Beacon Academy is an innovative, independent, Montessori based IB high school. While based in Evanston, Illinois, our students use the entire Chicago area as their classroom. Established in corporate offices over a restaurant in 2014, Beacon experienced rapid growth from its beginnings with 37 students and a dozen employees to over 200 students and 50 staff members housed in an annex of the Rotary Building in downtown Evanston.
Why We Need You - The Role
The Director of Finance and Human Resources (DFHR) is the hands-on business lead for the School. This person is a strategic thought partner and passionate utility player to the Head of School, the senior administrative team and the Board of Trustees’ Finance Committee. The DFHR creates and manages effective, efficient administrative systems and policies, including accounting, financial, human resources, and risk management for the purpose of maximizing internal control, staff efficiency and effectiveness and to protect school assets. This person collaborates with the Head of School to evaluate compensation and benefits packages and supports managers by providing HR policy and compliance guidance. He/she/they create budgets, cash flow forecasts and long term financial forecasts incorporating strategic plans and initiatives to support the mission of the school. This person provides meaningful financial reports to monitor the school’s adherence to its $5.7M budget and initiatives. The DFHR is responsible for preparing external GAAP financial statements, managing the financial statement audit and reviewing the auditor prepared Form 990 and for legal and regulatory compliance.
What You’ll Accomplish - Performance Objectives
Onboard and get up to speed - In your first 30 days, meet with senior administrators to understand the school, its culture and your contributions needed to support the team. Through local and national, formal and informal networking groups, establish relationships with individuals in similar roles at other independent schools to learn methods, trends or new information that could benefit Beacon’s staff, students or community. Identify areas where you need more education and seek out cost-effective/budget minded opportunities for learning.
Compliance - In the first three months, you will create a calendar and plan to use as a road map to the school’s governmental and regulatory filings and School, Accounting, Business office and Human Resource policy and manual updates. Identifying the constant changes in compliance in both Not for Profit Accounting and Human Resources requires regular reading of relevant articles, journals and newsletters and attending continuing education courses.
Budget cycle - In the first six months, you will collaborate with the Head of School and budget managers to create a budget for the next school year using the School’s strategic plan, budgeting principles, historical data and benchmarking data as a guide. You will present the budget to the Board of Trustees’ in collaboration with the Board of Trustees’ Finance Committee. You will learn the monthly financial statement preparation process and, as part of that function, will review budget vs actual P&L reports, understand the reasons for budget variances, review required approvals and report them to the Board’s Treasurer.
Balanced, efficient systems - In the first six months, you will gain an understanding of the purpose and inner workings of administrative systems and policies. Technology is your friend. You will leverage technology to evaluate current systems for efficiency and effectiveness and consider new technologies or existing technologies at lower costs, always evaluating the cost vs benefit of considered changes. Your depth of understanding with Quickbooks Premier Desktop and familiarity with Zenefits (HR/payroll software), Abacus (expense and credit card reporting software) and FACTS Management/Grant and Aid (Student information system, tuition billing and financial aid software) is highly beneficial and will reduce the learning curve.
Who We’re Looking For - Personal Competencies
Technical Chops - You hold a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting, have a deep understanding and experience with financial accounting and reporting, budgeting, developing internal control systems and understanding and overseeing collection and disbursement cycles.You are able to prepare and oversee the preparation of workpapers and account reconciliations. You are experienced with general ledger systems and accounting for not for profits, preferably independent schools. You’re knowledgeable about compensation management, benefits administration, payroll, payroll taxes and labor laws. You will share with us the successes and setbacks on your journey to and as a leader in finance/accounting and human resources. You will demonstrate your knowledge of best practices in the areas of accounting, business office and human resources.
Relationship Building and Collaboration - You have empathy for colleagues, students and their parents (customers). You demonstrate cross-functional collaboration and seek opportunities to build relationships with Beacon colleagues, students and parents and with others including the vendors, outside professionals and those in the wider independent school community. You establish credibility by demonstrating your technical expertise, educating where appropriate, listening and understanding others’ viewpoints and learning from others. Beacon’s culture is built on a willingness to learn, grow, work independently and interdependently and pitch in wherever necessary.
Executive Leadership - You demonstrate the ability to plan, organize, prioritize and delegate efficiently and productively. You bring new ideas to the School and can see things in a new way to improve systems, processes and talent. You influence others to accept ideas with kindness and firmness and without force. Your flexibility allows you to quickly reorganize priorities in a changing environment. Your calm, credible presence helps others maintain composure in a crisis or in high pressure situations. This ability makes people trust in your leadership. Your clear communication also makes people understand that you hold them accountable, in addition to supporting them. Your role is both strategic, focused on the big picture, identifying opportunities and threats and also analytical, drawing insightful conclusions from data and paying attention to the details and not letting things slip through the cracks.
About Beacon Academy
Beacon Academy brings together independent school best practices and the IB Diploma curriculum with the independence, freedom, and student-centered methods of Montessori. The students experience a learning community that inspires self-motivation and personal challenge and celebrates intellectual, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity. Based in Evanston, but using the entirety of Chicago as a classroom, Beacon Academy has experienced explosive growth since its founding in 2014. It is a school that values entrepreneurialism, creativity, and innovation.