Director of Finance & Operations

Location: Metro Chicago

The mission of the Institute of Political Innovation (IPI) is to contribute theory, scholarship and strategy that catalyzes model, modern and nonpartisan political change in America.

IPI’s vision is a restoration of healthy competition in American elections and legislation at federal and state levels, in service of real results for real people.

IPI was founded in February 2020 by business leader, entrepreneur, author and political innovator Katherine M. Gehl. IPI is a nonpartisan not-for-profit organization.

IPI represents a culmination of a multi-year period of scholarship and research, and a turning toward investment and action.

In 2013 Katherine Gehl was refining the competitive strategy for her $250 million high-tech food- manufacturing company in Wisconsin. With more than a century of innovation under its belt, Gehl Foods found itself faced with precipitously declining fortunes. Like most CEOs, Katherine utilized trusted tools for competitive analysis, like Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter’s Five Forces framework, to lead the turnaround effort.

Unlike most CEOs, Katherine was simultaneously running a parallel competitive analysis—of American politics. “It was a lightbulb moment for me,” remembers Katherine. The industry competition lens shed new light on the root causes of dysfunction in our political system, and the most powerful—and nonpartisan—solutions. From this analysis, Katherine concretized the four foundational principles of “Politics Industry Theory,” which are as follows:

  • First, although people tend to think of the American political system as a public institution based on high-minded principles and impartial structures and practices derived from the Constitution, it’s not. Politics is a private industry. It behaves according to the same kinds of forces that shape competition in any industry.
  • Second, the dysfunctions of the politics industry are perpetuated by unhealthy competition that secures the duopoly’s position.
  • Third, our political system will not correct itself. There are no countervailing forces or independent and empowered regulators to restore healthy competition.
  • Fourth, certain strategic, precise changes to the rules of the game in elections and legislating would alter incentives in ways that create healthy competition, innovation, and accountability.

After selling her company, Katherine—believing business leaders were “missing in action”—used her theory to develop the business case for nonpartisan political innovation, with a laser-focus on targeted structural changes that will change the incentives that dictate decision making in politics. In 2016 she asked Prof. Porter to join as co-author on the seminal 2017 Harvard Business School report,

Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America: A strategy for reinvigorating our democracy, which reshaped the national conversation on political reform. Katherine and Michael have broadened that work into a book, The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy, which was released in June 2020. To support action, Katherine and Michael are donating all proceeds of the book to IPI.

Katherine’s goal is to “create lightbulb moments for millions of people across the country, and in so doing catalyze a primetime movement for political innovation the likes of which we haven’t seen for 100 years.” The immediate focus of IPI is “Final-Five Voting,” the principal solution brought to light through Politics Industry Theory.

IPI is laser-focused on catalyzing a grasstops-led movement toward state-level legislative action around Final-Five Voting, a two-step innovation as follows:

  • Step one: Replace party primaries with a single nonpartisan primary in which the top five finishers, regardless of party, advance to the general election. This eliminates the “eye of the needle” conundrum, allowing legislators much more leeway to deliver results in the public interest without constant fear of getting “primaried.” It also creates dynamic competition in the general election with a broader field of candidates and space to debate a diversity of ideas instead of the same-old, binary, wedge issues.
  • Step two: Replace single-candidate voting in the general election with “Ranked-Choice Voting,” which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. This system eliminates the main barrier to new competition in politics, and, finally, injects accountability into our politics.

Final-Five Voting is a wise investment with a big return: healthy competition that delivers innovation, results and accountability—the best of what we call “free market politics.” Final- Five Voting isn’t designed to force people to abandon their ideological views, or to change who wins; it’s designed to change what the winners are incentivized to do on behalf of the American people.

IPI is a leader in national “nonpartisan democracy reform,” a community in which Katherine is deeply connected. Katherine is a board member of Unite America, Business for America, and New America. She is also co-chair of the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers and co-founder of Democracy Found, a Wisconsin organization pursuing Final-Five Voting.

The Institute for Political Innovation brings a targeted universe of powerful leaders—civic, business, philanthropic, not-for-profit—to a point of action. IPI is committed to lead a nationwide movement to further elevate Politics Industry Theory (and subsequent scholarship) and develop and support state-level and nationwide innovation campaigns

IPI deploys three tactics toward achieving our mission and vision. Each tactic is geared around action—this is not centrally about clicks and hits, likes and shares—and each tactic flows from Gehl’s academic work, and is accelerated by her work as an influencer, connector and funder. A key asset at IPI is Gehl’s access to leaders and influencers across key American institutions—business, politics, academia, technology, and beyond. In order to break political gridlock and dysfunction and achieve real results for real people, an ongoing campaign of awareness building and enrollment is required. IPI will lead this campaign and leverage Gehl’s ability, access and influence.

  1. Political Innovation Research & Publication: IPI is the home for Gehl’s academic practice, which currently revolves around Politics Industry Theory. IPI will pursue continued research and publishing opportunities to perfect and socialize this work and extend it. IPI will aspire to a long-term partnership with a university, as well.
  2. Re-engineering Electoral Machinery: IPI is the action center for actualizing the primary solution to unhealthy competition in the politics industry: Final-Five Voting (FFV). IPI will target upwards of a dozen states to engage, incubate and drive political philanthropy around locally led campaigns—primarily legislative campaigns—to pass the FFV package within the next 3 to 10 years. IPI will also support grasstops engagement in ballot-initiative campaigns for FFV.
  3. Legislative Machinery: Still in a theoretical stage, the Legislative Innovation Commission (LIC) is the second step toward injecting healthy competition in the politics industry. The Institute will create an interdisciplinary coalition of experts and leaders to create a zero-based approach to the rules and practices of lawmaking and Congress, and then work collaboratively with elected officials to make the prescribed changes, legislatively.
Position Profile:

This is a rare opportunity for an exceptional, multi-faceted individual to contribute to the national democracy innovation movement. The Director of Finance & Operations (DFO) will serve on the Executive Directors’ leadership team and work closely with the Board of Directors for the Institute for Political Innovation.

The DFO will be responsible for optimizing, organizing, and overseeing the financial and operational health and excellence primarily for IPI (a 501 c3 organization) and for the political innovation work of two connected entities: a 501c4 organization, and an LLC.

Responsibilities will include strategic financial planning; budgeting and accounting in support of operations and fundraising; managing and perfecting our processes around information management, office operations, human resources, and general administration; and risk management. You will report directly to the Co-Executive Directors, and collaborate with IPI’s Chief-of-Staff, Network Manager, and General Counsel. You will also work with and managed consultants and outsourced services, such as our IT resource and our bookkeeping and accounting firm. Location: Chicago, IL.

The DFO duties and accountabilities include:
• Set the financial strategy in partnership with Leadership, and manage healthy practices for execution of that strategy, such as day-to-day owned/delegated administration over repetitive functions, i.e., payroll, corporate and tax filings, internal controls, etc.
• Set the office and culture strategy in partnership with Leadership, and manage healthy practices for execution of that strategy, such as day-to-day owned/delegated administration of day-to-day systems for H.R., information technology, data management, office, etc.
• Work closely with the Fundraising team to build budgets, systems, and practices
• Work closely with Leadership to plan and execute yearly staff practices, such as retreats, regular events, professional development, and annual reviews
• Create staff support and capacity building opportunities around new operation procedures and be accessible for helpdesk functions related to technology, administrative and HR needs of staff
• Provide operations trainings and support to staff
• Oversee the bookkeeping and accounting function which includes accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, general ledger preparation, financial statement preparations and other accounting activities
• Assist the organization’s leadership in the annual budgeting and planning process; administer and review all financial plans and compare to actual results with a view to identify, explain and correct variances as appropriate
• Ensure all activities, policies and procedures comply with applicable local, federal, and state regulations and laws governing operations
• Work closely with General Counsel on HR oversight and management, including internal policies and systems, around hiring and recruitment, onboarding, performance, staff management, staff satisfaction and retention.
• Manage all administration and personnel files and conduct file audits
• Manage office space and equipment, including troubleshooting
• Manage coordination of org-wide retreats and team gatherings
• Collaborate with Leadership to build an environment of responsibility and accountability

Qualifications and Character Sketch:
• Bachelor’s degree required
• Minimum of 5 years of experience managing a complex enterprise’s finances, human resources, operations, compliance, or strategies
• Non-profit experience a plus
• A demonstrated track record of success in business operations management and project management
• Highly organized with demonstrated ability to simultaneously balance deadlines and projects in a fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment
• Experience managing, mentoring, and supporting the professional growth of team members
• Attention to detail, strong management skills and consistent quality work
• Excellent critical thinking ability and problem solving, with sound judgment in prioritizing problems and opportunities
• Outstanding written and oral communication skills
• Excellent technology skills and highly proficient in CRM (Salesforce), Microsoft Office suite (Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint), Dropbox, databases, meeting technology and social media platforms. Ability to quickly learn and become proficient at other software programs
• Demonstrated ability to work independently and collaboratively, in a team environment
• Proactive and resourceful approach to work, taking initiative to get things done
• Eager to accept and quickly implement feedback
• Willingness to work long hours and engage at all levels, doing whatever it takes to get the job done
• Willingness to work remotely and travel
• Honest, responsible and flexible
• Understands that the utmost in confidentiality, discretion, and professionalism is required. Willing to sign and adhere to a confidentiality agreement
• Outstanding, verifiable references

Additional Requirements
• English proficiency
• Driver’s license and safe driving history
• Able to work legally in the United States
• Willing to take a post-offer pre-employment physical, and, if requested, a drug screen
• Proof of good credit history will be required. A credit report (authorized by the candidate) will be used to make a decision regarding employment. A poor report may result in elimination from consideration for this position and/or continued employment.

While this profile is intended to be an accurate reflection of the most significant duties of the current position, it is not necessarily exhaustive of all responsibilities, duties, efforts, requirements or expectations. Other duties may be assigned as necessary.

IPI strives to be an inclusive organization that fosters learning, collaboration, and respect. We actively recruit for diversity in the workplace, believing that a range of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences contributes to our mission.

IPI is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any applicants for employment based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, disability; or on any other basis prohibited by law. We encourage individuals of all backgrounds to apply. If you are a qualified candidate who needs reasonable accommodations to apply for this position, please contact us.

TO APPLY: Please submit cover letter and resume to Solomon Lieberman, co-Executive Director of IPI, at [email protected] with “Director of Finance & Operations” as the subject line.