Jun 28, 2024

Executive Director

  • The Wily Network
  • Newton, MA, USA
Full-Time Executive Management (CEO/ED)

Job Description

Executive Director


About The Wily Network


The Wily Network (Wily) provides a critical safety net for college students in the Greater Boston area who are working towards their degrees without emotional or financial support from family. Wily Scholars bring unique experiences, challenges, strengths and goals to the college journey. Some have experienced homelessness or foster care, some have been denied family support due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, some have lost their parents, and some have family members dealing with addiction, major mental illness, or incarceration. All are talented and motivated, and all are navigating life on their own.

The high-touch, flexible, and adaptive program works to ensure Wily Scholars have the tools and networks necessary to thrive in four-year residential colleges and transition successfully into post-college life. Wily offers weekly clinical coaching, financial assistance, community-building support, and networking opportunities to help Scholars move from surviving to thriving.


When The Wily Network was founded in 2015, comprehensive support programs for college students had been around for over two decades. But it was clear that there was a gap to be filled: all of the existing programs were tied to specific universities and were available only to  former foster youth, and none were filling the need in the Greater Boston area. The Wily Network was the first program of its kind in the United States to accept any qualifying student at a four-year college, regardless of which school they attend. Wily started working with its first two Wily Scholars in 2016. Today, Wily works with more than 80 Scholars and has celebrated 69 graduations and is eager to continue growing toward its goal of serving 210 Scholars annually in 2029.


The Wily Network is powered by a talented and passionate team of 18 staff who put Wily Scholars’ needs at the center of their decision-making. The team is guided by core values that include a focus on building long-term, reciprocal, and transformational relationships; relying on the strength of a pack that supports and celebrates one another and creates a community of belonging; and operating as a listening and learning organization committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Wily is supported by a highly engaged Board of Directors. Its $3M budget includes support from a range of individual, foundation, and corporate donors.


Learn more about The Wily Network at https://thewilynetwork.org/


The Executive Director Opportunity


As Wily approaches its 10th anniversary in 2025, it is seeking a skilled leader to succeed its founder as the next Executive Director. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will hold overall strategic and operational responsibility for The Wily Network’s programs, staff, expansion, and delivery of its mission and uphold its commitment to keeping Scholars at the heart of its work. This role offers an exciting opportunity for an individual with strong skills in organizational leadership, excellent relationship-building skills, an empowering team leadership style, and experience integrating diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging practices into organizational culture and structure.


Wily seeks a mission-motivated and multifaceted leader. As the lead champion and advocate for The Wily Network to external audiences, the next Executive Director will act as an inspiring, compelling storyteller who is able to build awareness and excitement around its work with donors and higher education partners. The successful Executive Director candidate will leverage prior experience leading and managing teams through growth or change to guide Wily as it continues to grow its program without compromising on the quality of its Scholar services and relationships. Building on Wily’s existing culture and values, as well as the broad diversity of its team, the next Executive Director will share a commitment to anti-racist practices and deepen the way these values inform the organization’s internal and external practices.


Key Responsibilities:


Organizational Strategy and Management


• Lead the Wily team and Board in implementing the current strategic plan, guiding decisions that will position Wily to grow sustainably while upholding programmatic excellence and Scholar-centered decision-making  


• Ensure ongoing excellence across programmatic and administrative functions, partnering with Board and key staff as needed to recommend resources needed


• Supervise the senior management team with a focus on ensuring clarity of the vision and goals for maximum impact; promote staff retention; foster senior team members’ development as leaders and support them in aligning their respective teams around organizational vision and goals


• Ensure rigorous program evaluation, guiding the development and implementation of activities to measure and communicate Wily’s impact effectively


• Work with the Board and key staff to develop budgets and financial management practices, human resource strategies, and other operational resources necessary to support both the current scale and plans for growth


Development and External Relationship-Building


• Share The Wily Network’s story and impact with donors, partners, volunteers, and the broader community, acting as an engaging and passionate advocate in order to grow visibility and networks of support and to represent the program as a model for regional and national replication


• Partner with development and communications staff to implement effective strategies for growing revenue and brand awareness in keeping with goals for program expansion


• Act as a leading representative of The Wily Network in donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship, collaborating with development staff and Board members to build donor relationships in support of ambitious fundraising goals


• Partner with program staff and Board members as needed to sustain strong relationships with key contacts at higher education institutions where Wily Scholars are enrolled


Team Leadership and Culture-Building


• Uphold Wily’s commitment to providing an inclusive, equitable, and supportive environment for a diverse team, including attention to how to best support connection and cohesion among members working in different settings


• Lead the staff in identifying opportunities to align internal and external practices with Wily’s values, with a focus on infusing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging and anti-racist approaches into the organization’s work and culture


• Serve as a strong listener, engaging with team members throughout the organization as well as the external community, and promote a culture of feedback and continuous learning


Board Governance


• Promote active Board involvement, providing information necessary for the Board to make informed decisions and fulfill its responsibilities


• Ensure appropriate preparation and support for Board and Committee meetings


• Lead recruitment to support a strong, diverse pipeline of prospective Board members

Hiring Organization

The Wily Network


Candidate Profile


The Wily Network Board of Directors is open to considering many different professional backgrounds and recognize that no one individual will possess every qualification outlined. As a successful candidate for the Executive Director role, you will bring many of the following professional qualifications and personal attributes to this role:


• You demonstrate passion for Wily’s mission and commitment to centering Scholars in its work, with a high level of emotional intelligence and cultural competency.


• You have prior experience with populations similar to Wily Scholars. This may be demonstrated through experience in organizations providing clinical social work, mental health, or other trauma-informed programming, or through experience in higher education, or through other related leadership roles or lived experiences.


• You are an experienced leader, with proven success in developing and implementing strategic plans and supporting highly diverse teams, and with skill in guiding relatively lean organizations or teams through change and transition.


• You are experienced with advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in organizational practices, and you are committed to ongoing reflection and improvement in this work.  


• You are highly relational and a strong listener, able to engage and synthesize input from a wide range of constituencies, creating inclusive, collaborative processes and culture. You have a proven record of success in building effective relationships with external constituents (donors, partners, community members) and with internal teams.


• You have experience in individual, corporate, or foundation fundraising and/or transferrable relationship-building experience.


• As a staff leader, you demonstrate a dedication to empowering and growing team members as leaders at all levels. You have a background and comfort level in working outside of traditional hierarchies.


• You are a skilled strategic thinker, able to move a team from ideation to implementation, with experience in identifying how to measure the success and impact of a strategy and course-correct when needed.


• You bring experience developing and/or overseeing budgets and financial management.  


• You demonstrate sound judgment that is informed by the perspective of the communities you work with, and when you need to make and message a decision, you are able to do so in a way that creates buy-in.  


• You are able to both adapt to changing circumstances and also serve as a centering presence.

Industry/Service Area

Education, Other




Compensation & Benefits


The Wily Network offers a competitive total compensation package and anticipates the salary range for this position will be between $170,000 and $190,000. Benefits also include 20 days PTO at hire, which increases to 25 on year 3; 7 holidays plus one floating holiday, health and life insurance; 401k; and multiple optional insurances.


This position is based out of The Wily Network’s offices in Newton, MA.

Application Instructions



Koya Partners l Diversified Search Group has been exclusively retained for this engagement, which is being led by Cassie Scarano and Kirstin Griffiths. Submit a compelling cover letter and resume by https://apptrkr.com/5365207?_gl=1*o21ppz*_gcl_au*MTY2NTI5Mzc2LjE3MTcwMDYyMzY.*_ga*NDMyMjYyMDg3LjE3MTcwMDYyMzY.*_ga_R1M9LYHJ5R*MTcxOTUxNDk3Ny4zNi4xLjE3MTk1MTQ5OTguMzkuMC4w. All inquiries are strictly confidential.


Koya Partners l Diversified Search Group is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals living with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual living with a disability and need assistance expressing interest online, please email NonprofitSearchOps@divsearch.com. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.


The Wily Network is committed to recruiting candidates from historically marginalized backgrounds and identities as well as those whose leadership style fosters diversity, equity and inclusion. The successful candidate will possess the authenticity and cultural humility necessary to be an effective representative of Wily and the Wily Scholars.


About Koya Partners l Diversified Search Group


Koya Partners, a Diversified Search Group company, is the nation’s premier search firm dedicated to mission-driven leadership. Since its founding in 2004, Koya has had an exclusive focus on mission-driven clients and was founded on the belief that the right leader can transform an organization and have a deep and measurable impact on our world. Koya works with nonprofits & NGOs, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.


Diversified Search Group is consistently recognized by Forbes on its top 10 list of “America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms” and is an industry leader in recruiting transformational leaders for a changing world. The firm is deliberately different in its approach, with best-in-class teams who have decades of experience in cultivating inclusive leaders, understanding the dimensions of diversity, and building equitable teams.


Learn more about Koya Partners l Diversified Search Group via the https://diversifiedsearchgroup.com/koya-partners/


To apply, visit: https://apptrkr.com/5365207

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