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Position Type




Board Secretary

Apply now Job no: 503455
Position Type: Staff
Location: Boston Main Campus
Categories: Advancement and Alumni Relations

About Northeastern:

Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a global research university and the recognized leader in experience-driven lifelong learning. Our world-renowned experiential approach empowers our students, faculty, alumni, and partners to create impact far beyond the confines of discipline, degree, and campus.

Our locations—in Boston; Charlotte, North Carolina; London; Portland, Maine; San Francisco; Seattle; Silicon Valley; Toronto; Vancouver; and the Massachusetts communities of Burlington and Nahant—are nodes in our growing global university system. Through this network, we expand opportunities for flexible, student-centered learning and collaborative, solutions-focused research.

Northeastern’s comprehensive array of undergraduate and graduate programs— in a variety of on-campus and online formats—lead to degrees through the doctorate in nine colleges and schools. Among these, we offer more than 195 multi-discipline majors and degrees designed to prepare students for purposeful lives and careers.


About the Opportunity:

The Northeastern community has a tradition of giving back, and each day, we witness the impact of our community’s remarkable generosity. Our students are pursuing co-ops in all corners of the globe, growing their cultural fluency and preparing to thrive in the world. Our faculty are delivering leading-edge scholarship, teaching and mentoring tomorrow’s leaders. And our researchers are pioneering new lines of inquiry, accelerating discovery in emerging fields. Northeastern University Advancement plays an integral role in engaging the Northeastern community to create a stronger, more sustainable, and bright future.

Pearl Street Collective, an executive search firm committed to advancing the common good, is leading this search. Please submit your resume and cover letter to



A global, experiential, research university built on a tradition of engagement with the world, Northeastern University seeks a self-directed, pragmatic, and highly organized executive to serve as Board Secretary. In addition to astutely facilitating the governance of the university, the Board Secretary will provide a sophisticated level of hands-on support to university leadership, the Board Chairman, and the Board of Trustees as a whole. The Board Secretary will work diligently to ensure the initiatives of each Trustee ultimately reach successful outcomes, and communication between the Board and the university is consistent and transparent.


Northeastern’s game-changing vision of transforming the university into diverse networks of lifelong learners and innovators, and empowering members of its global community to succeed in an era of unprecedented technological and cultural change is steered in part by its global Board of Trustees. The Board will bolster the institution as it begins its next historic fundraising campaign and remains both engaged and dedicated to ensuring a strong, sustainable future for Northeastern University.


Reporting to the Senior Vice President for University Advancement, Diane MacGillivray, and the Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Ralph Martin, the Board Secretary will advise the Board of Trustees, the President, and the senior leadership team on all issues relating to corporate governance; ensure that the initiatives of each Trustee member are advanced and made successful; provide effective and thoughtful support to the University’s senior vice presidents, particularly in their respective efforts preparing for Board and committee activities; and personally engage in the work of the two-person Office of the Trustees, which coordinates the meetings of the Board and its various committees, as well as communications with board members.


As the University continues to expand its footprint, the Board Secretary will be a key opinion leader and facilitator of enterprise-wide board development and governance, coalescing leadership priorities across Northeastern’s network of campuses. Partnering closely with the Senior Vice President for University Advancement, the Board Secretary will explore opportunities to form regional and global councils, assist the University’s nine schools and colleges to identify new pathways to virtually engage and convene their respective advisory boards and councils, and define the necessarily university-wide relationships and strategies to be successful.


The Board Secretary will serve as the consummate advisor, facilitator, and coordinator, able to anticipate and resolve challenges and business needs, and gently influence peers to reach appropriate conclusions about the work at hand. They will often deal with complex matters requiring flexible and creative thinking and collaboration – notably during this time of virtual relationship building – and which must be executed with the utmost integrity.



 The successful candidate will bring prior experience as a trusted advisor on governance and corporate strategy. Demonstrated experience in a leadership position, exceptional judgment, proven track record of thinking strategically and driving change, and an appreciation for nuance are essential. A breadth of leadership skills and confidence-inspiring capabilities will be necessary to earn the trust and respect of the Board of Trustees and the senior leadership team of the University.


Northeastern seeks a seasoned professional with creativity, enthusiasm, engagement, self-motivation and energy. They should be able to quickly contribute in a meaningful way as a highly effective partner to the Board and senior management. This individual should operate with a significant degree of transparency and be capable of articulating a vision and strategy for the institution in the area of governance. Strong written and verbal communication skills, superior attention to detail, the willingness to roll up one’s sleeves, and the ability to forge close working relationships throughout the University and with the Board will be paramount to their success.


A wide variety of professional experiences may be strong preparation for the Board Secretary role including those gained in the private sector, higher education, other nonprofit institutions, or government, and/or by rendering advice to senior management and/or boards.


Additional professional qualifications and personal characteristics include:

  • Minimum of ten years’ experience in a senior leadership role that is accustomed to providing high level service and influence. Deep technical expertise in governance matters is required.
  • Highly developed interpersonal skills including the ability to maintain strict confidentiality and demonstrate discretion in communications with others.
  • Proven track record in managing competing priorities and working effectively under pressure when facing short deadlines and a dynamic flow of information.
  • Ability to make consistent and fair decisions based on facts and data.
  • Professional credibility and maturity to effectively engage and influence members of the senior leadership team and colleagues across the University.
  • Excellent diplomacy and the ability to converse easily, with courtesy and clarity, with all members of the Northeastern community and beyond.
  • Flexibility when adapting to evolving priorities, ability to effectively interpret policies and practices when addressing those priorities.
  • Intellectual curiosity and the mental agility to troubleshoot and make sound decisions in response to rapidly changing, often complicated situations.
  • Effectiveness as a leader and strategic thinker who thrives when working as a member of a dynamic leadership team.
  • Able to project both confidence and humility in a way that inspires trust and a sense of mission.
  • Technically savvy and experienced in introducing and utilizing best in class technology for resolving administrative issues and implementing efficient processes with other support staff.
  • Offers intermediate to advanced skills in Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, virtual meeting platforms, web-based research and/or comparable database software.
  • An ability to interpret, adapt and further develop the "language" of Northeastern University in describing its collective work, aspirations and impact.
  • Willingness to travel to campus and off-campus locations for University and Board activities.



Salary Grade:


Additional Information:



Northeastern University is an equal opportunity employer, seeking to recruit and support a broadly diverse community of faculty and staff.  Northeastern values and celebrates diversity in all its forms and strives to foster an inclusive culture built on respect that affirms inter-group relations and builds cohesion. 

All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply and will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability status, or any other  characteristic protected by applicable law.

To learn more about Northeastern University’s commitment and support of diversity and inclusion, please see

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