Director of Innovation and Special Projects


Position Type: Full-time, Salaried, Exempt 


Location: Flexible (Remote); Must be eligible to work in the U.S.


Salary: Starting at $110,000


Closing Date: 03/29/2024


Candidates will be reviewed on a rolling basis. The position will remain open until we have a sufficient pool of diverse candidates who meet the job requirements, at which point we may pause the review of new applications before the stated deadline. Please understand you may not be contacted for several weeks after you apply.  


Ideal Start Date: 2-4 weeks after offer


About the Center for Disaster Philanthropy

CDP began in 2010 with the goal of pioneering the practice of strategic disaster philanthropy. Since then, it has grown in its ambition, envisioning a world where the impact of disasters is minimized through thoughtful, equitable and responsive recovery for all. CDP has a $33 million budget and a team of more than 20 staff members working remotely across the U.S.   


CDP is a trusted partner, expert and authoritative resource helping hundreds of individuals, foundations and corporations boost the impact of philanthropic giving in response to disaster and humanitarian crises by supporting equitable recovery and addressing root causes of vulnerabilities worldwide. 


In 2022, CDP awarded $28.2 million through 117 grants to 99 grantee partners worldwide; demonstrated thought leadership through 15 webinars, 21 external commentaries, 113 blog posts, 43 featured speaking engagements and other events; and served 40 philanthropic partners through consulting efforts. 


  • In 2020, CDP was a featured nonprofit for the 14th Annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.
  • CDP has earned Charity Navigator’s Four-Star Charity rating and Candid’s Platinum Transparency seal.


As an organization grounded in racial and intersectional equity, our team members are deeply committed to strengthening communities most vulnerable to disasters because of systemic inequities. We are guided by our values of integrity, boldness and innovation, humility and empathy in all we do in pursuit of our mission. 


Bottom line: We aspire to walk the talk of anti-racism and to treat each other and our partners in ways that inspire trust, creativity, learning and care. 


Be a part of our fast-growing team that offers countless ways to help communities thrive. Join us!   


Responsibilities & Duties

Over the last few years of CDP’s 13-year history, growth has been exponential. CDP has granted more than $123 million to nearly 700 nonprofits. CDP’s positioning and increased visibility require an enterprise leader to further amplify CDP’s impact by supporting strategic innovation and developing and executing special projects across various functions, teams and work products.


With a new strategic plan that builds on our successes, CDP is seeking an experienced, values-driven Director of Innovation and Special Projects to help lead the development and integration of innovation across our strategic goals and increase CDP’s reputation and thought leadership among target audiences as the go-to expert on equity-centered strategic disaster giving and long-term recovery.


Under the guidance of the vice president (VP) for strategy, innovation and special projects (SISP), the director of innovation and special projects is a new key member of the SISP team who will help set and oversee the strategies, implementation and monitoring of innovation, as well as client-facing special project efforts that promote CDP’s expertise and reputation. This role will lead and support innovation across multiple team and organization-wide functions, including strategy stewardship, research and evaluation, creating educational resources, and supporting consulting services. 


The director of innovation and special projects will help strengthen CDP’s reach, reputation and special projects capacity, encourage an innovative culture of creativity and courage (including courage to try and fail!) across the organization, and enhance processes and practices for continued effectiveness and success.



The successful candidate will display the following traits:

You are a curious, persuasive and collaborative thinker. You provide new and actionable ideas on issues related to philanthropy, disasters and humanitarian crises. You can think strategically to make sense of complex issues. You are a creative problem solver and consistently focus on the essence of an issue and specific opportunities while advancing CDP’s mission and strategic goals.


You are a servant leader who fosters an open and highly equitable environment for colleagues and direct reports. As a member of the strategy, innovation and special projects team, you communicate effectively with members of the team and other internal and external stakeholders, conveying your ideas and proposals in a way that is easy to understand and that inspires action. Your creativity is infectious, and you bring others along with clarity and a willingness to try and learn from both failure and success.



Primary responsibilities include:


  1. Innovation leadership  
  • Work with the VP for SISP to develop and execute an innovation strategy aligned with the organization's goals and mission.
  • Identify emerging trends, technologies and opportunities to drive innovation in disaster philanthropy.
  • Serve as an in-house digital trends and innovation advisor.
  • Act as a resource to foster a culture of creativity, curiosity and continuous improvement within the team and the broader organization.
  • Lead by example and foster a collaborative approach to working within and across teams consistent with CDP’s organizational values and culture.
  • Cultivate and maintain strategic partnerships with external organizations, donors and grantees that enhance innovation capabilities.


2.  Special projects leadership and management:

  • Lead the planning, execution and successful completion of special projects beyond the scope of our standard advisory services, designed to serve donor clients and execute narrative change and shifts to best practice for all CDP-related stakeholders from concept to delivery.
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams to ensure seamless project integration and alignment with organizational objectives and strategy.
  • Incubate/scale special project pilots responsive to philanthropy’s needs in pursuit of more collaborative, coordinated and integrated proximate recovery programs.
  • Monitor and evaluate special project performance against established goals and make necessary adjustments.


3.  Adult learning

  • Design and facilitate state-of-the-art adult learning initiatives and provide this expertise to CDP staff and clients/stakeholders.
  • Support/facilitate ongoing and innovative educational products and training, incorporating the latest adult learning theories and expertise, and help determine the best delivery modalities, including microlearning, face-to-face events, e-learning, etc.
  • Work with the SISP team to develop and organize training materials, multimedia visual aids and other educational materials related to philanthropic giving in disasters globally and nationally.
  • Manage educational project/training logistics related to innovation and special projects for multiple internal and external audiences.


4.  Technology and innovation

  • Act as technology and innovation lead for the team and organization, tracking digital best practices and innovations in disaster/humanitarian contexts and philanthropy.
  • Provide strategic direction, coaching and professional guidance to the team and broader organization on digital trends in disasters, especially around AI and philanthropy.
  • Be an advocate and thought leader for the ethical integration of technology and innovation for the organization and the field of disaster philanthropy.
  • Support strategic plan stewardship with digital innovation appropriately applied.
  • Define key metrics and outcomes for innovation across the digital space that align with CDP business goals.


5.  Organization-wide:  

  • Participate in team/project meetings, staff activities and other special events, including in-person retreats, conferences and convenings.


6.  Other

  • Perform other duties and responsibilities as assigned.


Preferred skills and qualifications:

  • 8+ years of progressive leadership experience in innovation projects related to or within the humanitarian/disaster response industry.
  • Experience working in or alongside philanthropy.
  • Strong understanding of disaster-related trends, emerging technologies and dynamics.
  • Master’s or equivalent education/work experience.
  • 3+ years of experience managing, mentoring and coaching staff.
  • Proven experience leading successful innovation/special projects and engaging and cultivating donor interest and relationships.
  • Ability to manage multiple projects in a deadline-driven environment.
  • Exceptional strategic thinking and problem-solving skills, and ability to think creatively and outside the box.
  • Direct experience working on domestic or international disaster response, either in immediate relief or long-term recovery.
  • Knowledge of and experience implementing adult education techniques for special projects and organizational learning, particularly within a variety of cultural and cross-cultural contexts.
  • Excellent interpersonal, communication, presentation and writing skills. 
  • Ability to effectively synthesize and distill complex information clearly and persuasively to multiple audiences. 
  • Proven ability to work effectively with cross-functional teams in ways that foster collaboration, creativity, autonomy and ownership.
  • Excellent facilitation skills.
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Proficiencies with Microsoft Office suite, specifically Word, Excel and PowerPoint.



  • Commitment to the values intrinsic to CDP’s mission and strategy, including the centrality of local leadership, equity and service to marginalized and vulnerable communities.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Team player.
  • Sense of humor. 
  • Deeply curious and open to learning as well as teaching.
  • Interest and ability in building lasting relationships with clients and colleagues – a natural connector who sustains work opportunities for themselves and others
  • Willing to teach, coach and do hands-on work.


The Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s work environment is safe and open to all employees and partners, respecting the full spectrum of race, color, religious creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, ancestry, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status and all other classifications protected by law in the locality and/or state in which you are working.


We welcome and encourage applicants with non-traditional career paths. If you don’t meet the qualifications outlined here, please apply and tell us how your experiences would equip you for the job.  


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