Chief Financial Officer in Washington, DC

$$250K+(Ladders Estimates)

Space Telescope Science Institute   •  

Washington, DC 20001

Industry: Education, Government & Non-Profit


15+ years

Posted 12 days ago

Job Details



The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), an Arizona nonprofit incorporated in 1957, operates as a consortium of 46 US institutions and 4 international affiliates responsible for the construction, operation and maintenance of world-class astronomical observatories and research centers. AURA employs approximately 1,300 people located in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, and Chile. Through its cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation (NSF), AURA is responsible for leading the operations of the Gemini Observatory, the National Optical Astronomical Observatory (NOAO), the National Solar Observatory (NSO) and the current construction of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). AURA also operates the Space Telescope Science Institute (STSci) under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). With an annual budget of approximately $300 million, AURA's role is to establish, cultivate and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research.


AURA is seeking a strategic and process-minded leader for the organization's financial operations. This individual should have a track record for inspiring change within an organization, leading cross-functional teams, building consensus amongst internal partners and ensuring consistent financial standard methodologies across the entire organization. It will be critical for this individual to translate AURA's strategic direction into clear financial plans, policies and processes that all staff can understand, adhere to and live every day. With a diversity of funders having different expectations and protocols, this individual should possess strong technical accounting skills and knowledge of federal grant and contract compliance requirements so they can effectively present the organization's financial plans, policies and cost structure to all external partners and build strong reciprocal relationships to help ensure continued funding and build necessary reserves.

Reporting to the Vice President for Operations, the CFO will partner closely with the senior leadership team comprised of the President and the Corporate Vice Presidents to lead the organization. The CFO is responsible for AURA's overall internal control environment and financial management and will oversee its accounting, budgeting, financial reporting, regulatory compliance, procurement, cash flow and liquidity management, and investments functions as well as its financial controls and policies. The underlying teams delivering these financial activities are located in Baltimore, MD, Washington D.C. and Tucson, AZ, respectively. The CFO will work out of the Washington D.C. office.


  • In conjunction with the President and Vice President of Operations, set the organization's tone at the top to ensure all financial practices, policies and procedures are accurately implemented, adhered to by all AURA staff worldwide and all staff understand their role in ensuring the organization's financial success.
  • Translate the strategic plan and directives into an effective and efficient financial structure and lead policy development aimed at safeguarding the organization against all financial and operational risks.
  • Establish finance operational strategies for the organization evaluating contractual and compliance requirements and implementing critical measurements for service and cost efficiency.
  • Establish credibility as an effective financial leader throughout the organization, with the AURA Board and the funding agencies by developing solutions to business challenges, adapting to changing needs and creating effective working relationships with programmatic peers, agency personnel, audit groups, outside contractors and various community contacts.
  • Build positive relationships with internal and external partners in order to ensure consistent practice, responsiveness to client needs and alignment of strategies.
  • Engage with oversight committees and the AURA Board regarding policy development, interpretation and implementation, as well as provide general business guidance to each Center's management.
  • Coordinate all financial reporting, budget creation and monitoring, treasury, taxes, risk management, audit and compliance including Uniform Guidelines and agency requirements.
  • Serve as a financial steward when considering the financial feasibility of any proposed new business opportunities or initiatives, as well as organization operations and efficiencies.
  • Based on current and long-term budget and strategic plans, develop and implement financial strategies to resolve present and future capital and system needs as well as staffing requirements.
  • Oversee direction of all finance staff being sure to:

• Maintain and project a keen understanding of the evolving needs of the diverse finance customer base, both internally and externally.

• Provide technical/professional advice and knowledge to others within the organization and specifically the finance teams.

• Identify strategies to develop and train staff to enhance career growth and ensure good performance.


  • B.S. degree in Accounting or Finance with active CPA certification required.
  • MBA or other advanced graduate degree and public accounting experience a plus but not required.
  • 15+ years of experience in finance, accounting, operations and strategy including eight+ years of management experience.
  • In-depth knowledge of GAAP, Uniform Guidance, Financial Accounting Standards Board and Internal Revenue Code needed. Experience in the nonprofit sector preferred.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills required.
  • A travel requirement of 5%-10% is necessary for this position, with travel to AURA facilities in Washington D.C., Maryland, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, and Chile.
  • Substitution of additional meaningful education or experience for stated qualifications may be considered.

To Apply: Share your experience by completing an online application. Please upload one cover letter and resume on one PDF document for review. Applications received by August 16, 2019 will receive full review.

As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. AURA and all of its centers recruit, employ, train, compensate and promote regardless of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity.

AURA sees the diversity of our staff as a strategic priority in our desire to build an outstanding scientific community. We reflect that deep dedication in strongly encouraging women, minorities, veterans and disabled individuals to apply for these opportunities.

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process can contact us at EOE/AA/M/F/D/V.

Valid Through: 2019-10-30