CDA Collaborative Learning Projects Job Vacancy: Executive Director - Cambridge, Massachusetts - USA

Building on its reputation as a thought leader in support of practitioners and policy makers, CDA Collaborative Learning Projects remains committed to improving the effectiveness of those who work to provide humanitarian assistance, engage in peace practice, support sustainable development, and conduct corporate operations in a socially responsible manner. Despite the clear obstacles—and with the help of a wide range of dedicated partners—we continue to pursue our vision of communities and nations that demonstrate resilience, drive their own development and resolve conflicts without resorting to armed violence. Through the support of a number of Governments, organizations, foundations, and companies who recognize the value and benefit of CDA’s work, we have been able to sustain and deepen our collaborative learning processes, and to strengthen our ability to apply lessons drawn from that work to a range of new situations and partners.

Two years ago, the CDA Staff and Board embarked on a process of strategic change that led to a significant reaffirmation of CDA’s mission and core values, and a revised structure that maintains quality collaborative learning projects and effectively delivers extensive advisory services and accompaniment rooted in what we have learned. We are in the second year of implementing the new structure, and indications to date are very positive.

Peter Woodrow has been with CDA since 2003 and has served as our Executive Director since 2013, maintaining the high quality of CDA engagements. In early 2016 he shared with the Board his desire to retire by December 2017 at the latest. He will be hard to replace, and we are making every effort to find the best possible person to take up the reins.

We are asking for your help in identifying strong candidates for our next Executive Director. We firmly believe that we will find that person by engaging those who already know and respect CDA and its work. We have reassessed the skills, qualities and experience needed by a new Executive Director, and crafted an accurate, challenging Job Description. Now we are turning to you to help us reach out to those who should know of this opportunity.

Please take a minute to look over the Job Description below, visit our website ( to get a view of our renewed sense of energy and purpose, and pass this message on to those you think might be both qualified and interested in giving the position further consideration. If you would like to have a conversation about our effort to find our next Executive Director, please contact us at

On behalf of the CDA Board, thank you for helping us find the right person to maintain the quality organization you can rely on in years to come.

With best regards,
David Whittlesey,

CDA Board Chair

CDA Collaborative Learning Projects (CDA, is a non-profit organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA) that helps national and international actors working in conflict-affected areas to improve the relevance, effectiveness, and accountability of their actions. It engages with Governmental, civil society and corporate partners across four practice areas: conflict sensitivity/Do No Harm, peacebuilding effectiveness, aid effectiveness, and responsible business practices.

CDA’s activities are structured around two pillars: Collaborative Learning (including applied research) and Advisory Services (including longer-term accompaniment). It develops and applies evidence-based approaches that are field tested, continuously refined, highly practical, and broadly relevant. CDA’s Executive Director will oversee CDA’s strategy across both of these pillars.

Applications must be received by November 30th, 2016. Applicants are invited to send a detailed curriculum vitae and a letter explaining their interest in the position by email to:

Only short-listed candidates will be invited to submit references. Candidates who are not United States citizens should indicate in their application letter whether they possess work authorization in the U.S.

The Executive Director is responsible to a Board of Directors that sets overall policy directions for the organization. CDA is a small, creative, and highly flexible organization that requires an Executive Director with the right combination of skill sets outlined below, as well as an entrepreneurial spirit to develop and manage a sustainable business model for a small non-profit organization that works with a very broad range of stakeholders. The position is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA) and is for a period of 3 years, renewable at the Board’s discretion.

Executive Director Position – CDA Collaborative Learning Projects


The key responsibilities of the Executive Director are:
  • Leadership
  • Fundraising
  • External Representation 
  • Management
The Executive Director provides inspiration, leadership, and strategic direction for CDA. This includes building and nurturing the CDA team, developing a common organizational vision, and empowering and supporting the Directors of the Collaborative Learning and Advisory Services wings of CDA, and other staff, with respect to program planning and implementation.

The Executive Director will ensure the quality of CDA’s work and the early identification of important issues of concern for international actors.

Resource mobilization
The Executive Director is responsible for the overall financial sustainability of the organization and for developing CDA’s resource mobilization strategy. He/she leads the organization’s fundraising efforts including by establishing and nurturing institutional relationships with donors and other strategic partners through visits, regular communication, presentations and reporting.

External Representation
The Executive Director represents the Organization and its work at conferences and other speaking engagements involving diverse audiences, including international and national policy-setting bodies, a broad range of local and international NGOs, donors, governments, transnational corporations and academia.

The Executive Director oversees CDA’s human resources and financial management systems. He/she establishes clear lines of accountability for and supervises the management of staff and program budgets. The Executive Director also oversees the management of CDA’s field office in Myanmar, and is ultimately responsible for CDA’s overall strategy for engagement in Myanmar.

He/she ensures a supportive organizational administration and has final decision-making authority on all personnel decisions. He/she works with all staff to maintain an office environment that is welcoming, pleasant and intellectually stimulating.

The Executive Director serves as an ex officio member of the Board and works with the Board Chair to call meetings and set Board agendas. He/she also works with the Board Chair and Board members to support the strategic engagement of the Board in resource mobilization and partnership development.

Qualifications and Experiences
The Executive Director is a recognized leader in the area of international action in fragile, transitional and conflict-affected environments and has extensive senior-level experience. The Executive Director demonstrates a balance of strong field experience with resource mobilization, relationship building and organizational management. An abiding appreciation for the wisdom and capacities of people trying to improve conditions in their own societies is an essential qualification for CDA’s Executive Director. More specifically, the Executive Director has the following qualifications and experiences: 
  • A recognized thought and practice leader on issues of CDA’s concern;
  • An extensive network of senior-level contacts across a variety of relevant organizations, and the ability to establish and maintain constructive working relationships with a broad range of international actors;
  • Ability to identify and build an agenda around cutting-edge issues of strategic concern to audiences relevant for CDA;
  • A proven track record of success in resource mobilization, including building and maintaining relationships with governmental and private donors;
  • Ability to manage an organization that has a broad agenda and creative, independent staff, but limited human and financial resources;
  • A proven track record in planning, budgeting, financial and human resource management and evaluation systems;
  • A track record in managing and growing non-profit organizations, including proven experience with developing sustainable business models;
  • A commitment to quality, effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and transparency in organizational systems and program outcomes; 
Skills and Competencies

In addition, the Executive Director has the following skills and competencies: 
  • The skills of an able writer and engaging public speaker, capable of communicating new ideas in ways that attract the engagement of policy makers and practitioners alike;
  • Commitment and skills to create an office atmosphere that is welcoming, pleasant and intellectually stimulating;
  • A solid communicator, able to facilitate smooth communication across different locations and time zones;
  • Experience working with staff in off-site locations and across different time zones;
  • A proven track record empowering staff and bringing out the best qualities in people.
  • Willingness and ability to travel (up to 35% of time), mainly for fundraising and external representation purposes;
  • Outstanding spoken and written English is a requirement; proficiency in other languages is a plus. 
The Executive Director will be subject to an annual performance review by the Board. The Executive Director and the Board will, when appropriate and no less than annually, review this Job Description to consider possible changes.