Location Washington, D.C. 

Reports to Board of Directors

Position Summary

The President, with the support of the board of directors and the leadership team, will  enhance both the program offerings and the operational capabilities of the Niskanen Center. The President will have full operating responsibility for the organization, including the financial stewardship and overall programmatic direction for scholarly initiatives. They will also have full enterprise-wide leadership responsibility of the executive team as well as accountability to the board of directors.


  • Day-to-day responsibility for the enterprise including effective decision making  and delegation and effective management of board relations, including board expansion. 
  • Emphatically support and maintain the quality of scholarship amidst continued growth. 
  • Be an enthusiastic fundraiser for the Center. Maintain and promote Niskanen’s distinctiveness as a think tank and advocacy organization. Demonstrate moral courage so scholars know the President will support their scholarship and work. 
  • Prioritize scholar recruitment and serve as a “talent magnet” for Niskanen. 
  • Engage intellectually in the work of the Center to build buy-in; respect and celebrate the team’s scholarship and achievements versus his/her own. 
  • Continue to foster the collaborative culture amongst scholars and staff.

The Person

  • Philosophical Alignment: A passionate believer in an open society, free inquiry and  individual autonomy, prioritizing facts and data over ideology and partisanship. Recognition of the mutually reinforcing relationships between the: free market and the welfare state; individual liberty and the public welfare; social cohesion and multicultural pluralism; and economic well-being and environmental protection.  
  • Executive Operations: Strategic and operational management experience of a dynamic, multifaceted organization. Maintains a strong organizational culture as an effective decision maker, delegator, and manager of board relations. 
  • Communications: A superb communicator — externally and internally — compelling, culturally astute, and clear. 
  • Scholarship/Policy: A superior intellect who understands policy and philosophy in a broad context, and who can maintain and enhance the Center’s reputation as a premier think tank and advocacy organization known for excellence and impact. 
  • Development: An enthusiastic fundraiser who welcomes the opportunity to strengthen and build Niskanen’s community of supporters.
  • Character: A leader who builds trust, possesses impeccable personal character and integrity, respect and appreciation for others, and who always places the interests of the enterprise ahead of their own.

Leadership Capabilities

  • Strategic Leadership: Provides visionary leadership and develops opportunities to  continue to grow Niskanen while improving operational excellence. Agile and able to pivot when needed. 
  • Data-Driven: Is a leader who leverages data, technology and best practices to ensure seamless operations across the enterprise with a focus on enhancing greater return on donor investment. 
  • Relationship-Builder: Natural ability to advance Niskanen by actively engaging current and potential partners and establishing relationships across constituency groups,  including donors, scholars, political parties, and the board of directors.  
  • Executive Presence: Displays exceptional leadership presence, executive communications ability, persuasiveness and vision. 
  • Character: A leader who builds trust, possesses impeccable personal character and integrity, respect and appreciation for others, and who always places the interests of the enterprise ahead of his/her own.

Please direct all inquiries to: Ron Brown at RBROWN@heidrick.com.

Photo credit: iStock