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Vice President of Programs

FIRST® has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume to Erin Reedy here.


FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, NH, the not-for-profit organization designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

Their mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

FIRST seeks a dynamic Vice President of Programs to facilitate and champion the growth and continued success of our Progression of Programs worldwide.  This executive-level position is responsible for strategic planning and development of the overall content and experience throughout the FIRST Progression of Programs, both in its current form as well as envisioning and driving future changes and improvements.

This executive leader will oversee a FIRST headquarters team of approximately 50 full-time staff, who are responsible for ensuring that our Programs are appealing, engaging, relevant, and impactful to both our youth participants and their adult coaches, mentors, and supporters, now and in the future.  The VP will oversee an annual departmental and event operating budget of $25+ million.  Additionally, the Programs organization works collaboratively with other FIRST Headquarters departments and our broader community to facilitate the ease of adoption and growth of our Progression of Programs worldwide, thereby enabling us to reach, impact, and inspire more young people.

The ideal candidate will have strong skills in strategic thinking/planning and in managing, leading, and influencing diverse groups of people in a technology-related field or industry.  They will have demonstrated success in running major operations, satisfying a diverse group of constituents, and driving toward ambitious goals. 

The VP of Programs reports directly to the President of FIRST and plays a critical role as a key member the FIRST Senior Leadership team.

This is a full-time position based in Manchester, NH. For more information on FIRST®, please visit


  • Enable FIRST to expand our reach and impact, by growing the number of teams, student participants, and school districts and communities in which young people have access to the Progression of FIRST programs and where they are encouraged to progress from program to program over time
  • Oversee and support the FIRST headquarters staff who design and develop each of our Programs (including such functions as product management, game design, engineering, logistics and support, partner engagement) 
  • Oversee and support the FIRST headquarters staff who execute our key annual events, such as the FIRST Championships, FIRST Community Conference, FIRST Inspire Gala, Founder’s Reception, Kickoff, and the Global Innovation Award
  • Guide the annual theme/challenge/game development for each Program across the Progression of Programs
  • Assure consistent, high-quality delivery of our Programs across events, geographies, and Programs 
  • Provide thought leadership and strategic guidance to the development and implementation of technology roadmaps and program scaffolding to create stronger linkages in learning and experiences throughout our Progression of Programs
  • Lead exploration and formulation of new Program offerings, options, and/or technologies that will make it easier for educators and community leaders to adopt FIRST programs
  • Oversee cross-functional team to establish a unified “one-stop shop” (i.e., online storefront) for all FIRST programs and experiences
  • Evolve the business model(s) for FIRST programs and events to ensure long-term success and sustainability, while delivering excellent value to our participants
  • Create forums and organizational structures that promote sharing of best practices between our Programs and that create a stronger, more-consistent experience for our Program partners, participants, and community
  • Work cross-functionally with all other HQ functions to ensure that all FIRST stakeholders (participants, coaches, mentors, volunteers, alumni, sponsors, staff etc.) have a consistent, high-quality, impactful experience while participating in FIRST programs or events
  • Provide a leadership voice and presence both within and outside the FIRST community to support federal, state, and local advocacy, sponsor development, and school and school district adoption of our Programs


We are interested in talking with professionals that possess strong management, leadership, and communication skills and have a demonstrated track record in technology, innovation, and/or strategic product management.

  • 5+ years in senior-management roles, ideally in both for-profit and non-profit or educational environments
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and manage effective teams in a fast-paced, complex, non-profit environment
  • Possess the executive presence, thought leadership, and interpersonal skills to work effectively with people form diverse backgrounds and effect change
  • Significant experience in budget development and scenario planning
  • Excellent analytic, problem solving, coaching, and collaborative leadership skills
  • Ability to help implement programs and events in new and unique locales
  • Adept at overseeing and executing strategic projects with significant visibility and impact
  • Flexibility to travel (~10-20% of time), including some international travel
  • Experience executing legal documents and agreements, such as Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) and other significant contracts


  • Master’s or other advanced degree in Engineering or Business / Management
  • Experience with FIRST or other STEM-related youth engagement programs
  • Experience working in a nationally or internationally scaled organization or environment
  • Experience building relationships and engaging with community and education leaders, high-level donors, passionate volunteers, and local Boards and Partner organizations
  • Experience fostering equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM/technology/nonprofit fields
  • Solid understanding or experience selling to or engaging with schools or school districts
  • Event planning or management experience

Compensation & Benefits

Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience.


FIRST has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume to Erin Reedy here.

FIRST is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBT applicants.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit



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