Director of Program Innovations
at Heartland Alliance

Date Posted: 11/3/2019

Job Description

Director, Program Innovations

Heartland Alliance, a Chicago-based, global human rights organization, has a decades-long history of dismantling barriers and providing greater access to health and healing, safety and justice, and economic opportunity for individuals who face violence, poverty, homelessness, trauma, and poor health outcomes. The organization, which is composed of five distinct not-for-profit organizations, is harnessing the strength our of our service-based, systems-change approach to deepen our impact in Chicago, throughout the country, and across the globe.

We are seeking a mission-aligned, collaborative, and creative leader to spearhead innovative program design and planning and to foster a cross-company discipline of innovation in order to deepen our collective impact. Reporting to the Chief Strategy Officer, the Director of Program Innovations will provide leadership, management and coordination of a dynamic portfolio of innovative program design efforts focused on healing, justice, and opportunity; closely collaborate with multi-disciplinary, cross-functional teams to identify, create and refine innovative solutions to cross-cutting social challenges; and build a shared discipline of innovation at the Alliance. 

This is a new position that supports the President’s vision to strengthen Heartland Alliance’s capacity as an innovator of bold solutions to persistent social problems. This position is ideal for an emerging leader in the social sector or in human-centered design. Experience managing a portfolio of projects along a continuum from initiation to launch in collaboration with teams charged with designing and launching new initiatives is critical. In addition to facilitating matrixed teams to design program innovation strategies, the Director will supervise the launch and implementation of our housing for justice-involved initiative and work alongside colleagues leading innovative program initiatives at the alliance. Successful candidates will have relevant programmatic or fundraising experience in the social sector, be comfortable leveraging and translating research into concise insights and compelling analytic frameworks which spur the generation of new program ideas, and be able to translate new ideas into testable, minimally viable prototypes in order to inform and inspire strategic decisions and design solutions.

Please submit a cover letter along with your resume.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Develop and oversee implementation of the creation, and ongoing management, of an innovation design process, exercising and inspiring rigor, collaboration, and creativity.

  • Engage and partner with the Chief Strategy Officer, Chief External Affairs Officer, Senior Director of Research + Policy, and key stakeholders from within and outside Heartland Alliance to ensure a participant-driven, impactful, and growth-oriented approach.

  • Act as a trusted advisor to Executive Directors and their leadership teams, helping them build capacity for program innovation. Design creative ways to inspire senior leaders across HA to both ‘think differently’ about the role of innovation, and drive action through innovative models and practices.

  • Manage a dynamic portfolio of innovative program design strategies, focusing on the impact areas of safety and justice, health and healing, and economic opportunity. Instill project teams with the confidence and discipline to explore innovative design solutions.

  • Supervise the Housing for Justice-Involved Project Manager and oversee this matrixed project team. Provide direction and support to individual work streams and encourage teamwork and collaboration. Coach and mentor team members to support their personal career development.

  • Forge productive, collaborative and effective relationships across the Alliance, with a broad range of colleagues, to draw on and empower their expertise and experience. Develop and maintain relationships with influencers and institutions whose perspectives are important in shaping the social innovations landscape.

  • Work with Research + Policy staff and multidisciplinary innovation teams to conduct user research; leverage research to drive to insight; facilitate brainstorms to generate concepts on new experiences, services, and ideas; and translate research insights into powerful frameworks and minimum viable prototypes and/or storyboards for concept creation.

  • Develop, over time, a Heartland Alliance-specific set of reusable design thinking tools, methods and shared principles which foster the development of a culture of innovation within our companies’ staff and leadership.

  • Develop and deliver key briefing documents, progress reports and presentations regarding new program innovations to key stakeholders, including executive leadership team.

Requirements and Competencies

  • Bachelor’s degree (Master’s degree preferred); minimum of 7-10 years of relevant experience serving in a leadership capacity, including 3-5 years of management experience; p

  • Experience managing a portfolio of projects relevant to fostering innovation, including identifying and addressing barriers to innovation, engaging with the design and/or social innovation community to develop and adapt innovation best practices within an organization

  • A passion for making the world a better place and solving chronic social problems paired with experience collaborating with colleagues and an openness to learn from participants

  • An ability to rapidly launch experiments, learn from failure, and translate learnings into experience designs which center the needs of the communities we are seeking to serve

  • Creative, curious and strategic thinker with the ability to drive operational activity and collaboratively build a willingness to act amongst organizational leaders; sharp analytical and critical thinking skills, and a genuine passion for data and creative problem solving

  • Thrives living in the “fuzzy front end” of innovation and can drive to clarity and translate ideas and insights into practical plans and work products

  • Excellent, demonstrated management skills including the ability to inspire, motivate, influence, develop, and hold colleagues accountable to high standards of creative work; ability to manage and develop a cross-company or multi-disciplinary team to execute work plans

  • Willing and able to work effectively as part of a team across the larger organization, gathering and sharing information and insights, collaborating to solve problems, and effectively connecting innovation work to our broader programming and systems change work

  • Excellent communication skills, both written and oral; ability to engage internal and external stakeholders

  • Graphic, UX and product design skills (including but not limited to the Adobe Suite, one or more coding languages, or product design tools) is optional but desired

Job Snapshot

  • Employee Type: Full-Time
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Job Type: Management
  • Experience: Not Specified
  • Date Posted: 11/3/2019

About Us

It’s more than a job, it’s a purpose.


Heartland Alliance—the leading anti-poverty organization in the Midwest— believes that all of us deserve the opportunity to improve our lives. Each year, we help ensure this opportunity for nearly one million people around the world who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety. Our multicultural staff are passionate about our mission and make Heartland Alliance a dynamic and exciting place to develop your career.


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