Open Position: Special Assistant to the CEO


The Pahara Institute is dedicated to identifying, strengthening sustaining and connecting diverse, high-integrity, seasoned leaders who are reimagining public education. Pahara’s programs are aimed at improving leadership in education at a crucial point in our country’s history when our goal of a more equitable democratic society as well as our changing economy demand dramatically more from our public schools. Today there is a growing community of education reform leaders and entrepreneurs who are spearheading innovative approaches to better serve all students, especially those in low-income communities.


Located in Napa, California, The Pahara Institute is a partially virtual organization with a small and dynamic team of 16. The Institute was launched in 2012, building upon its flagship program, the Pahara-Aspen Fellowship, which was originally created as the Aspen-NewSchools Fellowship in 2006. Today, Pahara’s programs include the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship, the NextGen Fellowship, and regional and topical convenings serving our approximately 650-member alumni network.

The Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship is a two-year cohort-based leadership program modeled after the renowned Henry Crown Fellowship at the Aspen Institute. It is focused on increasing both the strength and diversity of leadership for the educational excellence and equity movement by bringing together senior entrepreneurial leaders in education who have been nominated by recognized leaders within the field, and providing them with an opportunity to step back from their demanding daily work to reflect with peers on their collective and individual work as leaders and change agents.

The NextGen Fellowship is a 12-month leadership development program focused on supporting high potential, emerging senior leaders who bring a diversity of underrepresented perspectives and have the potential to strengthen and shape the future of the educational excellence and equity movement. By identifying individuals who can amplify underrepresented voices, and providing them with high-level leadership development and networking opportunities, this program encourages and supports those who will become senior leaders in the field and helps strengthen the educational equity and excellence movement by engaging more diverse perspectives.


The Special Assistant to the CEO will provide high-level support to the CEO. We anticipate that s/he will spend approximately 70% of his/her focus supporting the administrative and clerical needs and special projects of the CEO, and 30% of his/her focus coordinating the operations of Pahara’s Napa office and supporting the CEO and the management team on organization initiatives to ensure that Pahara achieves its objectives.

Specific duties include, but are not limited to:

Supporting the CEO

  • Optimizing and scheduling the CEO’s calendar based on key organizational priorities and her individual needs;
  • Collaborating proactively with other team members to ensure that the CEO is well prepared for meetings and that she and other key participants have requisite and relevant background information;
  • Creating and maintaining effective and transparent systems to organize the CEO’s deliverables across the organization;
  • Creating a seamless travel experience for the CEO, including scheduling travel, anticipating CEO’s travel needs and preferences, and completing expense reports for reimbursement;
  • Serving as an intermediary between the organization’s contacts and the CEO, and handling information, meeting requests, and communication follow-up for her and for the firm;
  • Preparing correspondence and proofing a wide variety of written materials (e.g.: letters, emails, etc.) for a diverse array of internal and external audiences.

Special Projects for the CEO

  • Supporting CEO and management team in preparing for board meetings and engaging appropriately with board members in between semi-annual board meetings;
  • Serving as a critical team player on special projects such as performing research and analysis on specific issues, and preparing briefings, memos, or presentations to communicate findings;
  • Project managing preparation of CEO’s presentation materials for various external audiences.

Organizational Coordination

  • Managing the operations of Pahara’s Napa office, including ordering supplies, coordinating with vendors, and acting as primary liaison to office landlord;
  • Maintaining a full team calendar across the organization, including scheduling organization-wide calls and meetings;
  • Organizing and managing the logistics for organization-wide events and trainings;
  • Assisting with other organization-wide projects as needed.


Pahara is a mission-driven organization and our team is made up of professionals with a deep commitment to serving the needs of disadvantaged children through public education. Pahara is a strong fit for professionals who are resourceful, responsible, tenacious, independent, self-confident, who possess strong personal motivation, and demonstrate exemplary professional behavior and values. In addition, the successful candidate will have:

  • A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent;
  • Exceptional organizational skills, acute attention to detail and proven ability to follow-through;
  • Maturity and the ability to thrive and work independently and virtually in a fast-paced environment while maintaining humor and strong relationships;
  • Proven ability to lead projects, and expert at organizing time and priorities both for self and for executive(s);
  • Strong  problem-solving ability and creative approach to meeting multiple competing demands, including navigating tradeoffs among multiple mission-critical workstreams;
  • Commitment to and sufficient cultural competence to work with a diverse team and network;
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills;
  • Demonstrable experience creating systems for improved efficiency and effectiveness;
  • A high level of integrity, trust and accountability, demonstrated through sound judgment;
  • At least 5+ years of experience supporting teams and C-level executives in an administrative capacity;
  • The ability to type 50 WPM or more.


Pahara provides competitive compensation and an attractive benefits package, including full health care coverage, and access to 401(k) account with matching contribution policy.


We are a nimble and partially virtual organization by design, so that our professionals can work where they have built their lives. However, given the close nature of the partnership that the Special Assistant will have with the CEO who is based in Napa, this position is Napa-based. In-person meetings will be required several times each week; these will take place in Napa, California.

To Apply

Pahara is committed to providing equal opportunities. We serve diverse organizations, and are committed to nondiscrimination. It is our policy to ensure that all individuals with whom we are in contact are treated equally without regard to age, race, disability, gender, marital status, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, expression, gender identity or veteran’s status.

The review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Applications should consist of a letter of interest and a current resume.

Applications or inquiries about the position should be directed to:

Pahara Institute
via: Saamra Mekuria-Grillo