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Executive Director Search

The Chicago Area Runners Association, CARA, seeks to find an Executive Director to serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the organization, who will be responsible for providing organizational management, leadership, and direction to advance the mission of CARA. The Executive Director will lead the organization’s strategy and day-to-day operations.

CARA's Mission

The Chicago Area Runners Association, CARA, is a non-profit organization committed to serving and advocating for the local running community. We are Chicagoland’s running club, providing accessible opportunities for all runners to train, race, learn, be social and volunteer. 

Quick Facts

Founded: 1978

Status: 501(c)3 Not-For-Profit Organization


Membership: 11,000+ (56% city / 44% suburban)


Program's/Events: Over 1,300 dates per year

Board of Directors: 10-15 Members

  • President: Kerl LaJeune (Since 2020)

  • Vice President: Jill Ciminillo (Since 2020)

Staff: 7 Full-Time


Bylaws: Download HERE


Our Programming & Events

Key Programs: 

  • CARA Runner's Choice Circuit

  • Charity Training Partnerships

  • Run Crews and Track Workouts

  • Education Clinics

  • 'Go Run program

  • Lakefront Hydration Stations

  • Marathon and Half-Marathon Training Programs


Key Events: 

  • Lakefront 10 Miler & 5K

  • Miles Per Hour Run

  • Ready to Run 20 Miler

  • Chi-Town Miles

  • Marathon VIP Experience

  • CARA Series:

    • Spring Trail Chase 10K​

    • Summer Trail Chase 5K

    • Autumn Trail Chase 8K

Executive Director Role

The Executive Director shall serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the organization, and is responsible for providing organizational management, leadership, and direction to advance the mission of CARA. The Executive Director will lead the organization’s strategy and day-to-day operations, including by not limited to:


  • In conjunction with the Board of Directors, provide vision and direction for the growth of the organizations mission, programs, and initiatives. Develop and foster a strong and open dialogue with the Board of Directors, member committees, volunteers, and leadership.

  • Advance positions of the organization developed in collaboration with Board of Directors, serving as a spokesperson for CARA, effectively representing the organization’s mission and positions on key issues facing the running community.

  • Develop strong relationships and partnerships with public leaders, media, sponsors, donors, running organizations, event partners, and non-profits.

  • Collaborate with the treasurer and Board of Directors to establish the annual budget, and to maintain sound financial procedures, reporting, and performance. 

  • Develop and execute fundraising and revenue generating opportunities to meet budget goals, to secure the organizations future.

  • Ensure compliance with all laws and guidelines governing non-profit organizations.

  • Lead operational strategy for the organizations programs, events, and initiatives as guided by our mission, and oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization and ensure successful long-term outcomes.

  • Maintain appropriate staffing structure; oversee hiring, training, development, and evaluation of staff. Provide guidance, stability, support, and collaboration to staff.

  • Perform all other duties incident to the duties of an Executive Director and such other duties as from time to time may be assigned by the Board of Directors. 


CARA seeks candidates who fit these characteristics:

  • Possesses a bachelor’s degree in a related field, masters preferred

  • Minimum of five years of demonstrated leadership experience in a non-profit or small business environment

  • Demonstrated experience developing and leading teams

  • Demonstrated experience in budget development, oversite, and forecasting

  • Strategic planning experience

  • Is creative, enterprising, and inventive, with the ability to take ideas from concept to market

  • Is a high energy ‘people person’ with excellent public speaking and written communication skills

  • Has an attention to detail, organized, reliable, punctual

  • Is professional, able to lead a collaborative team environment, and able to remain calm under pressure and stress

  • Has a history of involvement, preferably in leadership, within the running industry, or running community

  • Has a strong understanding of, and experience participating in, the Chicagoland running community

  • Strong knowledge of Chicago and the surrounding suburb communities

  • Cultural competency and sensitivity to diverse cultures, backgrounds, and communication styles

  • Has a passion and commitment to the Chicago Area Runners Association’s mission and the running community



This role reports directly to the Board of Directors through the President. CARA’s operations take place from its office in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. This is a full-time salaried position with a salary commensurate with experience and includes CARA’s standard benefit package which includes health and dental insurance.

To apply, email with subject line “Executive Director Search” a letter of application, list of three professional references with contact information, and professional resume. Send application to No phone calls or in-person delivery of applications please. Letter of application should at minimum reflect an authentic interest in and understanding of this specific role.

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