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Character Lab CEO

Character Lab seeks a leader who can take us to our next level of performance. The CEO will report to our Board of Directors, currently chaired by Luis Von Ahn, founder and CEO of Duolingo. The CEO will also have the support of Angela Duckworth, Character Lab’s co-founder, chief scientist, and board member. This position is open to remote candidates. 

What is Character Lab?

Character Lab is a nonprofit whose mission is to advance scientific insights that help kids thrive. We believe that if every young person had a psychologically wise adult in their life, the world would be a better place—and we believe that scientific insights build the bedrock of psychological wisdom. 

What does Character Lab do now?

Character Lab currently has two core functions. 

First and foremost, we carry out survey and intervention research on healthy adolescent development for behavioral scientists at leading universities (e.g., Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Berkeley). This research is published in top academic journals (e.g., Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Psychological Science, Child Development, the Quarterly Journal of Economics).  Character Lab Research Network is the largest platform of its kind and has made collecting data on adolescents fast—enabling researchers to collect data within weeks of designing a study rather than years—and fruitful (in other words, relevant to real-world challenges in the lives of adolescents). At present, this is about 85% of what we do, both in terms of our budget and our headcount.

Second, we help scientists communicate their insights in jargon-free, actionable language that parents and educators can understand. We share 15 Character Playbooks and a weekly Tip of the Week via characterlab.org, an email newsletter, syndication, and strategic partners. At present, this is about 15% of what we do, both in terms of our budget and head count.

What is Character Lab’s theory of change?

Some parents and teachers are psychologically wise by intuition, but everyone benefits from a scientifically grounded understanding of what young people need to thrive socially, emotionally, and academically. 

Character Lab increases the quantity and quality of research on healthy adolescent development.Here is an illustrative example of our theory of change: Data collected on Character Lab Research Network made possible a 2021 research article entitled “Values-Alignment Messaging Boosts Adolescents’ Motivation to Control Social Media Use” and published in Child Development, the #1 journal in child psychology.  The article’s lead scientist, University of Pittsburgh professor Brian Galla, then penned this Tip of the Week, “Rebel With a Cause,” about helping teens resist the pull of social media.

How big is Character Lab?

At present, our team comprises 26 full-time staff. We were based in Philadelphia before the pandemic but now have a remote-first policy. Most of our team members—almost half of whom live outside of Philadelphia—choose to work at home most days of the week. To learn more, see our Culture Book and more here

Our annual budget is $6.5 million, which to date has been almost entirely raised from philanthropic individuals and foundations. While we have secured funding for the next two years, our aim is to become revenue neutral.

What’s next for Character Lab?

We seek a CEO who will leap at the opportunity to make scientific research on healthy adolescent development even faster and more fruitful.  Within three years, we hope to increase by an order of magnitude the quantity and quality of data on healthy adolescent development. In the long term, with the right leader, the sky’s the limit.

Job requirements

  • Passion for helping all kids thrive using behavioral science—and conviction that our mission advances equity 
  • 5+ years of leadership experience
  • Objective evidence of having previously accomplished something extraordinary
  • Energetic, entrepreneurial mindset; the temperament to move forward aggressively on a bold vision

Our priorities

Our top three priorities for what a successful new CEO will deliver are:

  • Thinker: Define a near-term and medium-term strategy for Character Lab that radically increases the quantity and quality of research on healthy adolescent development 
  • Doer: Implement the strategy at pace. Too many nonprofits are big on vision and small on execution. We need a CEO who understands that implementing the strategy will be 99% of the job and decisions will be 1%.
  • Magnet: Continue to cultivate a top-flight leadership team. We need someone brilliant who will attract and retain people who are even more brilliant. 🙂

Interested?

Send an email, including a CV if possible, to characterlab@russellreynolds.com

Character Lab is an equal opportunity employer. We encourage applicants who identify as Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American, and/or LGBTQ+ to apply for this position.