Chicago, IL (Flexible)

Vice President, Diversity. Equity, Inclusion & Belonging, Start Early

The Organization

Start Early (formerly known as the Ounce of Prevention) is a nonprofit public-private partnership advancing quality early learning and care for families with children, before birth through their earliest years, to help close the opportunity gap. It delivers best-in-class doula, home visiting, Early Head Start and Head Start programs, supports and trains the early childhood workforce, and partners at the local, state and federal levels to ensure policies put families first. Start Early’s comprehensive approach applies its deep expertise in program, policy and research to optimize and scale its work in order to have the greatest impact for children, families and educators.

Since its founding in 1982, Start Early has expanded from its roots directly serving families and children on Chicago’s South Side and rural Illinois to impacting early childhood programs and policies nationwide, with partnerships in 25 states. Educare, its birth-to-5 school on Chicago’s South Side, has become a national model for narrowing the academic opportunity gap for children from under-served communities. In partnership with the Buffett Early Childhood Fund and other national philanthropic organizations, Start Early helped establish another 24 Educare schools across the country and launched the First Five Years Fund, a federally focused advocacy and communications effort. It is also the home of the Office of Head Start’s National Center for Parent, Family and Community Engagement. Start Early’s role as on-the-ground practitioners continues to be the bedrock of its expertise and a source of innovation and leadership in the field.

Position Overview

Following three years of work in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) and a commitment to building an infrastructure and culture of anti-racism, Start Early is seeking a Vice President, DEIB to partner with senior leaders, the Board of Directors and internal committees to establish and implement a comprehensive and inclusive strategy for DEIB. Required qualifications include a passion for the work and values of Start Early as well as evidence of progressive leadership experience in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Candidates with nontraditional experience are encouraged to apply. Preferred qualifications include experience in the field of early childhood education or other human service or justice-related field.

The Vice President, DEIB will be an experienced, visionary leader with progressive experience and demonstrated effectiveness in leading diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Start Early believes in and practices equal opportunity in its operations, community engagement, employment, and decision-making and encourages inclusion of diverse members of its community. The successful candidate will demonstrate a history of building and supporting a diverse team. The ideal candidate will have prior management experience in nonprofit management, educational leadership or community leadership, and will have analytical, organization and problem-solving skills that support sound decision-making.  Strong business, financial and organizational savvy will be evidenced by a proven ability to set clear priorities, delegate and guide the investment of human and other resources to help achieve goals.

The successful candidate will have excellent oral and written communications and presentation skills. Candidates must have the ability to build relationships and communicate effectively with all levels of internal and external stakeholders. Start Early’s Vice President, DEIB will have the drive and skill to build a culture that is both positive and productive; its leader will help the team develop a culture both of accountability and of mutual support. Start Early seeks candidates who display evidence of strong collaborative skills in order to develop buy-in and to reach consensus across the organization.

The successful candidate will be an active listener who will support and value the important skills of staff and will bring authenticity, as well as a communicative and compassionate nature to problem solving. The Vice President, DEIB will possess the critical personal qualities of humility, vulnerability, empathy and the ability to have authentic and productive relationships.

The next leader will have the ability to guide the organization through significant development and change and will have experience in developing a coherent strategy for advancing racial equity within the organization as well as with external entities that the organization interacts with. The VP, DEIB will have experience building collaboration among an array of stakeholders in order to create systemic improvements in organizational culture and the staff’s approach to early childhood programming, policy and research.

The Vice President must be comfortable working in a very fast-paced environment. Start Early seeks a leader who will neither come in too aggressively nor passively but will strike the right balance for moving the organization towards anti-racism. The Vice President must feel comfortable and experienced in conducting “uncomfortable” but necessary conversations that challenge historic patterns of thinking, behaving and acting. This leader will need the ability to have constructive conflict management and the ability to serve diplomatically as a disrupter. The successful candidate will embrace data both to fine tune the culture of the organization and its initiatives/programs and to provide evidence needed for policy improvements and systems change. The VP,DEIB will build a culture of continuous improvement where learning is rigorously distilled and applied.

A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is required. Evidence of continuing education, certification and executive level training is desirable. All applicants who have interest in advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in the early learning space are encouraged to apply. Nontraditional experience or education is welcomed.

How To Apply

Applications and nominations are being received by Kittleman & Associates, LLC. For best consideration, submit credentials prior to May 15, 2021. To apply, submit a current resume and letter of interest to Kittleman & Associates, LLC at (click on the Apply button at the bottom of the page).

For more information on Start Early, visit

Applications and nominations are being received by Kittleman & Associates, LLC. For best consideration, submit credentials prior to May 15, 2021. To apply, submit a current resume and letter of interest to Kittleman & Associates, LLC at (click on the Apply button at the bottom of the page).

For more information on Start Early, visit

Sign up