Forum Executive Director

Job description

Hyde Park Campus

35390 Harris Sch Pub Policy

About the Unit
The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts

Job Information

Job Summary:

The Forum Executive Director leads and manages the events function for The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. This position reports to The Reverend Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies and Faculty Director, The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts ('Institute Director'). The Executive Director designs, plans and executes events that highlight the Institute's mission, engages its stakeholders, and enhances its reputation as a leading research institute.

In particular, the Forum Executive Director will focus on major outward-facing, externally-focused events that highlight the research of the Institute and engage Pearson Faculty and Faculty Affiliates with policy makers and practitioners. Two primary events in which the Forum Executive Director will play a leading role are the Paths to Peace conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland (planned for August 22-24, 2018) and the inaugural Pearson Global Forum (planned for October 4-5, 2018). The Forum Executive Director will produce an outstanding conference that is well attended and which attracts widespread positive awareness and interest from the public policy and academic communities and the international news media. This Forum Executive Director will be a critical member of The Pearson Institute staff and will help highlight the tremendous work being done at the Institute and share it with external audiences.

This Forum Executive Director will work closely with the faculty and staff of The Pearson Institute to advance the research of the Institute and increase visibility of the Institute in the greater Chicago area and around the world. Additionally, this role will coordinate closely with events colleagues at the Harris School of Public Policy and across campus to coordinate event planning, timelines, and execution.

The Forum Executive Director position will be full time through November 30, 2018. It may be extended at that time based on mutual agreement.


Lead the strategic planning of major Pearson Institute externally-facing events:

  • Work with Pearson faculty and staff to understand and solidify the objectives of the events, provide strategic plans to execute the event
  • Establish goals of events and provide input or feedback on content and types of programming based on needs
  • Facilitate planning sessions, when needed, to solidify event programming, establish event details, and identify and engage stakeholders
  • Advise on program format to ensure events are engaging and effective
  • Provide leadership, direction and approval in performance of the details of event production, with emphasis on high standards, attention to detail, protocol, and etiquette
  • Ensure seamless coordination with Harris Public Policy, the Office of the Provost, and other key partners across campus
  • Develop and track a project plan for the event preparation and day-of execution and provide operational direction to ensure all aspects of the event remain on track
  • Create a detailed timeline for each stage of the event and preparation
  • Communicate with Pearson faculty and staff frequently during event planning and execution in order to understand and meet the needs of all stakeholders
  • Facilitate discussions and decisions about key event requirements to ensure all key stakeholders align to event details and plans
  • At semi-annual meetings of the Advisory Council, provide an overview of current activities

Oversee execution and day-to-day operation of all major externally-facing Pearson events:
  • Develop timelines for planning and day-of-event activities, and oversee the planning and execution of logistics (e.g., facility selection, menu planning, transportation arrangements, and audio/visual equipment) for organization meetings and special events
  • Track and review event preparation activities that include but are not restricted to:
  • Negotiation of contracts with vendors and coordination of vendor services such as catering, entertainment, and custodial services, to ensure that all event needs are met
  • Review and approval of marketing and communication materials such as brochures, booklets, invitations, and website and social media announcements
  • Management of RSVPs and other attendant responses as well as post event follow-up (thank- you notes, audio-visual recording distribution, etc.)
  • Selection of venue facilities and development of appropriate floor plans
  • Transportation and parking arrangement
  • Implementation of check-in procedures and attendance tracking options
  • Resolve any issues and/or conflicts that arise during the planning stages or the course of the events
  • Create contingency plans and implement solutions for any unexpected changes or issues that arise
  • Troubleshoot technical issues
  • Monitor and evaluate the performance of the vendors
  • Ensure implementation of event objectives are in compliance with University policies, procedures and standards

Oversee and manage vendor selection, contract negotiation, and relationship management:
  • Identify and select vendors to meet event needs.
  • Negotiate terms and pricing, and finalize contracts with vendors
  • Build, manage and improve relationships with vendors and service providers


The Pearson Institute seeks a highly skilled events professional with excellent credentials and experience, such as experience organizing academic, public policy, or other large conferences; colloquia; symposia; awards programs; or similar activities. This position requires significant experience organizing complex, multi-day events that involve multiple locations, executive-level speakers and guests and media.
  • Professional demeanor, including tact, discretion, and a customer service-oriented approach to the job
  • Experience working with senior executives, dignitaries, and/or public officials required
  • Ability to execute events and meetings within an established budget
  • Strong verbal and writing skills, high attention to detail and follow-up, and excellent organizational skills
  • Ability to multi-task and handle multiple priorities and constituents simultaneously and demonstrate grace under pressure when handling challenging or unexpected situations
  • Ability to deliver high quality results in a dynamic environment
  • Ability to work collegially and collaboratively in a team setting
  • An exceptional work ethic and track record of personal initiative
  • Willingness and ability to travel, work some evenings and weekends required

Additional Requirements

Education, Experience or Competencies:

  • Bachelor's degree or higher required

  • A minimum of 10-15 years of progressively responsible experience in event planning and meeting management, particularly with executive level events, required
  • Experience managing events with international delegates preferred

Technical Knowledge or Skills:
  • Working knowledge and experience with Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Eventbrite, and MailChimp
  • Familiarity with higher education environment and knowledge of the University of Chicago's unique culture is a plus

Required Documents:
  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • References

NOTE: When applying, all required documents MUST be uploaded under the Resume/CV section of the application.

Benefit Eligibility

Pay Frequency

Pay Range
Depends on Qualification

Scheduled Weekly Hours


Job is Exempt?

Drug Test Required?

Does this position require incumbent to operate a vehicle on the job?

Health Screen Required?

Posting Date

Remove from Posting On or Before

Posting Statement:

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination.

Staff Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-5800 or submit a request via Applicant Inquiry Form.

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Full time

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Job No:
Posted: 5/15/2018
Application Due: 7/12/2018
Work Type: