Education, Operations, Vice President

Vice President of Global Field Operations

  • For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST)
  • Location Flexible

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for ages 4-18 (PreK-12) that can be facilitated in school or in structured afterschool programs. Boosted by a global support system of volunteers, educators, and sponsors that include over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies, teams operate under a signature set of FIRST Core Values to conduct research, fundraise, design, build, and showcase their achievements during annual challenges.

The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

An international not-for-profit organization (501(c)(3)) founded by accomplished inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST has a proven impact on STEM learning, interest, and skill-building well beyond high school. Alumni of FIRST programs gain access to exclusive scholarships, internships, and other opportunities that create connections and open pathways to a wide variety of careers.

FIRST Core Values

The FIRST Core Values emphasize friendly sportsmanship, respect for the contributions of others, teamwork, learning, and community involvement and are part of our commitment to fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion. The FIRST Community expresses the FIRST philosophies of Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® through our Core Values:

  • Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
  • Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
  • Impact:  We apply what we learn to improve our world.
  • Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
  • Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
  • Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!

For more information on FIRST, please visit website.

The Opportunity

The Vice President of Global Field Operations (GFO) is responsible for executing and championing the growth of all FIRST programs worldwide by creating, nurturing and sustaining growth and the coherent delivery of FIRST programs. This position works collaboratively with FIRST Headquarters staff and a network of several hundred Program Delivery Partners (PDPs) and Partner Delivery Organizations (PDOs) to ensure programmatic integrity, financial sustainability and growth in program participation.

The VP of GFO is responsible for providing leadership direction across multiple functions at FIRST Headquarters including Field Operations, Field Development, and School Engagement. The position manages 4 direct reports, ~30 indirect reports, and provides oversight for the global partner network made up of hundreds of partner representatives. This position serves as an officer of the company and has direct responsibility for $3+ million department operating budget, $10+ million fundraising/expense budget, and $1+ million in grantmaking to the partner network.

The ideal candidate will have strong skills in strategic thinking/planning and in managing, leading, and influencing diverse groups of people. They will have demonstrated success in running major operations and driving toward ambitious goals.

The VP of GFO reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer of FIRST and plays a critical role as a key member the FIRST Executive Leadership team.

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Oversee and facilitate the establishment, development, and continuous improvement of sustainable, growth-oriented, coherent program delivery in each territory (states, countries, etc.) where FIRST operates.
  • Oversee the implementation of a multi-year initiative to improve organizational structure, financial models and business processes to achieve more sustainable, growth-oriented, and coherent delivery of FIRST programs.
  • Develop and implement strategies that enable FIRST to expand its reach and impact, by growing the number of teams, student participants, school districts and communities in which young people have access to the full progression of FIRST programs and where they are encouraged to progress from program to program as they grow up.
  • Play an active role in annual forecasting, price reviews, and development of new financial/business models.
  • Oversee and support the FIRST headquarters staff who select and manage local partners and partner organizations, who in turn serve as key leaders within each region where FIRST programs operate.
  • Support and facilitate the development of state, regional, or country-based management (Operational) and Board-level committees, the latter of which include well-connected and influential leaders from industry, education, government, and the community willing to engage in fundraising efforts and activities and to develop goals and strategies to expand FIRST programs (PK-12) within the territory.
  • Develop benchmarking techniques and forums for sharing of “best” practices amongst and between regions and partner organizations.
  • Ensure that FIRST headquarters-managed events and personnel are appropriately funded through a combination of both local and HQ-led support.
  • Work cross-functionally with all other HQ functions to ensure that all FIRST stakeholders (participants, coaches, mentors, volunteers, alumni, sponsors, staff etc.) have a consistent, high-quality, impactful experience while participating in FIRST programs or events.
  • Provide a leadership voice and presence both within and outside the FIRST community to support federal, state, and local advocacy, sponsor development, and school and school district adoption of FIRST programs.
  • Represent field interests at FIRST Headquarters to ensure that we develop better tools to support common needs.
  • Interface with, engage, and provide updates to members of the Board of Directors as needed.
Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:

  • Passion for the mission of FIRST
  • 5+ years in senior-management roles, ideally in both for-profit and non-profit or educational environments
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and manage effective teams in a fast-paced, complex, non-profit environment
  • Significant experience in budget development and scenario planning
  • Experience building relationships and engaging with community and education leaders, high-level donors, passionate volunteers, and local Boards and partner organizations
  • Excellent problem solving, coaching, and conflict-resolution skills
  • Ability to help implement programs in new and unique locales
  • Adept at overseeing and executing strategic projects with significant visibility and impact
  • Possess the executive presence and interpersonal skills to work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds and effect change through influence
  • Flexibility to travel frequently (30+% of time), including some international travel
  • Experience executing legal documents and agreements, such as Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) and other significant contracts         

In addition, strong candidates will offer:

  • Master’s degree in Business, Management or Organizational Development
  • Experience with FIRST or other STEM-related youth engagement programs
  • Demonstrated Board liaison experience
  • Experience working in a nationally or internationally scaled organization or environment
  • Experience fostering equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM/technology fields
  • Solid understanding or experience selling to or engaging with schools or school districts
  • Event planning/management experience
Compensation & Benefits

The salary range for this position is $142,500-$237,500. New staff members typically start between the range minimum and midpoint ($190,000) based on qualifications, experience, and internal equity. FIRST offers a comprehensive benefits package in addition to salary. 


Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume to Erin Reedy and Shannon O’Neill here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, genetic information, disability, age, religion/creed, and military/veteran status in its programs and activities.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part of Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

For more information about Koya Partners, visit

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