For the past two decades, industry networks have been instrumental in advancing, connecting, and coordinating the work of stakeholders across the impact sector – from funders to investors to social entrepreneurs. Villgro USA is in the early stages of creating a global network for impact incubators with the bold mission of providing incubators on every continent with a bridge to one another, a pathway to long-term sustainability, and the resources needed to grow and expand to where they want to go next.
Villgro USA was launched by serial incubator founder Paul Basil (Founder of Villgro India and Co-Founder of Villgro Africa and Villgro Philippines) and Arun Venkatesan (current Villgro USA CEO and former CTO of Villgro India). A U.S.-based 501c3, it set out on an ambitious path in 2017 to leverage their 20+ years of experience and support other impact incubators by creating a peer-to-peer mentorship program. Under the leadership of the Co-founding CEO, Villgro USA has to date supported 40 incubators across 8 countries. After completing an extensive six-month strategic planning process that began in early 2022, the organization is now focusing on building a member-led network designed by and for impact incubators across the global south. Villgro USA is now seeking a Chief Convener to lead the organization into this new phase of impact.
ROLE OVERVIEW: CHIEF CONVENER
The Chief Convener will play the dual role of a masterful network weaver and an entrepreneur-in-action. The right candidate will be eager to roll-up their sleeves and play a leading role in catalyzing the network, operationalizing the Founding team’s new vision, and growing the network’s initial program offering while also supporting the organization through this pivotal leadership change, replacing the inaugural CEO as he transitions into an advisory role and active member of the board of Directors.
The Chief Convener will be an experienced practitioner committed to impact who balances building the network, engaging with stakeholders, and weaving the various parts of the Network – individuals, organizations, communities, projects and actions in a way that delivers value to network members and external stakeholders.
The Chief Convener will serve as a network champion and masterful connector, uniquely adept at building relationships and inspiring connections with current and prospective network members. He/she will have an influential presence that attracts stakeholders to share in the vision, invites and empowers others to lead in the network, and believes in the power of connection and purposeful convening. S/he will:
- Catalyze and coordinate network-wide activities in alignment with current strategic priorities and member interest areas.
- Form key alliances and partnerships to implement a Network-of-Networks strategy with other industry networks and ecosystem partners.
- Sharpen the network’s member-led focus by cultivating existing and forging new connections with incubators in target regions to deepen understanding of member needs and interests.
- Build and coordinate a pool of network facilitators — connecting them to collaborative and/or self-organized projects seeking their support and organizing them into a community of practice.
- Design and implement engagement ladders, providing a spectrum of opportunities for network participants to get involved in network activities.
- Use network maps to identify opportunities for connections among individuals and member projects to better connect the network.
The Chief Convener will actively seek support from funders and drive strategies to ensure long-term sustainability in order to grow programming and impact. S/he will be masterful at making a persuasive case for the network’s theory of change, impact areas, and unique value-add to the ecosystem. The leader will possess a natural comfort level with initiating outreach to donors and an inspiring presence who finds win-win pathways for funders to support the growth of the network. S/he will:
- Successfully manage the transition from the Co-Founding CEO in a way that preserves donor relationships, grows the internal culture and leverages the former CEO’s strengths in a unique Sr. Advisor capacity.
- Continue to expand the existing funder base for supporting operations and specific network programming.
- Making the business case to members for sustainability of the network
- Serve as the ambassador and public face of the network at industry-related conferences, panels, in the media, and within other affiliated networks.
The Chief Convener will help advance the organization’s strategy and strengthen its ability to operationalize its mission and vision and lead key organizational initiatives. S/he will:
- Right-size the organization (human capital, funding partners, systems, and infrastructure) so that the team can keep pace with network member aspirations.
- Lead long-term strategic planning, with the Founders and the Board, to continuously grow and improve network programming and value creation.
- Expand and nurture the board, professionally develop the core team members, and grow a foundational base of volunteers and pro-bono advisors.
- Lead a small, nimble team in designing and implementing a member recruitment strategy to promote the value of the network to prospective partners and members.
- Deepening membership network benefits through the development of cross-network partnerships.
- Grow, scale, and further develop the infrastructure, systems, and processes necessary for the network to thrive going forward, and grow a foundational base of volunteers and pro-bono advisors.
The ideal candidate is a proactive network builder with an entrepreneurial spirit for leading an impact organization. They will have an established history of thinking strategically, working in partnership with others, managing a small nimble team, connecting with people quickly and effortlessly, and inspiring collaboration amongst partners. Given the global nature of the network’s focus, the ability to bring insight, understanding, shared perspective, and deliver relevance of network activities to members’ day-to-day work will be important.
- Proven ability to lead, inspire, and compel support with at least five (5) years of experience in a leadership role.
- Proven track record of fundraising and cultivating long-term donor relationships.
- Deep passion for building and supporting relationships; skilled in lifting up the work of others, often in a behind-the-scenes way.
- Experience in organizing actions or communities. Examples might range from leading professional groups or community engagement initiatives, recruiting and organizing volunteers, or working in industry associations, or organizing actions or communities, coalitions, or communities of practice.
- Embodying an entrepreneurial mindset, open to experimentation, learning, and adjustments along the way; ability to push through ambiguity to deliver results.
- Ability to work interdependently and think creatively about how to leverage resources.
- Comfortable working in a start-up environment and a siloed ecosystem to help develop relationships and facilitators to support network development.
- Understanding of impact incubation and/or enterprise support organizations (ESOs).
- Cultural proficiency in working with partners in multiple geographies.
- Strong interpersonal and written communications skills, as well as the ability to rally and organize groups to inspire a sense of community.
Reporting Lines & Relationships
- The Chief Convener will report to the Villgro USA Board of Directors. S/he will also have the unique opportunity to work closely with Paul Basil, Founder of Villgro and founders of others leading impact incubators across the world.
- Direct Reports: Network Manager, Communications Associate, Finance/Accounting Consultant
- Other Important Relationships: Founders, Funders/Donors, Key Network Members, Key Leaders of other networks, Special Network Advisors
- Villgro USA has operated as a remote team since 2017. We invite applicants across the U.S. to apply as this will be a remote position based within the U.S with the potential to travel domestically and internationally 4-5 times per year.
- The salary range for this position is $105-120K annually.
- We invite candidates to apply, even if they don’t tick every box on the job description. Please click apply below and submit your resume and response to a brief application question.
Ideal Start Date
- End of March 2023
Villgro USA is an equal opportunity employer that is committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We prohibit discrimination and harassment of any kind based on race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, genetic information, pregnancy, or any other protected characteristic as outlined by federal, state, or local laws.