Chief Program Officer, uAspire

Location: Boston, MA

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Executive



Organization Vision: uAspire imagines a day when all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential by graduating from college, regardless of their families' financial resources or college experiences.

Organization Summary: uAspire is a national leader in providing college affordability services to young people, families and college access and success practitioners. Through local operations in Massachusetts and the San Francisco Bay Area and training partnerships reaching 25+ states, this year, uAspire will impact the lives of more than 300,000 young people.  Over the coming months, uAspire will unveil a strategic plan that aims to impact the lives of 3,000,000 young people by 2022. 

We implement three separate yet related impact models:

  • Student Advising, through which our highly-trained staff of College Affordability Advisors provide college affordability information and advice to students in high school and college via in-person and virtual/text-based interactions.
  • Training & Technical Assistance (T&TA), through which we train frontline practitioners who work directly with students and families throughout the country in college affordability; and
  • Policy & Systems Change, through which we work to make positive, student-centered changes to affordability policy and systems at the local, state, and federal levels.

Since 2010, uAspire has been recognized as: an Organization of Excellence Award by the National College Access Network; a Social Innovator by the Social Innovation Forum; as one of the nation’s “Best Non-Profits to Work For” by Opportunity Knocks; by the Boston Foundation for “exceptional non-profit leadership”; and an Innovator by the MIT Initiative on Digital Economy.  In addition, uAspire has been featured extensively in numerous media outlets for their expertise on issues of college affordability, including NPR, Time Magazine, the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Chronicle of Higher Education and National Journal. 

As an organization, uAspire has made developing and embedding an approach for equity and representation within our organization a key strategic priority. This work will address the reality that college affordability is inextricably linked to systemic inequality (with racial inequality as a key driver), and it will work to make our organization more equitable in our policies, structures, and practices, as well as representative of the communities and people we aim to serve at all levels of our organization. This work includes increasing and ensuring that the voices of people of color are included and centered in decision-making within our current organizational context that is made up of a large majority of decision makers who are white.



Given the organization’s many successes and new strategic plan, it is a particularly exciting time to join the uAspire team.  The Chief Program Officer (CPO) will play a pivotal leadership role in the roll-out of uAspire’s new strategy, setting the organization’s programmatic north star and leading a large team toward that vision.

A key part of that work is leading the completion of uAspire’s Program Optimization process, an organization-wide effort to streamline and make key improvements to our Student Advising program in order to achieve greater student impact and sustainability.   Beyond Optimization, the CPO will collaborate with other organizational leaders on the implementation of other key initiatives that will drive the achievement of uAspire’s 2022 strategic goals.

The CPO leads uAspire’s Program Department, which is comprised of three programmatic functions: Knowledge, Advising and Research & Evaluation. The CPO is also an active member of uAspire’s organizational leadership team and reports directly to the President.  Finally, the CPO receives administrative and project management support from the Executive Assistant to the President’s Office (shared resource).

Ideal candidates are expert program leaders who have deep experience managing and supporting large teams and have experience and comfort with change management.  She/He/They balances the drive for innovation with continuous improvement and is a seasoned people manager who leads through empowering, collaboration, clear decision making, and inspiration.


Key Responsibilities & Outcomes

Program Oversight & Optimization:

  • Drive the Program Optimization process toward outcomes including: finalize key decisions on program optimization and manage the roll-out of the new optimized model across uAspire
  • Integrate learnings and best practices into model and curriculum ongoingly
  • Lead the process of vetting and collaborate with other Leadership Team members to decide on uAspire’s engagement in new programmatic partnerships and opportunities
  • Ensure successful programmatic launch of new NYC site, through management and support of Senior VP of Advising

Team Management:

  • Inspire and engage program team members on key organizational strategic priorities
  • Ensure senior program team leaders are supported and empowered to effectively prioritize, make decisions and manage their teams to results
  • Oversee three program teams - Research & Evaluation, Knowledge and Advising
  • Ensure sites (Massachusetts, Bay Area currently with NYC launching in the next year) are set up to successfully implement programs and innovations
  • Ensure the Training & Technical Assistance model achieves its goals for scale and practitioner knowledge change through management and support of Senior VP of Knowledge 

Leadership Team, Strategy & Planning:

  • Serve as the main program decision-maker, integrating results from research, frontline learnings and practices, and feedback from program delivery team members
  • Ensure timely communications to and proper engagement of College Affordability Advisors, Program staff, Program Leadership Team, and Leadership Team in key programmatic decisions
  • Design, improve and oversee cross-departmental communication and collaboration focused on programs and impact
  • Lead the Program teams in engaging in individual and institutional exploration and change focused on moving forward uAspire’s commitment to equity and representation
  • Provide and/or ensure appropriate Programmatic voice and perspective in key non-program organizational decisions

Collaboration on Growth & Development:

  • Partner with External Affairs team members on engaging and representing uAspire’s Programs and Impact with national funders
  • Collaborate with External Affairs on the creation and implementation of business development partnerships that garner earned income and increased scale for uAspire
  • Manage relationships and partnerships with key external programmatic entities
  • Represent uAspire at external conferences and engagements of relevance, including playing a speaking/presenter role when appropriate


  • Passion for our mission of ensuring all young people have the opportunity to pursue and afford a post-secondary education
  • Belief in and adherence to uAspire's Organizational Values - Student-Centered, Excellent, Dedicated, Collaborative, and Systems-Focused
  • Deep experience in program design, implementation and management
  • Knowledge about college access, persistence, and/or affordability; direct leadership experience and/or personal experience preferred
  • Understanding of structural oppression and inequity
  • Experience managing change at the departmental and organizational level, including outstanding communication and change management practices
  • Significant experience managing, empowering and supporting the professional development of a team of experienced leaders
  • Experience cultivating teams with clear direction and inspiration
  • Understanding of the opportunities and complexities within a matrixed organizational structure - or one that drives internal collaboration based on function (i.e. direct service programming) and division (i.e. geography); direct experience preferred
  • Skilled in leading initiatives that balance innovation with continuous improvement
  • Strong at leading decision-making rooted in transparency, clarity, inclusion and communication; proven ability to move teams and organizations through complex decision making preferred
  • Ability to take in complex data and information, synthesize and determine best decisions and actions
  • Ability to vet information and opportunities decisively and efficiently and ensure it aligns with strategic priorities and organizational capacity
  • Committed to building an organization dedicated to ensuring a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment
  • Bachelor’s degree required



Benefits are innovative and compensation is competitive and commensurate with experience.  This position can be based in any one of our locations (Bay Area and New York City) though Boston is preferred. 





uAspire is an equal opportunity employer, fully committed to achieving a diverse and inclusive workplace that embraces and encourages applicants of every background. The company's policy regarding equal employment opportunity means that all decisions regarding recruitment, hiring, benefits, wage and salary administration, scheduling, disciplinary action and termination will be made without unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, race, color, age, national origin, religion, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, citizenship status, pregnancy or maternity, veteran status, or any other status protected by applicable federal, state or local law

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