Chief Development Officer, Athletics and Recreation, American University

About American University

About AU

“We are a University of strivers and dreamers, of activists and artists, of scholars and servant-leaders. We realize that when we all contribute, we all succeed. We are, quite literally, one-AU.” – President Sylvia Burwell

American University is a student-centered research institution located in Washington, DC, with highly-ranked schools and colleges, internationally-renowned faculty, and a reputation for creating meaningful change in the world. Our students distinguish themselves with their service, leadership, and ability to rethink global and domestic challenges and opportunities.

At AU passion becomes action; students actively engage in the world around them; and the leaders of today train the leaders of tomorrow.

We are looking for candidates who reflect the diversity of our student body. At AU, we are deeply committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. American University was founded to respond to the needs of a changing world, with a set of guiding values—among them diversity, equity, and inclusion. AU cannot be excellent without being truly inclusive, and without taking the concrete, specific steps to improve our campus climate.

BIPOC, LGBTQ+, immigrants, multilingual, mature or differently abled candidates, and people of all faiths or none at all are encouraged to apply.

About AU Athletics & Recreation

The American University Department of Athletics and Recreation is an integral part of American University and plays a critical role in the overall education and development of our students. Participation in intercollegiate athletics and recreation complement a student’s educational experience- it does not overwhelm it.

Read more about us here.

Center for Athletic Performance

Center for Athletic Performance (CAP), the renovation of the Sports Center Annex and the second and third floors of Mary Graydon Center represent a significant investment in student thriving at AU. Combined, these new and updated facilities will create a Student Thriving Center that will support the many wellness, academic, social, athletic, and emotional needs and opportunities that are so important to our students. While planning for this project has many stages still to come, this is an important step in our work to enhance student thriving and the ongoing transformation of our campus.

With the announcement of two significant, philanthropic gifts in the Fall of 2019, American University has accelerated the planning and fundraising efforts for a new athletics and recreation facility. The Center For Athletic Performance (The CAP) will be the first new construction in over 30 years dedicated to the Athletics and Recreation Departments’ mission on campus.

As a new, state-of-the-art facility, The CAP will serve as a catalyst to recruit and retain world-class student-athletes and inspire increased competitive excellence and institutional pride throughout the AU community.

Read more about the project here.

About Change Can’t Wait: The Campaign for American University

With a $500 million goal, Change Can’t Wait will create transformative educational opportunities for students, advance research with impact, and build stronger communities locally, nationally, and globally. Why us? Changemaking is in our DNA. Why now? We know change can’t wait.

Find out more about the campaign here.

The Role

The Chief Development Officer (CDO), Athletics and Recreation leads the fundraising efforts for the department. The CDO works closely with leaders in Athletics and Recreation and across the institution to foster relationships with major donors and create opportunities for support and engagement. The CDO will lead the fundraising efforts for the Center for Athletic Performance (CAP) and build on recent successes of raising over $11M towards the project. The CDO is supported by an Associate Director, Annual Giving and a dedicated team of professionals in Athletics and Recreation. If you are an entrepreneurial, relationship-focused and results-driven fundraising leader, we want to hear from you.


  • Manage a major gift portfolio and meet established goals related to ongoing management of a major gifts portfolio, resulting in cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of prospects through execution of these responsibilities, achievement of rigorous annual goals relating to constituent visits, major gifts, and pledges.
  • Proactively cultivate relationships with prospective major donors including parents, alumni, community members and corporate partners.
  • Identify and qualify new prospects by working closely with volunteers, senior leaders and advancement colleagues.
  • Work closely with coaches and senior volunteers to engage parents of current athletes.
  • Oversee all aspects of the planning, implementation, and execution of the Athletics and Recreation department’s major gift fundraising program which will likely include capital projects. These responsibilities have multiple layers, including but not limited to the following: Identify, cultivate, solicit and steward gifts and pledges from an active portfolio of key major gift prospects. Work with volunteer leadership and key members of the Athletics and Recreation Department to identify and solicit major gift prospects.

Leadership and Collaboration:

  • Work closely with other University development professionals, including regional advancement, planned giving, annual giving, and alumni relations to implement a broad range of fundraising activities.
  • Interact with the staff of the Department of Athletics and Recreation’s on implementation of their Eagles Club (Annual Fund: direct mail, online giving, e-mail) when appropriate. Advise Athletics and Recreation staff on development efforts.
  • Manage the Associate Director, Annual Giving, Athletics and Recreation.
  • Represent the University at meetings, athletic events and various other functions. The CDO-AR may also be asked to focus on duties and special projects relating to ongoing development activities and priorities established by the Vice President of Development
  • Other duties as assigned in fulfillment of the objectives established by the Assistant Vice President of Development.


  • A minimum of 10 years of fundraising experience with a focus on raising major gifts from individuals, corporations, or foundations or sports sales and management.
  • Proven track record of closing 6- and 7-figure gifts.
  • Experience working with volunteers – either on boards, committees, or in completion of assigned responsibilities.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills demonstrated by clear, concise, and persuasive writing, public speaking.
  • Excellent interpersonal communication skills and demonstrated experience successfully working with persons from diverse backgrounds.
  • Excellent analytical, research and time management skills.
  • Ability to manage several projects simultaneously in a deadline-driven environment.
  • Entrepreneurial, self-starter and action-oriented.
  • An ability to set and achieve revenue generating goals.
  • Understanding of the importance of sports and higher education is an asset , but not a requirement.

Hiring offers for this position are contingent on the successful completion of a background check.

Travel and Work arrangements:

This position requires frequent evening and weekend work, travel 30% of the time and in-office access on a regular basis. Candidates must have a valid driver’s license and access to reliable transportation. Some work from home accommodations may be made. Staff is currently working in a hybrid work environment until at least June 30, 2022.


AU offers a comprehensive benefits package and a competitive compensation. The target salary range for this position is $100,000-$120,000 with some flexibility commensurate with experience.

American University has retained the services of Charity Search Group to coordinate the search for this position. To discuss your suitability for the role, please contact Mariya Yurukova ( or visit


Interested in this role? Apply online or book a call to find out more.

Job Category:Chief Development Officer
Location:Washington DC
Closing Date:Open until filled
Important:Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis; early application is strongly suggested.
About Mariya Yurukova, MBA, CFRE - CEO Charity Search Group| Nonprofit Executive Search Firm in Maryland

Mariya Yurukova, MBA, CFRE

President & CEO

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