The Consilience Project

The Consilience Project

Chief of Staff

United States
Feb 25, 2023
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Chief of Staff to the Executive Director, Civilization Research Institute

Working Pattern: Full-time

Start: Right away

The Civilization Research Institute (CRI) is a think tank focused on preventing global catastrophic risks, addressing global wicked problems, and advancing new forms of governance and coordination. We are a small nonprofit organization that works in close collaboration with several other nonprofits, including the Center for Humane TechnologyHelenaISEOF, and others. CRI does not have a public-facing presence currently. Over the last two years, CRI has produced the Consilience Project as its primary publication, which has focused mostly on issues of public sense-making. We are currently working on a range of high-impact projects across our focus areas of catastrophic risk mitigation, collective intelligence, and improving institutions. CRI will soon launch a new public entity focused on generating novel solutions within these domains.

Daniel Schmachtenberger is the Founder and Executive Director of the Civilization Research Institute. His work in the organization spans research, strategy, institutional relationships, new projects, and training.

We are seeking (something like) a Chief of Staff to support the Founder in the prioritization, management, and execution of all his activities across these multiple organizations and domains of work. The right person will already be familiar with Daniel’s publicly available work, feel clear alignment with our mission, and have experience working as a Chief of Staff or in a related position. The right person will have a clear sense of the requirements and abilities of a great Chief of Staff, and feel that they are a natural fit for this role.

Primary Responsibilities

  1. Factor the totality of demands on the Executive Director’s attention from both internal and external sources (strategic priorities, long-term goals, team needs, organizational partner needs, and inbound requests) and optimize his time allocation accordingly.
  2. Maximally leverage the Executive Director’s capabilities (via delegation where possible), including tracking, information compression, preparation for meetings and of materials, follow-ups, mediation of communications, identifying and proposing solutions to bottlenecks, etc. This may also include leverage via targeted recruitment where necessary.
  3. Maintain coherent syncing between the Executive Director, the organization, and its network of allies.


  • Track the Executive Director's high-level priorities and ensure his calendar reflects those priorities.
  • Inform, direct, and collaborate with his Executive Assistant on his calendar.
  • Create action plans and track milestones for his high-level goals.
  • Manage his internal work time, create the agenda, be present for co-working as needed.
  • Conduct retroactive assessments of his output and use of time; propose structures to improve.
  • Review and vet inbound offers and requests for engagement, bucket into categories, and either respond directly or present for response.

Regular Project and Task Management

  • Review and track requests and information from various communication channels.
  • Track follow-up actions and considerations from meetings.
  • Track, review, and prioritize all upcoming meetings, documents to review, speaking/consultation requests on a weekly and monthly basis.
  • Maintain the Executive Director’s project management system and update daily tasks.
  • Attend meetings and multi-day events where relevant, track discussions and follow-ups.

Team Engagement

  • Communicate with team members to get accurate status updates on project deadlines.
  • Ensure that the delivery calendars for the Executive Director and the organization overall are properly attuned so there are no bottlenecks.
  • Identify and deliver relevant updates to team members.
  • Generate reports for internal staff, and inform the fundraising lead’s donor reports.
  • Lead on relationship management, tracking relationships, managing periodic touch-points, etc.
  • Identify where in the organization recruitment is needed and engage with that process.


Our ideal candidate will find that their values are closely aligned with those of the organization, the Executive Director and the wider team. We are seeking a proactive, thoughtful, and generally competent person, with high emotional, logical, political, and interpersonal intelligence. From CRI’s perspective, attitude and personality fit are the most important features of an effective Chief of Staff.

The right person for this role should have some previous relevant experience. Ideally, they will have served as a Chief of Staff or equivalent, but they could also have worked as an XO, senior secretary, liaison or ambassador, or department or program lead.

Ideally, the right person for this role should have a wide range of interests, with a natural affinity for learning and development. Their educational background may include university or self-directed/career experience. We are keen to find an individual with some experience working with or in government agencies and institutions, and with formal procedures, sensitive information, and high profile relationships. Experience in startups, disaster work, or other fast moving and unstructured environments is also valued.

Reporting, Compensation, and Location

This role reports to CRI’s founder and Executive Director. You will engage primarily with Daniel, along with the Executive Assistant, the COO, and the other project leads. During the onboarding period, you will be primarily trained by and reporting to Daniel’s previous Chief of Staff (who is transitioning into COO as the organization's growth requires). Once your onboarding is complete, you will transition to the reporting structure explained above.

Physical proximity is important for this role. Our ideal candidate will be open to relocating alongside Daniel and joining for occasional travel. We are open to hiring someone to start remotely and financing and/or organizing relocation for the right candidate. Hours for this role are likely to be unstructured and unpredictable, as requirements will depend on a range of urgent projects and activities. Also, the ability to sync and co-work happens best outside of the overfull hours other people are available for meetings, ie, late nights and weekends.

Compensation for this role will be commensurate with experience.

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