AURA Chief of Staff

2 days left

Baltimore, Maryland or Washington D.C.
Mar 09, 2021
Apr 13, 2021
Full Time

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is currently seeking a Chief of Staff.

The position will be located in either Washington D.C. or Baltimore, Maryland at the discretion of the selected candidate.

Working closely with the AURA President, the Chief of Staff (“CoS”) develops and aligns strategic priorities with other members of the senior AURA leadership team. The CoS is responsible for determining the “signal in the noise”, making sure the right people are coordinating on the right priorities and activities at the right time; and taking action accordingly. This includes shaping AURA Headquarters’ internal leadership communications, so that the entire organization is informed, motivated and sufficiently empowered in their day-to-day work to undertake AURA’s mission and strategic initiatives on behalf of our Agencies and community stakeholders. The CoS provides briefing and evaluation on key organizational issues to the AURA President and works with them to evaluate and frame priorities, responses and actions.  As talent management and development is a key priority for AURA, the CoS provides direct oversight for AURA’s human capital management functions.   

In this role, the Chief of Staff is responsible for:

  1. Leading activities of the leadership team to set strategic priorities, establishing appropriate metrics and ensuring efforts are well-aligned by regularly evaluating progress.
  2. Driving the leadership team efforts in problem identification, decision-making, and issue resolution.
  3. Establishing a strategic management approach for AURA Headquarters:
    1. Brief AURA President on key organizational issues and work with them to evaluate and frame priorities, responses and actions.
    2. Ensure the President's involvement in project and/or decision-making processes takes place at key times, where their input and authority are most needed.
    3. Work with Executive Assistant to ensure the President’s time, and, as appropriate, that of other members of the leadership team, are matched to AURA Corporates priorities.
  1. Focusing AURA Headquarters’ communications to ensure that priorities, principles, and expectations are well understood and drive the work and goals of the entire organization.
  2. Serving as primary contact for AURA Board communications and meetings and working with the AURA leadership team, Corporate Secretary and Chair of the AURA Board on meeting structure and cadence, agendas, terms, and membership.
  3. Focusing AURA leadership communications on strategic priorities. Ensuring tactical discussions are held at the appropriate Center level. Identifying when the President should take the lead to resolve conflicts and persistent issues.
  4. Identifying, building, and maintaining relationships with key community stakeholders, ensuring that AURA leadership team does not lose sight of its core mission to enable science undertaken by the broad astronomical community.
  5. Reviewing AURA oversight committee activities and identifying potential “hot topics” for AURA HQ. Ensuring the leadership team anticipates rather than reacts to issues that emerge.
  6. Providing direct oversight of the organization’s human capital management teams including recruitment and selection activities for leadership roles reporting to the President.


 Minimum Qualifications:

  • Direct experience working for a non-profit organization delivering services to the Federal government is strongly preferred.
  • Must have knowledge of regulations and policies of governmental funding agencies and how to address efficiently and effectively.
  • The management credibility to bring together senior leaders and Center Directors, to forge consensus on common paths forward.
  • Demonstrated effective negotiation and problem-solving skills.
  • Ability to foster the further development of professionals who already have a high degree of subject-matter expertise.
  • The vision to initiate, and appreciate, the added value a common purpose across a diverse portfolio brings to the mission of AURA.
  • An understanding of scientifically focused programmatic/project focused environments, and matrixed management techniques.
  • An experienced appreciation of the Federal environment in which we operate to ensure “solutions” also meet the needs of our funding Agencies.
  • Strong written and oral communication, presentation, and interpersonal skills; demonstrated ability to describe technical matters to multiple audiences; experienced organizing and facilitating meetings including distributing summary materials promptly; comfortable using a variety of video conferencing and telecommunication software.
  • A high degree of professionalism with strong interpersonal qualities to comfortably, respectfully, and effectively interact with individuals at all levels of government and scientific organizations.


Undergraduate degree required.  Advanced degree in business, physics, astronomy or a related field is highly desired.  Ten or more years of progressive management experience, including previous experience in a senior leadership role.  Work experience associated with astronomical facilities construction, operations, or management, and engagement with federal funding agencies is highly desired.

Occasional travel requirement of is required for this position, which consists of travel to the various centers located in Arizona, Boulder, Hawaii, Chile, and DC/Maryland.

Note:  Substitution of additional relevant education or experience for stated qualifications may be considered. 

Position will remain open until the position has been filled. Please complete an on-line application and upload a cover letter and resume in one PDF document. Internal employees will be able to see job opportunities through our employee self-service portal, UltiPro at

Direct Link:

AURA sees the diversity of its staff as a strategic priority in our desire to create a first-rate scientific community. We reflect that deep commitment in strongly encouraging women, minorities, veterans and disabled individuals to apply for these opportunities. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA does not discriminate because of race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, or mental or physical handicap. EOE/AA/M/F/D/V.

If anyone needs assistance applying or making edits to a profile, please email


Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities


The contractor will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with the contractor’s legal duty to furnish information. 41 CFR 60-1.35(c)