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Chief Operating Officer

Defy Ventures Inc. | New York NY 10001 USA | Full Time | Posted: 12/24/2012

Job Descriptiontop

Chief Operating Officer (COO)

About Defy Ventures
Defy Ventures is a New York City-based nonprofit that equips former drug dealers and gang leaders to leverage their natural talent, street smarts, charisma and drive to launch legal and profitable businesses. Defy achieves its mission by partnering with senior business executives, entrepreneurs, investors, and other influential leaders to provide life-transforming and character-shaping opportunities for America’s biggest underdogs. Holistic training equips students to thrive as entrepreneurs, parents, and role models in their communities. Student entrepreneurs are put to the test with 12 months of hands-on MBA-like training, mentoring, character development, business incubation and financing. Defy’s signature program engages volunteer business executives as judges in a series of business plan competitions that award up to $150,000 in seed capital to winning ventures.

Since its founding in October 2010, Defy has raised $1.75 million and attracted more than 300 executives who contributed 4,000+ volunteer hours and equipped student entrepreneurs to launch 21 start-ups. Under the leadership of an Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Investment Committee, Defy’s newly created Entrepreneurship Incubator has propelled five graduates’ incubated businesses to achieve incredible success in just two months, generating a combined $40,000+ in revenue, $10,000 in profits and 20+ employment opportunities to Defy graduates and others.

Defy’s early success in transforming the lives of formerly-incarcerated men and women has attracted national media attention in Inc. Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,, and The Huffington Post. Defy’s vision is to create a model that, in time, will provide life-transforming opportunities to men and women with criminal histories in every urban community in the United States. Defy is now building the organizational infrastructure that will provide optimal positioning to pursue expansion to other U.S. cities. In the next five years, we plan to operate programs in at least two additional major urban areas.

Catherine Rohr launched Defy Ventures after founding the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP), a nonprofit that serves men throughout the Texas prison system. In five years under Catherine’s leadership, PEP was nationally recognized for its groundbreaking results, including 600 graduates, a return-to-prison rate of less than 5% (compared to the national average of 50%), an employment rate of 98%, and the inception of 60 start-ups. Catherine applies her venture capital and private equity background to nonprofit work every day as her organization seeks out our country’s most overlooked talent pool and equips them to redirect their entrepreneurial passion and skillsets to defy the odds.

The Need
As a senior executive leading in collaboration with the CEO, the COO will be responsible for overseeing the collaborative development and execution of the organization's program and business operations which includes aggressive growth targets. The COO will serve as the CEO’s “internal partner,” allowing the CEO to be more externally focused. The COO must be a confident, seasoned leader able to develop a scalable program, finance, IT, human resources and administrative infrastructure and guide the team from start-up to a sustainable, replicable model. The COO will report to the CEO.


Organizational Development
• Coordinate the ongoing development of organizational strategic objectives and goals to build the organization’s capacity
• Align individual department and employee goals with the overall organizational strategy
• Develop inter-departmental procedures and protocols
• Ensure the development of effective, clarifying organizational policy and procedures
• Provide intentional ways to continually connect all employees with the vision and mission of the organization

Staff Leadership
• Manage and lead, through example of maturity and integrity, an existing team of eight program and operations employees and consultants
• Mentor key leaders to expand capacity
• Guide employees through the challenges associated with rapid organizational growth

Program Growth and Execution
• Ensure the successful execution, innovation, growth and effectiveness of the following programs through supervision of the key program employees:
1. Applicant recruitment/ Boot Camp Entrepreneurship Training
2. Entrepreneurship and Life Transformation Intensive
3. Entrepreneurship Fellowship
4. Entrepreneurship Incubator
5. Professional Development and Career Access
6. Family Services
• Ensure effectiveness of volunteer engagement process and volunteer management systems
• Oversee program documentation, program outcomes assessment, and replication initiatives to prepare Defy for national expansion

Business Operations
As the senior executive in charge of all business operations, the COO will govern the following functional areas, either directly or through leadership of responsible staff:

• Management of cash flow, making necessary adjustments to expenditures required to maintain appropriate asset reserves
• Perform ongoing financial analysis and advise the CEO on sustainable growth strategies
• Oversee the adherence to a comprehensive organizational budget
• Ensure that accounting systems and asset protection processes are secure, accurate, timely and in accordance with established best practices
• Provide timely and accurate financial reports suitable for Board and donor accountability
• Maintain compliance with government and accountability association financial regulations

Information Technology (IT)
• Lead staff in the development of an ongoing IT strategy to utilize technology and data management to achieve organizational objectives
• Ensure the security of Defy data and equipment
• Assist with the maintenance and development of IT policies
• Oversee rollout of new web site

Human Resources
• Design and maintain an optimal organization structure and staffing plan
• Oversee an effective recruiting and selection process to expand Defy’s team
• Develop and lead the regular delivery of employee performance evaluation and feedback
• Build a professional development program to help employees grow in leadership and technical skills
• Serve as primary point of contact for employee relations matters
• Oversee the maintenance and clear communication of employee policies
• Ensure compliance with all applicable employment regulations

General Administration
• Supervise general office administration
• Ensure that facilities and equipment are appropriate for general operations
• Provide for smooth daily operations through effective office processes

Partnership Development
Cultivate and maintain relationships with key partners, suppliers and pro bono service providers (e.g., law firms, marketing agencies).

Skills and Experience
• A minimum of ten years of business experience, with a minimum of five of those years in successful for-profit or nonprofit leadership experience, in managing people, systems and processes
• Track record of effectively scaling a performance- and outcomes-based organization and staff; ability to point to specific examples of having developed and operationalized strategies that have taken an organization to the next stage of growth
• Exemplary written and verbal communication skills
• Graduate-level training in management, public administration, business, law, organizational development or other related field preferred

Required Strengths
• Passion and interest in Defy’s mission, and a deep-seated belief in human capacity for growth and personal transformation; a passion for uncovering potential and restorative problem-solving
• Ability to lead by example, with transparency, integrity and humility that encourages staff and constituents
• Dependable execution: ability to manage aggressive deadlines while maintaining meticulous attention to detail
• Highly disciplined and reliable; capacity to serve as a planner and provider of structure, enabling others to thrive
• Strategic thinker with a roll-up-sleeves-mentality
• Strong backbone; assertive enforcer of policies; ability to stand on the strength of his/her judgment and decisions
• Love of entrepreneurship and working in an innovative, fast-paced start-up environment
• Passion for making organizations work and creating systems and processes that lead to organizational effectiveness
• Highly industrious with a strong work ethic and an internal fire that drives achievement
• Strong sense of responsibility and accountability; ability to take direction well; team player and partner mentality

Organization Information
• Competitive salary commensurate with experience and skill level
• Health insurance and benefits provided
• Position based in Manhattan

For more information about Defy Ventures, please visit:

To apply, please send a résumé (cover letter optional) to Annalisa Ortiz, Executive Assistant to the CEO:

Job Detailstop

Location New York, NY, 10001, United States
Categories Community Improvement/Capacity Building/Economic Development, Education, Employment/Job-related, Human Services, Social Work/ Services
Function Senior/Executive Management
Experience Years 5 yrs
Pref Degree Masters

Location Maptop

Contact Informationtop

Contact Name Annalisa Ortiz
How to apply Applications are no longer accepted for this job posting.
Job Code Chief Operating Officer