Posted On: 2018-04-04
Closing On: 2018-05-01
Location: Toronto, ON
Employment Type: Full-Time
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Job Description

The Opportunity

The primary mandate of the Alumni Engagement team is to build meaningful relationships with and provide specialized programs to 300,000+ York alumni worldwide. By building strong connections between York alumni and the University, our Alumni Engagement unit advances York’s reputation and encourages increasing levels of pride, engagement and philanthropic support for York, its mission, and its current and future students.

We are seeking a new Executive Director, Alumni Engagement to provide leadership, vision, and strategic direction to the operations of the Alumni Engagement unit and to lead in the development of a comprehensive alumni engagement strategy for the University. The Executive Director will serve as the primary liaison between the University and its 300,000+ alumni world-wide, and with the York University Alumni Board (YUAB). The Executive Director will provide leadership to the implementation of Alumni Engagement’s activities and services, and to the coordination of alumni engagement outreach activities and collaborations across the University.

Alumni Engagement at York is fully aligned with the Division of Advancement’s mandate and with the goals of Impact-The Campaign for York University, our most ambitious fundraising and alumni engagement campaign ever. With $350 million already raised against our $500 million goal, the Campaign is well-positioned for success. Our goal of doubling the number of alumni engaged in the life of the university and our students is also a key outcome for the Campaign and strong progress is being made in this endeavour as well.

Our Alumni Engagement activity is focused on three key goals:

  • Encourage, support and celebrate alumni philanthropy – We are committed to build on the number of alumni who are donors to York through the Campaign by increasing giving at all levels. More than 43,500 alumni have made donations to York, and more than 75% of the 40,000 donors to this Campaign are alumni.
  • Increase alumni engagement to enrich the student experience, and support student recruitment – Our alumni are helping our students in many ways and we are actively engaging alumni to help recruit new students and have a positive impact on their experience at York.
  • Strengthen institutional reputation through York’s Global Alumni Network – The success of the University can be measured by the success of our alumni and we aim to better reflect the success of our alumni to raise the profile of the University.

Reporting to the Vice-President, Advancement, the Executive Director will ensure that Alumni Engagement’s key services and activities are aligned with Advancement’s Divisional mandate, objectives, and strategic priorities. The new incumbent will collaborate with the Office of the VP Advancement, with Divisional staff, and with senior administration across all Faculties and units, to cultivate, develop, and provide leadership to alumni engagement efforts locally and globally.  

In this leadership role, the incumbent will serve as a member of the Division of Advancement’s Senior Leadership Team, and will participate actively in setting and managing pan-Divisional policies, priorities, and activities. In addition, the Executive Director will act on behalf of Alumni Engagement in the Division of Advancement, and will serve in the University as a senior representative of the Division, championing the Division’s services and activities.


About York University

Today, York University is leading the way. Every day, in every field, we at York are redefining excellence. Cultivating creativity, collaboration and innovation, we are building a culture of student success, academic and research excellence and community engagement that is shaping the global thinking of tomorrow.

York is a comprehensive, research-intensive university that is committed to pursuing excellence, student success, outreach, and partnership by engaging students, faculty, staff, alumni, and external partners in a joint venture that transforms teaching into learning, research into discovery, and service into citizenship.

Founded in 1959, York has become a leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university, all while staying true to our original values of accessibility, social responsibility, and academic excellence. We have a student population of over 55,000, a family of more than 300,000 alumni worldwide, 7,000 faculty and staff, two campuses in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area, 11 Faculties offering more than 5,000 courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and a budget of $1 billion – making us the second-largest university in Ontario, and the third-largest in Canada.

Our unique research collaborations have social, scientific and technological impact, and our 280 international partnerships are helping students think bigger, broader, and more globally than ever before. We are one of the most ethnically-diverse universities in the world, with enormous potential for future development given our location in the centre of a region experiencing the fastest growth in both population and innovation.

Academic & Research Excellence

Our goal is to offer a quality postsecondary education – enriched through the research and scholarly activities of faculty that demonstrably provides students with the knowledge and skills needed in a future fuelled by entrepreneurial creativity. As we become more research-intensive, we strengthen our reputation as a leader in social and pedagogical innovation, as well as experiential education and technology-enhanced learning.

Student Success

York’s top priority is the success of our students – our students are our biggest source of pride. We are committed to nurturing their skills in research and analysis, communication and critical inquiry, enabling them to contribute meaningfully to their communities today and in the future. We have strengthened our new student support programs, expanded our communications and outreach efforts, and delivered countless services to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals.

Community Engagement

York has adopted a global perspective on the concept of community. Through innovative research and community-engaged scholarship, we are fuelling progress in communities here at home and around the world. Our students are benefiting from unique experiential education opportunities, our programs are reaching communities near and far, our researchers are contributing invaluable knowledge to a wide array of disciplines, and our alumni are taking their comprehensive training to countries across the globe.

Employee Engagement

We are home to a host of talented faculty and staff whose curiosity, passion, and engagement with their local and global communities is changing the world. York believes in nurturing a culture of respect. We value the contributions of all members of our community, and celebrate each success as both an individual accomplishment and an institutional one.

Capital Investment

We are in the midst of a tremendous transformation on campus. As our campuses expand, so do our horizons. With two TTC Subway stations now operating, we are fully connected to the GTA. Our thriving new Lassonde School of Engineering is housed in a state-of-the-art facility and building on our existing programs. The newly constructed, fully accessible York Lions Stadium will provide our athletes, students, and residents a new place to train and compete at home. A new building for the Schulich School of Business is under construction to meet the needs of the School’s expanding programs. Construction on the new Markham Centre Campus will commence this year.


Advancement at York University

The Division of Advancement is responsible for the identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of donors as well as building mutually-beneficial relationships with alumni and many other members of the community. We are also deeply committed to building the reputation of York University as a leading, progressive, research intensive University uniquely positioned for the betterment of society in the 21st century.

Our mission is to lead and inspire meaningful engagement and philanthropic support from alumni and friends to advance the University’s mission.  We accomplish our mission through our values of service excellence, accountability, collaboration and innovation.

This mission is carried out by the three departments within the Division:

  • Alumni Engagement: builds meaningful relationships and provides targeted programs and services to engage more than 300,000 York alumni worldwide in the life of the University and our students
  • Development: leads efforts to promote and secure philanthropic support and build meaningful relationships with alumni, donors, friends, and community members
  • Advancement Services & Operations: manages ceremonial and institutional events, alumni and donor systems including research, data management, and gift processing along with finance, operations and HR for the Division

York University’s Alumni Engagement efforts are focused on engaging York alumni, supporting our grads in life beyond York, and ensuring we are strategically leveraging alumni relationships, talent, and voices to benefit the University and our students. We achieve this through a variety of programs and services, and in partnership with the York University Alumni Board.

The York University Alumni Board (YUAB) is comprised of dedicated individuals from a variety of academic backgrounds who are passionate about York and its mission. Whether the activity is in the form of advocacy, counsel, philanthropy or any other form of volunteer assistance, the graduates of York University have a unique and valuable role to fill in promoting the excellence, advancement and prestige of the University.


The Ideal Candidate

We are seeking a highly driven leader to lift our Alumni Engagement strategy and practices to the next level, and to raise the profile of the Alumni engagement work done across the university.

The new Executive Director, Alumni Engagement will possess senior leadership experience in a university or comparable public-sector institution, ideally in an external-facing function such as alumni or donor relations, fundraising, student recruitment or services, or public relations. Candidates should possess some expertise in revenue-generation functions and programs, and be comfortable with accountability for revenue targets. As well, the ideal candidate will have a strong understanding of the goals and objectives of a university, and of the various constituencies within the University and their influence on decision-making and program execution. 

Warm and outgoing, the Executive Director will partner collaboratively with a broad range of stakeholders at all levels of the University. The new incumbent will be culturally competent, and will engage effectively with diverse community groups. Collegial and diplomatic, the successful candidate will possess excellent negotiation and consensus-building skills.

The Executive Director will serve as the face and persona of the Alumni Engagement team. Outgoing and enthusiastic, the ideal candidate will bring energy, ideas, and initiative to the role. A skilled leader and manager, the successful candidate will lead change by establishing clear and measurable goals and objectives, and by effectively engaging staff, volunteers, and colleagues.

Poised, professional, and socially versatile, the successful candidate will possess the ability to communicate effectively with diverse populations.  In addition to bringing strong verbal and written communication skills, the Executive Director will be an exceptional public speaker who is experienced at representing an organization in front of a variety of groups. The ideal candidate will also be technically savvy, particularly as it relates to digital communication with stakeholders.

Flexible and creative, the ideal candidate will possess well-developed analytical, interpretive and evaluative skills in aid of administrative decision-making. The successful candidate will possess excellent judgment, and strong financial and project management skills. Tactful, strategic, and politically astute, the Executive Director will bring demonstrated effectiveness in providing advice across a broad range of matters and in operating in complex situations.

Candidates must possess a valid driver’s license and passport, and a willingness and ability to travel periodically for work (regional, national, and international). Please note that a University Degree is required for this position; a York University degree would be an asset for this role.


Primary Responsibilities

The Executive Director, Alumni Engagement is responsible for strategic integration of alumni engagement across the University, in support of University priorities and objectives. This is a senior management position within the University and thus the Executive Director exercises a high degree of responsibility and accountability in policy and operational areas. Bearing in mind general goals and the image of the University, and with broad direction of the Vice-President, Advancement, the incumbent leads all of Alumni Engagement’s strategic planning, organizational implementation and oversight of operations. 

A. Strategic Planning, Organizational Development and Implementation for Alumni Engagement: 

The Executive Director, Alumni Engagement is responsible to the Vice-President, Advancement for the overall management and service delivery of Alumni Engagement. The position is responsible for developing and implementing the strategic programming that fosters long-term relationships beginning with our students through to Convocation and then as Alumni. The Executive Director is administratively responsible for: strategic planning; staffing (including full management responsibilities), multi-year budgeting and financial management to meet longer term commitments; and operations, services, and activities. As the department head, the incumbent has supervisory responsibility for a staff team of 15 people (includes both direct and indirect reports), work-study students, and many volunteers.

  1. Sets the strategic direction of Alumni Engagement in context of the Division’s and the University’s institutional priorities. Oversees the development and implementation of a multi-year Integrated Resource Plan for Alumni Engagement and corresponding performance plans of Alumni Engagement staff. Working with Alumni Engagement management and staff team, ensures that strategic priorities are implemented, monitored, evaluated and refined.
  2. Provides leadership to all aspects of the operations of the unit, ensuring that all operations are optimally efficient, comply with Advancement’s Divisional policies, University policies and accepted appropriate protocols and procedures, and serves and advances the strategic interests and priorities of the Division of Advancement and the University.  
  3. Provides leadership to and oversees the development, introduction and refinement of specific operational policies and procedures and service standards for all areas of Alumni Engagement operations, within the parameters of Divisional and institutional policies, as required.
  4. Leads the Alumni Engagement management and staff team to develop an environment that fosters team cohesiveness, optimizes collaboration, ensures operational efficacy and efficiency, and upholds stringent service quality standards.  
  5. Oversees the financial operations of Alumni Engagement and reports to the Vice-President, Advancement on budget performance and oversight of AR’s financial assets and resources.
  6. Collaborates with the Alumni Engagement management and team to evaluate performance including achievement of strategic objectives. Reports quarterly and annually on activities and financial performance to the Vice-President, Advancement. 

B. Leadership to Alumni Engagement:

Oversees, leads, directs, and evaluates all activities within Alumni Engagement, including human resource management across Alumni Engagement, a variety of communication strategies, programs and services for York’s growing community of 300,000+ alumni, in order to foster a deeper connection between the University and its alumni. These key services include alumni engagement activities, revenue-generating affinity programs, events, educational programs, communications, research, and other services that may emerge. 

  1. Alumni Communications: Leads, directs and evaluates the development and implementation of a strategic multi-media alumni communications plan (e-communication, mailings, publications and promotions) which promotes positive relationship and philanthropic support for the University among its growing population of alumni across Canada and around the world. Identifies and provides oversight to implementation of new and current communications vehicles for communication with alumni.
  2. Alumni Programming: Directs the creation and implementation of a comprehensive and proactive engagement program for the York alumni community. Researches, establishes, maintains, and advances productive personal relationships with individual members of the York alumni community in the GTA, across Canada, and around the world in order to promote and drive the University’s overall alumni strategy.

Oversees existing alumni networks as well as the creation of new alumni networks, monitoring their activities and ensuring they are supported and encouraged in their outreach activities to constituents. In collaboration with the Faculties and other campus units, facilitates the development of increased alumni participation and engagement by developing new program-specific activities. Creates new opportunities for alumni to connect with current students through activities that are compatible with the goals of the University and the Alumni Association.

  1. Alumni Board Relations: Directs the relationships between York University and the York University Alumni Board (YUAB). Builds and maintains close professional relationships and liaison with key alumni volunteers, including the Chair of the YUAB, individual Board members, and a wide variety of community/corporate contacts. Works closely with the YUAB Chair to establish strategic direction of the Board’s activities. Supports the Vice-President, Advancement in the identification and development of new Board members, including the Chair. Maintains close liaison and builds strategic alignment with other faculty alumni associations (e.g. Schulich, Osgoode, Glendon, etc.)
  2. Revenue Generation: Plays a leadership role in identifying new opportunities for corporate affinity partnerships and/or new services to support the needs of York’s alumni and to provide revenue for York University. Oversees plans for generating revenues to support alumni activities. Defines growth targets and strategic growth plans for affinity and sponsorship revenues. Assists with identifying donor prospects and provides leadership in cultivating key alumni donor relationships.
  3. Events: Directs, oversees and sets the strategic direction for the development and implementation of all Alumni events, including:
  • A robust program of events, both annual and occasional, designed to foster productive relationships among York alumni and donors, and between the University and its alumni/donor community.
  • Collaborates with key senior administrative stakeholders, including: the Office of Vice-President Advancement; Office of the President; Offices of the Vice-Presidents Academic and Provost, Finance and Administration, and Research and Innovation to ensure that the University’s strategic and academic interests are well-integrated into event/initiative plans, and collaborates within and outside the Division to fulfill these objectives. 

       4. Alumni Research: Oversees the development of a multi-modal, multi-year research strategy to investigate and assess the attitudes of York alumni towards the University and its activities, public profile, and reputation. Of particular focus is research designed to improve the value and relevance of Alumni Engagement programs, communications, events, and offerings for members of the alumni community.

C. Leadership to the Division of Advancement:

  1. Collaborates with other members of the Senior Leadership Team to set policies, establish priorities and lead the Division of Advancement. This includes strategic planning, Divisional policies and procedures and multi-year Divisional budgets and integrated resource plans.

D. Institutional Advisor:

  1. Advises the Vice-President, Advancement, the senior administration and academy of the University on policies, protocols, procedures, and operational guidelines for alumni engagement and related events. In collaboration with these stakeholders, evaluates, recommends, revises, and develops new and innovative policy, procedures and approaches to alumni engagement and events. Ensures that Divisional and University’s priorities are well-integrated into Alumni Engagement activities and initiatives.
  2. Represents Alumni Engagement and the Division of Advancement at senior administrative committees (including the weekly UEC – Campus Relations Committee, chaired by the VP Finance and Administration, etc.) and institutional forums within the University, and at meetings outside of the University. Acts for the department as the senior Alumni Engagement representative and champion of Alumni’s activities and priorities.
  3. Identifies key strategic initiatives to enhance alumni engagement internally and externally, and works with relevant stakeholders to build consensus and recommend priorities of these initiatives to the Vice-President, Advancement. Recommends implementation plans (including time-lines, milestones and accountabilities) and strategies for information-sharing, communications and leveraging best practices. 
  4. Chairs pan-University and/or multi-departmental committees to ensure the successful realization and evaluation of specific alumni events and high profile initiatives. Empowers Faculties, units, and their leaders to engage specific alumni communities.


For more Information

At York University, we have an exciting vision for our future, and we are determined to reach it. There’s never been a better time to join our team!

For more information about this Alumni Engagement leadership opportunity, please contact Tara George at KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.) via or 416-340-9710 ext. 1013.

We will be reviewing submissions on an ongoing basis, and thus we encourage early application. Candidates are asked to submit a resume and covering letter to the above email address. All inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence.

York University is committed to employment equity and has implemented a policy of affirmative action. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.