Chief Financial Officer

American Institutes for Research   Arlington, VA   Full-time     Finance
Posted on September 18, 2023
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Search for Chief Financial Officer

American Institutes for Research

Arlington, Virginia


This position is based in the United States and the CFO must be able to travel as needed.

The selected candidate can work out of any of AIR’s U.S. offices or work remotely.




The American Institute for Research (AIR), one of the world's largest independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit research institutions, is seeking a Chief Financial Officer (CFO). This is an exceptional opportunity for a proven financial leader to make a lasting impact on a pre-eminent institution whose mission is to generate and apply evidence to contribute to a better, more equitable world.


Established in 1946 and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, the American Institutes for Research conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance and capacity building services in the U.S. and internationally in health, education, human services, workforce development, and social and community development. Its roster of clients and stakeholders, includes federal, state, regional, and local government and organizations, foundations, and AIR’s own Equity Initiative, a five-year, $100M+ investment in behavioral and social science research and technical assistance to address the underlying causes of systemic inequities and to increase opportunities for people and  communities.


The new CFO will join AIR at an important moment.  In January 2024, AIR will welcome its seventh CEO, Dr. Jessica Heppen, a nationally recognized expert in education policy and practice, and the first woman to serve as AIR’s CEO in the institution’s 75-year history.  With revenues of $350 million, a quasi-endowment of $700 million, a staff of 1800 and 14 offices across the US and the globe, AIR has never been stronger.  The CFO, who will report to President Heppen and work closely with the Board of Directors, will play a critical role in continuing to drive AIR’s financial success as the institution continues to expand research capabilities in the US and internationally to fulfill its mission in an increasingly complex world.  They will also be the liaison to AIR’s Audit, Finance, Investment, and M&A Board committees, and oversee a staff of over 100 and six direct reports including the vice president for contracts and grants, the chief investment officer, controller, and program finance lead.


For this critical position, AIR is seeking a forward-looking finance professional who can provide strategic thinking, vision, and innovation to critical business and finance efforts that further AIR’s mission and goals. The CFO will lead and manage the financial operations of the institution including: AIR’s financial accounting and reporting functions, its quasi-endowment/quasi-foundation resources, cost accounting and management, business planning, management reporting and analysis, corporate finance and treasury management, mergers and acquisitions, risk management, contracts and grants, and performance management. The CFO will also represent AIR and serve as a visible leader in meetings with clients, staff, partners, and stakeholders, as appropriate. They will be a champion for AIR’s strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and will serve as the executive sponsor of one or more AIR’s eight Employee Resource Groups related to staff engagement, growth, and DEI.  Creating a workplace where employees are inspired, supported, encouraged, and valued is critical.

The successful candidate will be a skilled relationship builder, customer-focused, and data-driven leader. They must be a financial expert, good listener, and strong collaborator to AIR researchers and thought leaders. The new CFO will bring an inclusive and facilitative leadership style that inspires and empowers staff, encourages open communication and collaboration throughout AIR, and supports innovation. Working with talented and dedicated finance staff, as well as leaders across the institution, the CFO will create and develop forecasts and long-term financial planning processes and analyses. They will be an innovative change agent who can lead in a complex environment, while exercising an appropriate level of risk tolerance, particularly as they engage with leadership to steward AIR’s resources. The CFO will also be responsible for a holistic review of all financial systems, procedures, and policies via a process that identifies operational efficiencies and enhances financial operations and systems to support AIR’s ambitious goals. Experience with international business operations will be a plus.  Candidates must have demonstrated experience as a financial leader at an organization with an annual operating budget of at least $250M. Experience with the financial aspects of government contracts is required.

AIR has retained the national executive search firm Isaacson, Miller, to conduct this search. All inquiries, nominations/referrals, and applications (including resume and letters of interest responding to the requirements outlined in the position profile) should be submitted via Isaacson, Miller’s website:


Daniel Rodas, Partner

Gail Gregory, Managing Associate

Isaacson, Miller