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Scholars Program Senior Associate

Obama Foundation

Washington, D.C.

About the Obama Foundation

Founded in January 2014, the Obama Foundation is the platform for former President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s philanthropic activities and an integral part of their voice for continued civic engagement. The Obama Foundation will be a living, working center for citizenship in the 21st century — to identify, train, and connect the next generation of leaders and engaged citizens. The Foundation is developing the Obama Presidential Center on the South Side of Chicago to serve as headquarters for the projects it will undertake across the city, the nation, and around the world.

As President Obama said in his farewell address, “I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.” That concept is one the Obamas championed from the beginning, and it is now a cornerstone of the Obama Foundation’s efforts to support and develop the next generation of active citizens and emerging young leaders at home and around the world.

Real change—big change—takes many years, and requires each generation to believe that its participation matters and embrace the obligations and opportunities that come with the most important office in a democracy: that of Citizen. Together, we have made extraordinary progress. Because there is more to do, this work lives on in the Obama Foundation.

For more information on the Obama Foundation, please visit

About the Role

The Scholars Program, which is under development, will offer emerging leaders from around the world the opportunity to receive a world-class graduate-level education at some premier U.S. universities. The Scholars Program will be uniquely valuable because it will offer participants – as a supplement to the academic program hosted by the universities –  outstanding, values-driven leadership development, training, and networking opportunities created by and associated with the Foundation and its mission. Moreover, the Scholars will be deeply engaged with the Foundation and its programs while they are in the United States and after they return to their home communities to lead the change they seek.

As a member of the International Team, the Scholars Senior Associate will play a key role in helping to coordinate with the universities regarding the academic portions of the Scholars program.  The Senior Associate will also establish and manage all aspects of the Foundation-specific portions of the Scholars program, including the values-driven leadership education, training, and networking opportunities, by building key partnerships – both within and outside of the Foundation – and maintaining a strong and engaged network of Scholars alumni who will become the backbone of an ecosystem of Foundation-affiliated changemakers abroad. The Scholars Senior Associate will report to the Director of International Strategy.


The Scholars Senior Associate will be responsible for helping to achieve the following outcomes within the first year:

Recruit and select a unique and outstanding pool of applicants

  • Create and execute an outreach plan to recruit outstanding applicants to the Scholars Program, both by using existing Foundation networks and by establishing new contacts around the world, with a focus on underrepresented communities
  • Together with the universities, design an application and selection process for the program
  • Design and execute a digital strategy to engage the Scholars before they arrive in the United States, connecting them to the Foundation and each other

Foster productive partnerships to build values-driven leadership development program

  • Build productive working relationships with appropriate counterparts at each university to coordinate and advance the program
  • Maintain productive partnerships with other departments within the Foundation (e.g., Program and Digital) to enhance the programmatic offerings and connection between the Foundation and the Scholars
  • Establish and manage partnerships with outside institutions and individuals who will enhance and support the leadership development, training, and other Foundation program elements for the Scholars
  • Together with partners, help design and execute a series of 3-7 day leadership development opportunities for the Scholars in Chicago, New York, and the Washington, DC region
  • Identify and recruit a cadre of mentors who can provide guidance and counsel to the Scholars
  • Working with the universities, identify select internship and service opportunities for the Scholars

Build a robust alumni network that remains actively engaged with the Foundation

  • Coordinate with the Foundation Digital and Program teams to identify or establish a platform that will help Scholars and alumni stay deeply connected with each other and the Foundation over time
  • Develop a program or approach to build a robust and engaged alumni network of Scholars, who stay connected to the Foundation and each other, and that supports ongoing engagement with and service to the Foundation and its mission


The ultimate aim of the Scholars Senior Associate is to achieve the outcomes listed above. In order to achieve those outcomes, we expect that the Associate will:

  • Work closely with the leadership of the International Team and partner universities to design and execute a plan to promote the Scholars Program and to recruit and select outstanding candidates
  • Advance and a execute strategy to build a robust Foundation leadership program for the Scholars – supplemental to their academic program – that is coordinated with, and in support of the values of, the Foundation
  • Identify and recruit outside partners to help create and support supplemental leadership development opportunities that would likely include 3-7 day impact convenings in New York, Chicago, and the Washington, DC region
  • Work within the Foundation to create a variety of opportunities for the Scholars to get engaged with Foundation programming (e.g., Training Days, Bootcamps, activity at the Presidential Center, etc.)
  • Collaborate with outside partners to create a menu of mission-related learning opportunities through internships, service opportunities, and an outstanding speakers series in the cities where Scholars will study
  • Develop a program and approach to track the activities and progress of the Scholars when they return to their home countries
  • Collaborate with the Foundation Digital and Program teams to develop a robust digital platform to foster deep and ongoing engagement between and among Scholars alumni and the Obama Foundation
  • Manage the logistical aspects of the Foundation portion of the program, including budgets, travel arrangements, and other associated details


The ideal candidate would have most or all of the following:

  • A deep and demonstrated commitment to the mission and values of the Obama Foundation, with a history of working to create positive social impact
  • Experience developing educational and/or international exchange programs; event and/or conference planning experience helpful
  • International work experience, is culturally sensitive, and able to work effectively with foreign nationals from around the world
  • Is an exceptional project manager: can effectively plan long-term projects, is detail-oriented, can manage competing priorities, and communicate effectively with others to achieve objectives and meet deadlines
  • Experience with online learning platforms and/or maintaining virtual networks
  • Experience managing an alumni engagement program
  • Is a creative problem-solver, with a track record of designing innovative processes that achieve greater impact, and identifying solutions with limited resource.
  • Has high emotional intelligence and able to represent the Foundation to develop and manage multiple outside partnerships and vendors
  • Is a self-motivated, results-oriented professional willing to roll up their sleeves with others to get the job done
  • Demonstrates ability to quickly and proficiently understand and absorb new information; can sift between important details and noise to act decisively with a focus on achieving goals
  • Is an exceptional verbal and written communicator, comfortable with making presentations, and has excellent interpersonal and negotiation skills
  • Is a natural, no-drama team player, who puts mission before self and is both self-confident and willing to take on any task, however small.
  • Has a good sense of humor, even under pressure, and a high degree of flexibility/adaptability to succeed in an ambitious, start-up environment
  • Has strong Powerpoint design and Excel skills.

Equal Opportunity Employer

The Foundation is committed to creating a diverse work environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. The Foundation does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, parental status, veteran status, orany other protected status under applicable laws. We encourage individuals of all backgrounds to apply. If you are a qualified candidate with a disability, please contact us if you require a reasonable accommodation to complete this application.

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