Development Director

Start Date: July 1, 2018

To apply, send cover letter, resume, references to Joy Fox, Interim Director of Development, Sophia Academy, Deadline: May 30, 2018

Founded in 2001 by visionary social justice advocate Sister Mary Reilly RSM, Sophia Academy serves 60 girls in grades 5-8 in Providence, RI. The school seeks an experienced Director of Development to play a key role in taking Sophia Academy to the next level of growth. This position offers a creative, strategic, relationship-oriented professional the unique opportunity to lead, manage, and implement the school’s Development program in a collegial environment and advance the critical mission of changing the lives of girls from low income homes through an empowering middle school education.

Under the leadership of the current Head, Gigi DiBello, Sophia has grown into a respected institution in Rhode Island’s K-12 education community. The faculty nurtures, challenges, and empowers young girls; Sophia prepares them to excel academically and to become engaged citizens poised to make a difference in their communities. Ninety-five percent of Sophia graduates complete high school in four years and most continue on to postsecondary education. Sophia students outperform their Providence and Rhode Island peers on standardized testing and other indicators such as attendance. The school is accredited by the Association of Independent Schools of New England (AISNE). Sophia’s strong social justice ethos has attracted the attention of such inspiring women as #MeToo cofounder Tarana Burke and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafsai, and its dedicated and talented faculty are recognized state-wide for their excellence.
With an excellent and proven academic program, a core of generous donors, a committed Board, and an incoming Head of School with extensive Development and Strategic Planning experience, the school is poised to advance. Maura Farrell, who begins her tenure July 1, 2018, serves currently as Associate Head at Winchester Thurston School (WT) in Pittsburgh, PA, which is nationally recognized for community based learning and a commitment to socioeconomic diversity. At WT, she directed two major capital campaigns that raised more than $35 million, and worked closely with the Head, Board, administration, and faculty on developing a strategic vision and heightening the school’s national profile.
Sophia Academy raises over $1 million per year for operations (programs, students, and faculty) as well as additional funds for special projects and facility maintenance. A major Gala, Sophia Academy’s Women of Wisdom event, is held annually in the spring, and raises approximately $275,000 per year. It was also at this event (in 2016) that the school’s first seven-figure gift to the endowment was announced.

Major Areas of Responsibility

The Director of Development reports to the Head of School, is a member of the Head’s Administrative Team, and works closely with the Board and the external community in all aspects of Development and Communications. The school also retains a Development/Communications Consultant and a Development Database Associate to support the program.

Development Planning and Strategy
1. In collaboration with the Head of School, Administrative Team, and Board’s Development Committee, formulate a long term plan for Development to include fundraising goals and campaigns.

2. Identify funding opportunities within the Sophia strategic and operational plans.

3. Assist in the development and implementation of the Sophia strategic plan.

4. Share and apply best practices to raise the school’s profile and increase its capacity for attracting philanthropic support.


Major Gifts and Annual Giving
1. Accountable for Major Gifts and Annual Fund Programs: Develop strategy, set goals, and monitor progress.

  • Increase Sophia’s donor base, identifying prospects for annual and major gifts, and cultivate meaningful relationships to secure significant contributions.
  • Motivate, manage, and partner with Board members, the Head of School, and others in identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding leadership and major donor prospects (individuals and foundations).
  • Develop and maintain close relationships with major donors, foundations, and corporate donors. Partner with the Head, Board, and others to strengthen relationships with donors.

2. Work with the Head and Board to develop foundation and corporate relationships. Write grants and manage foundation reporting/stewardship.

3. Supervise and collaborate with Development Database Coordinator on stewardship of leadership donors, including those with endowed funds at the school.

Collaborate with Board and staff to plan and manage fund raising events, perform follow-up to ensure seamless and accurate communication with event donors, and initiate strategic cultivation for future giving.

Development Management
1. Develop and direct systems to ensure a coordinated, integrated Development plan achieves Sophia’s financial and fundraising goals, including major gifts, annual giving, planned giving, and events.
2. Establish and build a planned giving program.
3. Establish and build a stewardship program.
4. With the input and assistance of the Head of School and Administrative Team, establish annual goals and objectives, tasks, and evaluation procedures.
5. Collaborate with Development/Communications Consultant on Sophia’s messaging and communication plan.
6. Serve as Staff Liaison to the Board’s Development Committee.
7. Supervise and mentor the Development Database Associate.
8. Manage an annual Development budget for cost-effective financial results.
9. Evaluate Development program outcomes annually.
10. Pursue continuing education and professional development opportunities.
11. Communicate with expertise, in both oral and written communication.


● 5-7 years of experience and successful track record in a Development leadership position.
● Bachelor’s degree required.
● Experience in independent schools preferred.
● Clearances required.
● Success in cultivating and soliciting major donors.
● Demonstrated ability to lead in a team setting.
● Ability to set goals, institute timelines, and meet deadlines.
● Ability to meet measurable fundraising goals and inspire others to do the same.
● Ability to form strong relationships with constituents, manage volunteers with sensitivity and support.
● Ability to think strategically and creatively and formulate solid plans based on measurable objectives.
● Excellent communications skills, written and oral.
● Proficiency in Spanish is a plus.
Technical expertise:
● Annual giving implementation: donor development, retention, stewardship.
● Major gift programs and capital campaigns: prospect research, cultivation, personal solicitation, acknowledgment, stewardship, recognition, and volunteer management.
● Development policy: gift acceptance, pledge policies, donor reporting, financial reporting, deferred giving, donor intent.
● Recruiting, training, motivating volunteers.
● Private foundation research, cultivation, program design, and grant writing.
● Donor communications: print, electronic, digital.
● Contracting and use of consultants.
● Budgeting, planning, reporting, evaluation.
● Donor databases.

Dispositional competencies:
● Discretion and confidentiality.
● Enthusiasm for working in a close-knit, student-centered school environment; ability to interact positively and patiently with student volunteers.
● Demonstrated commitment to achieving results.
● Initiative, warmth, enthusiasm, optimism, and energy.
● Ability to influence and inspire others.
● Diplomacy.
● Passion and commitment to social justice and/or girls education and equity.
● Solve problems creatively; think conceptually; possess political, economic, and technological savvy; and demonstrate a sense of humor.

 Sophia Academy is an EEO/AA employer.