The Forum for Youth Investment (Forum) invites applications and nominations for its next
President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Founded in 1998, the Forum is a national nonprofit,
nonpartisan “action tank” committed to changing the odds that all children and youth are “ready
by 21” – ready for college, work, and life. The Forum connects leaders to ideas, services, and
networks that can help them make more intentional decisions that are good for young people.
The Forum has transitioned from its start as a Washington, D.C.-based think tank to an action
tank working with national, state, and local leaders in more than 35 states. Headquartered in
Washington, D.C., more than 50 staff and dozens of consultants are associated with the Forum’s
primary teams in Washington, D.C., Ypsilanti, Michigan, and New York City. The Forum’s $10
million budget is funded by a mix of foundations and corporations, and a fee-for-service contract
Building on the inspired leadership of the Forum’s co-founder and first CEO, Karen Pittman, the
next CEO will lead a thriving organization that advances equity, research, policy, and practice
across all the systems and settings that shape young people’s lives. The Forum has consistently
taken a youth-centered approach and nimbly moved into a variety of different areas with great
success. The Forum’s dedication to changing the trajectory of young people’s lives and working
across a variety of sectors has given the organization a strong national reputation and extensive
The next CEO will assess the organization’s activities and operations in a new political and social
environment. With this knowledge in hand, the CEO will work with staff and the Board to set a
forward-looking strategic direction and objectives for the organization. To be successful, the next
CEO will be a visionary and experienced leader, oriented to the future while building on the past.
The CEO will exemplify the core values of quality, transparency, collaboration, respect,
leadership, risk taking, accountability, and improvement. The Forum has committed to becoming
an antiracist organization; the CEO must be prepared to deeply and boldly engage with internal
and external constituencies to address challenging societal issues, including injustice and racism.
ABOUT THE FORUM
The Forum was co-founded in 1998 by Karen Pittman and Merita Irby. Karen has served as its
founding CEO and will transition to a Senior Fellow at the Forum in February 2021. Under Karen’s
leadership, the Forum has established deep roots as a national nonprofit, nonpartisan “action
tank” – combining thought leadership on youth development, youth policy, cross-system/cross-
sector partnerships, and developmental youth practice with on-the-ground training, technical
assistance, and supports.
The Forum helps leaders think differently about what it takes to manage and sustain change so
that they are more motivated to act differently and, ultimately, act together as a part of an allied
youth field. Three strategic approaches have guided the Forum’s work since its inception:
- Strengthening Practices & Programs: The Forum empowers youth development,
education, and human service system leaders to adopt, implement, and scale
management, staff policies, and practices that ensure young people have access to high
quality, coordinated supports they need to succeed.
- Planning & Partnering for Impact: The Forum supports boundary-spanning leaders
charged with creating or implementing plans that require a focus on the bigger picture.
The Forum helps leaders connect the dots across complex and sometimes competing
goals, services, plans, and partners.
- Improving & Aligning Policies: The Forum helps policymakers, funders, advocates, and
rising leaders increase their capacity by aligning with other advocates, departments,
sectors, and levels of government to use data and evidence to support the whole child
and pursue racial and social equity.
To further these three strategic approaches, the Forum is the organizational home to:
Technical Assistance & Action Centers
- The David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality builds the capacity of public and
private agencies to implement quality improvement and performance systems that
simultaneously foster professional learning and whole-child development with the
purpose of improving social sector outcomes. The Weikart Center’s research-based core
products and services are currently used in over 4,800 out-of-school time settings
nationally and form the basis for quality improvement systems in over 140 publicly and
privately funded systems. The Weikart Center empowers education and human service
leaders to adapt, implement, and scale best-in-class, research-validated quality-
improvement systems to advance child and youth development.
- Big Picture Approach Training & Consulting consolidates in one technical assistance
center the Forum’s learning, coaching, technical assistance, facilitation, and actionable
data services focused on mobilizing the work of community coalitions and partnerships.
Big Picture Approach Training & Consulting works with leaders who are boundary-
spanning, innovative systems thinkers who use their full sphere of influence to change
the odds for children and youth. Those leaders are in partnerships, coalitions, and
networks and the community catalysts, intermediaries, and backbone organizations that
support them; governmental coordinating bodies; and public systems, multi-service
agencies, and youth-serving organizations at the national and local level.
- SparkAction is a collaborative online storytelling and advocacy platform, managed by the
Forum, to mobilize action for and by young people. SparkAction is a neutral brand that
cuts across the silos and creates a central “megaphone” to mobilize like-minded adults
and youth around calls to action. The Forum also provides behind-the-scenes supports to
help organizations and advocates use digital technology and old-fashioned
communications savvy to reach and move their audiences. The Forum has been successful
launching and running campaigns and communications projects for Raise the Age New
York, the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act, Connecticut Juvenile Justice
Alliance (CTJJA), Opportunity Youth United (OYU), and more.
Networks & Initiatives
- The Children’s Cabinet Networks bring together federal, state, and local leaders to assess
and align government policies horizontally (across systems) and vertically (across levels
of government). The Networks consist of the Local Children’s Cabinet Network (in
partnership with the Education Redesign Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
and the Children’s Funding Project) and the State Children’s Cabinet Network (in
partnership with the National Governors Association). The Forum also works to support
policy alignment at the federal level, for example, by partnering with the American
Institutes for Research to provide technical assistance to the Interagency Working Group
on Youth Programs (the federal government’s current closest equivalent to a children’s
cabinet). Members of these networks share best practices and learn more about tools
that focus on bringing efficiency and effectiveness to their efforts to improve outcomes
for young people.
- The Opportunity Youth Network, managed by the Forum in partnership with the Aspen
Forum for Community Solutions and Gap Inc., has brought together the country’s leading
philanthropists, corporations, federal government officials, nonprofits, and formerly
disconnected youth to work together to reconnect one million opportunity youth in five
years. The Opportunity Youth Network (OYN) was launched in March 2013 to capitalize
on the momentum created by the White House Council on Community Solutions, which
brought new visibility and focus to the needs of opportunity youth. Opportunity youth –
also commonly referred to as disconnected youth – are the 5.5 million young people 16-
to-24-years-old in the United States who are currently not in school and not employed.
• Opportunity Nation aims to address and assist in disrupting social and racial inequity in
America, using data to tell the full story of opportunity and to re-imagine the ‘American
Dream’ for all people, despite their zip codes. Opportunity Nation’s goal is to continue to
highlight, collect, and write the stories that matter to communities. Through the efforts
of Opportunity Nation partners, the Local Opportunity Index, and a commitment to young
leaders and communities of color, Opportunity Nation works to combat the generational
impact that racism has played in advancing access for Black, Indigenous, and people of
- The Readiness Projects advance work informed by science and grounded in practice,
supporting adults in all settings and systems across the diverse youth fields. The Forum,
the National Urban League, and the American Institutes for Research have united to
devote time, resources, and perspectives to stimulate equity-driven solutions and policies
through the Readiness Projects. Together, it is possible to dramatically change the odds
for youth if the nation commits to upending inequities, embracing science-informed
strategies, and accelerating progress. With additional partners, the Readiness Projects
accelerate work that demands equitable learning and development opportunities, and
builds on the strengths of people working at all levels to help children, youth, and young
- The Evidence-Based Policy and Practice Initiative, launched in 2015 to leverage the
learning the Forum has done in the field and in partnership with the W.T. Grant
Foundation, creates proactive strategies to drive the next generation of governmental
policy innovations designed to use evidence to improve the quality of programs.
Since 2018, the Forum has also proudly served as the temporary fiscal home for the Detroit-based
Youth Development Resource Center (YDRC). The YDRC focuses on empowering youth
development providers in Detroit that fill opportunity gaps in youths’ access to quality learning
experiences — expanding the time, places, and ways in which youth learn and grow.
For more information, please visit http://www.forumfyi.org.
The CEO provides overall leadership for the Forum and works collaboratively with its Board of
Directors to establish strategic priorities. The CEO will work in partnership with the Board and
the executive leadership team to set and execute long-range goals, strategic initiatives, plans,
policies, and procedures that advance the Forum’s mission. The CEO represents the organization
to key external stakeholders and ensures that the Forum continues to be an active and influential
contributor to addressing youth issues and youth policy. Three Executive Vice Presidents and a
Chief Operating Officer report to the CEO, and along with two Vice Presidents, comprise the
seasoned executive team.
KEY OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
Substantial opportunities await the new CEO in the future. Specific opportunities and challenges
include the following:
Set a strategic vision that accelerates the Forum’s impact on equity for youth
The next CEO will lead the organization through important conversations about the Forum’s
programs and lay out a well-organized and inspiring plan for the future. Helping all young people
be ready by 21 – ready for college, work and life – is the vision that drives the Forum’s work. The
organization’s current activities align strongly with this mission. These activities are, however,
expansive, covering point of service up through federal public policy. The challenge will be clearly
connecting these components, setting direction and benchmarks for the organization’s
continued growth, remaining disciplined and mission-oriented about strategic goals and big ideas
Advance the Forum’s development as an antiracist organization
Equity is at the core of the Forum’s mission. This work includes transforming systems of learning
and development in school and out, enhancing systems of support for the most marginalized
young people, and striving to evaluate and dismantle structural racism and implicit bias in the
systems and settings where young people spend their time. The CEO sets the tone for the
organization and communicates publicly its commitment to equity and antiracism. The Forum
can become a bridge between education, youth development, and social justice organizations.
The Forum is simultaneously further focusing its commitment to diversity and equity in its
external work and turning this lens inwards to its organizational practices and processes. The
next CEO will lead these efforts and ensure that the Forum’s internal culture is rooted in diversity,
equity, and inclusion for all staff. The CEO will broaden opportunities for organizational
leadership and implement structures and processes that result in effective and equitable
Connect all parts of the organization
The Forum has grown in an organic way to include a wide array of mission-focused activities. As
the Forum grew and brought new programs and initiatives in, the organization successfully
operated with a hub and spoke structure. In the last three years the Forum has moved away from
this structure and launched an internal initiative, “#OneOrg,” to build out systems, processes,
and structures that will better connect its staff and align their work to enhance collective impact.
The next CEO will continue to advance this work and, in doing so, will need to prioritize, manage
change, and maintain the organization’s entrepreneurial ethos.
Develop an effective and comprehensive strategy for sustainable resource development
The Forum is in excellent financial shape. The organization enjoys a well-diversified stream of
funding in large part due to the breadth of its work, its strong reputation, and successful revenue
generation by its CEO and other staff leaders. The next CEO is expected to continue to build and
grow diversified sources of funding. As these efforts mature, the CEO will need to bring creativity,
excellent relationship-building skills, and a clear plan for the staffing required to successfully
expand the organization’s budget.
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS
The Forum seeks in its next CEO a passionate and proven leader who will confidently build on its
successes and deftly guide the organization forward. The CEO will be a captivating communicator
who effectively shares its important work with internal and external audiences. The CEO will be
committed to and adaptive in their development of people and teams. Building from their strong
business and organizational knowledge, the CEO will advance the development of efficient
operational structures across the organization. The CEO will work seamlessly with the Forum’s
dedicated Board and staff.
While no one candidate will embody every quality, the Forum seeks candidates with many of the
following qualifications and attributes:
- A proven record of senior-level experience in youth development, education leadership,
philanthropy, nonprofit leadership, business, educational technology, public policy,
- Evidence of a commitment to ensuring that all children and youth are ready for college,
work, and life.
- Demonstrated skill with developing an innovative vision, leading strategic
implementation, setting metrics, and assessing progress and outcomes.
- A history of advancing racial and other forms of social and economic equity.
- Dedicated to empowering and developing staff at all levels.
- A confident, innovative, entrepreneurial, and independent thinker.
- Politically savvy, creative, and intellectually curious.
- Proven fiscal, business, and operational management skills; a record of reliable and
responsible financial oversight.
- Knowledgeable about research, policy, and practice on youth issues.
- Experience building partnerships and connections across many sectors; the ability to build
alliances across youth fields.
- Experience and success with philanthropy and/or fundraising.
- Superb written and oral communication skills.
- A leadership style centered around learning, growth, humility, and vulnerability.
Screening of complete applications will begin immediately and continue until the completion of
the search. Inquiries, nominations, referrals, and applications should be sent in confidence via
Ericka Miller, Partner
Amy Segal, Managing Associate
Becky Israel, Search Coordinator
1300 19th Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
The Forum for Youth Investment is committed to creating a diverse work environment and is proud to be
an Equal Opportunity Employer and drug-free workplace, and to comply with ADA regulations as
applicable. All applicants are considered for all positions without regard to race, religion, color, sex,
gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, national origin, ancestry, physical/mental disability,
severe/morbid obesity, medical condition, military/veteran status, genetic information, marital status,
ethnicity, alienage or any other protected classification, in accordance with applicable federal, state, and
local laws. We encourage individuals of all backgrounds to apply.
If you are a qualified candidate with a disability, please contact the Isaacson, Miller team through the
website link above if you require a reasonable accommodation to complete your application.
Forum for Youth Investment Organization Chart
(As of 2/1/21)
EVP Forum; Managing Partner,
BPA Consulting & Training
Senior Program Manager
Program & Communications
Director of Special Projects &
Director, Opportunity Nation &
Senior Policy Manager
MARY ELLEN WIGGINS
Director, Policy & Research
Co-Founder & Creative Director,
LeaderStories Editor &
(SHER) JAMAL STONE
Digital Engagement Associate
Content Engagement Specialist
Youth Justice Associate
Digital Design Fellow
Chief Operating Officer
Administrative Assistant to the
Meetings & Operations
Information & Facilities
IT & Facilities Specialist
Outreach & Engagement
Grants & Development
Vice President, Business
Senior Finance Associate
EVP Forum; Managing Director,
Senior Research & Practice
Director of Research &
Senior Research & Evaluation
Manager, Business Systems
VP of the Forum; Senior
Director, Weikart Field Services
Senior Program Associate
Director, Product Design &
Training Design & Delivery