Job posting – Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance

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Part-time executive director, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance

Title: Executive director
Employer: Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance
Location: Augusta, Maine

Summary: MMSA seeks an imaginative, accomplished, and entrepreneurial STEM advocate and educator with exceptional leadership, fund raising, and communication skills as its next Executive Director.

Instructions: Inquiries, referrals, and resumes should be sent (electronic submission encouraged) to Laurie Larsen. Candidates should submit a letter of interest, CV or resume, plus names and contact information for three references. References will be contacted only for finalists and with permission of the applicant.

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“Providing educational leadership, promoting educational excellence.”

The mission of the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance is to increase aspirations and improve performance in K-16 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the state of Maine and nationally.  The MMSA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.                                                                                                     
The Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance (MMSA) is the leading mathematics and science education organization in Maine. MMSA has engaged thousands of teachers and teacher leaders in high-quality, data-driven, standards-based STEM professional development and through them, tens of thousands of students, both in schools and in out-of-school programs. Independently funded through grants and contracts, MMSA staff members work to enhance STEM education by engaging people of all ages in its professional development, curriculum improvement, and innovative education activities. 
A signature project of MMSA is the Governor’s Academy for Science and Mathematics Leadership, which has prepared over 100 Maine teachers to assume leadership roles in their classrooms, schools, and communities.  In mid-2011, MMSA launched the Reach Center, a 10-year project funded by a private donor and designed to identify, attract, engage, and challenge Maine’s promising mathematics and science students in grades 5-12. The Center harnesses school and community resources to provide students with new opportunities and to prepare them for professional and personal futures involving STEM.
Founded in 1992 and firmly established in Maine’s educational landscape, MMSA currently operates under 12 contracts and grants funded by various agencies, foundations, and donors.  It is a stable and highly effective, soft money, nonprofit education initiative that plays a significant and growing role in Maine’s STEM activities.
The MMSA Board of Trustees has retained Jerry Pieh to assist an active Search Committee of four trustees and staff in recruiting the new Executive Director. Persons wishing to apply for, nominate, or inquire about this position should contact Laurie Larsen as directed at the end of this statement. 
The Executive Director (ED) reports directly to the Board of Trustees and provides strategic leadership, policy development, management, fund raising expertise, and financial oversight for a strong, multi-faceted organization.  S/he works with the senior leadership team and the Board to develop and implement a strategic approach to achieving MMSA’s goals, objectives, and priorities.  Through active outreach, the ED supports a number of initiatives, working in collaboration with K-12 schools, higher education, STEM businesses, and nonprofits.  The Executive Director must demonstrate a collaborative yet decisive leadership style, along with a strong capacity for creativity and a dedication to attracting and harnessing resources.  The ED will:
  • Lead strategic planning and implementation of the plan;
  • Serve as the chief fundraiser for MMSA, investigate opportunities, cultivate donors, nurture collaborations, write proposals;
  • Represent MMSA with collaborators and partners. Provide visionary leadership and participate in the Maine STEM Collaborative and other Maine and national STEM education groups;
  • Maintain an overview of current and upcoming work and report on this work to staff, Board, and funders;
  • Oversee financial and administrative work, direct budget ($2.5M) and personnel projections in collaboration with the Director of Finance and Administration; and
  • Supervise a staff of 14 through staff and leadership team meetings.
Recent experience and analysis of MMSA leadership needs has driven a decision to make the Executive Director position initially part-time.  Depending on the needs of the new ED, the match between her or his qualifications/experience and MMSA projects, and successes pursuing new grants/contracts, the level of part-time for the ED has been set at 80%. That decision reflects the realities of soft money funding and the fact that, in the FY2014 budget, all but one member of the MMSA staff will be part-time.  Handling administrative and leadership responsibilities has recently taken about 25% of a full time ED.  A four-person administrative team of 3 FTE handles most administrative issues, and all are part-time.  Fund raising, grant writing, and contract management for State agencies requires, on average, roughly an additional 25% from the ED.  The Board believes that funding the ED position at 80% will follow current MMSA practice while permitting the new director to lead needed growth and build an even stronger future for MMSA. Over time and with growth, the position may grow closer to full-time. 
This job opening occurs at a significant moment of opportunity.  With several organizations and state agencies actively pursuing a number of STEM education and workforce initiatives, the Executive Director of MMSA will be in a position to influence key, statewide decisions and lead a variety of initiatives.  The search is largely driven by the opportunities and challenges the new ED will face in leading MMSA to advance its mission and compete successfully for resources.   To do so, the ED’s general objectives, as expected, will be to attract exceptional staff, inspire engagement with STEM, and achieve financial and organizational sustainability and growth.
The following, more specific, opportunities and challenges suggest initial areas of focus and accountability for the new Executive Director.  While a new person will bring his or her own ideas and strengths to this position, these areas have been identified by the search committee as of current primary importance:
  1. Prepare MMSA to meet new challenges
The new ED must lead the strategic planning process already underway to set the agenda and shape the future of MMSA.  Doing so will quickly acquaint her or him with the organization’s current and potential initiatives and its competitive landscape.  Focusing and coordinating activities will address MMSA’s overall effectiveness and prepare it to grow in order to meet new challenges and to take advantage of new opportunities.  Many of those new opportunities will emerge from the inventiveness of the staff. 
  1. Continue to strengthen the grant and contract pipeline
Pursuing grant and contract opportunities will remain a constant process.  Many contracts will continue to focus on implementing State initiatives, largely through the Maine Department of Education.  Winning other grants and occasional foundation or individual gifts is likely to be an entrepreneurial, challenging, and creative process.  While meeting this challenge and opportunity will be shared with key staff and the Board, the ED must provide the vision and leadership needed to be successful.
  1. Mentor and lead a veteran staff
The new Executive Director must come to know and earn the respect of the staff through good management practices that encourage the heart of the organization, recognize staff contributions and accomplishments, and help overcome any shortcomings.  The organization faces routine transitions and the uncertainties of all soft money enterprises as new initiatives are undertaken that require staff reassignments or recruiting new staff with needed expertise.  Anchoring the MMSA staff as it continues to evolve will be an important challenge and opportunity.
An ideal candidate would be an innovative, collaborative leader deeply experienced in STEM education issues; thoroughly familiar with managing and growing a nonprofit, soft money organization; comfortable raising funds; skillful in building close working relationships with STEM leaders and partner organizations; and committed to and well able to articulate MMSA’s mission. Recognizing that candidates are unlikely to have every indicated credential, experience, and skill, we seek candidates who have all or most of the following professional experiences and personal qualities:
  • Ability to articulate the vision for MMSA and to lead, support, and inspire the Board, staff, donors, and the public.
  • Stellar fundraising skills with demonstrated ability to secure grants/contracts and grow revenues for a soft money organization.
  • Management experience in mentoring and empowering a top-caliber staff and in serving as an effective team leader, member, and partner.
  • Proven written and oral communication skills.
  • Commitment to strong financial management and the ability to oversee a balanced budget that furthers the mission and goals of the organization.
  • Expected Qualifications: MA/MS in educational leadership, learning science, a STEM field, or a related discipline; experience leading an educational group or organization; and an established track record of securing government, foundation or private donor funding.
  • Preferred Qualifications: Ed.D. or Ph.D. in above fields; background in STEM education as a faculty member or administrator at a college/university, a nonprofit organization, or a government agency; experience conducting staff development work with teachers or informal STEM educators; and familiarity with national STEM education policy and statewide initiatives in Maine.
The search is currently scheduled to conclude in the fall of 2013 with a starting date as soon thereafter as possible.  After significant recruiting, there will be initial evaluations of resumes and other written materials followed by interviews and extensive background checks.  Salary and benefits will be competitive with similar positions and will depend upon qualifications and experience.   
Inquiries, referrals, and resumes should be sent (electronic submission encouraged), in confidence, to:  Laurie Larsen at  Candidates should submit a letter of interest, CV or resume, plus names and contact information for three references.  References will be contacted only for finalists and with permission of the applicant.  Jerry Pieh can be contacted by phone at (207) 442-7693 and by email at
For additional information, please see  
MMSA is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. 
Candidates from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

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