Lead Director of System Design

Chicago, IL


Urban Initiatives seeks a Lead Director of System Design to lead the organization’s partnership strategies across Chicago and within local communities. This leader oversees all partnership strategy and engagement across the organization grounded in UI’s sport- and play-based SEL methodology and suite of youth programs and adult services. They lead a team of one or more community managers to explore and pursue a wide variety of strategies to activate sport and play in individual communities and impact the system to prioritize and sustain the health and well-being of young people for years to come. The Lead Director of System Design will partner with the organization’s senior leaders and key advisers to develop effective partnership strategies. They will lead through three primary areas of responsibility, including:

  • Partnership Engagement Strategy

  • Partnership Development + Cultivation

  • Organizational + Team Leadership


Lead system-level partnerships and community-level strategic engagement to cultivate wide-reaching and deep connection through three priority areas:

Partnership Engagement Strategy

  • Develop mission- and vision-driven partnership strategies across system-level, city-wide, and  management cadence with system-level and city-wide partners.

  • Execute partnership management cadence.

  • Develop, execute, and ensure quality of partnership engagement to achieve target goals and objectives toward sport- and play-activation across Chicago.

  • Lead the continued development of an administrative management/tracking system for all partnership engagement among UI’s Innovation + Learning teams and the organization more broadly.

  • Create and execute data-informed plan for annualized and quarterly assessment of partnership progress across goals and strategies, adjustment, and future plan

  • Develop deep understanding around equitable access to SEL services and sport- and play- programs across CPS and Chicago, and build UI strategy to strengthen equitable access and outcomes within individual Chicago communities through community engagement strategies.

Partnership Development + Cultivation

  • Build, develop, sustain, and deepen partnerships with a portfolio of Chicago Public Schools’ district partners, including but not limited to these teams/offices: Community Schools Initiative, Early Childhood Education, Equity, Out of School Time, Social + Emotional Learning, Sports Administration, Student Health + Wellness, Student Support + Engagement

  • Build, develop, sustain, and deepen partnerships with a portfolio of organizations and agencies across Chicago, including but not limited to: Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Fire, etc.

  • Represent UI and pursue strategic engagement with a broad array of coalitions spanning city-wide partnership spaces, including but not limited to: My Chi My Future, Thrive, Community Partner network of CPS, Healing Centered Practices Initiative, etc.

  • In collaboration with Innovation + Learning teams, develop and maintain high quality materials to support individual partnership engagement, including but not limited to: meeting agendas and notes, slide decks, adult services collateral, etc.

  • Manage a portfolio of influencer and adviser relationships to support their engagement in UI’s mission-driven organizational priorities.

  • Strategically develop a portfolio of community-based partners in collaboration with Community Design Manager.

Organizational + Team Leadership

  • Celebrate successes, develop lines of sight between various partner groups + UI accomplishments and opportunities for new and deeper connections

  • Lead and manage one or more community design managers to achieve individual and team goals.

  • Serve as the primary point of contact for all communications related to partnerships.

  • Manage consistent communication with UI team members around all things partnerships, including strategy, purpose, status, etc.

  • Collaboratively closely with UI’s Innovation + Learning teams around design, partnerships, and learning.

  • Perform other duties as needed to support UI’s mission and vision.


  • Passion for sport and play to drive social-emotional learning for young people and adults across Chicago

  • Demonstrated expertise in partnership development across various stages, scopes, and types of partnerships

  • Working knowledge of local community engagement strategy, community-based partnerships, and parent engagement

  • Experience working closely with Chicago Public Schools’ District Office and/or other Chicago organizations and agencies is a plus

  • Experience leading a team of people and complex projects to high achievement of goals

  • Commitment to interrupting all forms of oppression in the workplace

  • Commitment to supporting a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for young people

  • Experience living and/or working deeply with historically marginalized communities

Compensation Package

  • $80,000 base salary

  • Health, dental, and vision insurance premiums paid 100% by Urban Initiatives (for employees and for their children)

  • Life, short term disability, and long term disability insurance paid 100% by Urban Initiatives

  • Option to contribute to a 401K with up to a 3% match of your salary after one full year of employment

  • Flexible schedule and work from home environment

  • 120 hours of paid time off (PTO), accrued monthly (PTO may be prorated based on start date.)

  • Paid holidays (Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day)

  • Comp time

How to Apply 

Apply by clicking the link below. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis beginning July 25, 2022.

Target Start Date is September 12, 2022


Urban Initiatives is dedicated to intentionally fostering a climate of purposeful inclusion in our workplace, and candidates of diverse backgrounds and identities are strongly encouraged to apply. Urban Initiatives is an Equal Opportunity employer. Personnel are chosen on the basis of ability without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. This is in accordance with federal and state law.

Urban Initiatives Overview

Founded in 2003, Urban Initiatives is a nonprofit organization that runs youth development programs in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Urban Initiatives’ mission is to use the power of sport and play to empower Chicago’s youth to achieve academic success, develop social-emotional skills, and build social capital. Currently, Urban Initiatives serves an estimated 60 schools throughout the City of Chicago.

Urban Initiatives is preparing to scale program operations to have a significantly greater impact across Chicago. Our programs support social emotional learning (SEL) and demand for these services is greater than ever. Maturing the administrative capacity of our fundraising team is critical to raise the funds necessary to accelerate our impact.