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President & Chief Executive Officer

The Center for Democracy and Technology and CDT Europe (collectively, CDT) are champions of online civil liberties and human rights. For 25 years CDT has worked to ensure that the Internet empowers, emboldens and equalizes people around the world. Today CDT is squarely at the heart of societal debates about online speech, privacy, security, and the role of technology in people’s lives. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, CDT champions policies, laws, and technical designs that empower people to use technology for good – while protecting against invasive, discriminatory, and exploitive uses of these powerful new tools.  

CDT is also a convener, bringing together diverse stakeholders and thought leaders to find innovative and practical solutions to the policy challenges surrounding the Internet. It provides leadership and advocacy to help shape public policy and industry best practices, while providing a forum for dialogue.

CDT is governed by an independent Board of Directors, and its work is led by a team of experts with a deep knowledge of policy issues pertaining to the Internet and emerging technologies. Its staff, drawn from government, private enterprise, and the non-profit worlds, translates complex policy into action.  CDT receives support from a wide range of philanthropic foundations, companies, and individuals. Financial supporters have no role in decision-making regarding policy.

Headquartered in Washington, DC, with an international presence in Brussels, CDT works across sectors and across the political spectrum worldwide to find tangible solutions to today’s most pressing Internet policy challenges.  It has an annual budget of more than $6M and a staff of approximately 30.

CDT has spent the last 25 years advocating for groundbreaking legislation, winning landmark court cases, building diverse coalitions, and promoting industry standards and best practices.  CDT’s work has never been more important. 

CDT now seeks a President and Chief Executive Officer to lead the organization and further its mission to put democracy and individual rights at the center of the digital revolution.

The Role

Based in Washington, DC, and reporting to the Board of Directors, the President and CEO has ultimate responsibility and is accountable for management of the strategic, programmatic, and financial operations of the organization.  In collaboration with the Board of Directors and staff, the President and CEO will play an instrumental role in amplifying the organization’s commitment and impact by driving strategic initiatives consistent with CDT’s mission.

The President and CEO will:

  • Lead a complex advocacy organization that sets the course for groundbreaking legislation, builds winning coalitions, and promotes industry standards and practices in the relentless pursuit of an Internet that continues to be an open platform for freedom and innovation;
  • Provide deep intellectual leadership, fostering an environment for diversity, creativity, and expertise among CDT staff;
  • Continue to grow and globalize the organization, and its programs and staff, through initiatives committed to a nonpartisan concern for the public interest;
  • Weave CDT’s programs (current and future) into a cohesive and ambitious strategic vision;
  • Engage with senior policy makers on a regular basis and communicate CDT’s mission and vision for the Internet to wide audiences of stakeholders at the state, federal and international level;
  • Drive institutional advancement and resource development by building a diverse constituency of current and future supporters to include restricted and unrestricted funds from foundations and corporations, and highly committed individual donors;
  • Ensure that governance, asset management, and programs are ethical, transparent, aligned with the organization’s values and aims, and are led by dedicated, diverse and creative staff; and
  • Contribute to trusted, solutions-oriented, diverse thought leadership that will change the global policy discourse.

Candidate Profile

CDT is seeking a leader of significant accomplishment with strong strategic and visionary leadership skills, management capacity, intellectual breadth and rigor, external convening power, and practical experience within the nonprofit, government, academic, and/or business sectors.  The successful candidate should be skilled in managing and fundraising for a global organization of similar scale, and have experience working closely with a Board of Directors, high-level staff, prominent stakeholders, and other constituents to achieve organizational objectives.

The candidate should be a passionate and dynamic spokesperson who excels in written and oral communication, and is flexible and able to represent CDT effectively.  The candidate must be capable of driving a dynamic advocacy and strategic policy agenda.  This individual should have the experience and credibility to build effective coalitions, influence multi-stakeholder decision-makers, influence groundbreaking legislation, and amplify the vision of a global, public interest.

Ideally, this individual will have a strong background at the intersection of technology and policy, and a track record that offers significant credibility to CDT’s public posture.  The individual should have a demonstrated commitment to developing strategies and programs that enhance national and global civil liberties, a sophisticated understanding of the issues surrounding these areas, and experience working with senior government officials.  The candidate should have considerable experience fundraising and/or developing alternative revenue streams.

The candidate should be someone who can listen to and learn from key stakeholders inside and outside the organization.  This individual should have the capacity to foster constructive and transparent dialogue and collaboration among people, at times on opposing sides of sensitive issues.

In terms of the performance and personal competencies required for the position, we would highlight the following:

Strategy & Vision
The President and CEO should have a fidelity and dedication to CDT’s public interest mission. They will have the capacity to lead the organization and Board in setting forth CDT’s vision, and implementing its five-year strategic plan for achieving CDT’s mission in rapidly evolving political and technical contexts. They will have the ability to develop tactics commensurate with the Internet’s reach, to curate new ideas, to challenge colleagues, and to reach beyond the conventional – while promoting free-thinking and independence.  They will possess the ability to make clear, timely decisions and set limits even in the face of resistance, while producing a solutions-oriented, adaptive, and self-regenerating institution that meets the urgency of the moment.

CDT’s leader will have the ability to sustain and grow the organization’s financial resources. The successful candidate will build upon the organization’s current funding base to increase and diversify financial support from foundations, corporations, and individuals, and bring demonstrated experience in cultivating new and innovative revenue streams. They will have an ability to fundraise effectively on a significant scale to meet and increase the organization’s annual operating budget while preserving and protecting the integrity of an institution that puts democracy and individual rights at the center of its work. If from outside of the nonprofit sector, candidates will have a demonstrated track-record of building partnerships that lead to sustainable revenue generation. The ideal candidate will also have strong financial leadership skills.

Knowledge and Experience
The ideal candidate will bring substantive knowledge of technology policy, with an appreciation for the importance of openness, innovation, trust, and free expression online – as well as an understanding of how the legal, political, public policy and advocacy apparatus in Washington, Europe, and other technology policy centers across the globe operate.  They must have – or have the capacity to develop — a strong, well-informed, and global grasp of big questions shaping the Internet’s future, including the impact on democracy of issues like: free expression; privacy; government surveillance; digital copyright; net neutrality; competition policy; algorithmic and artificial intelligence; and Internet governance.

The ideal candidate will be a strong communicator, both in presenting to larger audiences, but also in private settings.  They will possess the ability to convey a sense of excitement and purpose to the institution. It will be imperative for this individual to excel at connecting with a range of people, serving as an ambassador of the issues and organization, in many different venues. They will bring the capacity to maintain and grow a supportive and exciting intellectual environment, while raising the resources to invest in intellectual capital and innovative programming.

They will be a substantive, charismatic, and trusted advocate with a track record of success in conceptualizing and executing advocacy strategies that advance goals.  They will be a thought leader, enabling CDT to engage and influence decision-makers across the corridors of power in Washington and Brussels, as well as other global policy and governance bodies.  They will have the capacity and credibility to work with civil society and industry to build and leverage multi-stakeholder coalitions and working groups to ensure landmark regulatory, legal, and legislative wins.  They will possess the judgment, passion, and informed instinct to pursue a nuanced, fact-based approach that implicitly aligns with CDT’s own.

Team Leadership
The candidate should have the capacity to lead an organization of motivated professionals with a diverse set of skills and perspectives. They should foster a culture of diversity, inclusion, engagement and empowerment. The ideal candidates will have a track record of leading teams through significant growth (in reach, budget, people, office space, etc.) They will have the interpersonal skills and intellect needed to recruit, retain, motivate, inspire, and mentor accomplished professional staff. The candidate should have the ability to set priorities decisively, delegate responsibilities, assure accountability and allocate resources to achieve excellence.

CDT is offering a competitive compensation and benefits package designed to attract a candidate of significant accomplishment.

To Apply, Contact:

Jamie Hechinger
Russell Reynolds Associates
1700 New York Avenue, NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC  20006-5208
[email protected]

Mercedes LeGrand
Russell Reynolds Associates
1700 New York Avenue, NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC  20006-5208
[email protected]

Jack Hind Smith
Russell Reynolds Associates
277 Park Ave
Suite 3800
New York, NY 10172
[email protected]