Executive Director, Alliance for Science

Boyce Thompson Institute Ithaca, New York, United States

About Boyce Thompson Institute

Boyce Thompson Institute is a premier life sciences research institution located in Ithaca, New York on the Cornell University campus. BTI scientists conduct investigations into fundamental plant and life sciences research with the goals of increasing food security, improving environmental sustainability in agriculture and making basic discoveries that will enhance human health.

Alliance for Science

The Alliance for Science ('the Alliance'), is a global communications initiative based at The Boyce Thompson Institute ('BTI') – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit institute independently affiliated with Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.  The Alliance for Science  empowers science supporters around the world with the tools and skills needed to communicate effectively about scientific topics and promote evidence-based policies and decision-making.

The Alliance challenges and corrects anti-science conspiracy theories and provides credible, factual, science-based materials primarily on the topic of agricultural biotechnology, but with a growing focus on climate change, vaccines, synthetic biology, food innovations, and other emerging science issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Theory of Change:

  • The Alliance advances science-based narratives through powerful communications campaigns and by convening and empowering leaders to combat anti-science misinformation and advocate for science-informed and science-enabling policies that help communities thrive around the world—with a primary focus on developing countries, especially sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia.


  • Strengthening a global network. The Alliance has built and is continuing to expand a significant international alliance of partners who believe in the common mission of solving complex science-based issues by leveraging advances in technology, including the creative tools and insights biotechnology can offer.

  • Training with a purpose. The Alliance is connecting and empowering champions worldwide with the tools and skills needed to communicate effectively about science and promote evidence-based decision-making.

  • Multimedia communications. The Alliance continuously produces a comprehensive collection of photographs, videos, blog posts, fact sheets, and other multimedia resources that provide accurate information about agricultural biotechnology and other issue areas to share the stories of the scientists, farmers, and allies engaged in its development and implementation.

  • Collaboration. The Alliance works with partners to advocate for science-enabling policies that will ultimately have a positive impact on people's lives.

Using this four-pronged approach, the BTI-Alliance for Science works to ensure safe and equitable global access to life-improving innovations that can shrink farming's footprint, deliver food security and ensure a climate-resilient future.


  • The Alliance for Science operates globally from its base at the Boyce Thompson Institute, located on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Further details are available on the Alliance website, https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/.

Role Purpose

The Executive Director of the Alliance for Science is responsible for the effective leadership and management of the organization and is fully accountable to a member of the Boyce Thompson Institute’s ('BTI') Senior Leadership Team. The successful candidate will be a dynamic and inspirational leader with the ambition and vision to embrace the challenges of the coming decade, raise the Alliance to even higher levels of excellence and have a greater impact in effecting positive change. The Executive Director will be responsible for creating and delivering a strategic plan for the organization and ensuring that the Alliance succeeds in its mission.

The Executive Director will be politically astute, with excellent diplomatic and networking skills, experience in high-level representation and a demonstrated ability to mobilize political and financial support for the Alliance.

The Executive Director will foster an environment that encourages a diversity of thought and cross-cultural collaboration. As the leader of the Alliance, the Executive Director must create and drive forward a culture to support the ethos of the organization and provide value-based, transparent and mission-driven strategic and adaptive leadership.

The Executive Director will be committed to providing empathic leadership to inspire, encourage and build confidence in the Alliance, its staff, systems, donors and partners and drive progress with passion, determination and vigor.

Duties and Responsibilities

Leadership & Governance
  • Provide strategic vision and leadership to the operation and development of the Alliance.

  • Maintain a proactive relationship with the leadership of the BTI, supporting them to fulfill their duties and ensure adherence to best governance practices.

  • Secure a formal professional relationship with Cornell University, such as an adjunct position or other courtesy position.

  • Take overall responsibility for the Alliance's management and administration within the governance and accountability frameworks.

  • Ensure that the Alliance fulfills its programmatic and financial reporting responsibilities across a diverse portfolio of grants and accounts.

  • Manage multi-disciplinary staff located throughout the world, including Berlin, Nairobi, DC, and others.

Resource Mobilization
  • Maintain and strengthen relationships with internal and external stakeholders and with funding partners.

  • Engage with other stakeholders to build on and diversify the current funding streams and safeguard long-term impact and sustainability.

  • Ensure funds are raised to meet program needs, including drafting proposals, preparing budgets and meeting with potential donors.

External Representation and Communication
  • Act as an ambassador and advocate for the Alliance brand and accomplishments, networking widely to expand new and existing strategic relationships.

  • Establish and strengthen relationships/alliances with implementing partners.

  • Encourage trust and transparency among partners with a common purpose leading to strong partnerships.

  • Oversee robust and compelling outreach and impactful communications, policy and training programs.

  • Foster partnerships and networks that complement or augment the goals and objectives of the Alliance.

  • Represent the Alliance at conferences worldwide and speak with press on behalf of Alliance.

  • Serve as a leading voice for science advocacy.

Organization and Human Resources Management

  • Manage the Alliance as a whole, including all income and expenditures and related financial matters, risk assessment, governance and performance; ensure timely reporting on financial and programmatic progress.

  • Lead, motivate, inspire and delegate to a team of globally dispersed professionals.

  • Ensure that there are clear lines of accountability and responsibility across the team that foster and maintain effective working relationships for the Alliance.

  • Foster a cohesive and collaborative culture in the Alliance that encourages personal fulfillment and professional growth among team members at all levels.

Education, Qualifications & Experience

  • An advanced degree is essential (e.g., JD, MD, MBA, Ph.D., etc.). Degrees in science communications, life sciences, public policy, global development, or organizational development are preferred.

Required Experience/Minimum Qualifications
  • First-hand experience working in developing countries.

  • Familiarity with the science, regulatory system, and public attitudes around agricultural biotechnology.

  • Experience managing a multi-disciplinary team of professionals.  Provide staff leadership to a team comprising approximately ten staff and consultants.

  • Experience in managing grant portfolios, including applying and evaluating milestone-based performance objectives.

  • Demonstrated curiosity and comfort in areas beyond current areas of expertise with a proven ability to rapidly acquire knowledge and execute sound judgment in various scientific areas.

  • Ability to organize and prioritize work and meet deadlines within a fast-paced environment with multiple and competing demands.

  • Demonstrated track record of mobilizing funds from a variety of donors (foundations, government agencies and private donors). 

  • Experience writing successful grant proposals to foundations and US government agencies.

  • Experience working at strategic and operational levels and driving success across organizations and partnerships.

  • Excellent leadership skills, line management experience and the ability to motivate and develop teams to deliver results.

  • Experience in dealing with multiple tasks, sensitivities, and challenges simultaneously.

  • Coalition builder with seasoned experience in developing strategic relationships.

  • A track record of driving quality and innovation and encouraging enterprise in others.

  • Proven ability to run a financially stable organization that is compliant with all regulatory and statutory obligations.

  • Leadership experience in an entrepreneurial environment.

Skills and Qualities

  • Lead courageously by example, with empathy, vision, and innovation.

  • Curious and creative.

  • Authentic leadership skills, with the ability to be flexible and adaptive to meet the organization's needs.

  • Highly enthusiastic and motivated with a can-do attitude.

  • Balanced and fair judgment.

  • High emotional intelligence and integrity

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills

  • Accomplished public speaker.

  • Proven relationship management abilities.

  • Substantive knowledge in a priority area, such as communications, global development, public policy or training.

Terms of Appointment

This is a full-time position. The Executive Director will be based at the Boyce Thompson Institute, Ithaca, New York, US. The position is for three years with extension dependent on future funding. The position requires 20-30% domestic and international travel.

BTI is an equal opportunity employer offering a competitive benefits package. The Alliance encourages applications from the geographies that it serves, especially sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. J-1 / H-1B visa sponsorship is possible for the right candidate.

This position is based in Ithaca, New York, US.

How to Apply 

If you wish to be considered for this position, please complete the Application Form below on or before 24 January 2022. In addition, we encourage you to please attach a copy of the most recent English version of your CV.
All information will be treated in the strictest confidence. If you have an initial query rather than an application, kindly email us at  [email protected].

SRI Executive is exclusively retained by Boyce Thompson Institute to undertake this assignment.

Application form

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