If you are experienced in the nitty gritty of running organizations and passionate about supporting highly talented people around the world to safeguard the future of humanity, we’d love for you to apply!
Ideal start date: January 2023
Status: Full time, salaried employee
Compensation: $80,000 - $120,000, based on experience
Work location: New York City is preferred, but remote candidates based elsewhere in the US will also be considered. We are not currently planning to offer visas for this role.
Reports to: Executive Director (Sawyer Bernath)
For best consideration, please apply by Sunday November 13 (end of day anywhere on Earth). Applications received after that date may also be considered, but only after applications that met the deadline.
Who is BERI?
The Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative (BERI) is an independent 501(c)(3) public charity with a mission to improve human civilization’s long-term prospects for survival and flourishing. To achieve this mission, BERI supports “the x-risk ecosystem”—a network of academics, non-profits, individual researchers, and others, all working to reduce existential risk—by supporting the community’s most important and neglected projects.
By finding and solving problems that are common across organizations, we hope to add another vector of coordination to the x-risk ecosystem, accelerating humanity’s progress toward eliminating existential risks.
Currently, BERI focuses on university research groups working to reduce existential risk, by providing them with free services and support. We try to help each of our collaborators work more effectively by spending money to support them in whatever way they need to pursue their mission. The idea is to make operations faster and more flexible for these groups—not only to make them more directly effective, but also to improve morale by unblocking tasks and projects they care about that are hard to do efficiently through other means (e.g. existing university administration channels).
Purpose of the Role
BERI is seeking a second-in-command to help us grow our university collaborations program and create new programs. 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 onboarded 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—the Deputy Director.
Importance of the Role
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 x-risk community and will enable research addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems.
The Deputy Director is also important for continuity and will be expected to take on the Executive Director’s responsibilities when necessary. 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.
This hire is the beginning of the “amplification” phase Andrew Critch described in this 2020 blog post, during which BERI hires to expand beyond one core staff member. In addition to BERI’s standard overhead funds, this hire is supported by a $100k grant from the FTX Future Fund.
- Empower x-risk researchers to focus their energies on the most crucial parts of their project by maximizing their productivity:
- Proactively identify and prepare for the needs of new and ongoing research projects
- Source, recruit, and hire additional researchers to collaborate on projects
- Source, recruit, and hire skilled freelancers for various tasks in supporting research groups
- Research, identify, and purchase products and services that enable and accelerate important work
- Find and implement best practices or come up with creative systemic solutions for longer term improvements to the operations of BERI collaborators
- Foster 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 collaborators on operational and logistics questions
- Sustain and cultivate relationships with donors and grantmakers
- Be hyper aware of the existential risk landscape and come up with promising strategic initiatives to accelerate important work:
- Find, identify, and support the most promising new groups for BERI to support
- Plan and execute on new ways to encourage, improve, and accelerate efforts to reduce existential risk (e.g. running an x-risk conference, mapping the community of x-risk researchers)
- Manage sustainability for BERI operations and ensure compliance requirements are met:
- Manage budgets and financials on a per-collaboration basis
- Fundraise for BERI’s many programs
- 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…
- Find meaningful work in supporting high-impact researchers and making sure they succeed in their work
- Enjoy establishing, implementing, 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 operations 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)
Other Important Information
- See here for why eliminating existential risks is highly important.
- See here for the organizations BERI supports.
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.