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Chief Operating Officer at Blue Engine

Industry: Education
Function: Operations
City: New York
State: NY
Date Listed: 2014-01-22

Blue Engine is a New York based non-profit with a mission to harness the power of national service to combat a cycle of college under-preparedness by recruiting, training, and supporting professional teams of Blue Engine Teaching Assistants (BETAs), recent college graduates who devote 1-2 years of service to accelerating academic achievement in high-need public high schools. Working alongside teams of 3-4 BETAs, teachers have the instructional bandwidth and efficiency to teach a more rigorous academic curriculum that equips students with a growth mindset and college-ready skills in mathematics and literacy. Blue Engine’s unique instructional program focuses on building strong academic foundations in high school in order to ensure that high school graduates from low-income communities are prepared for the intellectual challenges of higher education while preparing a future wave of educators to succeed in the teaching profession.

Currently in its 4th year of operations, Blue Engine has a $3.7MM operating budget, 18 staff, and 52 BETAs working in 5 public high schools in New York City. With strong results to date, the organization is poised to further advance educational equity and excellence in America through direct service, teacher preparation, action research, and policy advocacy that over time will affect millions of students in hundreds of urban and rural communities each year.


The Chief Operating Officer (COO) will work in close partnership with the Chief Executive Officer and take a significant leadership role in building the administrative, operational, and program-support functions necessary to deepen Blue Engine’s impact in the communities it serves. In addition to being a strategic thought partner to the CEO, the Board of Directors, and various members of the management team, the COO will have the opportunity to launch and execute Blue Engine’s 5-year growth plan (2014-2018).


You are ready for a major challenge. “Inflection point” is such a cliché, but in this case, it’s true. We’re codifying our program model, securing key partnerships, and poised for growth in New York City and districts beyond.

You believe in earning the right to do the work. It’s an expression heard here every day, one that anchors us in humility and respect. As a leader, you check your title at the door, listen closely, learn constantly, and build coalitions inside and outside the organization that are rooted in teamwork and trust.

You eat data for breakfast (and lunch). You have significant, relevant experience managing by the numbers, but you’re also mindful of the corrosive power of blind allegiance to metrics. You’re comfortable translating a variety of information (qualitative and quantitative) into clear, actionable reports that help diverse audiences know how to work smarter.

You are a gifted manager of workflow. You think quickly on your toes, and are solution-oriented when problems arise. You are imaginative, flexible, inventive, and always default to action. When you identify a gap or room for improvement, you inspire teams to take initiative and lead by example. You enjoy developing creative ways to streamline and create processes + protocols to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

You are an (even more) gifted manager of people. Our people are the “engine behind the Engine,” our most valuable asset, bar none. You look forward to coaching and helping managers (and managers of managers) achieve aggressive, SMART! goals while creating a culture in which people can grow personally and professionally while sustaining their inner ohmmm.


The chief duty of the Chief Operating Officer is to ensure that Blue Engine develops the people, systems and tools required to achieve dramatic results and sustainable growth. The COO will manage 3-4 direct reports, including the Senior Director of Finance and HR (3 direct reports) and a Strategic Planning Fellow (Ed Pioneer), among other team members. The COO will also have an opportunity to develop the IT (outsourced), legal (outsourced), and performance management aspects of Blue Engine’s work across functional teams.

The COO will serve as a leader in the following key areas:


  • Embody the five core characteristics of the Blue Engine team: an ability to connect, initiative-taking, self-awareness, collaboration, and a focus on measurable results.
  • Promote a culture of achievement, excellence, mutual respect, and collaboration throughout the organization.
  • Lead administrative and operational support functions (finance, HR, planning, facilities, IT), with the potential to manage additional program-facing functions (e.g. AmeriCorps) as Blue Engine grows.


  • Oversee translation and deployment of Blue Engine’s vision, strategy, and performance targets (as outlined in 5-year strategic plan) into concrete action plans that are focused and feasible.
  • Prepare for short-term expansion in NYC (5 >> 15 schools) and a 2017 expansion (projected) into a new district market outside NYC.

  • Prepare extensively with the CEO and Board committee chairs for quarterly Board meetings and annual retreats; serve as a direct liaison to Board committees to review progress and challenges.

  • Collaborate with the VP of Programs to strengthen the pricing and compliance aspects of contractual partnerships with school principals, ensuring that selection, retention, and satisfaction of school partners remains paramount.


  • Build a “planning” function across organizational teams, modeling forward-thinking strategy, execution, accountability, and active internal communications.
  • Identify, develop, improve and implement systems and processes to ensure organizational efficiency and effectiveness as Blue Engine continues to grow in size and complexity.
  • Gain expertise as an analyst of Blue Engine’s program results, partnering with staff to isolate trends and insights and make recommendations for revised performance management systems.


  • Oversee organizational design; develop an organizational plan to forecast resources essential to achieve Blue Engine’s 5-year goals.
  • Oversee Blue Engine’s professional development efforts, identifying opportunities for employee growth and designing programs as appropriate.
  • Partner with Human Resources team to oversee a rigorous performance management system and 360 review process.


  • Oversee the development of short- and long-term financial strategy, including the development of financial models, budgets, and analyses to inform executive leadership and a decentralized budget process among teams.
  • Collaborate with the Senior Director of Finance and HR to oversee financial systems and procedures for monitoring expenditures to assure the development of a fiscally responsible organization; ensure compliance with federal, state, and local agency requirements.
  • Collaborate with the Development Team to integrate strong financial/operational reporting into grants management.

You have a clear passion for working at a non-profit organization and an eagerness to work collaboratively on tasks big and small. You display exceptional organizational and communication skills, enjoy fast-paced, often unpredictable environments, thrive on interpersonal interactions, love working in teams, and are able to multi-task and manage projects effectively.

  • 10+ years’ professional experience, including management experience within a high-impact, growing business or non-profit.
  • MBA or Master’s Degree in related field strongly preferred; knowledge of federal and state law a plus.
  • Personal alignment with Blue Engine’s mission, vision, and core values.
  • Track record of achieving results in a corporate or non-profit environment with success in building rigorous systems, policies, and tools to support a tight-knit, entrepreneurial team.
  • Exceptionally strong problem-solving and analytical skills, with an ability to clearly define strategic issues and make tough decisions in the face of ambiguity and incomplete information.
  • Excellent quantitative skills and a proven ability to analyze performance management data, isolate insights and communicate them to a diverse array of stakeholders internally and externally.
  • Strong financial fluency; demonstrated ability to specify the financial analyses required to support strategic decision-making and use financial indicators to manage organizational performance.
  • Experience designing and/or advising on organizational structures; experience designing professional development and strategic talent management systems a plus.
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail, with a demonstrated ability to work independently, lead multiple projects, ruthlessly prioritize, and manage a high-volume of tasks, deadlines, requirements, and decisions.
  • Demonstrated understanding of and commitment to education issues central to Blue Engine’s mission.
  • Strong national education network and knowledge a plus.
  • Experience growing a social venture’s infrastructure from startup to maturity a plus.

Blue Engine is committed to maximizing the diversity of the organization, striving to recruit a workforce that reflects the diverse communities in which it serves. Blue Engine seeks individuals of all backgrounds to join the team, embracing differences, big, small, seen and unseen, as crucial to the success of the organization’s mission.


The Chief Operating Officer is a full-time, salaried position with benefits and a vacation package. Competitive salary commensurate with experience. Benefits include 100% employer-paid healthcare, vision, and dental, employer-paid short-term disability, cell phone reimbursement, and commuter benefits.

» Please consider me for this position.