Vice President of Student Success

  • Making Waves Foundation
  • Richmond, CA Hybrid
  • Jan 11, 2023
Full time Nonprofit-Social Services

Job Description

Our Vision for the Vice President of Student Success Role

This is an incredible opportunity for a seasoned education leader to assume a new role with Making Waves Foundation and help an ambitious, mission-driven organization employ student- and equity-centered design principles, data, and learning cycles to strengthen its program model to drive greater results with students. We see this position as an extraordinary opportunity to build on the way our entire organization thinks about program strategy and student impact, and in turn, impact the experience of all the students and communities we serve and with whom we partner.

Therefore, we are seeking a strategic and dynamic leader to serve as our first Vice President of Student Success. Reporting directly to, Aiyana Mourtos, the Chief Program Officer and serving as a key member of the program leadership team, the Vice President of Student Success drives program improvement and innovation to strengthen the quality and outcomes of Making Waves Foundation’s programming, working to ensure students’ college and career success and holistic development. This position will lead our college and career success program, including the coaching services, financial services, and early career teams and has overall strategic and operational responsibility for all college and career success program areas, serving approximately 500 students per year.

This is a core priority of our new strategic plan – embrace a continuous improvement approach to our programmatic work and provide exceptional learning and development experiences to our staff members who work with students, all in service of accelerating student impact. 

Our Commitment to the Vice President of Student Success

We are proud of the above-market total rewards package to our employees in line with our guiding principles of centering transparency and equity, rewarding expertise and performance, and championing professional wellness. The Vice President of Student Success role is a full-time, exempt role, and will be eligible to receive:

  • A competitive base salary range of $120,800-$181,200 based on requisite work experience and performance during the interview process. In line with our commitment to equity, fairness, and transparency, we have adopted a no salary negotiation policy.
  • 51 total days off per fiscal year (a combination of company-paid holidays, vacation, sick, and personal time)
  • 100% employer paid medical (Kaiser HMO Platinum), vision, and dental benefits for the full-time staff member and a spouse/domestic partner or dependent child(ren).
  • Lunch on in-person days (5x a month) and free access to Grubhub+, 3% retirement match, a $750 HRA account to help fund mental health benefits, FSA for medical and childcare expenses, and an annual professional development stipend
  • A hybrid work environment where staff work from the office on five (5) common days a month with flexibility to work remotely otherwise. We provide a monthly wi-fi reimbursement and a home set-up stipend to set staff up to successfully work remotely.


The below statements are intended to describe the general nature and scope of work being performed by this position. Other duties may be assigned as needed.

Lead the design and implementation of a student-centered college and career program strategy. Drive continuous improvement practices to increase student success. (40%)

  • Create a multi-year strategy for (1) increasing college persistence and graduation; (2) ensuring students graduate with minimal debt; and (3) increasing job attainment in line with students’ education level
  • Lead MWF’s college and career success program grounded in our new Wave-Maker Success Framework and aligned measurement framework to guide and strengthen our approach to differentiated college and career coaching and scholarship support
  • Ensure strong college and career success programmatic alignment across Making Waves Academy’s (MWA) College & Career Counseling team and MWF’s college and career success program team
  • Align with the Chief Program Officer on annual goals and priorities; and lead the team’s annual goal setting, reflection, and continuous learning
  • Develop structures that support regular data reflection on student progress and differentiated student supports across coaching services, financial services, and early career/alumni
  • Monitor programmatic performance, assess strengths and growth areas, spot patterns, and define opportunities for action that put the team on track to achieve our student impact goals
  • Articulate priorities for program-specific staff professional development and coach managers to develop an aligned scope and sequence to deliver “just in time” learning experiences for staff to grow their practice
  • Partner with the data strategy & operations team to facilitate staff learning experiences to build mindsets, knowledge, comfort, and skill to analyze and reflect on holistic data to inform differentiated student supports
  • Collaborate with the Chief Program Officer to develop and implement structures that support regular engagement with students to inform program design e.g. launching a new Student Advisory Board

Lead, manage, and develop a high-performing and inclusive team. (30%)

  • Manage managers of the college and career success program team, which currently includes three components: coaching services, financial services, and early career/alumni
  • Set vision for and implement systems, processes, and rituals to cultivate a high performing, inclusive team (e.g., consistent 1:1 check-ins, team meetings, clear communication and engagement with direct reports and their direct reports, etc.)
  • Set clear expectations for direct reports and empower them to lead their teams with a commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Establish a culture of consistent, bi-directional feedback; execute and own annual review and performance development conversations with direct reports
  • Support direct reports in identifying professional learning focus areas and leveraging organizational resources to advance their growth (e.g. professional development stipend, stretch projects, etc.)
  • Interview and onboard new team members

Align college and career success program policies, processes, and data systems to support program outcomes. (20%)

  • Update college and career success program policies for staff and students annually and where needed, propose new policies to address pain points and minimize student barriers
  • Align the college and career success program budget with annual priorities, monitor budget spend, and collaborate with the Chief Program Officer to ensure the financial sustainability of programming
  • Align with the data strategy & operations team on an annual data collection, reporting, and learning/reflections calendar to inform continuous improvement and innovation
  • Partner with the data strategy & operations and IT team to align on Salesforce development and reporting needs
  • Work in partnership with the data strategy & operations team to set clear systems and expectations for the team and ensure that data collection is smooth, and team has insight and clear expectations about how to use it for program improvement
  • Develop the necessary systems, processes, and tools to better support internal team communication and sharing of resources

Lead and support cross-functional projects to maximize collective impact across the program team and organization. (10%)

  • Serve as a member of the Program Leadership Team, actively engage in regular team meetings and support colleagues with projects
  • Collaborate on strategic decisions and program team issues and initiatives
  • Draft Board and donor presentations and reports
  • Work in partnership with members of the Marketing & Storytelling, Development, Finance, IT, and MWA teams on cross-functional projects and outcomes
  • Participate in organization-wide systems, processes, and rituals (e.g., annual and quarterly goal setting, employee engagement surveys, All Hands); commit to providing feedback to improve our work in the future
  • Contribute to the development of a growing, fast-paced organization, including participation in events and programming
  • Prioritize professional growth by researching, scheduling, and participating in professional development opportunities in service of your professional growth and impact on the organization 

Aligned with the core responsibilities above, success for this individual in their first 6-12 months will look like:

  • Learning and building trust though relationships and understanding the team’s work
  • Developing a perspective and multi-year strategy recommendations on where and how to prioritize program improvement – likely to include focus areas around:
    • better supporting students’ high school to college transition
    • increasing 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd year college persistence
    • streamlining financial services processes
    • Improving internship/job pipelines and integrating early career supports
  • Driving improved program outcomes in line with FY24 program priorities
  • Increasing college and career program staff engagement (focus areas to be determined within first 90 days)

Key Experience, Competencies, and Skills

First and foremost, the Vice President of Student Success must be firmly committed to MWF’s mission and have a deep belief in our students and our ability to create impact. Additionally:

Required Qualifications:

  • An undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university, advanced degree preferred
  • 8+ years of programmatic leadership in the K-12 or college access/success space partnering with first generation college students and/or historically underrepresented youth
  • Track record of achieving exceptional outcomes with students, particularly those furthest from opportunity
  • Deep understanding of education (e.g., K-12, college access, college success), student support, and how to use data to make decisions
  • Experience in defining strategy and operationalizing (from concept to implementation) effective student programs, applying design-thinking principles and continuous improvement frameworks to drive successful outcomes
  • Knowledge of adult learning best practices and experience developing and delivering high-quality learning experiences
  • Experience leading cross-functional projects or initiatives

Do any of the following sound like you? Then, this position may be for you!

  • Commitment to racial equity, diversity, and inclusion: You believe all youth, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status have limitless potential and should have access to high-quality educational opportunities. You recognize the ways that race and other identities intersect in the work, especially with communities we serve. You understand the historical context for systemic inequities and present-day implications. You approach leadership with a mindset of “power with” rather than “power over” and regularly includes others in planning and decision-making.
  • Learning and development orientation to drive outcomes: You build relationships to inspire, motivate, and develop others to take actions and meet goals. You set shared expectations and help others grow, using differentiated coaching, training, and feedback to support problem-solving. You see mistakes as learning opportunities and seek and engage well with feedback.  You hold your team members accountable, while also acknowledging growing edges in yourself and others.
  • Maestro strategist: You quickly grasp the subtleties of complex issues and identify patterns in challenges. You come up with data-driven insightful, pragmatic, equitable, and sustainable ways to tackle common challenges and produce positive change. You enjoy both getting in the details to analyze data and stepping back to think about big picture strategy. You have a successful track record of taking a concept from idea to implementation and the ability to collect and analyze multiple sets of data to make strategic decisions or shifts that drive student impact and help address and mitigate systemic challenges.
  • Entrepreneurial project manager: You enjoy operationalizing a strategy in alignment with a larger vision and adapting to evolving needs.  You have a clear approach to keeping up with all aspects of the work without getting tunnel vision in one area. You are excited to innovate, enjoy the iterative nature of that work, and are an entrepreneurial self-starter. You consistently overcome challenges and leverage resources (people, time, money) to creatively solve problems. You propose solutions to issues without much guidance, but aren’t afraid to ask questions. You proactively ask for help, anticipate problems, and course-correct where needed. You have a track record of achieving and producing results, rather than getting immersed in process.
  • College and career program expertise: You bring an applied knowledge of college and career success and transition (e.g., high school to college or career, CC to 4-year, college to career) as demonstrated through experience in program design and implementation that centers student agency. You understand the strengths and limitations of research and theory in practice and make intentional decisions in program design that balance universal best practices with staff autonomy to drive impact.

The skills you bring to this role:

  • Setting and operationalizing strategy and investing others in bringing it to life
  • Ability to influence others at the staff, manager, and senior leadership level – building relationships, understanding diverse perspectives, developing trust, communicating clearly, engaging in tough conversations, and drawing on this to inspire action
  • Facilitating learning experiences and strategy sessions for program staff
  • Data analysis skills, including synthesizing and acting on insights from qualitative and quantitative data
  • Technology skills e.g. Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365 or similar platforms
  • Effectively envisioning and managing the design and implementation of projects across teams and the organization
  • Strong and effective presenting and communication skills which help to tell a story that is clear to a range of audiences and express ideas clearly, compellingly, and concisely, both verbally and in writing

About MWF

Making Waves Foundation is an education nonprofit that supports historically underserved and underrepresented students to pursue college and career pathways that set them up for a thriving career, financial independence, and a choice-filled life.

We support Making Waves Academy (MWA), a 5-12 grade public charter school in Richmond, CA. After high school graduation, each of our students (we call them “Wave-Makers”) are invited to join our college success and early career program, where they can receive a need-based scholarship, one-to-one college coaching, and financial literacy training. Each year, we support over 1,200 students grades 5-12 and over 500 college students on their journeys to and through college. In 2020, Making Waves Foundation launched a new strategic plan to serve more students and families. We will do this by taking the best of what we’ve learned at Making Waves Academy about college access and the best of what we’ve learned at Making Waves Foundation about college success and work to increase the college attendance and graduation rate for low-income students across Contra Costa County and beyond.

Making Waves Foundation is requiring all staff members who work on-site to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as defined by the CDC. Accommodations or exceptions can be requested directly to someone on the People & Culture Team for medical or religious reasons.

Making Waves Foundation strives to build a staff that reflects the cultural diversity of the communities that we partner with. Making Waves Foundation provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws. We encourage BIPOC identifying individuals to apply.


University, Other, Work at Home, Social Service




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