The Spencer Foundation

The Board of Directors of the Spencer Foundation announces an opening for the position of President, the chief executive officer of the Foundation.

The Spencer Foundation, located in Chicago, is dedicated to the support of research in education, broadly construed. The Foundation supports research in education and related disciplines, supports research training for education in the United States and abroad, administers a variety of fellowship programs at the pre-doctoral, post-doctoral and senior levels, and supports initiatives to apply research to the understanding and improvement of education from pre-school to graduate education, in both formal and informal settings.

The Foundation’s endowment is currently more than $525 million. The Foundation expects to award over $26 million in grants in 2015-16.

The ideal candidate will be an accomplished education scholar and leader who has demonstrated a capacity for vision, leadership and statesmanship in education and/or related fields. We seek candidates who are comfortable and skillful with administrative responsibilities and have excellent social and interpersonal skills. The Foundation expects its president to be an articulate and knowledgeable spokesperson for the central role of high-quality research in the improvement of education.


The candidate must be someone who has a broad view of high-quality research. We seek a leader who can appreciate and discern excellent research across a wide range of questions or problems, fields, designs, and methods, and who exhibits a scholarly stance that is balanced and fair, and not wedded to a particular paradigm or solution. The preferred candidate will be intellectually vibrant, curious and tough-minded, and interested in and committed to the study of education and its improvement.

We seek for our new president a leader who will be able to think creatively and strategically, together with others, about the development of the Spencer Foundation and will advance the Foundation’s mission to support scholarship in education and to promote improvement in education policy and practice. The desired candidate will have the following qualifications and characteristics:

  • Has experience with leadership, administration, and/or management of an organization
  • Is excited by the accomplishment of others and derives satisfaction from developing individuals and communities
  • Is able to work sensitively and effectively across a wide range of differences
  • Has demonstrated success, skill, respect, and thoughtfulness in working with a staff at all levels of an organization, and effectiveness in working with a board
  • Is able to support and extend the Foundation’s connections with a range of diverse communities and people
  • Has strong communication skills––including especially writing, speaking, and listening
  • Has an established and substantial record of scholarship and a strong reputation as a scholar
  • Is active in professional networks or organizations, including but also beyond his or her own community or discipline

An earned doctorate is required.

Applications and Nominations

The Board of Directors will review nominations and applications beginning June 1, 2015. The appointment will begin on September 1, 2016. Candidates are asked to submit a letter describing their interest and qualifications, a curriculum vitae, the names of three references, and a writing sample. We prefer that materials be submitted electronically to with the word “president” in the subject line.

Nominations are also welcome. Please send nominations to with the two words “president nomination” in the subject line. Your nomination should include the name and contact information of the person you are recommending we consider, the individual’s current position, a curriculum vitae if available, and, most important, why you think this person would be a strong candidate for this position.

The Spencer Foundation is an equal opportunity employer with a strong commitment to equity and respect for diversity.