Senior Managing Director, Strategic Initiatives

Posted on 02/11/2020

Duke University

Durham, NC

Position Summary

Duke University Development is widely recognized among its peers as a leader in the field of interdisciplinary or “strategic initiative” fundraising. This model for fundraising – one that extends beyond schools, units, and departments to support ideas that reside at the intersection of academic disciplines – has helped strengthen Duke’s position as a university deeply committed to interdisciplinarity, globalization, and knowledge in the service of society. Investments in these priorities have allowed Duke to attract some of the world’s finest faculty, build first-rate facilities, launch model interdisciplinary institutes and global partnerships, and engage the minds of a new generation of students.

The Senior Managing Director oversees the Strategic Initiatives team, which provides the academy and advancement with access to development strategy and services that facilitate and strengthen programs for cross-cutting university initiatives. S/he provides strategic direction for the department, developing and implementing fundraising best practices and processes, creating and monitoring performance metrics for fundraising and engagement, and managing a suite of development consulting and education services offered to internal partners. The Senior Managing Director will serve as an expert in residence on launching, operationalizing, and evaluating interdisciplinary initiatives. Reporting to the Sr. AVP for Individual Giving, s/he will work closely with the AVPs of Major and Leadership Gifts, and the Sr. AVP of Principal Gifts and with other development and academic leadership to determine feasibility and prioritization amongst existing and emerging initiatives. The collaboration with Major and Leadership Gifts is primary because its members are the frontline fundraisers for interdisciplinary priorities.  S/he will be responsible for coordinating strategic initiative fundraising and education efforts for major gift officers.

The Senior Managing Director (SMD) leads a team of three core staff based in University Development who advance comprehensive fundraising programs for assigned initiatives. This includes the Senior Director, Philanthropy, Strategic Initiatives; the Senior Program Directors, Strategic Initiatives, and the Project Coordinator, Strategic Initiatives. The SMD also works closely with partner staff embedded within prioritized initiatives including two Development Program Directors and a Director of Development.  The SMD will coordinate closely with the Sr AVP on priority setting, collaboration with academic leadership and staff deployment.


  • Supervise a staff of four Strategic Initiatives staff and support the work of three additional development colleagues, some of whom are embedded within primary partner programs.
  • With the Sr AVP for Individual Giving, maintain and expand upon a successful collaboration with the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies and the Provost aimed at prioritizing interdisciplinary initiatives for fundraising effort and integrating them appropriately with school-based efforts.
  • Lead the ongoing development of the Strategic Initiatives program, encouraging and incenting excellence, innovation, high performance, and shared learning.
  • Maintain and optimize the existing success of the Strategic Initiative program that maximizes the impact of strategic initiative fundraising – grounding it with best practices, collaborative processes, and performance metrics.
  • Ensure that Strategic Initiatives goals and programs are contextualized and communicated within University Development and to fundraisers across campus.
  • Work closely with University Development department heads and school-based associate deans, where appropriate, identify opportunities for collaboration and develop a shared understanding of mutual service provision.
  • Maintain contact with faculty directors of primary partner programs, serving as a senior development counsel for fundraising strategy.
  • Serve as a development consultant to identified affiliate partners across campus, providing counsel and access to University Development resources as appropriate.
  • Direct various personnel functions including, but not limited to, hiring, performance appraisals, promotions, transfers, and vacation schedules.
  • Perform other related duties incidental to the work described herein.


Extensive fundraising experience in a university setting. Leadership, communication, analytical, and organizational skills. Exceptional interpersonal skills. Minimum of 5 years of progressively responsible experience, preferably in an academic environment. Strong ability to manage teams, multiple projects, and timelines. Ability to work cooperatively and strategically in a team environment with all levels of academic, professional, technical, and administrative staff and to integrate resources on a timely and organized basis. Bachelor’s degree required.

Behavioral Competencies – Level 16 MGO

  • Collaborating with others: Ability to work collaboratively, formally and informally within one’s team and across the organization.
  • Goal & Task Management: Prioritize and coordinate tasks with attention to deadlines, concurrent management of projects and ability to create and follow a set strategy for short and long-term goals and objectives.
  • Curiosity & Information Seeking: Expresses an underlying curiosity in people and an ability to go beyond questions that are routine to gain an understanding of the prospects capacity, affinity and inclination.
  • Decisiveness & Judgment: Uses sound judgment to make appropriate, timely decisions in complex situations for which there are no set procedures.
  • Ability to influence: Ability to move or persuade others to act in a desired way. Uses indirect influence.
  • Flexibility: The ability to adapt to and work effectively with a variety of situations, and with various individuals. Adapts tactics appropriately.
  • Dealing with Ambiguity: Makes decisions and takes action with limited information. Anticipates impact of change and directs self and others in smoothly shifting gears.
  • Expressing ideas orally and in writing: Ability to effectively and persuasively communicate ideas, thoughts, and facts orally and in writing.
  • Listening: Is an “active listener”. Establishes rapport with and is receptive to speaker. Picks up on underlying messages; “hears between the lines”.
  • Organizational Awareness: Ability to learn and understand organizational relationships and dynamics. Uses networks, alliances and individuals to achieve objectives.
  • Leadership: Ability to effectively manage and guide group efforts. Takes an active role in developing motivational strategies.


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