Sign up for our weekly newsletterKeep Me In The Loop!
Sign Up

Join Our Team

JOB POSTING: PROGRAM DIRECTOR

We are currently hiring a full time Program Director for our weekly innovation
event, The Thursday Gathering, and other programs that are designed to grow and connect our area’s innovation and entrepreneurship community.

To Apply: Eligible candidates should send your resume and cover letter to karen@venturecafewinstonsalem.org with a subject line of PROGRAM DIRECTOR.

Role Description: Join our team as the Program Director for our weekly Thursday night event of the innovation community. The weekly Gathering is the Triad’s largest weekly gathering for the innovation, entrepreneur and startup ecosystem. The Program Director will handle the logistics and programming of the event including scheduling groups for panel discussions, workshops, info tables, demos, experiences, office hours and roundtables as well as volunteer staffing.

The Program Director will be a leader in the Triad innovation community, helping the region maintain itself among the top US cities as a hub for startups. The ways in which you will achieve this goal include:

Innovation Community Engagement. You will work in tandem with Venture Cafe’s Executive Director to convene, catalyze connections and help grow the area’s innovation and entrepreneurship communities. You will help position Venture Café Winston-Salem as a valuable but neutral player in the local ecosystem. This may require attending ecosystem meetings, key partner meetings, trade shows, conferences and other events in the Piedmont Triad and beyond.

Managing the Venture Café’s weekly networking event, the Thursday Gathering. The primary vehicle to engage the region’s innovation community is the weekly event, the Thursday Gathering that regularly convenes members of the innovation community in an inclusive and open way. This event strives to complement, not substitute or compete, with other existing innovation community gatherings in Winston-Salem and surrounding areas.

This position requires someone to think strategically about what the ecosystem needs in terms of programming and then fully executing on that insight to create the most meaningful and valuable Thursday Gatherings and related events. That includes the creation of theme nights, special events (such as investor visits, etc) and programming series.

The Thursday Gathering includes a social gathering to create opportunities for serendipitous encounters as well and structured conversations and events (seminars, info sessions, roundtables, etc.). You will manage and grow an invite list in Mailchimp, identify individuals and organizations to hold special events, and organize and run the event. Your work may also include working with members of the broader community to organize regular and special events.

You will own the event from logistics to execution, budget to food and bev. This requires attention to detail, persistence, and the ability to manage multiple weeks of planning at one time. We hold 48 Thursday Gatherings a year, so this is a job with little down time – there’s always another week to plan and execute. This is a big job and will require someone with excellent organizational and communication skills to work efficiently and effectively.

Building an Inclusive Innovation Economy. A cornerstone of Venture Café Winston-Salem will be to launch programs that will help build a more inclusive innovation economy. You will be responsible for the creation and implementation of programming that reaches into the area’s underserved communities, particularly youth and students. As you work to operate these programs in Winston-Salem you will be expected to:

  • Work in tandem with Venture Café Executive Director to build the Venture Café Winston-Salem brand and position it as a neutral, valuable player that complements existing initiatives.
  • Advance the mission of Venture Café Winston-Salem which is to enhance and grow the Piedmont Triad’s innovation community by working to make it more diverse, inclusive, accessible and better connected.
  • Share learnings with the broader Venture Café Global community. This position will report directly to the Executive Director of Venture Café Winston-Salem. We are the fifth location for Venture Café and VC Global expect to be in multiple cities in the coming years. Our experience in Winston-Salem will help to inform how the Venture Cafe Global community expands  future initiatives in other cities.
  • Oversee and report on all finance and accounting processes for Venture Café Winston-Salem Gathering operation (understand P&L, tracking costs, etc.) and other programs over which you have management responsibility.
  • Build (or find a way to build) an effective communications infrastructure for Venture Café Winston-Salem, including website, social media channels (particularly Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) and mailing lists.
  • Build and manage a volunteer corps that will help the day-to-day operations of the programs, particularly of the Venture Café Gathering.
  • Manage all event logistics.
  • Identify key individuals and organizations and partner with them to help in the implementation of these programs. You are not expected to re-invent the wheel.
  • Balance work in the team office with being visible and engaged within the local innovation community, including attending events, meeting people, and building meaningful relationships.
  • Be an advocate and spokesperson for the Piedmont Triad’s innovation and entrepreneurship communities. Convene and connect individuals and organizations that should know each other and potentially collaborate.
  • Manage and/or facilitate other Venture Café Winston-Salem programs and projects as needed.
  • Manage Program Coordinator and/or interns, ensuring they are contributing and learning skills that will ensure their future success.

Venture Café Winston-Salem will look, feel, and operate like a startup. There will be a lot of uncertainty and ambiguity much of the time and no work will be beneath you (on the same day you may sharpen pencils, move furniture and have dinner with the CEO of a global company). This environment also creates great opportunities to be creative and to envision new projects that will take Venture Café Winston-Salem’s mission, and particularly its impact in our local community, to the next level. We believe in experiments as a way of learning.

Background and Experience

  • You have been involved in innovation and/or entrepreneurship initiatives, preferably in a founding, leadership, or advocacy role.
  • You believe that innovation and entrepreneurship are instruments to improve the human condition, not ends themselves.
  • You have a broad and interdisciplinary understanding of the innovation process, including its business and social components.
  • You believe (or are at least open to the idea) that innovation and entrepreneurship take many forms beyond making apps and creating VC-funded startups.
  • You are familiar with the Winston-Salem/Greensboro/High Point innovation community, its key players, and believe in its potential for growth. An extensive social network in this community is desirable, as well as the ability to build local partnerships.
  • You have an understanding of the Piedmont Triad as a region, of its cities, neighborhoods and urban economy.
  • You understand our area’s most pressing challenges (i.e. income inequality and unequal access to opportunity) and embrace them as opportunities for change and problem-solving.
  • You are curious and perhaps familiar with the evolution of business, industry and technology, while having a humanistic perspective.

Desirable Qualifications

  • A bachelor’s degree in any field.  Advanced degrees add significant value.
  • Experience with event envisioning, planning, and implementation.
  • Great hospitality skills – able to keep community members engaged and happy even while resolving problems Be able to enforce the Venture Café Guidelines in friendly but firm fashion.
  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills. Real, natural comfort with public speaking, in formal and informal settings, is key.
  • Ability to communicate and collaborate across business, academia, government, and civil society. An appreciation for the role of design and aesthetics in creating better communication tools, spaces, products, and services.
  • Attention to detail, understanding that form is as important as function.
  • Ability to work effectively in complex stakeholder environments.
  • Excellent organizational, project and task management skills.
  • Familiarity with social media channels. An ability to leverage them as part of your work is desirable. A diplomatic and consensus-oriented approach to decision-making.
  • Global outlook with local roots and commitment.
  • Clear views and positions without being dogmatic. Not a “yes-person”.
  • Good listener. You know when it is pertinent to speak and when it is better to be quiet.

If this job description resonates with your heart and mind, we encourage you apply for the Program Director position. We’re on an aggressive timeline and offer outstanding benefits and competitive salary. Plus, there’s simply no better job in the Piedmont Triad – you directly impact the lives of others every single week in an energetic, inclusive and appreciative community.

Let’s talk.