Executive Director

GI Research Foundation |

Who We Are:
The GI Research Foundation (GIRF) is a non-profit 501(c)3 dedicated to supporting the physicians and scientists at the University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center in their efforts to provide outstanding care, train future leaders and perform innovative clinical and laboratory research in order to treat, cure, and prevent digestive diseases.

Organizational History:
In 1961, two Chicago businessmen, Martin N. Sandler and Joseph E. Valenti, Sr., joined Dr. Joseph B. Kirsner in establishing the Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation. In the early 1960s, GIRF hosted their inaugural dinner, published the GIRF newsletter and launched a Women’s Division.

In the late 1960s GIRF initiated an “equipment program,” which identified important pieces of medical research equipment that could be purchased by individual members in support of the research. The Center for the Study of Digestive Diseases at the University of Chicago was established, the results of which include an immunology laboratory. In the 1980s, the construction of the Joseph B. Kirsner Center was completed and GIRF contributed $500,000 over a three-year period to develop a new research program on the biology of the intestinal epithelium called The Cell-Tech Research Program. In the early 1990s, GIRF established a research facility to investigate the scientific aspects of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and the Associates Board began raising funds to support young investigators’ research in digestive diseases.

In the late 1990s, GIRF accepted the challenge of developing a research program on the genetics of inflammatory bowel disease. As a result, the first gastroenterology DNA research lab was established where Dr. Judy Cho was responsible for the studies that led to the discovery of the first gene known to be responsible for Crohn’s disease. In the 2000s, GIRF raised over $7 million dollars for equipment and laboratories to further GI research.

Position Overview:
After almost 60 years of growth, GIRF now seeks a visionary, entrepreneurial and innovative operations professional for the position of Executive Director.

Under the leadership of a seasoned, dedicated and talented board of directors, the Executive Director is responsible for financial oversight, the management of daily operations and designing a strategy for sustainable growth.

This unique career-building opportunity to lead the foundation through a strategic planning effort, oversee day to day operations and financial management, grow a team and partner with a motivated and committed board of directors is designed for an experienced nonprofit leader with proven success in operational oversight.

Competitive salary and benefits package available.

Please send resume, cover letter and salary expectations to laura@givingtreeassociates.com.

Required Qualifications, Characteristics and Skill Sets:

  • Minimum of 8+ years non-profit leadership experience with at least 3 years of supervisory experience and board development/volunteer management experience.
  • Bachelor’s degree (master’s degree preferred) in social sciences, nonprofit management or related field.
  • Proven financial management skills, including the ability to analyze data for budgeting, operations, and auditing.
  • Track record of success in focusing on strategic objectives and translating the priorities into successful short and long term results for the organization.
  • Sound judgment, high personal and professional standards and respect for confidentiality.
  • Self-starter with experience managing multiple projects concurrently; comfortable working autonomously.
  • Highly motivated, goal oriented, organized, detailed, collaborative, creative and persistent.
  • Proficient use of Microsoft Office Suite and financial software.
  • Superior written and verbal communications skills.


  • Experience in the higher education or healthcare sectors.
  • Informed interest in gastro-intestinal research and/or other health sciences.
  • Knowledge of the pharmaceutical sector.
  • Experience with fundraising software.


  • Strategy and Vision:
    • Collaborate with the Board of Directors in creating and solidifying the organization’s vision, strategic plan and positioning; serve as a thought partner to leadership and staff.
    • Assess the organization’s performance on an ongoing basis, enabling and promoting a culture of learning, continuous change and the drive to capitalize on emerging opportunities.
  • Operations and People:
    • Effectively manage human resources according to personnel policies and procedures that conform to current laws and regulations. Including but not limited to hiring and overseeing contractors, developing position descriptions, providing supervision and support to the foundation’s administrative assistant, and identifying and overseeing the employee benefits package.
    • Assess and oversee office space requirements.
    • Implement internal systems and processes to drive efficiency, effectiveness, collaboration and continuous improvement.
    • Evaluate fundraising software options and oversee the purchase and transition to a donor database.
    • Work in partnership with the board of directors to support the foundation’s vision; support board and committee leadership as needed.
  • Financial Management:
    • Recommend annual budget for board approval and prudently manage foundation’s resources within budget guidelines and according to current laws and regulations.
    • Oversee all accounting and tax functions, including those necessary for auditing, budgeting, bookkeeping and general ledger maintenance, financial analysis, and payroll in accordance with generally accepted accounting principals.
  • Community and Public Relations:
    • Work in partnership with the foundation’s outsourced PR and Marketing contractor to develop a communications strategy.
    • Serve as the primary professional spokesperson and liaison to the University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center, medical advisors, partner organizations, and community groups.
    • Build new collaborative relationships and provide strategic vision to the development of new partnerships and growth opportunities.
  • Fundraising:
    • Work to expand the foundation’s donor base; oversee entry and mid-level giving programs.
    • Support the work of the Director of Major Gifts; provide administrative assistance and data/reporting as needed.
    • Develop individual portfolio of mid-level donors; cultivate, solicit and steward donors according to the foundation’s fundraising strategy.
    • Oversee/manage all fundraising events, including all ball-related committee work and the work of the foundation’s event planning contractor.

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