Clayton Early Learning is creating a hub for Colorado’s innovative work in early childhood development.
Committed fiercely to the belief that healthy early childhood development offers one of the most powerful levers for ending inequality, Clayton plays a leadership role in demonstrating what’s possible in the early years and the positive impact that has for children and families over time.
Clayton’s 20 acre campus in the heart of Denver is the home of Colorado’s only Educare school, a nationally recognized model supporting children from birth to age five and their families. We also impact systems change in Colorado and beyond through our research and evaluation services, professional development for teachers and leaders throughout Colorado, and policy and advocacy work at the state and federal level. Our direct service and systems change work has impacted 20,000 children throughout Colorado.
Clayton is at an exciting juncture in its history; we have a new strategic direction that builds on Clayton’s wide-ranging strengths and positions Clayton to be a nationally recognized center for innovation in the field of early childhood development. Clayton thinks about the work of the next five years as becoming an innovation hub for early childhood development where we nurture a whole child, whole family approach to early childhood development, discover what works through research, evaluation, and innovation, and advance systems change in the field through policy, products and people. Central to the values of the organization is a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion with a focus on racial justice as Clayton aspires to become one of the best places to work in Colorado where each of our employees thrives while advancing our mission.
The role of Chief Operating Officer (COO) is an opportunity for a values-driven, equity-focused, strategic systems-builder to help lead and coordinate the strategic and internal functions of the organization to ensure a strong foundation upon which we can reach our vision. We have exciting aspirations and we need to meet our existing staff members and systems where they are and build toward the future. With that in mind, we are seeking an executive team member who is not only highly skilled and passionate about our mission, but also a seasoned executive who is a top-notch strategic thinker with a track record of successful organizational leadership and execution. The role provides a unique opportunity for an entrepreneurial leader who has built systems from the ground up during periods of organizational growth and created coherence across complex functions to deliver results.
The COO will join a dynamic executive team and provide leadership and cohesion for operational excellence within the organization. Working in close partnership with the Chief Financial Officer who oversees finance/accounting, facilities/operations, and IT as well as the Vice President of Human Resources, the COO will ensure a strategic and coordinated approach to systems roll-outs, annual planning, and change management within the organization. The COO will also facilitate key strategic projects for the organization, supervising a small team to provide capacity on special projects and new initiatives across the organization.
As a member of the Executive team, the COO will be a strategic, systems-focused leader, focused on the goal of enabling smooth intra-organization processes and approaches, to enable the organization to “hum” as we accomplish our mission to serve children and families. We are embarking on the second year of a five-year strategic plan and are deeply focused on improving our internal systems and foundation to ensure that our team and organization can thrive and drive even greater impact.
In addition to improving and developing new approaches for internal collaboration and alignment, the COO will lead a strategic initiatives team. Currently consisting of three project managers, the COO and strategic initiatives team will be deployed across the organization to provide capacity to support the advancement of key initiatives. One example of this, over the next year, is the planning and community engagement process for the expansion of our supports as a campus hub for thriving children and families. Clayton will embark on a process that engages families, community members, and potential campus partners to design a vision and plan for the expansion of services on campus. In partnership with leaders on the Educational Services team and a community facilitator, the COO will play an integral role in driving the process over the next year.
The role represents the opportunity to join Clayton, a highly respected and established leader in early childhood, during an exciting inflection point in both the organization and in the State of Colorado’s early childhood policy landscape, to help to take the organization’s impact to the next level.
KEY RESPONSIBILITIES & DUTIES
Cross-functional Organizational Leadership
Serve as a critical thought partner and advisor to the CEO
Serve as the overall integrator of back-end supports, making sure all teams have the systems, rituals, and tools needed to coordinate with and support each other
Ensure that organizational values and the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion are embedded in the design of our systems and processes
Support and/or develop systems and processes where there is a cross-functional gap and cross-organizational collaboration is necessary (e.g. post-COVID on-campus work expectations, facilities implications, and policy guidelines)
Implement annual planning process including organizational goal setting (in alignment with budget process) and regular continuous improvement/accountability check-ins with leaders
Work in partnership with senior leaders to migrate annual planning, goal setting, and continuous improvement processes to technology-enabled data system and dashboard
Enable on-going prioritization by CEO and executive team, ensuring fidelity to strategic plan and manageable pace of change for the organization that balances audacious goals, quality execution, and strong, sustainable work culture
Strategically design and plan for Board meetings, Executive Team and other leadership meetings, including retreats
Partner with leaders to prepare for leadership meetings by aligning on core objectives for topics and developing facilitation plans
In partnership with CEO, cultivate a high-functioning executive leadership team, strategizing and executing on the arc of work that the executive team tackles each year while continuously strengthening processes and relationships
Work with individual exec team members to ensure strategic plan/discipline to their work by serving as an internal strategy consultant to team leaders to design and execute effectively, build financial models and operational plans for their initiatives, and support with prioritization and focus to ensure that we are collectively generating impact in sustainable ways
Share context with exec team members and other leaders within the organization, helping to connect the dots between their work and other work within the organization so that they are empowered to make good decisions and solve problems
Strategic Planning & Key Initiatives Leadership
Develop an internal project management team (including associated structures and processes) that lends strategic and project management capacity to strategic initiatives and opportunistic organizational special projects with the support of three project managers who will report to the COO
Lead sophisticated project management of the process to design the future of our campus as a place that enables children and families in our community to thrive. This will likely include:
Thoughtful coordination with our education services team
Process design and management in partnership with a community facilitator
Provide leadership view to support coordination of various parties including Clayton’s board, Clayton parents, community advisory board, and collaborating organizational partners
Packaging work in progress and outputs for consumption by a wide variety of stakeholders
Manage contractors or consultants to drive forward goals of key strategic initiatives
Serve as a model and champion for cross-functional organizational engagement and sharing by building culture, camaraderie, and norms that encourage integration and sharing across our team
Ensure that Clayton Early Learning’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is reflected in our internal practices and centered in our relationships among team members
Ensure the existence of a positive workplace environment that supports staff engagement, a sustainable and healthy work/life mix and optimum productivity and performance
Provide quality direction and responsive management to direct reports
Ensure that team members have opportunities to grow in their effectiveness through on-going learning, coaching, and development
Compensation Details: $145,000-$185,000 annual salary; available benefits include health, dental, vision, 401(k), flexible spending account, short and long-term disability insurance.
Research shows that while men apply to jobs when they meet an average of 60% of the requirements, women and people of color tend to only apply when they match every criterion. If you think you have what it takes, but don't necessarily meet every check box in this job description, we encourage you to still apply. We'd like to learn more about you and see if you could be a great fit for Clayton.
Clayton Early Learning encourages candidates from historically underrepresented groups to apply. Clayton Early Learning is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status.
At Clayton, we believe that a whole child, whole family approach to the early years is one of the most powerful ways to eradicate societal inequities and create a thriving community. At Clayton we aim to create the beloved community. We work to foster a community characterized by trust, dignity, love, and justice, with our children and families, our team members, and other partners on our campus and beyond. These values are foundational to Clayton’s beloved community.
At Clayton We:
Value diversity, equity, and inclusion as our foundation. At the core of the beloved community, we leverage collective genius by nurturing and embracing differing perspectives, backgrounds, and cultures. We seek to understand our differences, rather than pretending they don’t affect us. We challenge our own biases, and we actively work to ensure each of us can bring all of ourselves to our work. We intervene if someone is being marginalized. We look for ways to eliminate inequities inside and outside of Clayton.
Operate with integrity. We adhere to the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, personal responsibility, and accountability, worthy of the trust our community places in us.
Demonstrate bold humility. We courageously drive toward our vision, while embracing humility that favors substance over sizzle, that accepts feedback in the spirit of growth, views vulnerability as a path to truth, and seeks impact for our families, not for recognition.
Strive for excellence. Each day we bring our best selves and our best work to our community, creating a positive impact for our families and each other. We value continuous learning and improvement for ourselves and our work.
Innovate through collaboration. We energize the organization, enhancing the lives of those we serve, through the ideas and unique talents of each Clayton community member and those of our partners. We lead with “How might we?” and bring curiosity to discover solutions to hard problems. We discover new approaches through collective creativity and collaborative action. We welcome a steady flow of ideas, people, and partnerships that foster a thriving learning environment on our campus for changemakers.
QUALIFICATIONS & REQUIREMENTS
The COO will be a results-oriented leader with superb interpersonal and communication skills. The COO will have at least 10 years in progressively responsible leadership roles including a minimum of five years in a senior executive/chief-level role. A background in strategy consulting or similar strategic leadership experience and specific experience related to systems building and execution in a non-profit context are preferred. There are many potential career paths that could lead to this role and the strongest candidates may have experience as a chief operating officer, chief strategy officer, chief of staff, or similar roles and/or strong functional expertise in one or more areas such as talent with a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens, operations, IT, and/or finance/accounting. The ideal candidate will also have the following personal competencies and characteristics:
Passion for the Mission: The COO must be passionate about the role of early learning in human and community development and Clayton’s potential for impact on the local and national front.
Strategic Thinker and Problem Solver: The COO will be an expert strategic thinker with a significant history of quantifiable impact. The individual will serve as a thought partner to the CEO and Board of Trustees as well as executive team members. The COO will be skilled in the design and implementation of strategic initiatives and a strong track record of effective change management. The leader must be comfortable anticipating problems, developing proactive solutions, and partnering with others to implement them. The COO is an adept change manager. They will have practical experience in communicating effectively with internal and external audiences.
Relationship Builder and Collaborator: The COO will be skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships across Clayton Early Learning and with external partners. The COO will be a natural partner with demonstrated ability to connect, build bridges and work collaboratively. The COO will demonstrate low-ego, high impact collaboration and partnership development skills. The COO will be a strong listener and communicator who brings a calm presence, establishes credibility with many and varied constituencies, builds consensus and engenders trust based on integrity, critical thinking, and transparency. This person will be a culture carrier who models passion for the mission, a respect for people and a commitment to moving the organization forward.
Results-oriented Manager: The COO will be a proven leader with a strong acumen for talent management and development. The COO will inspire others to work together to achieve a common purpose, and will be an effective leader on the executive team. The COO will be skilled in motivating teams to produce quality materials within tight timeframes and simultaneously manage multiple projects. The COO will have experience recruiting and retaining a diverse group of high performing team members as well as providing professional development opportunities to strengthen interpersonal and organizational growth. The COO will ensure goals and ownership of objectives and key results are clearly delineated and lead the team to accomplish these goals. This person will thrive in collaborative environments that are seeking innovation and are deeply committed to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Experienced Leader for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: The COO shares responsibility for helping the organization to realize its vision around diversity, equity and inclusion. The leader will work to nurture a transparent and compassionate culture where staff feel able to bring their full selves to work, supported and cared for both personally and professionally and able to productively and openly engage in dialogue about power, privilege, race, culture, and implicit bias. This person will center equity and inclusion in the systems, policies, and practices of the organization and work with team members to ensure that these values are embedded in our work and our interactions.
Modeling Organization Values: The COO is a values-driven, results-oriented leader. Clayton aims to hire executives who embody our organizational core values and find deep personal and professional resonance with these values. Emotional intelligence, humility, and self-awareness will be necessary to foster collaborative leadership. The COO must have a track record of sound judgment, uncompromising ethical standards, a high level of personal integrity, and the ability to handle confidential matters with discretion. The COO understands, values, and promotes the beloved community that we aim to develop.
Clayton Early Learning is an innovation hub that fosters thriving, equitable communities by partnering with families to nurture a whole child, whole family approach to the early years, discover what works, and advance systems change.