Chief Programs Officer

Job Category: Executive
Job Type: Full Time
Job Location: Los Angeles

Braille Institute

View Position Brochure Here


Braille Institute is a nonprofit organization that has been positively transforming the lives of those with vision loss for more than 100 years. Braille Institute offers a broad range of free programs, classes, and services to more than 20,000 children, youth and adults each year.

Braille Institute serves the community at centers and community outreach locations throughout Southern California with a full array of services: low vision consultations, technology training, daily living skills classes, arts & healthy living classes, orientation & mobility training, and library services. Braille Institute also hosts nationally recognized programs like Braille Challenge and Cane Quest. About 10 percent of the Institute’s clients are totally blind, while 90 percent have low vision.

Braille Institute’s staff team (185 FTE) and volunteers are fully committed to the mission of Braille Institute. They have a passion to serve and are highly professional in their day-to-day responsibilities. More specifically, they provide an individualized range of services designed to meet each person’s specific visual challenges and personal goals. They strive to serve the whole person by meeting a range of physical, social, intellectual, and emotional needs. Many of Braille Institute’s students receive multiple services and there are no limits on age or length of service.

Since its founding in 1919 by J. Robert Atkinson, Braille Institute has remained highly focused on its singular mission. While the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020-2021 presented life-changing challenges, Braille Institute adapted programs for remote delivery and established the foundation for a new “hybrid” model of service of both in-person at its centers and remotely through online delivery. Extending its reach via digital online delivery is now a core strategy as the number of people who are blind or visually impaired is expected to double in the U.S. to eight million over the next two decades.

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Join Braille Institute in building a more inclusive world. 

Braille Institute is undertaking one of the most transformative initiatives in its history, planning its next century of success in serving the blind and visually impaired communities.  The 2024-2025 strategic planning process led to the identification of the next generation of opportunities to advance critical initiatives in areas such as customer research; the expansion and transformation of current programs and services; the development of new nationally and internationally accessible programs; the creation of dynamic new strategic partnerships; and the alignment of its mission, strategy, and resources.  The Chief Programs Officer will lead the charge in transforming a mission-based, customer-centric organization through scalable, in-person/on-site and digital services and solutions.

Braille Institute is seeking an innovative and strategic Chief Programs Officer with a passion for and track record of designing and delivering exemplary and impactful in-person and digitally driven programming. 


Reporting to Chief Executive Officer, Jim Kales, in this newly created position as a key member of the Executive Leadership Team, the Chief Programs Officer (CPO) will be a strategic thought partner responsible for directing all critical programs and services, leveraging expertise in digital content creation and delivery as well as exceptional in-person customer experience. 

The charter for the CPO’s organization will include creating successful, relevant, compelling programs and services by leveraging internal talent and generating new strategic external partnerships with a collaborative approach.  The CPO will be the driving force behind innovative programming characterized by compelling in-person and digital, customer-centric experiences, responsive to and anticipating the emerging needs of the blind and visually impaired communities served.  The CPO will establish Braille Institute as a leader in program excellence, customer centricity, and alignment of every program and service to the organization’s mission and goals, while setting a new standard in operational/delivery excellence.

Key responsibilities will include but not be limited to:

  • Executive Leadership: Collaborate with executives and managers to develop strategic and long-range goals for programs and services for the organization including generating proposals to enter new markets and expand existing market presence.  Evaluate departmental operations from a strategic level to ensure that programs and services meet quality, integrity, functionality, and other specifications and requirements.
  • Programs and Services Leadership: Serve as the primary leader for all activities related to Braille Institute’s programs and services.  Lead, direct, and coach a team of up to 115 staff that includes clinical services, educational programs and special initiatives providing services at 7 locations in Southern California, and nationally via online service delivery with a budget of approximately $12 million.
  • Customer-Centric Strategy: Guide the strategic direction and drive these programs towards success while infusing a customer-centric mindset throughout all phases of program design, delivery, and the continuous improvement of programs, processes, and systems.
  • Strategic Program Planning and Collaborative Coordination: Serve as the main programmatic internal focal point, effectively collaborating and coordinating with cross-functional teams (including Finance; Development; Marketing; People and Culture; and Information Technology) to ensure program objectives are met.
  • Technical Oversight: Ensure technical excellence in program deliverables, staying abreast of advancements in digital design and delivery technology and relevant fields.
  • Budget Management: Oversee budgeting, financial planning, and resource allocation for each program, ensuring cost-effectiveness and financial integrity.
  • Stakeholder Communication: Maintain effective communication with all stakeholders, including current students, patrons, donors, internal team members, and external community partners.
  • Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement: Implement quality control measures and standards to ensure continuous improvement processes are exercised across all programs.  Monitor stakeholder climate, trends in technology and development, and competitor activity in areas of the organization’s current and anticipated programs and services.  
  • Process and System Innovation: Apply extensive program and project management experience to implement new systems and processes to streamline delivery and management of programs. 
  • Reporting and Analysis: Create a culture of ongoing evaluation to drive continuous improvement and inform programmatic areas to innovate. Develop appropriate success factors (Key Performance Indicators) for programs and services.  Regularly assess and report on program effectiveness using data-driven analysis for informed decision-making. 
  • Risk Management: Identify, assess, and mitigate risks associated with the programs. 
  • Compliance and Standards: Ensure all program activities comply with legal, regulatory, and ethical standards.


The CPO will be an inclusive leader who approaches work with a growth mindset and contagious enthusiasm.  The ideal candidate will be a strategic-thinking, results-driven, agile, change agent with the confidence and emotional intelligence to assume a leadership role. An empathetic and engaging individual who listens well, the CPO will be responsive, forward-focused, and results-oriented.

Preferred candidates will also demonstrate:

  • Unquestionable personal integrity, fairness, and the credibility necessary to gain the trust and commitment of individuals at all levels of the organization.
  • Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills and persuasive abilities to effectively liaise with clients, internal teams, and external partners and donors.
  • Demonstrated success at cultivating strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders and collaborating at all levels within the organization to achieve results.
  • A track record of delivering programs with high customer impact.
  • Extensive understanding of program evaluation and continuous improvement.

Above all, the CPO must be passionate about the mission of Braille Institute to positively transform the lives of those with vision loss, inspired by the opportunities presented, and dedicated to achieving goals as a team.


Competitive candidates will bring a track record of excellence in senior leadership positions, ideally from nonprofit organizations recognized for their commitment to clients and providing exemplary and impactful programs. Proven experience designing, delivering, and scaling innovative digital programming is strongly preferred.  Individuals with transferrable for-profit experience who demonstrate a passion for Braille Institute’s mission and a strong understanding of the nonprofit sector will also be considered. 

In addition to demonstrable team leadership experience, the following experiences or competencies are desirable:

  • Demonstrated ability to contribute to strategic planning and innovation within teams and across the organization.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead and collaborate with cross-functional teams.
  • Experience working with functional, matrixed, and business unit organizations.
  • Experience working in a philanthropy-driven non-profit organization with a strong “culture of philanthropy”.
  • Experience working with people with disabilities.
  • Knowledge of employment programs for those from underserved communities.
  • Experience with and a strong commitment to applying an equity lens to the work and a track record of centering Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access as organizational values.
  • Experience moving programming online and successfully scaling it, making agile pivots as necessary as market data emerges.
  • Experience streamlining and optimizing operational delivery of programs including evaluation measures.
  • Experience scaling volunteer resources (in-person and virtually) across the organization as an extended resource for customer/client reach.
  • Project management skills and a proven record of accomplishment in managing complex projects, including timeline coordination, budgeting, and resource allocation.
  • Advanced technical knowledge and practical experience communicating technology-related program content.
  • Experience in identifying, assessing, and mitigating program and services risks.
  • Familiarity with legal, regulatory, and ethical standards.


The annual salary range for this position is $250,000 to $275,000 plus benefits.

This is a full-time exempt position with the expectation of regular work in-person (at minimum three days per week, including two from the Los Angeles Center where the Executive Leadership Team is currently based), plus regular travel (up to 30 percent) to Braille Institute’s locations and partner sites throughout Southern California for meetings and events, as well as occasional travel to locations outside of California for industry conferences or events.

An equal opportunity employer (EEO), Braille Institute is committed to diversity and encourages applicants of all backgrounds and experiences to apply. Braille Institute does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, non-disqualifying physical or mental disability, national origin, veteran status or any other basis covered by appropriate law. All employment is decided on the basis of qualifications, merit, and business need.

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