About Northwestern University:

Northwestern, founded in 1851, is a comprehensive research university that is deeply interdisciplinary across multiple schools and units. With 3 campuses, Evanston, IL, Chicago, IL, and Doha, Qatar, Northwestern is one of only four US universities ranked in the top 20 across all graduate education categories and in the top 10 overall in each of the five graduate education categories: Business School, Education School, Materials Engineering, Chemistry, and Economics. 

The rigorous yet empathetic academic environment provides a robust mixture of theory and practice, with an emphasis on top-tier research, new knowledge, creative expression and practical application. Northwestern takes pride in the on-going cultivation of an innovative, collaborative, and multidimensional community delivering an impact that is rare in higher education. 

Northwestern boasts a 6:1 student to faculty ratio with its 21,000+ enrollment, 8,000+ undergraduate and 13,000+ graduate students. Additionally, there are over 500 student organizations and clubs to continuously develop and support the full intellectual growth, social development, and health and wellbeing of all Northwestern students. Northwestern is committed to excellent teaching, innovative research and the personal and intellectual growth of its students in a diverse academic community.

Northwestern University is committed to supporting a diverse and inclusive campus and alumni community. The foundation of this pursuit is made possible by the committed students, faculty and staff who are the heart of the University. More information about Northwestern’s commitments to social justice are outlined in Northwestern’s Leadership Notes.

About Northwestern University Athletics:

Northwestern University’s Department of Athletics and Recreation is dedicated to developing true scholar-athletes and provides intercollegiate and recreational opportunities that enrich the Northwestern student experience. As a founding member of the Big Ten Conference, sponsoring 19 NCAA Division I sports programs, its teams regularly compete for top conference and national honors. Northwestern Athletics is distinctive in its firm commitment to the highest academic achievement alongside top-tier competitive excellence. Northwestern’s 98% NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) ranked No. 1 among Football Bowl Subdivision schools for each of the last three years. It is one of five private Association of American Universities (AAU) members/top research universities to compete in the NCAA Power Five conferences.

In recent years, Northwestern has continued to strive for excellence both on and off the field of play. Recent conference championships include basketball, soccer, field hockey, golf, tennis, wrestling, fencing, swimming, and diving, and the 2020 Big Ten West football champions and winners of four consecutive bowl games and six consecutive Land of Lincoln Trophies. Women’s Lacrosse also boasts seven NCAA titles since 2005.

About Northwestern Alumni Relations and Development:

Alumni Relations and Development (ARD) will complete The “We Will” Campaign on June 30, 2021. We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern was launched publicly in March 2014 with the joint goals of raising $3.75 billion from at least 141,000 supporters. To build on the Campaign’s rapid success and pursue emerging priorities, the University increased its Campaign goals to raise $5 billion from 170,000 supporters. As of June 2021, over $458 million was raised for Athletics to support the lakefront athletics facilities, the Wildcat Fund, endowed coaching and administrative positions, scholarship endowments, Rocky and Berenice Miller Park, and the Welsh-Ryan Arena and Trienens Performance Center. The Wildcat Fund directly supports more than 500 student-athletes in the areas of academic support, travel, equipment, and sports medicine. It also supports a new giving program for women’s athletics at Northwestern, Champions for Wildcat Women. Additionally, the Otto Graham Society is a leadership annual giving program to support student-athletes.

Senior Executive Director of Athletics Development/Deputy Director of Athletics

The Senior Executive Director of Athletics Development/Deputy Director of Athletics serves as the Chief Development Officer for the Department of Athletics and Recreation, responsible for setting the strategic direction for all fundraising for this department, including all varsity athletics and capital projects. The Senior Executive Director for Athletics Development will have a dual reporting structure; reporting to the Senior Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development, Schools and Programs, and a dotted line to the Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation.

The Senior Executive Director will also be responsible for managing and assessing a wide range of development programs and activities to achieve the ambitious fundraising goals of the Department and University. These programs and activities include principal gifts, major gifts, annual giving, stewardship, communications, volunteer management, and donor relations/events. The Senior Executive Director for Athletics Development will oversee a staff of 10 full-time staff members. As Deputy Director of Athletics, this individual will be a member of the Department’s executive management team and will work closely with the Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation, members of Northwestern Alumni Relations and Development (ARD), the President’s Office, and other appropriate campus partners.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Create and lead a coordinated program of fundraising activities designed to increase the number and level of major and/or principal gifts donors. 
  • Develop and execute strategies to involve campus leaders, alumni, friends, and volunteers to identify and cultivate new individual, corporate, institutional and/or foundation prospects. 
  • Maintain campaign fundraising momentum for the Department of Athletics and Recreation at $30-50 million per year.
  • Manage the Department’s major gift prospect pool. Identify major, leadership, and principal gift prospects, qualify their ultimate giving potential, assess the appropriate interest match within the Department, and develop and implement strategies to optimize gift closures. 
  • Working closely with the Senior Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development and other members of ARD, create and implement annual plans to meet funding goals. 
  • Review and propose strategic alliances, joint ventures and key collaborations with department and other University partners to identify opportunities to integrate University strategic plan goals. Lead and coach team members regarding Department collaborations. 
  • Organize and lead on behalf of Athletics development activities within the central development teams including major gifts, gift planning, annual giving, alumni relations, special events such as bowl games and national tournaments, and corporate and foundation relations.
  • Work with the Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation, Deputy Athletic Directors, and other administrators within the Department to articulate funding priorities and communicate the Department’s funding objectives to both internal and external constituencies.
  • Serve as a member of the Athletic Department’s senior staff and advise on all alumni relations and development activities. Serve as the liaison with varsity coaches on all fundraising activities.
  • Manage complex relationships among the Department of Athletics and Recreation, Alumni Relations and Development, and other units at Northwestern.
  • Manage Athletics Development team. Provide leadership, determine and evaluate individual goals, develop and implement training and mentoring, and assign and monitor coverage of primary areas of focus ensuring that goals are attained.
  • Oversee continuous research, development & up-to-date knowledge on prospects & work with other areas to coordinate contacts.  May require travel throughout the region or country.
  • Manage a portfolio of major gift prospects and donors, with an emphasis on gifts of $1 million-plus. Successfully close gifts at the $1 million level and higher. 
  • Plan and direct the solicitation of Athletics prospects by the University President, Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation, and the ARD Vice President and Senior Associate Vice President.
  • Oversee the administration of comprehensive fundraising programs, including major/principal gifts, annual giving, events and stewardship. Ensure compliance with prospect management guidelines for tracking and maintenance of contact and progress reporting. Coordinate appointments and prepare materials used by senior management, Board of Trustees, and volunteers for meetings, visits, events or phone calls made to high profile prospects.
  • Oversee administrative support management to ensure effective team success and daily operations.
  • Oversee stewardship and gift acknowledgment systems that serve to thank donors and cultivate future giving
  • Initiate reports, conduct studies, and perform other tasks related to development at the direction of the ARD Vice President, ARD Senior Associate Vice President, or Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation.
  • Maintain best-practice expertise in the field of athletics development through participation in regional and national networks and industry related associations.
  • Recruit, staff, and manage all key Department fundraising volunteers including the sport specific groups such as Northwestern Gridiron Network (NGN), N Club, Pound The Rock, etc.
  • Contribute to Northwestern’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in daily work, hiring practices, and outreach to Northwestern’s diverse alumni community. 
  • Work with trustees and University leadership to articulate needs for the department and develop fundraising plans for Athletics. 
  • Responsible for adhering to all Department and University policies and procedures, as well as the rules, regulations, bylaws and interpretations of the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA.


  • Bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree preferred
  • Previous decision-making or executive experience in fundraising, philanthropy, college athletics and/or similar industries or fields. 
  • Track record of compliance with all regulations and policies for philanthropic organizations and good working knowledge of guidelines and regulations affecting and governing college athletics.
  • Demonstrated commitment to valuing diversity and contributing to an inclusive working environment
  • Demonstrated excellence in interpersonal skills to provide quality customer service, and ability to interact with a wide variety of stakeholders and business partners, including donors, guests, and persons associated with the University community and Athletic Department.
  • Administration of and oversight of financial planning, budgeting, cost analysis, and recordkeeping to ensure financial success and vitality of philanthropic organization.
  • Adherence to high moral principles including honesty, loyalty, sincerity, fairness, integrity; and an unwavering commitment to doing the right things in all circumstances.


Dr. Derrick Gragg, Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation

Dr. Derrick Gragg was named Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation by President Morty Schapiro in June of 2021, the 23rd person selected to lead the department for the Wildcats. A long-time athletic director, college sports administrator, and diversity and inclusion leader, Gragg joined the Northwestern family after serving as the NCAA’s senior vice president for inclusion, education and community engagement.

Throughout his career in college athletics, Gragg has prioritized representing the underrepresented and providing a voice and allyship to people of color, women and the LGBTQ community.
While serving as the NCAA’s senior vice president for inclusion, education and community engagement, Gragg has worked to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion are reflected on all levels in college athletics. He had a dual focus on internal and external initiatives and programming.

A former football letter-winner at Vanderbilt, Gragg he has always valued the impact of academics on athletes. He earned a master’s degree in sports administration from Wayne State University, then his doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas. Gragg joined the Arkansas athletic department in 2000 as an associate director, and eventually was promoted to deputy director.
Gragg became Eastern Michigan University's athletic director in 2006, then was named to the same position at the University of Tulsa in 2013.
Under Gragg's leadership, Tulsa athletics made the transition from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference in 2014-15. In the first six years of Tulsa's membership, Hurricane teams won 19 Conference titles, the second-most in the league. During his tenure, Tulsa advanced to postseason competition 53 times and produced 28 All-Americans, eight CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and 1,158 American Athletic Conference academic honor roll recipients. 
Gragg also helped conceptualize the Tulsa Legacy Game, designed to pay tribute to the survivors and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, which is widely recognized as one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history. The first Tulsa Legacy Game took place last year.

He administered the development and implementation of the athletic department's strategic plan, was instrumental in securing Tulsa’s largest-ever planned gift for athletics, and facilitated the department's first all-sport apparel agreement with Adidas, tripling the amount of athletics apparel for student-athletes, coaches and staff. He also served as tournament director for NCAA DI Men's Basketball Tournament First and Second Round games in 2017 and 2019 at Tulsa's downtown BOK Center.

Julie Allen, Senior Associate Vice President, Schools and Programs

In May 2015, Julie Allen joined Alumni Relations and Development as associate vice president. As a member of ARD’s senior leadership team, Allen works with the deans of schools and programs and University vice presidents in setting and realizing their goals for the “We Will” Campaign. She leads fundraising teams for the schools in Evanston that confer Northwestern’s undergraduate degrees, as well as for the Department of Athletics and Recreation, Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, interdisciplinary research centers, University Libraries, School of Professional Studies, and the financial aid, parent giving, and student affairs programs. Allen also oversees corporate and foundation fundraising programs. Under Allen’s leadership, those teams have raised more than $1.4 billion, representing nearly a third of the “We Will” Campaign total.

Before joining ARD, Allen worked for seven years as the director of major gifts and as campaign director and director of principal gifts at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, located on the Evanston campus. In these roles, she helped raise more than $200 million in support of Kellogg’s campaign and was instrumental in growing Kellogg’s principal gifts efforts. Allen worked closely with the Kellogg dean and served as the staff liaison for Kellogg’s Campaign Steering Committee.

Previously, Allen served as director of development for Trinity College of Arts & Sciences at Duke University, where she solicited and closed major gifts while also managing the major gifts team. She began her development career at the University of Chicago, working in the office of annual giving for seven years. Allen earned her bachelor’s degree in public policy studies from the University of Chicago. She lives in Evanston with her husband, Michael Allen, associate professor of history in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and their two children.

Application Process:

Northwestern University invites nominations and applications or expressions of interest to be submitted to the search firm assisting the University.  Applications must include a cover letter, resume, and list of references. For full consideration, application materials should be submitted to Parker Executive Search’s website by July 6, 2021. Confidential review of materials will begin immediately and continue until the appointment is made.

For additional information, please contact:

Daniel Parker, Vice President and Managing Director
DeLaina Jordan, Associate
Parker Executive Search
danielparker@parkersearch.com | djordan@parkersearch.com
770-804-1996 x116 | 770-804-1996 x119

Northwestern prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship status, veteran status, genetic information, reproductive health decision making or any other classification protected by law (referred to as “protected classes”) in matters of admissions, employment, housing, or services, or in the educational programs or activities Northwestern operates.  Such conduct violates Northwestern’s values and disrupts the living, learning, and working environment for students, faculty, staff, and other community members. Additionally, allegations of sexual misconduct that do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Interim Policy on Title IX Sexual Harassment may fall within the jurisdiction of this Policy: http:www.northwestern.edu/equity/policies-procedures/policies

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