Program Operations Manager


Position Overview
Chicago Debates seeks a mission driven, engaging, and service-oriented candidate with a demonstrated passion for education to join our team. This role will assist us in bridging the educational opportunity gap for Chicago Public School students through the transformative power of academic debate. The Full-Time Program Operations Manager will support the Director of Programs in the management, development, and execution of all academic debate activities. Additionally, the Program Operations Manager will supervise four direct reports, (4) Program Officers for School Support, in their coach support, tournament preparation, and execution responsibilities. The Program Operations Manager will report directly to the Director of Programs.

Core Responsibilities
Coach Support

  • Oversee the development and execution of Chicago Debates’ Coach Support curriculum.
  • Support the Senior Program Officer for School Support in the development of curriculum tools for Policy Debate, Public Forum Debate, and Original Oratory Speech.
  • Lead and facilitate weekly Program Coach Support meetings.
    • Develop, model, and uphold clear standards for effective Coach Support.
  • Execute monthly site observations of Coach Support visits.
  • Provide direct Coach Support to the students and coaches of the RCC – Regional Circuit Conference.
  • Collaborate with the Director of Programs and Senior Program Officer for School Support with the facilitation of the High School and Middle School Coaches Council and the Debater Leadership Council.
  • Manage the collection, organization, and reporting of program data to evaluate and measure program outcomes and impact (e.g. tournament reporting, surveys, coach support tracking, stakeholder feedback, etc.).
  • Oversee the submission of all student and coach incentive requests/orders (Gift Cards, Trophies, Stipends, etc.).

Team Management

  • Manage and coach a team of 3-5 direct reports, leading the hiring, onboarding, and annual reviews.
    • Provide strategic direction to ensure team members achieve all duties and goals assigned, including regular 1:1 check-in meetings.
  • Build a cohesive team that works well collaboratively and can excel individually.
  • Manage and coach Program Officers to effectively support a caseload of schools/coaches/debate programs (i.e. site visits/coach support, email, phone and other communications, etc.).
  • Empower and encourage team members to pursue professional development opportunities to improve and enhance their contribution to the team and themselves.

Tournament Support

  • Oversee the entire tournament preparation and execution work.
    • Oversee pre and post tournament quality assurance.
  • Collaborate with our Chicago Public School partner, Academic Competitions, in the confirmation of in-person tournament sites and food orders.
  • Oversee the organization of the coach stipend, supply stipend, and transportation stipend process.
  • In collaboration with the Director of Programs, participate in tournament check-in’s at least two weekends per month.
  • In collaboration with the Volunteer and Outreach Manager, ensure all tournaments are properly staffed with trained volunteers and effectively executed by Chicago Debates Staff.

Program Support

  • Support the launch and oversight of the Fall 22’ Middle School Public Forum debate season.
  • In collaboration with the Director of Programs, develop an execution plan for Original Oratory.
  • In collaboration with the Director of Programs, support the development and execution of the annual CDSI – Chicago Debates Summer Institute.
  • In collaboration with the Director of Programs, support the research and development of new programming opportunities.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Bachelor’s degree required.
  • A minimum of 3 – 5 years of relevant professional work experience in debate, college access or success, teaching, or other related educational areas.
  • A minimum of 2-3 years of experience supervising or managing a team.
  • Previous debate experience required(as either a coach, administrator or as a student competitor, preferably in an urban debate setting).
  • Passion for urban education and can translate that passion to external parties.
  • Personal connections with the Chicago community are a plus.
  • A high degree of professionalism and the ability to effectively manage multiple competing priorities with confidence.
  • Strong speaking skills and can communicate with professional audiences.
  • Ability to problem solve, be resourceful, and remain calm under stress.
  • Ability to work well with others and promote a healthy work culture.
  • Experience using technology and tabulation software like Tabroom and Salesforce preferred.
  • Advanced computer skills in Google Suite (Gmail, Google calendar, Google forms and Google Drive) and Microsoft Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and their Google Docs equivalents)

 Other Requirements

  • Legal clearance to work with minors.
  • Willingness to travel and work beyond regular office hours during our tournament season from October – June.
  • Valid driver’s license, auto insurance, a clean driving record, and reliable transportation.
  • Must be available to work some evenings and two Saturday’s a month during tournament season (October – June).
  • Strong ethics, maturity, and appropriate boundaries for adult interactions with minors, including compliance with all Chicago Public Schools HR and reporting requirements.
  • Physical demands include working at the computer but also carrying supplies (boxes up to 50 pounds, paper, printers, computer, t-shirts, food, etc.) for tournaments and teams from your car to a variety of school and event locations.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement
    • Chicago Debates works in partnership with Chicago Public Schools. Much of that work requires in-person activities inside school buildings and in direct contact with students.  All Chicago Debates employees are required to be fully vaccinated and boosted (as applicable) against COVID-19.  If you are not able to receive the vaccine due to medical or religious reasons, you may request approval for an accommodation supported by proper documentation.


  • Strong connection to the Chicago Debates mission.
  • Empathy, humility, flexibility and willingness to serve and lead teachers, students, volunteers, and contract staff in an often-challenging and fast-changing urban education setting.
  • Positive, solution-oriented approach in a team working toward common goals.
  • Strong cultural competency in serving a diverse population of teachers and learners with a variety of needs and challenges and communication styles.
  • Strong interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills.
  • A self-starter, creative, and forward thinker.
  • Team player, enjoys collaborating with others.
  • Self-aware, teachable, and eager to learn.
  • Strong work and financial ethics.
  • Must have the utmost integrity and an ability to process, protect and exercise discretion in handling confidential information and materials.
  • Professional and ethical commitment to student protection and student privacy.

Work Schedule
Hybrid Work Schedule: Mondays and Fridays are virtual. Tuesday through Thursday are in-person from 9am-5pm.  This position includes frequent weekend work during the tournament season from October – June, including late evenings and early mornings. These dates are identified in advance in our calendar, with an expectation to work on average two weekends a month. Comp time is offered for a full day of weekend work, with some stipulations.

Salary: The salary for this position, which depends on prior work experience and our assessment of your demonstrated fit for the role, will range between $60,000 – $70,000 yearly.  Full-time employees are eligible for health, dental, and vision insurance, Retirement, PTO, Professional Development Allowance, Sick Days, and Holidays. As a member of the Program Team, you would also be eligible for compensatory time and travel reimbursement for work-related meetings. Chicago Debates is seeking a commitment of at least two years.

To Apply
Submit a cover letter with salary requirements and a resume to Anthony Bolden, Director of Programs at Cover letters without salary requirements will not be considered.

Hiring Process
The position will begin as soon as May 2022, pending candidate’s availability. Qualified candidates must be available for:

  • Round 1 group interview on Monday, May 23rd – 11:00 AM
  • Candidates who advance to a Round 2 interview should be available on Thursday, May 26th – 11:00 AM
  • Candidates who advance to a Round 3 interview should be available on Wednesday, June 1st

Chicago Debates is an equal opportunity employer.