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Chief Financial Officer

The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) is a nonprofit consortium of nearly sixty universities and research institutions worldwide, with operations in three countries and research stations in Costa Rica and South Africa. We work to drive scientific discovery, enrich human perception and enhance worldwide policy to safeguard tropical ecosystems for global survival. For the last half century OTS has been the world’s leading institution in the study of tropical biology, with more than 350 graduate courses in tropical ecology and conservation and over 8000 students trained. We are now in a phase of rapid expansion to increase our impact throughout the tropics and sub-tropics.

Working closely with the Board of Directors and the leadership team, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a highly cross-functional position, playing a critical role for OTS during a time of organizational change and rapid expansion. (S)he is responsible for the financial health and smooth operations of the organization, tracking our performance, crafting business strategy and managing financial, budget and administrative processes. (S)he is always looking to develop and improve our systems. (S)he oversees a diverse staff, including accounting, finance, human resources, legal affairs, information technology, insurance, safety and security.

The CFO reports to the President and Chief Executive Officer, provides staff support to the Board’s Audit, Budget Review and Investment Committees, and collaborates closely with country, research station and program directors. (S)he is a member of the organization’s leadership team.


Strategy, Planning and Policy

  • Lead and oversee the development and monitoring of annual budget and financial plan, including developing annual operating plan and performance indicators, in collaboration with the President & CEO, Board members and senior staff;
  • Ensure the President & CEO, Board, country and program leads have the timely financial information they need for planning and for making sound management decisions;
  • Provide quarterly, annual and longer-term forecasting, including developing financial models, analyzing trends and advising on organizational sustainability and opportunities for expansion;
  • Develop and implement accounting, financial and operational policies, including recommending and implementing systems to ensure effective operations;
  • Represent the organization to financial and operations partners, including commercial banks and financial service providers, donors, auditors, insurance providers, and others as needed;
  • Maintain current knowledge of audit best practices and relevant state and federal laws for nonprofit organizations; Ensure adequate review and approval of budgets in funding proposals
  • Ensure all financial operations comply with relevant laws, government regulations and donor and organizational policies.

Financial Management, Accounting and Administration

  • Oversee cash and asset management and investment management in accordance with Board-approved investment policy;
  • Oversee cash flow planning and ensure availability of funds when needed;
  • Coordinate with Board Audit Committee and external auditors on all processes related to the annual audit and filing of tax returns;
  • Design and implement appropriate internal controls and financial procedures, ensuring staff have adequate training to comply with financial policies and procedures;
  • Ensure timeliness, accuracy, and usefulness of financial and management reporting for federal funders, donors, and the Board of Directors;
  • Lead the organization’s distributed finance and accounting team, including daily operations, project management, budgeting, hiring, supervision and review;
  • Oversee the organization’s human resources function to ensure compliance with the organization’s employee manual and with all relevant state and federal laws;
  • Oversee the organization’s information technology functions and maintenance and prioritize investments in IT infrastructure;
  • Serve as the organization’s compliance officer for its Whistleblower Policy and advise the President and CEO and Board of Directors on all complaints and their resolution, reporting at least annually to the Board Audit Committee.

Working Conditions

  • This position may be based in the Durham, NC office, or a telecommuting arrangement may be negotiated.
  • Office environment.
  • Given the global nature of our operations and the nature of the position, consistent work outside of normal business hours is expected.
  • Varying amounts of domestic and international travel, sometimes to remote locations, is expected.

Qualifications and Mindset

  • You have at least 8 years of work experience in financial management and accounting (including GAAP and fund accounting), strategic planning, business operations, including audit, legal compliance, budget development and financial forecasting.
  • You are not only a strategic and analytic powerhouse, you construct stories from key data, make actionable recommendations and presentations to diverse, high-powered audiences and focus on the “so what” behind the numbers.
  • You can manage multiple projects and teams simultaneously, with high impact and quality. You can focus simultaneously on the forest, the trees, and even the leaves.
  • You are articulate, a confident communicator, whether verbally or in writing, and you are an even better listener, with experience managing both peers and senior leaders to make sound financial decisions. If you also are fluent in Spanish, that is even better.
  • You are collaborative, with strong interpersonal skills and are able to build relationships and teams across disciplines, cultures and distances. Ideally you have international work experience.
  • You have personal integrity and exemplary discretion when dealing with confidential information and communications.
  • You have a business or accounting degree, or even better an MBA, and preferably have experience in a nonprofit, research institute or higher education setting.

To apply

Please send your résumé (in PDF format) to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , including "Chief Financial Officer" in the email subject line.

OTS is an equal opportunity employer EOE/M/F/D/V.

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Last Updated ( 07/28/17 )
Organization for Tropical Studies
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