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Chief of Staff (710)

Date: Jun 4, 2021

Location: Washington, DC, US, 20016

Company: American University


The Chief of Staff to the President serves as a key resource to President Sylvia Mathews Burwell, supporting the President in advancing critical strategic and operational objectives, supporting smooth functioning of AU, and ensuring the effective use of the President’s time. The Chief of Staff is a manager of strategic and cross-cutting initiatives at the university on behalf of the President, coordinating the development, implementation, and monitoring of these initiatives. A member of the President’s Cabinet and the President’s Council, the Chief of Staff is responsible for helping to set the agenda for senior leadership meetings to ensure they are strategically focused and that follow up on action items occurs. The Chief of Staff advises the President on policy, procedural, and operational issues. The Chief of Staff also coordinates the efforts of staff in the Office of the President and oversees the Office of Special Events. The Chief of Staff must be able to manage several responsibilities simultaneously, handling both long-term projects and immediate and time-sensitive matters. The Chief of Staff serves as a liaison of the President to members of the University community and external stakeholders. The Chief of Staff has a leadership role in enhancing collaboration and coordination within the President’s Cabinet and President’s Council, making recommendations and providing consultation to improve teamwork.


Essential Functions

1. Project Manager for Major Initiatives – Serve as the project manager for major and cross-cutting initiatives. Present key decision points to the President in clear ways, supported by data, analysis, and input from relevant stakeholders. Coordinate all the elements of project planning with university stakeholders. Implement the guidance and direction of the President on these initiatives. Engage with senior-level stakeholders, including American University Trustees and senior officials at potential external partners.


2. President’s Time – Partner with others in the President’s Office, including the Senior Assistant to the President, and at the university, to develop a strategic approach to use of the President’s time, including time spent on University leadership, engagements with key university stakeholders (students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents), engagements that support the university’s campaign, Change Can’t Wait, and engagements that enhance the university’s reputation. Working with others in the President’s Office and at the university, ensure the President’s time is used effectively and aligns with the university’s strategic priorities and that the President receives effective briefing materials and is properly briefed.


3. Cabinet and President’s Council Meetings – Develop agendas for key leadership meetings to cover strategic topics, promote team building, share critical information, and make progress on day-to-day matters that require engagement by the senior leadership team. Coordinate meetings and materials. Develop, plan, and coordinate retreats for the Cabinet and the President’s Council, including, where appropriate, identifying and coordinating with external facilitators.

Essential Functions Continued

4. Commencement and Special Events – Lead the work with the President and the deans of the schools to identify speakers for each of the commencement ceremonies in December and May. Work with Secretary of the Board’s office on obtaining Board review and approval of the honorary degree for each speaker. Work with University Communications and Marketing on the rollout of the speakers’ selection and promotion of their remarks, where appropriate. Working with the Senior Director of Special Events, oversee the planning and implementation of the ceremonies and coordination with speakers. Oversee other special events featuring the President, including convocation and pop-ups.


5. Oversee and Manage Staff – Oversee and manage the President’s Director of Speechwriting, who prepare remarks, social media messages, and other Presidential communications. Oversee the Special Assistant to the President, who is responsible for the President’s daily briefings, research projects for the President, and correspondence. Convene a regular meeting of staff in the POB. Coordinate with the Senior Assistant to the President on facilities and related issues for the POB.


6. Relationship Management – Support relationship management for the President and the POB with senior leaders (including deans) and other key stakeholders at the university. Helps triage requests and matters arising from both internal and external stakeholders

Work Environment

  • The Chief of Staff reports directly to the President

Position Type/Expected Hours of Work

  • Full-time
  • Exempt
  • Division Leader A

Salary Range

  • Commensurate with experience

Required Education and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree required
  • A proven track record in project management, working in complex organizations, and implementing policies, programs, and activities.
  • Position requires excellent interpersonal skills, diplomacy, and the ability to interact with a broad range of individuals, both internally and externally.
  • Candidates must be proactive and self-directed in addition to adaptable, flexible, and comfortable with ambiguity.
  • Candidates also must have attention to detail and high standards for quality and excellence.
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion is essential.
  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills, strong organizational skills, demonstrated ability to collaborate and facilitate, and a sense of humor are required.

Preferred Education and Experience

  • Advanced degree preferred
  • Progressively responsible leadership; higher education leadership experience is desirable.

Additional Eligibility Qualifications

  • Weekend and evening hours may be required based on schedule of events
  • Hiring offers are contingent on successful completion of a background check


Current American University Employees:

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Contact Us:

For more information or assistance with the American University careers site, email


American University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution that operates in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The university does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, personal appearance, gender identity and expression, family responsibilities, political affiliation, source of income, veteran status, an individual’s genetic information or any other bases under federal or local laws (collectively "Protected Bases") in its programs and activities.

Nearest Major Market: Washington DC