• Full Time
  • Grand Rapids
  • Employer Type: Nonprofit
  • Experience Level: 6-10 years
  • Education Level: Bachelor's degree

Website Refugee Education Center

We support refugees in their journey to become fully participating members of the West Michigan community. We envision a thriving, multicultural West Michigan community where all have an opportunity to pursue a better future!

The Refugee Education Center (REC) was started in 2006 by a group of Somali Bantu refugees who were persecuted and prohibited from receiving formal education in their home country. They recognized the incredible value and opportunity that education offers and organized and created REC to help support refugee children placed in West Michigan. Over the last 15+ years we have served 4,500+ refugees, a small portion of the estimated 25,000 who have been placed in West Michigan. Our mission is to support refugees on their journey to becoming fully participating members of our local community and building a thriving, multicultural region where all can succeed. We do this through offering birth to career launch services that support refugee children with early childhood development, K-12 school readiness and success, and secondary education or career path planning support.


We are seeking applicants for our Executive Director role. REC has experienced significant growth in the last 3-5 years and this individual will help the organization continue to build a strong foundation upon which future sustainable growth can allow for an expansion of services to additional refugees in West Michigan and beyond!


Summary:   The Executive Director (ED) works closely with the Operations and Advancement Directors to lead the organization. The ED is responsible for setting long-term and short-term vision, directing the strategic planning process, overseeing the execution of those plans across the organization, and building a team and culture that enables staff to deliver on the mission and values of the REC while ensuring the financial and operational health of the organization. In addition, this role maintains critical relationships with key community partners, donors and funders, and governmental and non-governmental advocacy partners by actively participating in and leading meetings, events, advocacy work, and media features as needed to further the mission of REC. This role requires skill and passion for working with diverse populations and cultures and advocating for racial justice, equity, inclusion, and healing.


Key Job Responsibilities

Leadership & Strategy

·         Lead the annual strategic planning process for short- and long-term plans around Advancement, Programs, and Operations and set strategies and execution plans in partnership with functional leaders.

·         Approve all short-term and long-term fundraising plans, monitor progress and goal achievement.

·         Oversee the annual budget development, ensure sound financial practices and applicable compliance are in place and being executed to safeguard the assets of the organization.

·         Review financials monthly, share financial information with key leaders and Board Members and identify and mitigate financial risks.

·         Responsible for securing grants and fundraising and participating in other donor related activities, events, meetings, and communications, facilitating the “ask” as needed.

·         Ensure that all Programs and Services are delivered in line with the mission and values of REC and are achieving all desired results.

·         Build and develop a team of non-profit professionals to allow for the delivery and growth of REC’s services, consistent with its mission and values. This includes the oversight of the recruitment, selection, onboarding, development, performance management, compensation and succession planning of a diverse team.

·         Create a culture of trust, transparency, collaboration, inclusion, and passion for the mission of REC amongst staff. Build professional relationships with staff and conduct internal business meetings and 1 on 1 meetings with staff as needed to facilitate communication, transparency, organizational health, employee engagement, and alignment around REC’s mission, values, vision, and strategies.

·         Ensure that all Programs and Services are delivered in line with the mission and values of REC and are achieving all desired results.

External Relations

·         Ensure that REC, its mission, programs and services are presented with a strong positive image in the community and with all stakeholders.

·         Nurture and develop relationships through community engagement with federal, state, and local partners, agencies, governmental and non-governmental organizations that impact the work of the REC and its clients.

·         Build relationships with client community members to assess client satisfaction, service delivery, effectiveness, trust, and advocacy needs.

·         Represents REC in the media and serves as the voice of REC for any advocacy work.

·         Monitor contracts with all public or private, non-governmental or governmental organizations.


·         Collaborate with the Board of Directors on governance, policy making, fundraising, financial and operational oversight to ensure organizational health and mission achievement.

·         Participate in all Board Meetings, serve as ex-officio member of all Board Committees, provide transparency to and share information with the board, and meet as needed with Board Members to maintain transparency, communication, and alignment.

Role Model

·         Operate in a highly self-directed manner, demonstrating initiative and utilizing tools, systems, technology, partnerships, and resources to execute key responsibilities and work.

·         Conduct all business and interactions with professionalism, confidentiality, tact, and in a manner consistent with the mission, values, policies, practices, and guidelines of REC and in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.

·         Demonstrate a respect, appreciation, and value for the diversity of team members and client community members and operate with culturally competent interpersonal skills.

·         Accept and respond positively to all coaching and feedback from the Board of Directors.


Key Qualifications:

·         Bachelor’s degree in Education, Human Services, Social Work, or other relevant field of study

·         Minimum of 7 years of experience in nonprofit leadership, including working with Boards, leading and building teams, programming, financial, advancement, operational, and mission oversight.

·         Skilled at vision casting, strategic planning, fundraising, donor relations, community partnerships, and advocacy work.

·         Strong communicator with the ability to inspire and inform via phone, email, print, public speaking, social media and other forms of communication.

·         Skilled and comfortable with the use of software and systems required for communication, reporting, financial management, donor relations, grant submissions, and other key functions.

·         Business acumen skills required for maintaining financial and operational health, including a strong understanding of P&L and the use of metrics/KPIs.

·         Cultural competency with diverse populations; international minority, at-risk communities, or refugee populations preferred with a lens towards racial justice, equity, inclusion, and healing.

·         Strong emotional intelligence and peace-making interpersonal skills with a mediation mindset.

·         Relationship builder who establishes trust and rapport with all internal and external stakeholders.

·         Strong organization, follow up, and follow through skills.

·         Ability to travel within Michigan, primarily Kent & Ottawa counties, for day and evening meetings with occasional travel to other counties and states for advocacy or educational activities.


Refugee Education Center (REC) believes we are better together and is an equal opportunity employer who values diversity within our organization and community. Therefore, REC not only adamantly opposes discrimination based on any characteristic protected by federal, state, and local laws, (including the following: race, religion, skin-color, sex, national origin, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, genetics, marital status, veteran status, or disability status) but also enthusiastically encourages those of diverse backgrounds to apply. Interested applicants should submit a resume with cover email to careers@refugeeeducationcenter.org.


This position is an exempt, full-time role, eligible for health, dental, vision, and PTO benefits per plan requirements. This position is based in West Michigan and requires the ability to work effectively in person and remotely in West Michigan while prioritizing staff needs and maintaining a visible and engaged presence. This role generally works Monday-Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm with schedule variance based on community, advocacy, or fundraising events, board meetings, and work life balance needs. COVID-19 Requirements: Until Federal Early Head Start requirements change, staff in early childhood development are required to wear a mask and social distance when on site. All early childhood development staff are also required to be fully vaccinated or submit to weekly lab testing paid for by the employee per OHS requirements. Other office safety protocols are in place and are adjusted based on federal, state, and local guidance based on pandemic trends.


Tagged as: Executive Director

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