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Chief Racial Equity Officer

Req ID: 8004
Location: Chicago - Loop
# of Openings: 1
FT/PT: Full time
Employment Type: Regular
Salary Schedule:
Job Notes:


Job Title: Chief Racial Equity Officer



Heartland Alliance is one of the world’s leading anti-poverty organizations, working in communities in the U.S. and abroad while serving those who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety, by partnering with communities to break cycles of poverty and inequality. The organization is comprised of five nonprofit corporations that provide a comprehensive array of services in the areas of health, housing, economic opportunity, safety, and justice. Additionally, the organization leads state and national policy efforts that target lasting change for individuals and society.

Heartland Alliance envisions equity and opportunity for all, and this is reflected in our values. Understanding the specific impact of race and racism on our participants and staff, Heartland Alliance is committed to promoting antiracism and being an exemplar of anti-racist organizations actively working against racism in systems, culture, practices, and experiences. This commitment set into motion the formation of two Anti-Racism Committees (ARC) at the Board and staff levels to guide the organization in advancing our long-term commitment in three priority areas:

  1. Adapting internal systems, policies and practices
  2. Prioritizing learning and development
  3. Advancing strategies for racial equity and justice

To lead this work, Heartland Alliance seeks its next Chief Racial Equity Officer (CREO). 

The CREO reports to Heartland Alliance’s President and provides strategic and consultative leadership to implement, evaluate, and communicate organizational progress towards becoming an explicitly anti-racist organization in close collaboration with the Alliance Leadership Team (ALT) and Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO).

The CREO functions as a resource for advice and expertise to our teams and leaders under the leadership of the President and will build the organization’s infrastructure and capacity to sustain the racial equity body of work.

The CREO engages internal and external partners to create an inclusive environment in which diverse lived experiences and perspectives are celebrated and leveraged to tackle racist systems, policies, and practices and foster racial equity.  

The ideal candidate will be a values-driven leader with the passion and drive to help advance Heartland’s anti-racism ambition and lead the journey to achieve it. The candidate will be energetic, compassionate, flexible, collaborative, creative, courageous, data-driven, and proactive – a leader who can positively and productively guide transformative change. Individual accountabilities and work volume will be established through the development of annual success objectives within the framework outlined below.


Strategy and Organization Development (approximately 60%) In collaboration with the ALT and CHRO, implement, monitor, and evaluate the organization’s existing integrated strategy and associated plan that advances racial equity across the enterprise. The plan’s specific goals and targets will translate priorities into action plans that further Heartland’s journey towards becoming an anti-racist organization.

  • Provide strategic consultation and technical assistance to all companies, divisions, and departments to guide implementation efforts, and identify and resolve barriers to success in racial equity programming and service delivery, public policy, learning and development, and internal systems, policies, and practices.
  • In collaboration with the ALT and program leadership across the enterprise, ensure that policy and advocacy efforts, and participant-facing programs are advancing anti-racism in the communities they serve.
  • Serve as a center of expertise and advice for leaders across the enterprise. Share advice and guidance on the best approaches to shape programs and other activities to support anti-racism goals and objectives.
  • Raise the level of communication internally on topics related to anti-racism and advancing our goals. Advise and coach key leaders on how best to reinforce key messages in their own formal and informal communications.
  • In close collaboration with Human Resources, align organizational baseline data with industry and organizational targets and benchmarks and support equity impact assessments and audits.
  • In collaboration with the ALT and CHRO, create dashboards to continuously monitor, analyze, and report progress and challenges.
  • Oversee data analyses to inform decision-making, communications, and resource development to include process and quality improvement, professional development, fund development, and change management.
  • Work closely with Marketing and Communications and other enterprise leaders to advise and partner on anti-racism-related external communications, including coordination of information for annual reports, scorecards, surveys, and other public-facing communications including the Heartland Alliance website.
  • Work closely with Marketing and Communications and other enterprise leaders to advise and partner on anti-racism-related internal communications, including promoting staff training and support, announcing new policies and practices, acknowledging historical events, milestones, and timely news events, and communicating progress on the strategic goals.
  • Staff Board committees focused on anti-racism; and present at and/or participate in Board meetings and Committees, as needed.
  • Serve as subject matter expert and support proposal development, reporting, and donor cultivation.

Program Development (approximately 20%)

  • Lead the Anti-Racism Committee (ARC) and any other representative staff groups to help implement, educate, communicate, and embody anti-racism commitment.
  • Work closely with HR to define internal education programs’ objectives and act as an expert resource to support enterprise-wide anti-racism learning.
  • Lead select racial equity strategic initiatives at the enterprise level.
  • As needed, develop and staff internal working groups to support the implementation of enterprise-wide racial equity initiatives.
  • Partner with working groups and consultants to build internal capacity and capability of staff and board members to promote and model anti-racism.
  • Work collaboratively with the President, CFAO, and CHRO to develop annual budgets to support the implementation of the anti-racism strategy.
  • Source consultants as needed to advance racial equity priorities, and serve as a strategic thought partner, subject matter expert, and primary contact for consultants.

Community Development (approximately 20%)

  • Stay abreast of research and best practices in anti-racism and ensure alignment with the racial equity strategic framework.
  • Cultivate and deepen key community partnerships with community members and non-profits committed to racial equity work.
  • Participate in community equity collaborations on behalf of Heartland Alliance.
  • Contribute to the overall success of Heartland Alliance by performing all other duties and responsibilities as assigned.


  • Engage directly with Heartland’s top leadership in building their capability to drive the culture change required to achieve our anti-racism goals.
  • Activate the strategic action plans and drive measurable progress in expressing our deep global commitment to anti-racism, including a clearly articulated mission, guiding principles, goals and priorities for the next 3+ years.
  • Lead and expand internal and external communications and platforms and raise engagement on anti-racism efforts and platforms.


  • Diversity & Inclusion Experience/Expertise:  7+ years of proven experience in designing and leading successful Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion programs either as a consultant or internally. Extensive experience with strategy development and change management preferred.
  • Professional Services Experience: Minimum of 5 years of experience in consulting, operations management, and/or human capital strategy development.
  • C-Suite Exposure:  Demonstrated experience successfully engaging with senior executives and leadership teams (C-suite level).
  • Global Mindset:  Experience in working across borders with an acute appreciation for cultural differences.


Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s degree preferred.


Strategic Agility

  • Sets a vision and creates strategies in the midst of a complex, uncertain, and changing environment
  • Thinks big picture to make long-term decisions
  • Thinks innovatively to improve processes and services
  • Inspires innovative thinking and helps the organization adapt to change and face adversity
  • Synthesizes data and inputs efficiently, focusing only on selecting effective and strategic outcomes given limited resources


  • Delivers honest, clear, persuasive, and timely information
  • Collects (i.e., actively listens) and synthesizes information
  • Communicates in an inclusive and respectful way
  • Communicates appropriately and effectively in written and verbal form to various stakeholders (e.g. participants, staff, partners, funders)
  • Represents HA externally with the power to inspire and influence others 

Teamwork & Collaboration

  • Engages diverse perspectives in order to establish a common ground and work towards solutions
  • Responsive and encouraging of others’ involvement and insights
  • Solicits and considers the thoughts, ideas, and diverse perspectives of others even when unconventional or untested
  • Addresses conflict and leverages differences to create mutually beneficial solutions
  • Understands team dynamics; recognizes the importance of building the right team
  • Committed to the team; focuses on group accountability

Managerial Courage

  • Challenges group-think and creates an environment welcoming diverse perspectives
  • Identifies, diffuses, and rectifies unethical, unsafe, or uncomfortable situations
  • Engages in courageous communication and critical thinking to balance differing views across teams and the organization
  • Manages challenging situations and conflicts in a professional manner even if it requires an unpopular stance
  • Understands when and how to say no; establishes and holds boundaries

Talent Development

  • Builds capacity of future leaders and empowers teams
  • Leverages unique backgrounds, experiences and strengths to develop a cohesive team and create an inclusive environment
  • Manages employees with understanding and empathy (i.e. displays emotional intelligence)
  • Supports employees’ well-being by understanding and working to address work stress and vicarious trauma
  • Provides timely feedback that is authentic, direct, and actionable

Physical Demands: The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk and hear.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand, sit and walk.
  • The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 10 pounds.


  • 15 SICK DAYS


Heartland Alliance makes all hiring and employment decisions, and operates all programs, services, and functions without regard to race, receipt of an order of protection, creed, color, age, gender, gender identity, marital or parental status, religion, ancestry, national origin, amnesty, physical or mental disability, protected veterans status, genetic information, sexual orientation, immigrant status, political affiliation or belief, use of FMLA, VESSA, military, and family military rights, ex-offender status (depending on the offense and position to be filled), unfavorable military discharge, membership in an organization whose primary purpose is the protection of civil rights or improvement of living conditions and human relations, height, weight, or HIV infection, in accord with the organization's AIDS Policy Statement of September 1987.

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