborative

TDC has grown from a University-based organization to a nationally recognized non-profit firm that advances Community Wealth Building. The organization is at a pivotal moment in its development and has a unique opportunity to co-create with others in the field a new Northstar of allied hope, and to dramatically advance the field of CWB over the next five to ten years.

In July 2012, TDC, with the financial support of the F.B. Heron Foundation, began a strategic planning engagement with Veris Wealth Partners which has laid the foundation for future growth and development.


The Role:


Washington, D.C. office: Takoma Park, Maryland


Reporting to the CEO and a member of the senior management team, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) is a newly created position that will allow the CEO to focus more externally on fundraising, advocating nationally for the CWB paradigm of economic development, building key stakeholder and strategic partnerships, and strategizing about “what comes next”.

Working closely with a senior management program team, the COO will oversee all internal operations with a particular focus on enhancing the internal organizational systems, processes and infrastructure that will allow TDC to scale the organization and fulfill its mission.

The COO will have exceptional capacity for managing and leading people; a team builder who will learn the strengths and development areas of the team so as to put people in a position to succeed.

In partnership with the CEO, the COO will work collaboratively with the senior management team and the Board of Directors to deliver on the TDC mission and short and long-term objectives.

In collaboration with the CEO and senior management team, the COO will lead the supporting critical efforts in the following areas:

  • Build out and strengthen the internal organizational capacity and focus its structure and delivery system for maximum impact at the local and national level.
  • Provide the structure, coordination and resources necessary to deliver on and enhance a wide range of already committed Community Wealth Building projects.
  • Support the implementation of new CWB programs, products and services, and create the revenue models to sustain them, therefore “making the whole organization work”.
  • Produce a five-year TDC growth plan designed to position Community Wealth Building as the dominant economic development paradigm in our nation.

This is an outstanding opportunity for an entrepreneurial organization builder who is deeply committed to transforming our nation’s prevailing economic development paradigm into Community Wealth Building and laying a new foundation for restoring our nation by reinventing and rebuilding our communities.


Key Responsibilities:

Strengthening Infrastructure and Operations

  • Strategic thought partner to the CEO in organization building; implementing new processes and systems, operations plan, and budgets in order to meet short and long-term strategic objectives; support and advise the CEO in decision-making on all financial matters;
  • Oversee the process of consolidating all TDC physical locations and entities into a single nonprofit structure; establish processes and clarify organizational objectives; re-establish flow of information internally and externally based on these objectives;
  • Work with financial controller and an outsourced accountant to ensure sound financial controls are in place, manage and oversee all financial and business-planning activities, business policies and procedures, budgeting process, and accounting practices annual audit, and ensure TDC’s HR policies and benefits are appropriate to the organization as it grows;
  • Set financial priorities accurately to ensure the organization is operating in a manner that supports the needs of programs and that department budgets are managed appropriately; monitor organizational performance metrics;
  • Oversee the HR function including: recruitment and retention of high performing staff, training and development, compensation and benefits, performance evaluation, regulatory oversight and legal compliance; build partnerships to support HR as needed; and clarify employees’ roles and responsibilities based on organizational objectives;
  • Coach and mentor employees as they implement the strategic plan, continue to grow as an organization, and create and test new programs and services;
  • Oversee all risk management and legal activities including contracts and leases, business insurance (procurement, monitoring and management) and working with the manager of information technology, ensure ongoing maintenance and updating of IT systems and infrastructure.

Strategic Management:

  • Collaborate with the CEO, senior management team and Board to refine and implement the current strategic plan, while ensuring that the budget, staff and priorities are aligned with TDC’s core mission and deliverables;
  • Integrate the work of the current business plan and develop and deliver the long-range business plan for sustainable impact and success;
  • Provide guidance and support to all employees, and ensure the continued development and management of a professional and efficient organization; establish effective decision-making processes that will enable TDC to achieve its long and short-term objectives;
  • Help to recruit and cultivate strong and transparent working relationships with the Board; ensure open communication about the measurement of financial, programmatic, and impact performance against stated milestones and goals;
  • Partner with CEO and senior management team to cultivate existing relationships with public and private funders.

Programmatic Operations:

  • Actively involved in the successful implementation of all programs and services; develop a broad and deep knowledge of all programs;
  • Assist the organization in developing capacity in strategic analysis and planning, and program and budgeting; build the infrastructure to support program decision-making, program planning and budgeting;
  • Determine program and services revenue deficit and expansion capital raise required from funders team;
  • Identify opportunities for TDC to leverage cross-program strengths to take advantage of new opportunities and address organizational challenges.

External Relations:

  • Work with the CEO to support and guide staff in their relationships with TDC’s strategic partners; act as staff liaison to relevant partners and board committees;
  • As required, publicly represent TDC to external constituency groups including stakeholders of all types – community, governmental, and private organizations such as foundations and investment entities;
  • Oversee efforts and partner as appropriate with the Communications Coordinator to formulate and execute an integrated communications plan including the TDC’s multiple websites, use of social media, speaking engagements and writing/publications.


Candidate Profile:

Professional Experience:

  • Minimum of 10 years of senior-level management experience; senior-level experience in the nonprofit sector is a pre-requisite; additional experience in the for-profit sector is desirable.
  • Relevant subject matter experience is desirable.
  • A track record of developing and monitoring systems to manage both operational and programmatic work that involves high levels of collaboration in an organization that has already delivered significant impact.
  • Demonstrated experience in developing and monitoring budgets, financial planning and analysis, including the unique ability to explain budgetary needs and financial statements to non-financial people in simple terms.
  • Track record of developing and executing strategic plans, maintaining strong ties with current partners and thought leaders in the field, and building visible and innovative partnerships.
  • Experience working closely and effectively with a high profile and high performing Board.
  • Ability to point to specific examples of having led organizational transformation projects and program development.

Personal Attributes:

  • A balance of strategic thinker and strong operator.
  • Possesses the maturity, wisdom and collaborative skills necessary to gain the confidence of the staff, CEO, advisory board, funders and strategic partners.
  • Excellent relationship building skills with an ability to communicate and work effectively with a variety of internal and external stakeholders.
  • Consultative and team-building approach that engenders trust; a proactive listener, who is committed to the professional development of staff.
  • A natural mentor and coach; approachable sounding board and resource.
  • Lead through influence;  ability to prioritize and communicate with staff about key objectives and tactics necessary to achieve organizational goals.
  • Demonstrated commitment to delivering high quality programs and to field-building.
  • A self-starter; eager to work in a multi-site, high-growth organization.
  • Flexible and able to multitask; can work in an ambiguous, fast-moving environment, while also driving toward clarity and solutions; demonstrated resourcefulness in setting priorities and guiding investment in people and systems.
  • A sense of humor and the personal qualities of integrity, credibility, entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to the mission of The Democracy Collaborative.


  • Minimum of a BS/BA degree, ideally with an MBA or other relevant graduate school degree.


  • Ability to travel as required.


How to Apply:

If you, or anyone you know, are interested in this opportunity, please email your resume and cover letter in Word to:


The Democracy Collaborative is an Equal Opportunity employer. Personnel are chosen on the basis of ability without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, marital status or sexual orientation, in accordance with federal and state law.