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Executive Director


Chicago, IL, USA

Since 1971, Alternatives, Inc. has supported Chicago’s youth in creating positive change. Our citywide services focus on leadership development, violence and substance abuse prevention, and counseling. 

Alternatives is seeking an experienced, dynamic executive director committed to the organization’s holistic approach and core values. The new leader will build on the organization’s strong growth trajectory through vision and innovation, while retaining and building authentic, extended engagement with the communities in which we work.

Reporting directly to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director is responsible for the overall management of the agency’s operations; a staff of 50 working from two primary service sites including the Uptown Youth Center and a newly established site in Washington Park; and consistent achievement of the agency’s mission, strategic goals, and financial objectives.





Since 1971, Alternatives has pursued our mission of facilitating personal development, strengthening family relationships, and enhancing the community’s well-being. Reaching 3,800 young people and their families each year, our programs focus on leadership development, prevention of violence and substance abuse, academic enrichment, and counseling.



Alternatives believes in valuing the individual and respecting their unique experience. Therefore, we are committed to creating safe spaces where each person’s story, voice, and self-defined goals are recognized.

Alternatives believes in the power of a healthy environment. Therefore, we are committed to system change through work with individuals, families, and communities.

Alternatives believes in individual and collective potential. Therefore, we are committed to providing creative approaches to personal growth, working alongside people to develop new skills, experience new things, and identify and achieve their goals.



  • Authentic, extended engagement with the communities in which we serve youth
  • Strategic and effective connections and collaborations with other organizations and individuals reaching youth in the communities we serve
  • Attracting and retaining diverse, qualified staff representative of and, when possible, drawn from and connected to the communities we serve
  • Intentional, ongoing exploration and pursuit of opportunities for collaboration and programmatic connection between clinical services and youth development programs, particularly restorative justice
  • A data-driven, outcomes-focused approach to program design and implementation
  • A youth-driven approach to programs and services, where structure and frameworks are provided but youth have choice and voice




Key competencies

  • Lead Strategist and Visionary

The Executive Director is responsible for advancing Alternatives’ mission and vision, building on the best of its four-decade history and leading it into a new era of service to the city’s youth and families. The ideal candidate is passionate, flexible, and tenacious in pursuit of organizational success, and can translate aspirations and ideas into actions with significant, measurable, positive impact.  

  • Staff Leader

The Executive Director leads a staff of 50 dedicated individuals working out of two primary locations on the city’s North and South sides. The ideal candidate is an inspirational, motivating, and stabilizing force, demonstrably committed to equity and inclusivity in hiring and organizational culture. They have experience creating high-performance teams and promoting staff retention by promoting accountability, managing to performance expectations and recognizing/rewarding accomplishments. 

  • Community Connector and Relationship Builder

The Executive Director is the face of Alternatives and serves as the organization’s chief ambassador in the business, governmental and philanthropic communities. The ideal ED candidate is skilled at building effective and authentic relationships with fellow organizational leaders, political leaders, and community members. The new ED will possess outstanding communication and presentation skills, along with demonstrated experience working in the racially and socioeconomically diverse communities Alternatives serves. 

  • Fundraiser

The Executive Director establishes fundraising goals and works closely with the Director of Development and Board of Directors to achieve them. The ideal candidate has demonstrated experience raising both program-specific and general operating funds, understands the importance of the brand and external relations in relation to fundraising, and is committed to cultivating key donor relationships and rallying staff, Board, funders, and others as appropriate to achieve fundraising goals.  



A master’s degree in social work, psychology or related area with minimum of five years of experience running an organization or division involved in social service program delivery to youth is strongly preferred. Candidates will demonstrate strong skills in fiscal management, resource development, agency and program planning. 

Alternatives, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer.

Salary: Competitive salary and benefits, commensurate with experience. 




Submit a resume and cover letter to the Search Committee via before July 20, 2018. 

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