Washington, DC

Chief Equity Officer, Urban Institute

The Organization

The Urban Institute is a nonprofit research organization that provides data and evidence to help advance upward mobility and equity. We are a trusted source for changemakers who seek to strengthen decision making, create inclusive economic growth, and improve the well-being of families and communities. For more than 50 years, Urban has delivered facts that inspire solutions—and this remains our charge today.

Position Overview

Urban is seeking its inaugural Chief Equity Officer (CEqO) to provide vision and leadership across all aspects of the organization’s strategies and efforts to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion. Reporting directly to the President, Sarah Rosen Wartell, the CEqO will work closely with the Executive team and the Senior Leadership team made up of all the Institute’s Vice Presidents. The CEqO will coordinate across the policy research centers, operational offices, DEI Council, equity-related method and practice groups (like the Racial Equity Analytics Lab, Community Engaged Methods group, and other projects coordinated by a new Office of Race and Equity Research), and affinity groups to build upon momentum and current strategies. The CEqO will lead development of the next generation of a shared action plan that is clear, measurable, impactful, and fosters an organizational culture which provides agency, transparency, and shared accountability and offers continuous opportunities for learning and growth. The CEqO will be responsible for driving execution of the plan while serving as the principal advocate for equity and inclusion at Urban, training and supporting Urban’s leadership and staff to foster inclusion, and motivating and inspiring all staff to sustain commitment to DEI principles over time.

The ideal candidate will bring deep expertise around DEI practices and principles with experience driving change and building culture in large, complex organizations. They will be a strategist, communicator, and facilitator who can create a vision and road map for achieving that vision, and the collective buy-in and accountability required to achieve organizational change.

The Chief Equity Officer’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to the following:

Strategic Vision and Leadership

The CEqO will be the primary architect in designing and executing an overarching plan for a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive organization. The CEqO will play an essential organizational leadership role and work in close collaboration with the senior leadership team and the President to assess current DEI plans and initiatives that will inform the Race and Equity Framework 2.0. In collaboration with staff, including affinity groups and the DEI council, the CEqO will create a common vision and language around DEI. This person will have a track record of advancing DEI, including race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability, ideally in a variety of sectors including nonprofit, private, and/or academic. They will have a proven ability to translate strategic thinking about complex challenges and organizational gaps into executable plans to deliver on strategic imperatives and solve problems large and small, and measure progress toward goals.

Change Management

The CEqO will be a change agent with a creative approach towards development of new DEI strategies and initiatives. Moving the organization into the next phase of its DEI journey will require a change manager who is innovative, inspirational, and an effective communicator to excite and engage staff at all levels and areas of the institute. The CEqO will work to find effective, ongoing mechanisms for broad staff engagement and input on Urban’s race and equity efforts. This leader will be a process thinker with the ability to leverage evaluation and analytics to measure impact while being flexible enough to respond to new priorities as they arise. They will advise on establishing clear, timely, and transparent metrics for success of new processes, plans, and initiatives and will apply a rigorous approach to accountability. This person will have a demonstrable track record of success in driving organizational change and results, including in large, complex institutions. The CEqO will have a background in integrating DEI throughout organizational policies, practices, management, and culture.

Additionally, as the lead in building capacity for organizational DEI strategies including budget, staffing, and discretionary funds, they will have experience managing complex projects and budgets.

DEI Advocate and Facilitator

The CEqO will be the lead advocate to the President and Board of Directors to champion the DEI efforts throughout Urban. Through expert facilitation, this leader will coach and inspire Urban staff to action around key efforts to advance a more equitable and inclusive culture. The CEqO will bring a nuanced knowledge of the evolving DEI landscape to advise all staff on best practices to enhance DEI goals throughout the ongoing efforts and operations of the organization. They will provide support and training to Vice Presidents and their staff as they progress in their learning and confidence to address issues related to DEI within their respective Centers. With a significant background as a thought leader in the field, they will bring experience in building learning and development systems that support and advance DEI principles.

 How To Apply

Compensation & Benefits

Molly Brennan, Shelby Woods and Martens Roc of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials via Koya’s online portal here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

For more information about Koya Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.


Urban is committed to workplace diversity and inclusion. Urban is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity and expression, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law.

For more information on the Urban Institute, please visit www.urban.org.


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