President & CEO, Urban Innovation21

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Department: UI21

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Executive

President & CEO

Urban Innovation21, Pittsburgh, PA




Urban Innovation21 (often referred to as “UI21”) is a nonprofit organization located in Pittsburgh, PA. This unique public-private partnership is supporting the growth of entrepreneurship in the Southwest PA region's innovation economy and connecting that growth to underserved communities and the residents who live in those communities. UI21 believes that an inclusive innovation economy is key to increasing regional competitiveness and sustainability.  In fact, UI21 is one of the first US-based organizations to work under the “inclusive innovation” paradigm.  

Programs in the UI21 portfolio include:

  1. The Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone Program (“KIZ”), 
  2. Urban Innovation21 “Inclusive Innovation” Internship Program
  3. Community-Based Grant Competition,
  4. Inclusive Innovation Equitable Development Program (connecting low to moderate-income communities and its residents to the new economy through equitable development strategies),
  5. Pittsburgh Wealth Building Initiative (programs that are working to catalyze the creation of entrepreneurship opportunities, employee-owned/community-based businesses.  PWBI programs include Urban Innovation21/ Reed Smith Pro Bono Legal Services Programs, Urban Innovation21 Community Based Business Programs and the Pittsburgh Minority Business Accelerator Initiative),
  6. Kiva Pittsburgh and
  7. The Citizen Science Lab.

At present, UI21 has an annual budget of approximately $1.8M, and accomplishes its work through nine dedicated full-time employees and a skilled Board of Directors comprised of eleven community leaders. UI21’s offices are located in the beautiful Energy Innovation Center in the Hill District Neighborhood of Pittsburgh, a building which supports socially responsible workforce development, fosters energy and sustainable technology advancement, and assists in job creation through a commitment to diversity, innovation and comprehensive education.



Position Overview

Urban Innovation21 was founded 10 years ago and has grown in size, scale, and impact over that time. Thanks to increasing support from the corporate, government, and philanthropy sectors, the organization is one of the largest and most successful KIZs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The organization is at a pivotal point in its history as the individual who has successfully grown and scaled the organization has decided to move on to his next professional opportunity. UI21 is seeking its next leader, to take the helm at the end of the summer of 2017.

The next President & CEO will be assuming leadership of an organization that is well-branded, has strong community, corporate, and neighborhood partnerships, and is poised for even greater growth and impact. The individual who assumes this role needs to be experienced in executive leadership, the tenets and principles of inclusive innovation and economic development, and capable of managing both daily operations and charting the course for the future. A deep commitment to and passion for inclusive innovation, as well as supporting economic empowerment for all, is essential.


Principal Responsibilities

The President & CEO is responsible for the following:

  1. Ensuring the financial, operational, legal, compliance, and overall health of the organization.
  2. Executing on the organization’s mission, goals, and strategies as well as special projects as appropriate.
  3. Planning, organizing, and implementing services, programs, and policies directly or integrally related to inclusive economic development.
  4. Supporting the Board of Directors and Committees in establishing organizational vision, goals and priorities.
  5. Representing UI21 in all external interactions with city as well as with regional and state policy makers, community leaders, funders, media representatives, and partners.
  6. Providing leadership and directing activities of staff, including delegating authority and reviewing work, providing guidance and assistance, as well as making hiring and termination decisions on staff.
  7. Engaging and working closely with public and private stakeholders of economic development activities through effective, consistent, and frequent dialog.
  8. Encouraging public and private stakeholder engagement when considering approaches to executing organizational objectives.
  9. Coordinating programs and activities with external stakeholders and with local, regional, and state agencies.
  10. Analyzing the feasibility of proposed projects and programs including evaluating financial and economic impact.
  11. Attending meetings, traveling out of town, and attending workshops and meetings during work and non-work hours.


Desired Behavioral Competencies

The Board of Directors has identified the following behavioral characteristics as being essential for the next President & CEO of the organization.

  • Action-oriented - Enjoys working hard/is action-oriented and full of energy for the things he/she sees as challenging; not fearful of acting with a minimum of planning; seizes more opportunities than others.
  • Creativity - Comes up with a lot of new and unique ideas; easily makes connections among previously unrelated notions; tends to be seen as original and value-added in brainstorming sessions.
  • Ethics and values - Adheres to an appropriate (for the setting) and effective set of core values and beliefs during both good and bad times; acts in line with those values; rewards the right values and disapproves of others; practices what he/she preaches.
  • Innovation management - Is good at bringing the creative ideas of others to market; has good judgment about which creative ideas and suggestions will work; has a sense about managing the creative process of others; can facilitate effective brainstorming; can project how potential ideas may play out in the marketplace.
  • Motivating and engaging others - Creates a climate in which people want to do their best; can motivate many kinds of direct reports and team or project members; can assess each person’s hot button and use it to get the best out of him/her; pushes tasks and decisions down; empowers others; invites input from each person and shares ownership and visibility; makes each individual feel his/her work is important; is someone people like working with and for.
  • Organizational agility - Knowledgeable about how organizations work; knows how to get things done both through formal channels and the informal network; understands the origin and reasoning behind key policies, practices, and procedures; understands the culture of organizations.
  • Perseverance - Pursues everything with energy, drive, and a need to finish; seldom gives up before finishing, especially in the face of resistance or setbacks.
  • Drive for results - Can be counted on to exceed goals successfully; is constantly and consistently one of the top performers; very bottom-line oriented; steadfastly pushes self and others for results.
  • Strategic agility - Sees ahead clearly; can anticipate future consequences and trends accurately; has broad knowledge and perspective; is future-oriented; can articulately paint credible pictures and visions of possibilities and likelihoods; can create competitive and breakthrough strategies and plans.
  • Managing vision and purpose - Communicates a compelling and inspired vision or sense of core purpose; talks beyond today; talks about possibilities; is optimistic; creates mileposts and symbols to rally support behind the vision; makes the vision sharable by everyone; can inspire and motivate entire units or organizations.


Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

The ideal candidate for this role has a blend of most of the following:

  • Undergraduate degree required. Graduate degree preferred. 
  • A minimum of 10 years of experience in leading or participating in the leadership of an organization similar in size, scope, and complexity.
  • Demonstrated fundraising acumen – grant writing and business development are essential.
  • Demonstrated business acumen related to economic development and related activity – content expertise and experience.
  • Experience with and a passion for inclusive innovation – engaging low-income and under-resourced neighborhoods and populations.
  • Navigating the sensitivities within community development work is core—composure, conflict management, listening, motivating, and managing political and fluid environments.
  • A data-driven leader who uses metrics – being able to articulate our impact (individuals, neighborhoods, community) and ROI for funders and other partners.
  • Experience and desire to build and work within a team environment with an emphasis on learning and continuous improvement.
  • Strong communication skills, in all settings and on all platforms.
  • Ability to manage multiple priorities and work cooperatively to satisfy needs of internal and external constituents.
  • A demonstrated commitment to issues of social justice, equity, and economic justice.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, sound judgment, and discretion.
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively with diverse people and communities, particularly communities of color.
  • Excellent judgment and maturity.
  • An engaging, infectious, and positive attitude, with a solutions-oriented approach to community conversations.



This position offers a competitive six-figure salary, and a comprehensive benefits package, consistent with other organizations of similar size, scope, and scale.



APPLICATION MATERIALS DUE BY: 5 PM, Friday, June 23rd, 2017


Urban Innovation21 has retained Nonprofit Talent to assist with this important organizational change process. Interested individuals wishing to confidentially discuss this opportunity may contact Todd Owens, Principal at or 412.512.3879. Please note that applications are not accepted at this email address.


Please direct all inquiries related to this position to Nonprofit Talent and do not contact Urban Innovation21, or members of their Staff or Board.


Urban Innovation21 is an equal opportunity employer.

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