Open Position:

(Start-up) Chief Operating Officer

Are you a social entrepreneur who is passionate about securing the future of local news and our nation’s democracy? Do you thrive in a fast-paced, fluid work environment? Are you willing to take risks, to fail fast and achieve faster? If so, perhaps you should be the first full-time employee at the American Journalism Project (AJP).

Position Summary:

The American Journalism Project (AJP) is a first-of-its-kind, startup venture philanthropy. We are currently raising $50 million in philanthropic capital to build the technology and business capacity of Civic News Organizations (CNO’s) to secure the future of local journalism that is critical to our democracy.


Founded by two non-profit news entrepreneurs, one of whom is CEO of a thriving news outlet and one of whom is a veteran venture capitalist, AJP is a center point in the formation of a new civic media ecosystem. Ultimately, AJP will employ a team tasked with selecting and supporting 25-35 nonprofit news organizations for 7-figure, course altering investments. In addition to issuing operating grants, the AJP team will guide the transformation of these organizations from scrappy newsrooms to thriving, sustainable media enterprises.


The next step? Bringing on board members and the first full-time employee. The COO is a systems-building, start-up guru who will work directly with the founders and other key constituents to support the establishment and launch of this new social venture.


The COO is a challenging role, working within a complex network of philanthropists, foundation executives, civic and news leaders, and potential new team members. As “builder-in-chief” the position is best suited for someone who is entrepreneurial, independent, flexible and driven.


Successful applicants will have a track record of building and managing performance-driven teams and associated budgets. They will also be adept at complex project management with proven fundraising and/or revenue generating success. The ideal COO must demonstrate past experience defining and executing business operations as a means to advancing an organization within its marketplace. A passion for civic news is a must, along with the confidence to collaborate, communicate and strategically build a diverse and committed network of individuals and institutions.

Position Vital Stats
Job Description: (Start-up) Chief Operating Officer
Salary: Nonprofit Senior Management Level
Hours: Full Time
Start Date: December 15
Office Base: Flexible
Application Close Date: November 15

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

As this is an interim role in a new enterprise that is fast-moving and fluid, the responsibilities are constantly shifting and expanding.  With oversight and guidance from and in collaboration with Elizabeth and John, the current responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Organization Building and Operations – Expanding and establishing AJP’s organizational structure including operations, financial management, fundraising systems, communications functions, and staff roles. Internal operations responsibilities include but are not limited to:
    • Design and maintain content, communications, and collateral for 1) donor engagement including regular reports and updates for AJP’s early investors and 2) internal operations including regular reports and updates for AJP’s team of partners in reporting to founders
    • Design, build and maintain grantmaking strategy and systems, including a process for conducting rigorous due diligence of potential grantees
    • Refine, build-out and manage AJP’s donor prospect pipeline
    • Develop the organization’s governance structure including the recruitment and engagement of strategic volunteer leaders (i.e., Advisory and Governing Boards)
  • Movement Building and Constituency Engagement – Identifying, cultivating and coordinating key outward facing objectives necessary to propel AJP’s organizational excellence within the emerging news ecosystem.  Responsibilities include but are not limited to:
    • Cultivate and steward strategic partnerships, including consultants and contractors and industry leaders and influencers – to support the AJP initiative
    • Identify and manage donor engagement opportunities, including the coordination of meetings and the identification of strategic event opportunities where AJP leaders should be involved
    • Plan and implement meetings and events, including coordinating attendance logistics and attending events with founders and other strategic leaders
    • Refine and expand AJP’s brand among key constituents while working alongside AJP strategic leaders to evolve public announcement and visibility-building efforts.


Knowledge, Skill and Experience:

  • Confidence and capability to adapt and change in a rapidly shifting, fast-paced environment
  • Comfort navigating ambiguity inherent to a young organization and leading the development of a sustainable infrastructure
  • 4-10 years of experience working with diverse constituencies to build dynamic organizations
  • Financial planning competence, including experience with building and maintaining budget modeling spreadsheets
  • Ability to marry a strategic mindset with a core competence in day to day execution: highly skillful at planning, organizing and following through, particularly with regard to project, meeting and event management
  • Exceptional writing and editing skills – examples of historical output will be required should interview process progress
  • Proven outcomes as a result of strong collaboration skills enhanced by a positive, solutions orientated mentality
  • Willingness to travel frequently – bi-monthly.  Ability to work, and with enthusiasm, outside the parameters of a 9-5 workday.
  • Bachelor’s degree required (or equivalent)
  • Background in business development required and start-up experience preferred
  • Passion for the business of civic news and sustaining our nation’s democracy  
  • Experience in journalism is preferred but not required
  • Sense of humor with ability to maintain grace under pressure


We know there are great candidates who won’t fit everything we’ve described above, or who have important skills we haven’t thought of. If that’s you, please don’t hesitate to apply and tell us about yourself. We are committed to diversity and especially encourage members of underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and resume to:

Please include the subject line “AJP Start-up COO”.