Chief Executive Officer

All across sub-Saharan Africa, millions of young people struggle every day with access to education and employment – and the kinds of livelihoods that lead to economic security and mobility for themselves and their families. Every young person deserves the chance to be educated; every young person deserves the opportunity to have a meaningful job.

Kepler is leading education-to-employment organization that is building a transformative model of higher education-to-employment services for these young people across the region. Their ultimate goal is to contribute to the economic mobility of thousands of individuals, families and communities in all of their countries of operation. They want to reimagine what higher education can look like in sub-Saharan Africa.

Through a rigorous curriculum of in-person, online and on-the-job learning, Kepler students graduate with the relevant skills and the right attitude to meet the needs of the changing region and global economy. They partner closely with Southern New Hampshire University - a global leader in higher education - which allows their students to attain affordable, internationally recognized degrees while studying in East Africa.

Kepler has an ambitious new strategy for the next five years, which will include launching in two new countries, including Ethiopia; expanding their academic offerings, including a local registration as a College in Rwanda; partnering with other public and private sector universities; and reaching a new level of organizational sustainability through innovative financing and resource generation mechanisms.

The Role

The responsibility of the CEO is to work collaboratively with key stakeholders to ensure the organization is meeting its paradigm-shifting goals on higher education in Africa; continually recruit and develop a dynamic, talented team of extraordinary pan-African leaders to do the work; and ensure the financial sustainability of the organization is secured through a mixture of philanthropy and other innovative financing mechanisms. This last area of work is of the greatest significance to the organization as they try and balance their ability to grow with the financial realities of fundraising and other financing.  If these three conditions are met, the ideal candidate will succeed in the role. The CEO reports to the Chair of the Kepler Board.

Kepler has recently made a series of new commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). This will be taken into considering during the CEO search; and the ideal candidate will enter the role fully committed to fulfilling the organization’s DE&I goals.

Key Responsibilities

  • Lead the organization in its external engagements with partners, donors and other thought leaders, while building a strong bench of senior leaders to do the same.
  • Actively develop the culture of the organization, and ensure that the behaviors and mindsets of Kepler staff and students continually live up to their values.
  • Manage and actively support the development of the senior leadership team, and continually hold the team to high standards for planning, people leadership, and accountability for achievement of Kepler’s ambitious impact goals.
  • Support the senior leadership and management teams on a daily basis and support them as they work to manage their own teams; lead the senior leadership team in reaching critical strategic and operational decisions.
  • Set the global strategy and ensure delivery of Kepler’s overall academic offerings, working closely with the Vice Chancellor, VP for Academic Affairs and Academic Leadership Team.
  • Set the global strategy and ensure delivery of Kepler’s employer engagements, working closely with the Vice Chancellor, VP for Academic Affairs, and Careers team.
  • Set the global strategy and ensure delivery of all of Kepler’s engagements around refugee education – and especially the Kepler campus in Kiziba – working closely with the Director of Humanitarian Programs.
  • Set the global strategy and ensure delivery of all of Kepler’s expansion activities in additional countries, starting with their nascent work in Ethiopia.
  • Set the global strategy and ensure delivery of all philanthropic and revenue-generating activities, which will require a thoughtful approach to balancing philanthropy, student financing and other activities, working closely with the VP for Operations and Sustainability.
  • Set the global strategy and ensure delivery of any internal systems changes and process developments, working closely with the VP for Operations and Sustainability.
  • Ensure the proposed College is autonomous, responsible, accountable and meets all accreditation requirements of any country of operation.

Qualifications and Experience

The ideal candidate will possess the following qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s degree preferred.
  • Ten or more years of professional experience.
  • Proven record of fundraising success, preferably in the international development and/or higher education space.
  • Passion for the mission of addressing the youth unemployment crisis in Africa.
  • Demonstrated success leading and managing a high-performing organization and team.
  • The ability and desire to motivate, coach and develop an extraordinary team of local leaders.
  • Experience in creating partnerships.
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills and charisma, with the ability to develop strong relationships across a diverse spectrum of stakeholders.
  • Experience in education, business, consulting and international development preferred.

Base Location

Africa-based CEO preferred, with flexibility for the right candidate; any successful candidate will spend a significant period of time at the outset in Rwanda as they come to know the organization and team.