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Director of Finance and Operations (Topos Institute)

Topos Institute is searching for its inaugural Director of Finance and Operations. Topos is a new non-profit scientific institute whose mission is to shape technology for public benefit by advancing sciences of connection and integration. We use cutting-edge mathematical research from MIT and Stanford to develop new computational tools that enhance communication, cooperation, and collective intelligence, with careful attention to its ethical, pro-social deployment. We have raised over $4M and are doubling in size annually.

Position Summary
We seek an entrepreneurial, experienced Director of Finance and Operations to grow with us as we grow.

Reporting to and working closely with the CEO, the Director of Finance and Operations is an integral member of the senior management team.

The Director of Finance and Operations oversees the development and implementation of administrative functions of Topos Institute. This includes:
  • Organizational leadership, including cultural and strategic aspects.
  • Financial functions, including management of 501(c)(3) status and federal grants.
  • General operations, including legal, HR, communications, and facilities.
  • The successful candidate will have a passion for the mission, proven ability in managing the full range of operations in a nonprofit research organization, and will embrace a technology research culture that is mission and values driven.
  • This position is based at our offices in Berkeley, California.

Topos believes in the value that diverse perspectives and life experiences can bring to an organization, and we especially welcome applications from those with personal or professional backgrounds underrepresented in our present team. We are dedicated to shaping the future of technology to ensure a more equitable and just world, and we believe that technology to support a healthy society can only be built by an inclusive organization that supports all its team members.

Join us in realizing our vision of a world where the systems that surround us benefit us all.

Position Responsibilities
The Director of Finance and Operations is responsible for three portfolios: organizational leadership, financial management, and general operations.

Organizational Leadership
  • Oversee the work of the finance and operations teams, which include an operations assistant and multiple consultants (currently eight).
  • Promote a culture within the operations team and with all Topos staff that:
  • Values and integrates different perspectives and life experiences, high performance, and continuous improvement.
  • Incorporates the values of Topos Institute day-to-day.
  • Engenders an understanding of the importance of operations and administration to all members of Topos Institute.
  • Provides staff members with timely and appropriate training and development.
  • Mentors and develops staff using a supportive and collaborative approach: assign responsibilities; set objectives; establish timelines; and monitor and evaluate results.
Strategic planning:
  • Support the CEO in strategic planning and implementation.
  • Coach program directors and staff as they implement the strategic plan.
Financial Management
  • Oversee monthly accounting and bookkeeping process, using QuickBooks Online and employing cost accounting principles.
  • Oversee cash box operations and asset documentation and tracking.
  • Assist CEO with budgeting and monitoring revenues and expenses with respect to budget.
  • Monitor cash flow, projections, and investments.
  • Prepare federal and state tax returns in conjunction with a consulting accounting firm.
Grant and donor management:
  • Develop and maintain systems for federal and nonfederal grants to assure that all federal requirements are met and the principal investigators have the information needed to track grant expenditures.
  • Maintain and enhance the fundraising CRM system (currently Bloomerang).
  • Systems: Upgrade and implement an appropriate system of financial policies, internal controls, accounting standards, and procedures.
  • Audits: Serve as the management liaison to the board and audit committee; effectively communicate and present critical financial matters at select board of directors and committee meetings.
General Operations
Legal and risk management:
  • Work with the CEO and staff to ensure that Topos Institute and all of its operations and programs are consistent with our nonprofit status.
  • Develop and review contracts, and make recommendations to the CEO, or Treasurer of the board of directors, who are the signatories.
  • Work with outside legal counsel as needed to address legal issues.
  • Manage required insurance including workers compensation, liability, and directors and officers.
Human Resources:
  • Oversee HR operations, which includes a contractual arrangement with a consulting firm for basic HR needs (presently 15 hours/month).
  • Plan and manage fringe benefits in concert with the HR consultant.
  • Approve time reporting, PTO, and payroll on a biweekly basis.
  • Develop and facilitate annual team reviews process
  • Maintain appropriate external contact lists.
  • Coordinate updates to website and email newsletters.
  • Coordinate the preparation and distribution of external communications, which may include the annual report.
  • Support professional fundraising consultants or staff as needed.
  • Plan for and management of office space, including lease negotiations and furniture/equipment acquisitions.
  • Develop safety plans, protocols, and procedures.
  • Responsibilities may be added or removed as leadership deems appropriate to meet the Topos mission.
Experience and skills we’re looking for
  • Commitment to the mission of Topos Institute.
  • Business, accounting, or related degree, or a combination of education and experience is required. CPA is desirable, but not required.
  • Minimum 5 years experience in a related management role, ideally nonprofit research institution
  • Familiarity with nonprofit finance and accounting regulations, including OMB Uniform Guidance 2 CFR Part 200 and federal research websites, particularly DOD funding agencies.
  • Entrepreneurial mindset, with ability to operate as an effective tactical as well as strategic thinker.
  • Commitment to progressive organizational change within a changing and growing organization.
  • Strong management and collaboration skills, including mentoring and coaching experience to a team with diverse levels of expertise.
  • Exceptional written, oral, interpersonal, and presentation skills, and the ability to effectively interface with senior management, Topos Institute’s board of directors, and staff.
  • Excellent judgment and creative problem solving skills, including negotiation and conflict resolution.
  • Commitment to the pursuit of excellence, with strong attention to detail.

About Topos
Topos is a mission driven organization that works to shape technology for public benefit by advancing sciences of connection and integration. Our strategic plan is at the center of all our work together:

Joining Topos means joining a team deeply committed to using their talents for the betterment of society, and a future of technology that belongs to the public. After two years incubating the idea at MIT, we opened our Berkeley office in 2021, and are growing fast, with an office in Oxford, UK planned for the coming year. We’re looking for team members who are as excited as we are at pioneering a new organizational structure for prosocial and ethical development of technology, from basic research to tool development to social impacts.

Topos is committed to ensuring that its team members thrive in their work and home lives. Topos offers competitive salary and benefits including medical, dental, and life insurance, 401k, paid sick leave, 18 days paid vacation annually, 13 paid company holidays, and options for flexible working hours. We seek to provide working conditions comparable with top-tier academic research institutions such as MIT, Stanford, and UC Berkeley.

Location in Berkeley is required and we anticipate most work days will involve time in our Downtown Berkeley office, but our culture is one of trust and autonomy, and some work from home is common.

Topos is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. More than this, we are committed to building a team where diverse voices will feel respected and heard.

Further information about Topos Institute can be found on our website (, including information about our current team. See also our blog, YouTube, and research homepage.

If you have questions about this position, please contact our Operations Assistant Juliet Szatko at Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. All offers of employment are contingent upon completion of a background check. Unfortunately, Topos is not able to sponsor visas for applicants without United States citizenship.

To apply, please send an application comprising a cover letter and CV/resume to