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Location: Chicago, IL

Job Description:


The Director, Strategic Innovation will expand the capacity of the department by contributing skills in design thinking, service design, qualitative research, program strategy and development, prototyping, business analysis and collaborating with internal stakeholders and external contractors to deliver high value resources to local YMCAs. The Director is a dedicated resource to the largest YMCAs, which are part of the YMCA North American Network of YMCAs (YNAN), the YNAN Innovation Task Force, content specialists dedicated to each project and local Y teams. The department is integrated through three areas of organizational focus: Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. This position will serve as an internal resource, using human-centered design thinking, to contribute to the strategic development of the Y's national initiatives.

This position is funded for three years.


Bachelor's degree is required. Master's degree in Design is strongly preferred

Minimum 5-7 years of experience researching, designing and developing meaningful products/services solutions using the human-centered design process

Minimum 3 years of project management experience is required

Excellent collaboration skills and experience collaborating with diverse stakeholders is required

Demonstrated leadership in design projects that result in launched products or services is required

Ability to travel approximately 40% of the time is required

Ability to in synthesize complex research into actionable strategies is required

Ability to facilitate large groups through the design process in a workshop setting is required

Ability to effectively manage groups toward a consensus is required

Ability to hold self to very strict deadlines is required

Demonstrated ability to multi-task and manage complex systems with superior technical skills is required

Must possess excellent analytical, problem-solving skills, and ability to follow all administrative processes

Excellent verbal, written and interpersonal communication and presentation skills are required

Requires a pragmatic, service-oriented mindset, passionate about using design thinking to drive positive national change at the community level

Commitment to the YMCA character development values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility is required


Values. Demonstrates in word and action the Y's core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility and a commitment to the Y's mission, in all matters at all times.

Inclusion. Values all people for their unique talents, and takes an active role in promoting practices that support diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence.

Relationships. Builds authentic relationships in the service of enhancing individual and team performance to support the Y's work.

Influence. Employs influence strategies that engage, inspire, and build commitment to the cause and overall Y goals.

Communication. Listens and expresses self effectively and in a manner that reflects a true understanding of the needs of the audience.

Developing Others. Recognizes and acts on the need to continually develop others' capabilities to attain the highest level of performance possible.

Decision Making. Integrates logic, intuition, and sound judgment to analyze information to identify greatest opportunities, make sound decisions, and solve problems.

Change Capacity. Leads self and others through change by navigating ambiguity appropriately and adapting well to new situations, obstacles, and opportunities.

Emotional Maturity. Demonstrates effective interpersonal skills.

Quality Results. Demonstrates and fosters a strong commitment to achieving goals in a manner that provides quality experiences.

Innovation. Participates in the generation, experimentation, and implementation of new approaches and activities that improve and expand the Y's mission and work.


Directs and conducts qualitative primary research and secondary research studies as pertaining to project work

Conducts analysis and synthesis of research findings resulting in actionable insights

Develops experience models and service design concepts that communicates user needs and service design recommendations

Designs, plans and facilitates bi-annual Innovation Summit for YNAN leaders in collaboration with Senior Director

Develops a platform for innovative program discovery throughout the YMCA movement in collaboration with a team

Develops high quality, realistic and implementable solutions on time in collaboration with subject matter specialists, and other Y-USA departments (e.g. Membership Support and Program Services, Research and Evaluation, Marketing Communications, Training & Leadership Development, Financial Development, General Counsel, Government Relations)

Performs other duties as assigned by Senior Director, Strategic Innovation


This position will aid in advancing the overall strategic direction of YMCA of the USA, and, by extension, the YMCA movement, by assisting in the design, development, facilitation, and implementation of the improved quality and impact of key programs in each of the YMCA's three areas of focus. With a presence in 10,000 communities around the US, the Y provides a unique opportunity for large scale social innovation.

Salary: $98,400 - $110,700


Apply Online:

Resumes until: 9/5/2014

Contact: Jennifer Boyd

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The YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.