Deputy Director

Start date: When we find the right person
Status: Full time, salaried employee
Compensation: $70,000 - $100,000, depending on experience
Work location: New York City is preferred, but remote may be an option
Reports to: Executive Director (Sawyer Bernath)

Click here to apply.

The Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative (BERI) is seeking a second-in-command to help us grow our university collaborations program and create new programs, all with the mission of improving human civilization’s long-term prospects for survival and flourishing.

Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis. If we don’t find the right person, we won’t hire anyone.


BERI collaborates with university research groups working to reduce existential risk (“x-risk”) by providing them with free services and support. Over the past two years, the amount of support BERI has provided has more than tripled: from $0.5M with 3 groups in 2019 to $1.7M with 15 groups in 2021. This growth has continued in 2022, as we prepare to onboard 8 new collaborating groups. For most of that time BERI has been run by a single core staff member (Sawyer). In order to grow further while keeping our effectiveness and accountability high, we need another full-time core staff member.

Currently, the Executive Director is responsible for every contract, every purchase, every email, and every last collaborator request, as well as accounting, fundraising, IRS reporting, and everything else required to run an organization. Division of these responsibilities between the Executive and Deputy Directors could happen vertically (e.g. CHAI // CSER), horizontally (e.g. financials // communication), or (more likely) by some combination of the two.

The Deputy Director will play a critical strategic and tactical role at BERI. They’ll be involved in some of the most impactful projects in the existential risk community and will enable research addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems. The role title is specifically not “Assistant Director,” and definitely not “Assistant to the Director”. The word “Deputy” implies the ability to do the Director’s entire job if needed, and that is the intention here.

This hire is central to the “amplification” phase Andrew Critch described in this 2020 blog post.


  • Solve problems for x-risk researchers:
    • Quickly hire researchers to collaborate on projects
    • When they need specialized help, find and hire a freelancer who has the skills they need
    • Identify and purchase products and services that enable and accelerate important work
    • Find creative solutions that follow best practices for nonprofits
  • Manage BERI’s relationships with our academic collaborators:
    • Build trust and respect as a valuable member of the x-risk research community
    • Proactively communicate with collaborators to discover their needs
    • Advise on operational and logistics questions
  • Launch new trial collaborations:
    • Find new groups for us to work with, select the most promising ones, and figure out how we can best help them
  • Plan and execute on new ways to encourage, improve, and accelerate efforts to reduce existential risk, like running an x-risk conference or mapping the community of x-risk researchers
  • Manage budgets and financials on a per-collaboration basis
  • Fundraise, both for specific academic collaborations as well as for BERI’s core operations
  • Report to the board of directors on a quarterly basis
  • Complete federal and state tax returns and other reports requested by government agencies
  • Perform the functions of the Executive Director when the ED is sick, on vacation, or otherwise absent

You might be a good fit if you…

  • Have a process mindset, meaning you enjoy writing, following, and improving processes and procedures
  • Are highly organized and attentive to detail
    • When left unnoticed, minor clerical errors can become real problems: Paying someone $100,000 instead of $10,000 is a single keystroke with potentially serious consequences.
    • Our collaborators rely on us to do what we say we’ll do, so it’s our responsibility to check all the boxes and tie up every loose end.
  • Are comfortable with spreadsheets and quantitative reasoning
    • Many BERI projects require keeping information organized and viewable by a range of parties.
    • Experience with accounting software is a plus, but not required.
  • Enjoy clear and concise communication, both written and spoken
  • Care deeply about reducing the risk of human extinction and encouraging the flourishing of life on Earth
  • Have 2-5 years of relevant experience
    • We’re open to a broad range of professional backgrounds (Sawyer worked in manufacturing for 6 years before joining BERI).
    • Anything that could be described as “operations” is particularly relevant.

Candidates missing one or more of these criteria could still be successful in this role. If you feel you do not meet these qualifications but are still interested in applying, we encourage you to err on the side of applying anyway.


  • Time off (paid vacation, holidays, sick, bereavement, and parental leave)
  • Platinum health, dental, and vision insurance (98% of premiums covered by BERI)
  • Professional development stipend ($4k/year/employee)
  • Life and short-term/long-term disability insurances (100% of premiums covered by BERI)
  • Very flexible work schedule (including hours, location, and unpaid vacation policies)

Click here to apply.

BERI is proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity employer. Our mission to improve human civilization’s long-term prospects for survival and flourishing is in service of all of humanity, and is incompatible with unfair discrimination practices that would pit factions of humanity against one another. We do not discriminate against qualified employees or applicants based upon race, religion, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, sexual preference, marital status, gender identity, gender expression, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by federal or state law or local ordinance. We also consider qualified applicants with criminal histories, consistent with applicable federal, state and local law.