Job Openings


Chief of Staff- Southern Grasslands Institute

Austin Peay State University

Austin Peay State University

People & HR, Operations
Clarksville, TN, USA
Posted on Friday, February 2, 2024
Position Summary Information
Position Summary
Grassland loss is the single greatest conservation issue currently facing eastern North American biodiversity. Our precious Southern grasslands are nearly extinct and the species that depend on them are fading fast. Many of our Southern grasslands that managed to persist through the past 200 years have disappeared in the past quarter-century. What will the next 25 years bring? As a conservation community we are only now realizing how extensive our grasslands used to be. If we want to reverse the tide of grassland biodiversity loss, our response must be rapid as well as unparalleled in its magnitude. This is an immensely complex and ambitious challenge that will take some of the brightest and most creative minds in American conservation and philanthropy to solve. The Southeastern Grasslands Institute (SGI) formed in 2017 to provide leadership in grassland biodiversity conservation across a 24-state region of the eastern U.S. Are you ready to join the SGI’s team?

Austin Peay State University’s (APSU) Southeastern Grasslands Institute (SGI) invites applications for the SGI Chief Of Staff. This is a full-time, non-tenure track position. The Chief of Staff will lead SGI’s team of high-performing professionals to be efficient, productive, and effective. Strong leadership skills and extensive experience in people and project management will be most important for the successful candidate. The Chief of Staff will manage and handle the daily business operations of SGI, working closely with program directors and coordinators to support the day-to-day activity of employees. This position will manage over $12 million in private and federal funds and ensure SGI projects are managed and completed to success. The Chief of Staff will report directly to SGI’s Executive Director and will serve as part of SGI’s executive leadership team, alongside the Chief Conservation Officer (CCO).

SGI, affiliated with the Center of Excellence for Field Biology at Austin Peay State University, is a young and dynamic organization where we celebrate, support and strive to promote diversity, equality and inclusion, and are committed to equal employment opportunity regardless of race, color, ancestry, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, marital status, disability, gender identity or Veteran status.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities
Organization, Supervision, Project Management, and Communication
● Maintains and directs the daily operations of SGI, including coordinating with APSU’s human resources, accounting, grants, procurement, and legal departments.
● Oversee a host of daily operations, including activities related to each of SGI’s programs. The Chief of Staff must accurately and efficiently organize all of these activities and operations to support SGI’s mission and align with customers’ needs.
● Establishes policies that promote SGI’s culture and vision, and develops and implements policies for daily operations. The Chief of Staff will communicate these policy changes to the executive leadership team and program directors and coordinators.
● Meets with and reports to the Executive Director about SGI’s daily operations, as well as operations strategies, and other SGI goals and objectives.
● Supports the Executive Director and other SGI executive leaders and employees.
● Builds and maintains trusting relationships with key APSU personnel, grantees, partners, and stakeholders, customers, clients, partners, and stakeholders.
● Ensures effective recruiting, onboarding, professional development, performance management, and retention occur for SGI employees.
● Supervises up to ten full-time employees and multiple temporary employees, and ensures accountability. Delegates tasks appropriately to the program directors and coordinators.
● Plans, prepares for, and runs SGI’s staff meetings.
● Writes SGI job descriptions and oversees hiring of all SGI employees.
● Assists with writing and submitting grant proposals.
● Analyzes internal operations and identifies areas for process enhancement.
● Develops standard operating procedures (SOPs) for major organizational tasks.
● Assists in the implementation of project management software and other productivity tools to streamline and make communication and project management efficient.
● Approves the majority of SGI transactions (e.g. timesheet, travel, and purchasing approvals).
● Responds to high volume of correspondence from various sources including the Executive Director, partner organizations, other SGI staff members and general inquiries.
● Plans SGI events including conferences, workshops, and trainings.
● Assists Executive Director in SGI fundraising ventures.
Financial Management
● Manages funding for over 40 projects that totals over >$12 million. This includes supervising all financial, project/program, and grants accounting, including working with team members to train them on finance tracking and reporting.
● Collates financial information from APSU’s financial reporting systems and presents monthly, quarterly, and yearly financial reports in an accurate and timely manner.
● Assists in crafting and implementing policies and procedures for financial reporting.
● Prepares budgets and cost estimates for grant proposals.
● Monitors budgets and spending, and manages organizational cash flow.
● Approves all SGI expenditure requests.
● Negotiates, prepares, and monitors all vendor and consultant contracts.
● Perform other duties as directed by the Executive Director.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
● Proven experience developing, implementing and completing projects.
● Understanding of business functions such as human resources and accounting.
● Demonstrable competency in strategic planning and business development.
● Outstanding organizational and leadership abilities.
● Excellent interpersonal and public speaking skills.
● Aptitude in decision-making and problem-solving.
Physical Requirements
  • Sedentary Work- Exerting up to 10 pounds of force occasionally and/or a negligible amount of force frequently or constantly to lift, carry, push, pull or otherwise move objects.
Required Minimum Qualifications
● Minimum of a M.B.A, M.A. or M.S. in related fields and at least five (5) years of financial and operations management experience. The successful candidate should have a strong emphasis in team and project management to include managing multiple large federal grants and organizational budgets.
● Experience with project management, leadership, and motivating and inspiring others as part of a team environment. This includes overseeing large teams of employees who conduct work on a variety of projects and who may work remotely.
● Keen analytic, strategic, organization and problem-solving skills which support and enable sound decision making.
● Must have excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate with a wide variety of audiences including laypeople, volunteers, private landowners, interns, academics, business leaders, agency personnel, donors, professionals and other stakeholders.
● A successful track record in setting priorities, taking initiative, and multi-tasking.
● Experience with writing project reports, publications, and/or grant proposals.
● Experience with accounting and reporting software.
● Experience with human resources operations.
● Must have good writing skills.
● Prefer background or experience in conservation or a dedication to the principles.
● Strong commitment to ensuring that diversity and inclusion are considered throughout all aspects of SGI’s programs.
● Evidence of good character, mature attitude, and professional integrity.
● A background check will be required of the successful candidate.