Director of Development and External Affairs

Administrator / Full-Time

Sophia Academy, Providence, RI


Sophia Academy

Director of Development and External Affairs



An equitable world where girls and women 
are seeking fulfillment, 

realizing their dreams, 
and inspiring others. 


Sophia Academy engages girls from low-income families on a joyful quest for self-discovery and opportunity through a middle school education grounded in social justice.


Since 2001, Sophia Academy has helped transform the lives of nearly 300 young women and their families through holistic, social-justice driven education. We place our students and their families at the center of all we do, creating a community of shared values that inspires each student to embrace her own story, culture, strengths, and beliefs as positive and powerful elements of her life. 

All Sophia graduates complete high school in four years and most continue on to postsecondary education.  Their achievements are borne of confidence, motivation, pride, and possibility. We’re proud and honored that our alumnae report consistently that their middle school years at Sophia were the most positive, transformative educational experience they have had. In a recent survey of Sophia graduates, while just 18% said they arrived at Sophia as confident, courageous individuals, 96% reported that they left Sophia that way. . The success of our graduates, especially compared to their Providence peers, demonstrates that we are essential to Rhode Island’s pursuit of educational equity and excellence. 

A close-knit team of faculty and staff draws connections to our 60 students’ lives through language arts, social studies, math, and science. Visual arts, music, health and wellness, and Taekwondo are core parts of the program as well. Sophia Academy students graduate well-prepared for successful, meanful high school and higher educational careers and move into the workforce with confidence.

Sophia’s strong social justice ethos has attracted the attention of such inspiring women as Stacey Abrams, #MeToo cofounder Tarana Burke, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai; its dedicated and talented faculty are recognized nationally and state-wide for their excellence. In 2021-2022, the school established five strategic priorities and mounted a one-year $3 million 20th anniversary campaign. By June 30, 2022, the school had raised $4.2 million in gifts and pledges for programs and endowment. 

The school is accredited by the Association of Independent Schools of New England (AISNE) and is nonsectarian. 


Position Overview

A compelling mission, highly engaged Board, generous donor community, and talented team create a strong platform for the next Director of Development and External Affairs to bring expertise, creativity, and energy to bear on a new strategic direction for Sophia Academy.

The Director of Development and External Affairs reports to the Head of School, is a member of the senior  Administrative Team, and works closely with the Board and all  external constituencies. The Director, with the support of the development team, is also responsible for marketing/communications, trustee relations, and alumnae engagement.

The Director supervises the development team which consists of the Marketing, Events and Communications Manager and the Annual Giving and Database Manager. Together, and in close partnership with the head of school, this team is responsible for advancing Sophia Academy’s mission through directing the organization’s fundraising efforts which are critical in supporting the annual operating budget–currently approximately $2.1 million–as well as the endowment and other institutional needs. The Director will work closely with the team to establish annual fundraising goals and will be instrumental in meeting them by  engaging support from individual donors, foundations, corporations, government agencies and by hosting special events. 

Major Responsibilities

In collaboration with the Head of School, Administrative Team, Development Team, and the Board, the Director of Development and External Affairs will formulate a long term philanthropy plan that advances Sophia Academy’s strategic direction and mission. 

They will assist in the development and implementation of the Sophia strategic plan and are charged with learning and applying best practices to raise the school’s profile and increase its capacity for attracting philanthropic support. The Director is accountable for meeting annual fundraising goals to support the operations of the school; more than 90% of revenue comes from philanthropy. 

  • Lead, organize and manage collaboratively for success in the Major Gifts and Annual Fund Programs including developing strategy, setting and communicating goals, monitoring progress and tracking results:
    • Increase Sophia’s donor base, identifying prospects for annual and major gifts, and cultivate meaningful relationships to secure significant contributions. 
    • Motivate, manage, and partner with Trustees, the Head of School, and others in identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding leadership and major donor prospects.
    • Develop and maintain close relationships with major donors, foundations, and corporate donors. 
    • Cultivate relationships with potential and existing donors through in-person meetings and on-going communications.  
    • Identify funding opportunities within the Sophia strategic and operational plans that inspire major giving.
    • Devise and implement a strategy for building Planned Giving at Sophia Academy. 
    • Coordinate volunteers
  • Work with the Head, Marketing, Events and Communications Manager, and Board to develop corporate and foundation relationships. 
    • Research and analyze corporate, foundation, and government funding opportunities and identify those that align with the mission and objectives of the school.  
    • Ensure an organized process for discovering grant opportunities, developing and submitting proposals and reports, and stewarding relationships. 
    • Work with the Head and Board to develop and manage foundation relationships. 
    • Partner with the Marketing, Events and Communications Manager in corporate fundraising, engagement, and reporting/stewardship. 
    • Manage and develop proposals in response to corporate, foundation and government funding opportunities. 
    • Write, edit and submit clear, compelling grants and reports.
    • Conduct site visits and check-in calls with corporate and foundation funders.   
  • Work with the Annual Giving and Database Manager, Administrative Team, and contract financial manager to ensure that donation data, pledges, and other financial information are described and applied accurately in financial statements, funding proposals/reports, and other documents. 
  • Support and collaborate with the Annual Giving and Database Manager to develop, implement, and evaluate an annual fund appeal strategy that raises donors’ sights and inspires them to make Sophia a philanthropic priority. 
  • Support the Marketing, Events and Communications Manager in their work to plan and manage fund raising events, including a major annual celebration event; perform follow-up to ensure seamless and accurate communication with event donors, and initiate strategic cultivation for future giving. 
  • Support the Annual Giving and Database Manager’s work to develop and implement efficient, accurate, effective, and secure data collection and maintenance.
  • Serve as a member of the Administrative Team, participate in organizational strategic initiatives, and support the overall success of the organization. 
  • Attend all Board of Trustees meetings; prepare and deliver development reports and updates. Serve as Staff Liaison to the Board’s Development Committee and other committees as assigned.
  • Manage an annual Development and External Affairs budget for cost-effective financial results. Evaluate Development and External Affairs program outcomes annually. 
  • Pursue continuing education and professional development opportunities. 
  • Integrate into the Sophia community, attending events and developing relationships with faculty and staff, students, parents, and alumnae. 
  • Undertake other duties as requested by the Head of School.  


  • Passion for, commitment to social justice, girls education, and equity. 
  • 5-7 years of experience and successful track record in Development leadership position. 
  • Success in cultivating and soliciting major donors. 
  • Demonstrated ability to lead in a team setting. 
  • Sets goals, institutes timelines, meets deadlines. 
  • Meets measurable fundraising goals and inspires others to do the same. 
  • Leads and inspires volunteers with sensitivity and support. 
  • Thinks strategically and creatively and formulates solid plans based on measurable objectives. 
  • Excellent communications skills, written and oral. 
  • Bachelor’s degree and clearances required. 
Technical expertise:  

  • Annual giving: donor development, retention, stewardship. 
  • Major gifts: prospect research, cultivation, personal solicitation, acknowledgment, stewardship, recognition, and volunteer management. 
  • Planned Giving
  • Development policy: gift acceptance, pledge policies, donor reporting, financial reporting, deferred giving, donor intent. 
  • Private foundation research, cultivation, program design, and grant writing. 
  • Donor communications: print, electronic, digital. 
  • Contracting and use of consultants. 
  • Budgeting, planning, reporting, evaluation. 
  • Donor databases. 
Dispositional competencies: 

  • Strategic thinking and planning.
  • Demonstrated commitment to achieving results. 
  • Solve problems creatively; think conceptually; possess political, economic, and technological savvy; and demonstrate a sense of humor. 
  • Initiative, warmth, enthusiasm, optimism, and energy. 
  • Discretion, diplomacy, and confidentiality. 
  • Enthusiasm for working in a close-knit, student-centered school environment; ability to interact positively with student volunteers. 


Sophia Academy is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity for all employees and applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, disability, veteran’s status, genetic information, and any other category protected by federal, state, or local law. 

Sophia Academy

Providence, RI
Elementary, Middle School