Executive Director

The Organization

School on Wheels, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the educational needs of students experiencing homelessness in Southern California. Founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired schoolteacher, who understood the vital importance of education to these students, it was then and remains today the only organization dedicated exclusively to serving the educational needs of this fragile population.

The mission of School on Wheels is to enhance educational opportunities for children without homes from Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade by providing programs and services designed to shrink the gaps in their education and provide them with the highest level of education possible. Student support includes weekly one-on-one tutoring, school supplies, assistance in entering school and locating student records, scholarships, a learning center in the heart of Skid Row, and guidance to parents on educational matters. School on Wheels programs provide a consistent support system to students at a time in their lives of great stress and fear and a tangible demonstration that they are cared about and valued.


Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director is responsible for leading the organization toward the consistent achievement of its vision, mission, strategy, values, goals and objectives. School on Wheels employs a staff of 30 – 35, comprised of a mix of employees and independent contractors, and oversees the tender love and care of over 3,500 students experiencing homelessness and the 2,500 volunteers dedicated to their educational needs.

Major responsibilities include:

Vision, Mission and Strategy – Assure that School on Wheels has a long-range strategy to further its mission through high quality and effective programs.

  • Provide motivational and visionary leadership to ensure that the organization’s policies, procedures and activities are congruent with its mission and vision.
  • Define the strategic direction of School on Wheels by leading strategic planning processes to ensure the organization’s ability to successfully fulfill its mission into the future.
  • Develop and oversee the development and implementation of annual programs and plans reflecting organizational and program priorities  in collaboration with the Board and Leadership Team.
  • Ensure programmatic excellence, rigorous program evaluation, and consistent program quality.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of School on Wheels’ programs and services on a regular basis.

Fundraising and Donor Relations — Serve as the primary spokesperson and advocate for School on Wheels by clearly articulating its programs and impact on the community.

  • Ensure adequate funding is in place to meet School on Wheels’ mission, programs and organizational goals.
  • Take an active role in identifying and cultivating new funding sources and actively engage and energize current funders and new funding sources.
  • Establish and maintain positive working relationships among donors, public and private grantors and foundations.
  • Work with grant writer to research, manage and submit grant proposals and reports to foundations and organizations.
  • Together with the Executive Board and Director of Development & Marketing, lead individual major donor cultivation and stewardship and meet with major funders and prospective donors.

Organizational –Build and lead staff to strengthen and support School on Wheels’ programmatic, financial, and operational goals.

  • Promote a culture that reflects School on Wheels’ values and create a positive work environment designed to attract, retain and motivate a diverse, talented staff.
  • Lead, coach, develop and motivate a high-performing Leadership Team.
  • Provide oversight of operational functions including program development, management and administration, financial management, community relations, fund development, human resource management, volunteer leadership, facilities management, and infrastructure growth.
  • Ensure smooth day-to-day operations through the Leadership Team and management staff.

Executive Board — Work with the Board to fulfill the organization’s mission and effectively measure and evaluate its success.

  • Facilitate the work of the Board by communicating regularly and providing, in a timely and accurate manner, any and all information necessary for the Board to function properly and to make informed decisions.
  • Develop funding priorities in accordance with the School on Wheels’ strategic plan.
  • Recommend new policies, programs and action plans consonant with the vision of the organization, and execute all policies and decisions of the Board.
  • Support the Board in fulfilling its governance and fundraising function.

Program Management – Oversee the development and implementation of programs and plans in collaboration with the Board and Leadership Team.

  • Develop annual plans reflecting organizational and program priorities in collaboration with the Leadership Team.
  • Ensure programmatic excellence, rigorous program evaluation, and consistent program quality.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of School on Wheels’ programs and services on a regular basis.

Financial Management and Reporting – Lead the development of budgets for submission to the Board, provide appropriate control and accountability of assets, manage expenses, and oversee timely and accurate financial reporting.

  • Ensure overall financial well being of School on Wheels by developing both annual and strategic (three-year) budgets to present to the Board for approval.
  • Provide guidance to staff in developing and monitoring budgets.
  • Monitor, manage and report income and expenditures to ensure adequate cash flow throughout the year, and develop monthly and quarterly financial reports.
  • Prepare and present financial ‘year-in-review’ to the Board and staff.
  • Coordinate annual independent review/audit and present results to the Board.

Community Engagement – Serve as the School on Wheels spokesperson to increase visibility and ensure the organization and its mission, programs and services are consistently presented in a strong, positive manner.

  • Develop and maintain relationships with other nonprofit leaders to enable opportunities to partner with other organizations that can assist in meeting School on Wheels’ needs
  • Represent School on Wheels at coalitions, conferences and on committees.
  • Provide leadership and contribute to policymaking at local and national levels. Initiate and lead the process of determining organizational priorities in influencing policies.
  • Develop and implement successful outreach programs that work to engage a broader regional constituency.

Desired Characteristics and Traits

Leading candidates will demonstrate the following set of characteristics and personal traits.

Outstanding Leader
The candidate must possess exceptional leadership and organizational development skills, with the ability to successfully advance School on Wheels’ mission and guide all levels of the organization through a changing environment. The Executive Director must be a charismatic, hands-on manager with strong follow-through skills, who is not afraid to roll up her or his sleeves.

Exceptional Fundraiser
Because School on Wheels receives a substantial portion of its support from loyal donors, the Executive Director must play a highly visible leadership role in the organization’s fundraising efforts. Candidates must have a demonstrated knowledge of fund development and fundraising strategies and have experience working with a variety of funding sources. The successful candidate must inspire confidence among longtime financial partners and supporters and the ability to attract new donors.

Board Relationships
The ideal candidate will be able to demonstrate past success working with a Board of Directors and the ability to cultivate existing board member relationships.

Inspirational Communicator
The successful candidate will possess exceptional interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate, advocate, influence, and motivate external and internal constituents to support the work of the organization and further its mission. Must be able to represent School on Wheels in the highest manner and exemplify the organization’s values, integrity and ethics.

Critical Thinker and Strategist
The candidate must be a strategic thinker, capable of guiding and building upon the organization’s continuing success in a complex, evolving social, volunteering and educational landscape. The Executive Director will be a creative and entrepreneurial leader who tracks external change, evaluates opportunities, and skillfully guides the organization through adaptation and innovation.

Active Community Leader
The Executive Director will serve as a respected, visible, and influential leader in the community. Extending awareness and support for School on Wheels, the Executive Director will create and promote strong collaborations with partnering institutions and agencies in the region.

Career Path Leading to this Position

The successful candidate will have at least ten years of nonprofit management experience, five or more at the senior management level, with demonstrated success in fundraising, strategic planning, organizational development, and nonprofit governance. Typically, these skills and knowledge are the result of a combination of formal education in business, nonprofit management, or related area, and several years of experience in increasingly responsible management positions. The ideal candidate will have a track record of effectively leading and scaling a performance- and outcomes-based organization and staff, and be able to point to specific examples of having developed and operationalized strategies that have taken an organization to the next stage of growth.

Prior experience working with volunteers, homeless or disadvantaged youth is highly valued. While we anticipate that many candidates will have experience leading organizations, senior-level leaders who aspire to be Executive Director will also be considered.

A bachelor’s degree is required.

Annual compensation will be competitive and relocation assistance, if needed, is negotiable. A comprehensive benefits package will be provided.

To Apply:
Please direct inquiries, nominations, and applications, including resume and a letter of interest in confidence to: employment [at] schoolonwheels.org

School on Wheels is an equal opportunity employer. Applications are evaluated on the basis of job qualifications and not race, sex, color, disability, national origin, religion, creed, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, citizenship or authorized alien status, or veteran status, or any other basis protected by law.