Lakehead University

Associate Vice-President, External Relations
Posted Date: 
Monday, July 31, 2017
Closing Date: 
Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Opportunity
Lakehead University is creating an exciting new senior leadership position, Associate Vice-President, External Relations (AVP) as an integral part of the team to plan, launch, and implement the University’s first major philanthropic institutional campaign. 

In this Toronto-based position, the Associate Vice-President, External Relations will report to and collaborate with the Vice-President, External Relations at the Thunder Bay campus, to create and assist with implementing the campaign strategy for the University. The AVP will lead, coach, and mentor a team of fundraising professionals, some of whom are based at the Thunder Bay campus. The AVP will also be a member of the External Relations Senior Leadership Team and will work closely with the Principal, Lakehead Orillia.

This is an outstanding opportunity for a seasoned and experienced fundraising professional who is interested in enhancing major gifts and legacy gifts portfolios, while working with motivated and enthusiastic annual fund, alumni engagement and marketing, branding and web development teams.

About Lakehead University

Established in 1965, Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university offering a diverse range of programs of study across two campuses in Thunder Bay and Orillia.

In 2015, Lakehead University celebrated 50 years of exceptional education. Guided by its 2013 – 2018 Strategic Plan, Lakehead is known for providing an education focused on independent thinking, unconventional scholarship, and a close sense of community. Lakehead is home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies.

Approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff learn and work in 10 faculties at the 2 campuses. National and international alumni number over 60,000.

Maclean’s 2015 University Rankings placed Lakehead University second in Ontario among Canada’s Top 10 undergraduate universities and first among Ontario’s undergraduate universities for Total Research Dollars, Social Sciences & Humanities Grants, and Library Expenses. In 2016, for the second consecutive year, Re$earch Infosource ranked Lakehead first among Canada’s undergraduate universities.

Dynamic, modern, and highly learner-centred, Lakehead acknowledges all students as valued leaders of tomorrow, whose education and successes are most paramount to the institution. Both campuses deliver the total university experience: a blend of academic excellence, and opportunity with a rich variety of social and recreational activities. Lakehead is the proud host to nine Canada Research Chairs and revolutionary facilities such as the world-renowned Paleo-DNA Laboratory and the Biorefining Research Institute.

External Relations at Lakehead University

The External Relations team strives to create life-changing opportunities for Lakehead University students, in our northwestern and central Ontario communities, by inspiring supporters at home, and around the world to become invested in Lakehead’s future. In 2016, through the generous support of our donors, we received $3.1 million in new gifts and major gifts accounted for 83% of our revenue.

We are also responsible for advancing Lakehead University's image and reputation by disseminating news; developing and implementing internal and external communications, strategic marketing, special events; and developing strong relationships with key constituency groups, including alumni, donors, community groups and all levels of government.

Our Toronto office opened in January 2016 to build new relationships with various audiences, including elected officials, professional organizations, alumni, donors, corporations, and prospective students in the Greater Toronto Area. The Toronto office houses staff from External Relations, domestic and international recruitment and provides office space for visiting staff, faculty and alumni.

The Ideal Candidate

Partnering with the Vice-President, External Relations to design and implement fundraising tactics to enable the University’s exciting vision for the future, the successful candidate will be a big picture-thinker and masterful strategist with proven experience in the planning and implementation of transformational institutional campaigns.

A polished, seasoned and accomplished fundraising professional, the Associate Vice-President, External Relations, will have extensive major gift success achieving and personally closing substantial investment from individuals, corporations, and foundations. The new incumbent will be goal oriented, driven by metrics, and focused on deliverables.

Articulate and an exceptional communicator, the ideal candidate will creatively engage and inspire our donors, prospective donors and alumni. With a genuine passion, sense of excitement and enthusiasm for higher education, the successful candidate will foster donor and alumni relationships built on respect and trust. An authentic relationship-builder, the Associate Vice-President will inspire donors to consider meaningful commitments to the University. 

The new incumbent will be comfortable working remotely and autonomously, and within a large and multi-layered complex organization. Nimble and entrepreneurial with a business orientation, the successful candidate will be undaunted by ambiguity and will take the initiative to hit the ground running.  The Associate Vice-President will lead with credibility, competence, and integrity. The new incumbent will be a natural major gift mentor, coach, and resource to our broader External Relations team.

With a high degree of professionalism and commitment, along with a sense of humour, the ideal candidate will encourage our philanthropy team to raise their sights, elevate their performance, and reach their full potential.

The successful candidate will be a confident philanthropy champion, partner and campaign expert with our academic leaders, administrative staff, and senior campaign volunteers. Diplomatic, tactful, and politically savvy, the new incumbent will take time to listen and learn our unique history in order to successfully collaborate and interact with our diverse communities.

The ideal candidate will align with our pledge to enable student success, promote independent thinking, support student potential over credential, and apply unconventional scholarship. As the face of Lakehead University in the GTA, the Associate Vice-President will embrace and proudly represent Lakehead, the unconventional and exceptional University.

Key Activities & Responsibilities

In assuming this portfolio, the Associate Vice-President, External Relations will:

o Provide leadership, direction, coaching, and encouragement to a staff of fundraising professionals, to raise sights and support them in reaching financial goals and to offer an exceptional experience for donors, prospective donors, fundraising volunteers and partners.
o Contribute to and participate in the planning of Lakehead’s first institutional philanthropic campaign, and serve as the “Campaign Director” responsible for tactical implementation.
o Collaborate with academic and administrative colleagues, and with the Philanthropy staff, to identify and develop funding opportunities and priorities for Lakehead.
o Assist with campaign case development in partnership with the Vice-President, External Relations.
o Establish a systemic and strategic approach to prospect identification and donor pipeline development by expanding and diversifying a network of prospective donors and partners.
o Oversee the overall management of major gift and legacy prospects through qualification, assignment, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship.
o In partnership with the Philanthropy staff, determine optimal management and assignment strategies for each prospect.
o Develop and maintain strong relationships with a portfolio of prospective donors, with accountability for personal revenue and activity goals.
o Develop and implement appropriate accountability measurements for major and legacy giving activities and staff, putting in place rigorous systems, routines, procedures and behaviors to ensure success and growth in our major and legacy giving activities.
o Ensure compliance by the Major and Legacy giving team with all regulations, policy and ethical standards that pertain to fundraising.
o Supervise donor relations, stewardship, and communications activities with prospects and donors assigned to the Major and Legacy Gift staff, ensuring a high level of professionalism and donor engagement.
o In partnership with the Vice-President, provide guidance, training, and support to academic and administrative colleagues who serve as partners in our fundraising activities.
o Assist the President and Vice-President in the management of the Campaign Cabinet.
o Work closely with the Principal, Lakehead Orillia to build major gift donor relationships within Simcoe County. 
o Support and partner with the Alumni Relations team to ensure an integrated approach to the engagement of over 60,000 alumni.
o Collaborate with the Marketing and Branding staff to ensure consistent messaging and to optimize the use of communications vehicles to promote funding priorities and to celebrate successes.
o Contribute to the enhancement of the positive reputation of External Relations by serving as an internal ambassador in the Lakehead community, and by representing Lakehead enthusiastically and professionally in the external community.
o Maintain accountability for operating and revenue budgets as identified.

Qualifications & Competencies

o Substantial and progressive experience in leadership and management, with revenue generation responsibilities in a large and multi-layered complex organization.
o Strong strategic, business and fundraising planning, implementation and management skills.
o Demonstrated track record of achievement, most particularly related to institutional campaigns and securing major, or transformational gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations.
o Proven track record soliciting and confirming legacy gifts.
o Solid leadership experience and the ability to lead by example, mentoring, building the skills and competencies of others, and gaining respect and credibility at all levels.
o Acts as a role model to staff and others, demonstrating the highest standards of professionalism, confidentiality and sensitivity.
o Knowledge of and experience with the nature and dimensions of philanthropy, ethics, motivations for giving and volunteering.
o Knowledge of standard fundraising techniques through all aspects of the donor cycle.
o Operational experience, including budgeting, forecasting and fundraising operations.
o Exceptional communication skills (written and oral), presentation and interpersonal skills.
o Experience working with university leadership, or equivalent, to identify and manage donor pipelines.
o Exhibits the highest standards of personal responsibility and accountability as an ambassador and champion of the University.
o Adaptable, respectful and collaborative with an ability to accept diverse world views, values, politics and lifestyles.
o Ability to develop relationships of trust and respect with faculty, volunteers, donors and colleagues.
o Strong analytical, organizational and creative problem solving skills.
o A University degree is required for this role.
o Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) designation an asset.
o Availability for occasional travel as well as occasional work on evenings and weekends.

For More Information

To learn more about this leadership opportunity at Lakehead University, please contact Sylvia Kadlick, Senior Search Consultant or Sandra Taylor, Senior Consultant at KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.) via email at

To view the full Executive Brief, please visit:

All inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence.  Please send resume and letter of interest to the email address listed above by August 31, 2017.