Chief Operations Officer

Rural Innovation Strategies Inc.

Location: Hartland

Type: Full Time

Education: Master's Degree

Experience: 5 - 10 Years

Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc. (RISI) and its sister organization the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) work together as a fast-growing action-tank focused on closing the rural opportunity gap. Our mission is broad and ambitious: advancing economic prosperity in rural America through the creation of scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation in a network of small towns and cities across the country.

We take a systems approach to addressing all aspects of this challenge, including strategy consulting that advances local innovation hubs and broadband infrastructure. With philanthropic resources, we deploy technology job training and placement, and elevate our network communities through film and national press. We also manage a $5 million seed capital investment fund that invests in early stage technology startups.

Since our founding in 2017 with a seed grant from Reid Hoffman (Founder of LinkedIn), we have been on an aggressive growth trajectory that was only accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past year, we have nearly doubled in size, added new research capacity funded by national foundations and federal agencies, and completed data analytics and geospatial mapping services used by Fortune 100 companies. While based in Vermont, our organizations serve rural communities across the country. Today our Rural Innovation Network is comprised of 18 communities and we are on a trajectory to grow the Network to 50 communities by the end of 2023.

Recognizing the diversity of rural communities, CORI and RISI have called for transformative action to address the tremendous disparities communities face and are actively working internally and externally to further transformation efforts including ensuring our network communities reflect the diversity of the country. Across the varied challenges, CORI and RISI partner with rural community leaders and employers to build capacity to develop digital economy ecosystems that are truly inclusive.


In this next stage of growth, we are looking for a seasoned and dynamic leader who can design and maintain our organizational infrastructure and provide meaningful input into our rapidly evolving strategy. The incoming COO:

Is excited to design and manage the operations of a mission-driven organization that blends the best of private-sector innovation with social impact values

Can help us prioritize and evaluate a broad set of new opportunities for revenue generation, joint ventures and mission impact as they arise

Can ensure RISI and CORI are operating sustainably and effectively against core goals, and in compliance with our legal and tax requirements

Has the insight and vision to shape RISI and CORI’s future goals and objectives

We are looking for someone who thrives as a strong right hand to the Executive Director to run internal operations. The right candidate will be financially fluent as they will work intimately with the finance department. They also need to thrive in complex organizations. They need an understanding of both real estate transactions and non-profits. They need to understand the difference between restricted and unrestricted grants and the implications of a multifaceted funding strategy.

This will be a highly demanding role that will expose you to all aspects of CORI/RISI’s business. Some of your key responsibilities will include:

o Oversee daily operations of the company and the work of executives (Marketing, Business development, Finance etc.)

o Help develop and determine long-term goals and execute on the goals, breaking goals down into everyday tactical decisions and duties

o Be the Managing Director’s right-hand person, supporting key initiatives and making sure the Managing Director is able to work on the most important items for the company

o Establish policies that promote company culture and vision

o Design and implement business strategies, plans and procedures

o Set comprehensive goals for performance and growth

o Hold the Managing Director and other senior leaders accountable for commitments

o Develop, manage and execute recruiting, training, development and retention strategies for additional executives and core personnel

o Evaluate performance by analyzing and interpreting data and metrics

o Enable the Managing Director to make better, faster decisions by gathering, synthesizing, organizing, and communicating information from all departments at the company

o Spearhead new growth and expansion opportunities

o Proactively identify and act on opportunities to increase the Managing Director’s efficacy and efficiency

The COO will report directly to the Executive Director.


Job Requirements

Executive Experience: seven (7) or more years experience in leading non-profits, management/strategy consulting, real estate or high-growth organizations.

Industry Experience: Material experience in the social enterprises, ideally in blended for-profit and not-for-profit organizations

Education: BSc/BA in Business Administration or relevant field; MBA is a plus

Planning & Analysis: Exceptional analytical problem solving and decision-making skills. Financial modeling experience – you can spin up a quick model to analyze different opportunities and enjoy doing it – is also a plus.

Project Management: Strong project management skills with a desire to bring structure to undefined processes

Context Switching: Capacity to manage a wide set of priorities simultaneously

Team management: experience and an ability to direct and coach colleagues within a non-hierarchical organizational structure

Commitment: to our mission of returning prosperity to rural places


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