Hiring: Director of Democratic Engagement

Position Summary

We are seeking a Director of Democratic Engagement who is passionate about and committed to the mission and values of IISC and its aspirations for Big Democracy.

The Director of Democratic Engagement will design, direct, and manage this newly created unit at IISC. The Democratic Engagement Unit will engage in the following to support IISC’s mission and direction:

  • Support operation of the Democracy Lab – a new immersive innovation space to support the design, prototyping, testing and implementation of democratic engagement efforts
  • Convene thought leaders, academics, practitioners, movement leaders and funders to shape, frame, and promote the concept of Big Democracy
  • Form and support a network of democratic engagement practitioners to spread the ideas and practices of Big Democracy throughout the globe
  • Oversee the development, testing, and codifying of new analog and digital tools to expand public engagement
  • Run or oversee projects that deepen our understanding of the challenges of implementing democratic engagement that is designed for people at the margins, the people for whom the current systems work the least.

The Director of Democratic Engagement will report to the Chief of Staff & Democracy Strategy and will serve as a member of the IISC Leadership Team.

Location: Boston
Reports to: Chief of Staff & Democracy Strategy
Salary Range: $42,000-$48,000 ($70k-$80k if full time)
Full‐Time: 60% time, which may expand as additional funding is secured

IISC Overview

The Interaction Institute for Social Change increases the collaborative capacity of individuals, organizations, institutions, and networks to find solutions to social problems and deepen democracy. We invite groups and leaders to shift power dynamics, focus on building networks, and magnify the cohesive power of love as a force for social change. We believe that facilitating meaningful discussions across differences is one of the most important leadership skills of the 21st century. We have witnessed groups get smarter, work faster, and achieve impactful change by engaging those who are most affected by problems in creating solutions.

We have created a new framework, Big Democracy, to help people and networks engage in meaningful discussion and interactions to create innovative solutions to complex social problems. Big Democracy is an aspiration, a firm belief that the public is fully capable of coming together to create sustainable, just, and equitable communities. The practice of Big Democracy creates peaceful ways to interact to address extreme demographic complexity, structural inequalities, extreme power imbalances, and the persistent belief in the hierarchy of human value to create equitable improvements on the past.

Context: Big Democracy

Curious about our new Big Democracy framework? Check out some of our recent content to get a sense of what we’re thinking about these days.

Areas of Responsibility

IISC Leadership

  • Lead unit of staff and consultants that will support the development, growth, and success of the unit, its programs, the Democracy Lab, and other key democracy initiatives.
  • Develop process and systems for developing, tracking, and evaluating unit goals, activities, and metrics.
  • Co-develop model and strategy for Consulting and Training, Communications, and the Democratic Engagement Units to work together to deliver public engagement services to the public.
  • Serve as a member of the IISC Leadership Team with the President, other unit directors, and the Chief of Staff & Democracy Strategy, sharing responsibility with this team for organizational direction, implementation of strategy, and the wellbeing of staff.

Democracy Lab Development & Launch

  • Lead and coordinate internal meetings to plan the critical components of the Democracy Lab and to plan for the public launch of the lab.
  • Support the development of a lab model that captures the process and work flow for prototyping and testing of Big Democracy projects.
  • Work with IISC Communications Team and Development Team to craft messages and content for marketing and fundraising for the lab.
  • Work with current and new staff, as funding is available, to launch and implement the lab.
  • Supervise and support lab leadership to carry out successful lab projects.
  • Identify and secure agreements for involvement with potential lab partners around the U.S. and the world.
  • Develop systems for monitoring the progress of lab project delivery, including timely and superior products and deliverables to clients and partners.

Program Development

  • Oversee and develop current and future programs and initiatives of the unit including the Global Race Conversation Project (GRC), and the Design, Development, and Democracy (DDD) Initiative, which are in start-up phase.

    The DDD initiative connects thinkers and doers working at the intersection of design, development, and democracy. To build just and resilient cities, DDD brings people across sectors—not only planners, to influence decisions related to the environment, community health and interconnected social issues. 

    The Global Race Conversation Project is an effort to understand the racial narratives deployed today, so that people working towards racial equity can shift the public discourse and, ultimately, advance inclusive policies and practices.

Field Building, Networking, and Thought Leadership

  • Participate in democracy and public engagement networks throughout the U.S. and the world to learn about the field.
  • Develop tools to track key leaders and networks in the democracy and public engagement field.
  • In collaboration with the Director of Development and Strategic Partnerships, identify collaborative organizations and networks that IISC and the unit should partner with to advance the work of the unit and IISC’s Big Democracy strategy.
  • In collaboration with the Communications Unit at IISC, provide thought leadership to the democracy and public engagement field through public speaking, workshop presentations, and writing.
  • Spread Big Democracy concepts and tools by organizing convenings at national and global meetings and conferences of social justice leaders, funders, business leaders, civic engagement and democracy leaders, and urban planners.
  • Develop a network of 100 global practitioners who will come together online and in person to learn about and prototype Big Democracy projects.
  • Influence national funders and government institutions to redirect foundation and public dollars to sustained public engagement.

Client Development & Relationship Management

  • Generate clients who can pay for the lab through relationship cultivation and fielding inquiries.
  • Review RFP’s from prospective clients, and lead and attend client meetings to scope client work.
  • Develop written proposals to clients for engaging in lab work.
  • Negotiate client contracts.
  • Provide timely communication with prospective and actual clients.
  • Develop and ensure implementation of a process to gather lab participant feedback and share that feedback within IISC as appropriate and respond as appropriate.

Budget and Fundraising

  • Develop and monitor unit and lab budget and expenditures with support from IISC’s Finance Team and Development Team.
  • Collaborate with IISC Development Team to secure revenues for lab implementation.

Unit Supervision & Support

  • Lead and manage teams (Democracy Unit and, in the future, Democracy lab staff) to develop clear roles, goals, priorities, milestones, deliverables, and work plans.
  • Lead onboarding and orientation process for unit staff, and work with them to establish individual professional learning and development goals. Provide performance assessments and coach for effective work performance.
  • Ensure training and development, and a balanced workload.
  • Ensure that staff are completing client projects on time and within budget.
  • Proactively seek opportunities to participate in client interactions, including occasional delivery of IISC services, to keep skills sharp and to ensure the highest levels of quality and client satisfaction


Education and Years of Experience

7-10 years of relevant or related experience in social justice work and nonprofits

Specific Experience

  • Experience organizing communities to expand public and civic engagement
  • Experience starting up a project, organization, or business
  • Experience and knowledge about racial equity
  • Background or experience in designing transformational learning experiences
  • Background in design thinking
  • Background in urban planning or consulting a plus

Skills Required

  • Effective collaboration skills to lead a creative process and teams of people to innovate together
  • Willingness to learn IISC’s core methodologies
  • Demonstrated ability to embrace and practice IISC’s Collaborative Change Lens: networks, love, power and equity

Other Type of Skills Required

  • Design
  • Interpersonal communications
  • Facilitation and training
  • Project management
  • Networking
  • Problem-solving
  • Public speaking
  • Fundraising
  • Clear and compelling writing
  • Social media skills
  • Supervision and management


  • Creative and inspires creativity in others
  • Self-starter
  • Embraces failure as a means to learn
  • Risk-taker
  • Collaborative
  • Curious
  • Adaptable
  • Ability to work with diverse people in diverse settings, and to manage race, equity, and power dynamics within groups and across teams

Hiring Process

Accepting applications until March 18th. We expect interviews to begin in late March 2016. Start date will be as soon as possible after hiring.

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to iisc-hire@interactioninstitute.org. Please include the name of the position to which you are applying in the subject line. Resumes without cover letters will not be accepted.

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