Rocking the Boat logo

Chief Program Officer

Rocking the Boat
New York, NY, USA
$115,000 - $125,000 USD yearly
Rocking the Boat began as a boatbuilding afterschool project for the high-need community of the South Bronx and incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2001. Today, the organization, with an annual budget of $3.5M, is a hub of youth-development programming that serves nearly 3,000 young people and community members annually with a staff of 30 full and part-time employees. The mediums of boatbuilding, environmental science, and sailing are paired with social/emotional, academic, and career counseling to have profound and lasting impact on participants.

The Position:
The Chief Program Officer is a key member of the organization’s three-person senior management team. The position manages the organization’s experiential education and youth development programs as well as the curriculum and physical infrastructure that supports them. Reporting to the Executive Director, the Chief Program Officer is responsible for supervising up to seven program directors; overseeing the development and implementation of curriculum, lesson planning and new program initiatives; ensuring participants are supported socially, emotionally, and academically; and managing the upkeep of programmatic equipment and facilities. The position also involves representing Rocking the Boat in a range of external environments and requires regular evening and intermittent weekend work.
The Chief Program Officer has six core areas of responsibility:

Program Development, Execution, and Evaluation: Manage the development and implementation of a comprehensive and integrated suite of youth development programs using the mediums of boatbuilding, sailing, and environmental education
·       Oversee curriculum development, lesson planning, and implementation across all programs
·       Work collaboratively, using observation and data to continuously improve existing programs and design and develop new initiatives
·       Lead the Director of Youth Development, the Director of Communications, and direct service program staff in individual participant recruitment
·       Work with staff to implement strategies to maintain active program enrollment and robust attendance
·       Oversee cross-programmatic events and activities such as family nights, off-site day and overnight trips, and end-of-semester celebrations 
·       Set daily, weekly, and seasonal programmatic priorities and related activities
Maximize Participant Success: Oversee the Director of Youth Development, who coordinates participant services and assesses individual impact and outcomes 
·      Manage social work and college and career counseling services
·      Oversee youth development program recruitment, enrollment, and retention
·      Promote a professional workplace culture among high school- and college-age staff
·      Measure and analyze the individual and collective impact of Rocking the Boat’s Youth Development programs
Financial Management and Development Support: Knowledgeably contribute to control over program expenses and content
·       Work with the program staff to draft annual program budgets and review quarterly budget vs. actual statements
·       Work with staff to manage spending on restricted grants
·       Administer monthly credit card spend of program staff
·       Serve as a bridge between development and program staff, helping to provide content for proposals, reports, and marketing materials
·       Synthesize statistics and generate reports for external communication
Staff Supervision and Development: Ensure that a highly qualified staff successfully fulfills the organization’s mission
·       Supervise up to seven staff, offering regular guidance and evaluation at both a team and individual level
·       Hire, orient, train, and retain a highly qualified team
Equipment and Safety Management: Oversee the Director of Sailing and the Director of Boatbuilding Operations in certifying that the necessary tools are in place to facilitate safe and successful programming
·       Ensure that staff effectively maintain all program-related equipment including all rowing, sailing, and power boats, environmental science equipment, camping gear, and woodworking tools
·       Ensure that Rocking the Boat Safety Protocols are up to date and enforced
·       Support staff in securing any necessary city or state permits
Community Relations: Ensure that Rocking the Boat is consistently and actively represented among relevant communities and affinity groups
·       Represent Rocking the Boat at community meetings, events, and conferences
·       Support Director of Public Programs and the Development Department in managing individual and group volunteer interest and placement in programs
This job description does not represent a complete, comprehensive list of all duties and responsibilities of this position; other duties and unplanned activities may be required.

Strong candidates for the Chief Program Officer position will have the following minimum qualifications and attributes:
·       At least five years’ experience in nonprofit management and program development
·       Track record of successfully leading and managing teams with a strong but flexible and creative leadership in educational/youth development environments
·       Experience in cross organizational program design and development
·       Working in and with racially and socioeconomically marginalized communities
·       Empowering direct reports to fulfill programmatic objectives while holding them accountable
·       Administering programs in non-traditional or experiential education environments
·       Developing and managing program budgets, including the allocation of restricted grant funds
·       Collaborating with other organizations or schools
·       Organizational planning and problem solving
·       Database management
·       Experience working with Development staff to provide statistical and anecdotal content for fundraising
·       Management of equipment, facilities, or other physical infrastructure
·       Sailing, wooden boatbuilding, and/or environmental education a plus
For more information about Rocking the Boat, please visit their website at
Other information:
·       Anticipated salary is $115,000-$125,000 commensurate with experience, plus benefits. The benefits package includes health, dental, vision, a 401k with 6% employer match, and 38 days paid time off including official holidays (43 after 3 years).
·       All Rocking the Boat employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be willing to receive the full set of vaccinations prior to employment.
·       This position holds their own desk in a private office in an accessible building.  While the main building is fully accessible, some entrances and spaces within the facility necessitate using stairs or ladders
·       This position involves on-site presence Monday to Friday with the opportunity for limited remote work
·       Opportunity to work with a creative, well-funded organization committed to community development and youth empowerment
Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility at Rocking the Boat
Rocking the Boat is committed to creating an environment that promotes the diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility of all applicants and employees. The organization strives not only to accept but to affirm and celebrate all identities. Race, religion, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, and veteran status are not barriers to employment at Rocking the Boat. Candidates should feel welcome to communicate any special needs or requirements to be accommodated throughout the hiring process.

To Apply: 
Rocking the Boat has retained the services of Harris Rand Lusk to conduct this search. Inquiries, nominations, and applications may be directed in confidence to:
Gina Roose
Research Director
Harris Rand Lusk
260 Madison Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY  10016
✅ Email cover letter and resume to:
Please include “Rocking the Boat – Chief Program Officer” in the subject line of your emailed application.

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