Senior Network Advisor

Location: Metro Chicago / Remote

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:

The Senior Network Advisor (SNA) will play an integral role in accelerating the mission and vision of the Institute for Political Innovation. This mission involves catalyzing action surrounding Politics Industry Theory, both by extending its reach and supporting the passage of Final-Five Voting ballot initiatives and legislation.

The position is primarily responsible for developing and converting a portfolio of major donors and influencers to support election reform through non-profit thought leadership and state ballot and legislative campaigns. This person will bring a deep Rolodex of innovation-minded donors and leaders from different sectors of society (political, business leaders, philanthropy, corporate, etc.) across multiple points on the political spectrum, as well as an innate ability to forge new connections to broaden an organization’s donor pool. The SNA will focus on raising money and leadership for IPI and state-based campaigns through IPI-owned and operated political vehicles and participate in IPI’s wider “leadership raising” efforts to recruit influential individuals and partnerships to drive IPI’s goal of advancing Final-Five Voting election reforms across the country.

The SNA will report to the Executive Director to ensure alignment on strategy and processes, but also work together with the Network Manager, the Founder & Chair, and key consultants toward development goals and in an advisory capacity.

The Senior Network Advisor will be accountable for:
Driving Significant Revenue: Securing six and seven-figure donations towards state-level FFV campaigns while working collaboratively with campaigns and other aligned organizations towards a goal of approximately $100 million by November 2022. This includes working with support staff to ensure timely and effective donor relations and communications. This position will be expected to raise at least $20 million on its own.

Network Growth: Contribute to IPI’s larger National Network effort of building state-based and national coalitions of influential private and public sector leaders to validate and advance Final-Five Voting as an innovative approach to improving governance.

Situational Awareness Monitoring & Counsel: Proactively collecting and interpreting intelligence within, and tangentially related to, the election reform space, and acting on key developments that may impact IPI’s National Network and state campaigns.

The character sketch of the ideal candidate is as follows:
• Established high-level fundraiser who presents powerfully and credibly with top targets.
• Thrives in a relationship-building and relationship-driven environment.
• Views development as both a race to win and a puzzle to solve.
• Mission-driven with a deep desire to make a profound impact on society.
• A natural collaborator and project manager who gravitates toward problem-solving
• A natural proclivity to “manage up” and across organizational structures to ensure their principle(s) is successful.
• A talented speaker, thinker, and writer capable of articulating, debating, and selling an organization’s mission, strategy, business model, and theory of change.
• World-class attention to detail and commitment to follow-through.
• A strong backbone: ability to work at a fast pace and manage coolly through a crisis.
• Intrinsically motivated; a self-starter who seeks out and thrives in fast-paced environments with the highest expectations for accuracy and efficacy.
• Unbreakably organized with demonstrated ability to simultaneously balance deadlines and projects in a fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment.
• Ability to assess opportunities and create systems to execute strategic priorities
• Adept at engaging stakeholders with thorough external relationship management.
• Exhibits a positive attitude and executes tasks with ease and a calm demeanor.
• Willingness to engage at all levels, doing whatever it takes to get the job done.

The qualifications for the ideal candidate are as follows:
• At least 8 years of development experience in non-profit and political fundraising, including at least 4 years of success in raising at least $10 million annually.
• At least 4 years of project management experience.
• Ability to quickly develop subject matter expertise and fluency in complex political policy challenges and solutions.
• Willingness to travel as required for the position.
• English proficiency.
• Able to work legally in the United States.
• Willing to take post-offer pre-employment psychological profile, and, if requested, a drug screen.

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 “Senior Network Advisor” in the subject line.