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Chief Development Officer

Philanthropic Development | New York, NY | Full Time

Job Description

Sesame Workshop is seeking an experienced Chief Development Officer (CDO) who will implement and lead the expansion of a comprehensive strategic, creative, and entrepreneurial development program that will affirm and celebrate the mission, impact, and future growth. This is a unique opportunity to join Sesame at a critical moment in its history and to work with the leadership team to build upon the organization’s success and to help propel the institution to new levels of accomplishment and impact. The CDO will join a committed, passionate and talented team dedicated to Sesame’s mission and its continued excellence and success. 

The CDO will serve as lead strategist for growing sustainable revenue streams for integrated fundraising. The CDO is responsible for fostering a culture of philanthropy and stewardship within the organization and leading the execution of all revenue-generating enterprises. Reporting to the President, Social Impact & Philanthropy, working closely with the President & CEO and Board of Trustees, the CDO will be a touchstone in fulfilling Sesame Workshop’s mission and strategic goals and will thrive working in a changing and complex environment.

An engaging collaborator, the CDO will work in close partnership with Sesame leadership and the board to create and implement a comprehensive, strategic development plan to generate increased contributed support for Sesame’s social impact priorities. Part of the challenge will be to clearly craft and articulate a compelling case for philanthropic support to audiences who may not fully understand the organization’s social impact commitment (and who may have the impression that Sesame’s work is entirely funded through product sales and licensing). 

A bold thinker and a strategic, yet hands-on executor, the CDO will have deep and extensive experience to lead a $100M+ development organization with deep fluency in individual, foundations, and corporate fundraising. 

The CDO will lead the development and execution of comprehensive organizational resource development strategies. The CDO will build a team and department to develop and execute strategies to mesh programmatic and funding activities in ways that will advance Sesame’s mission and growth objectives. This leader will foster a results-focused environment that includes clear goals, regular feedback and transparent accountability. The CDO will foster multi-faceted relationships that leverage impact, reach and relevance. The CDO will work with Sesame Workshop’s current and former board members, Development Committee members, network members and other supporters of the organization to identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward influential and transformational donors.

Collaborating with the CFO and Finance team, the CDO will oversee the fundraising budget and actively manage revenue to ensure that operating budget objectives and plan goals are met. Furthermore, this leader will track multi-year revenue and fundraising trends and use the information to predict future opportunities for expansion and diversification.


Key Responsibilities

An Expert in Fundraising Leadership & Development Operations:

  • The CDO will be an experienced strategic leader with a measurable track record of proven success especially in major gifts and in rapidly growing a fundraising operation.
  • The CDO will have demonstrated expertise with a wide range of fundraising channels with particular focus on individual giving, major donors and foundations.
  • The CDO will have a strong data and analysis orientation and a proven ability to use metrics to drive development decisions and achieve strategic objectives.
  • The CDO will have campaign experience and an ability to adopt an entrepreneurial approach to expanding and deepening new and existing donor support.
  • The CDO will have a demonstrated record of implementing fundraising initiatives, including identification, cultivation, and stewardship and working in close partnership with senior leadership and Boards of Trustees to collaboratively achieve fundraising goals.
  • The CDO will responsibly provide accountable and strategic leadership, direction and performance management to the high performing development team. This will include effective communication, coaching, mentoring and helping staff maximize their potential for success setting performance targets aligned with the strategy and annual operating objectives.
  • Key to the success of this role will be the CDO’s ability to take a strong team to the next level of fundraising and development operations growth.


A Relationship Builder and Collaborator:

  • The CDO will be highly skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships and will be a confident and articulate communicator who excels at defining and communicating the systems and data around strategy and outreach in development.
  • With the ability to work fluidly across all levels, the CDO will be able to build collaboration and buy-in and generate support from internal and external stakeholders.
  • Collaborating closely with the President, Social Impact & Philanthropy, the CDO will implement a comprehensive and multifaceted donor-communication and stewardship strategy ensuring donor engagement and satisfaction.
  • The CDO will have a strong working relationship with designated members of the Board and Development Committee and will be a proactive communicator at all times.


A Results-Oriented Leader with Strong Execution Skills:

  • The CDO will have a proven record of converting strategy into effective execution working in a fast-paced environment.
  • The CDO will exhibit intellectual curiosity, including the ability to listen to and learn from multiple voices.
  • The CDO will have strong analytical skills and the ability to think creatively and collaboratively about the organization’s development goals while remaining focused on details and follow-through.
  • The CDO will be a builder who will work with the President, Social Impact & Philanthropy to set development priorities decisively, delegate responsibilities, assure accountability, and allocate resources to ensure results.
  • The CDO will develop and motivate a stellar development team to creatively envision innovative ways of engaging potential stakeholders.


A Passion for the Mission:

  • The CDO will bring a personal passion and commitment to the Sesame Workshop mission as well as an appreciation and understanding of the organization’s vision and impact.
  • The CDO will have the capacity to understand and appreciate organizational strategies and be able to share this knowledge (the narrative) with potential donors with conviction.
  • The CDO will embrace Sesame Workshop’s culture, while continually innovating to help expand its brand and reach.
  • The CDO will coordinate development efforts with public education and communications to inform audiences about the work of Sesame and broaden the base of support.


Candidate Profile

A successful Chief Development Officer will possess the following but not limited to qualifications, competencies and characteristics:

Competencies & Characteristics:

  • Outstanding and proven executive abilities: planning; communicating; managing talent in a competitive environment; and executing to achieve goals.
  • Complexity: Demonstrated experience working in complex institutional settings; managing change; and working across divisions within an organization. An ability to quickly engender respect while building an organizational understanding of the role of philanthropy in an earned revenue-driven model.
  • Building: Track record of accomplishment having built and led successful, sustainable major development programs.
  • Best Practices in Philanthropy: Knowledge of the national and international philanthropic communities and best practices in major gift philanthropy and comfortable as a front-line fundraiser; proven track record of cultivating, soliciting and closing major gifts.
  • Strategic: Ability to see the “big picture”, think strategically, and translate strategy into targeted goals and actions with demonstrated success in creating and expanding a culture of transformational philanthropy.
  • Governance: Successful board and committee engagement experience. Significant experience working with Boards and supporting volunteers (including development volunteers, board members, and others) including but not limited to a fundraising context.
  • Highly Relational: Experience with all phases of the relationship building and fundraising process, including experience in soliciting and stewarding major donors for gifts in the six and seven-figure range.
  • Multi-dimensional/cross-cultural CommunicationsA polished communicator; able to craft and articulate nuanced, sophisticated cases for support to diverse, global audiences and constituents.
  • Alignment: A genuine interest in Sesame’s unique mission.



  • 10 or more years of progressive responsibility in a development context, including at least five years’ experience managing fundraising programs and fundraising staff. Experience in campaign planning and execution.
  • A Bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree in a related field is preferred.

Equal Opportunity Employer/Minorities/Females/Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity