Job Details

CEO, VIA Institute on Character

Location:   Cincinnati, OH

Salary:   based on experience


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  • Do you want to use your skills to make a positive difference in the world?
  • Are you ready to join an established, highly reputable organization that is a global leader in the science and application of positive personality strengths?
  • Are you a growth-focused leader with an entrepreneurial spirit?
  • Do you have a track record of success growing an online enterprise?
  • Would you like to lead a small, nimble team that makes a BIG positive global impact?



The VIA Institute is seeking to hire a CEO to drive the growth of the organization to impact more consumers and provide the resources for additional research. Although the organization is based in Cincinnati, Ohio the CEO can work remotely and make periodic trips to the home office.


The VIA Institute on Character is a non-profit organization founded in 2000 and dedicated to bringing the science and practice of positive personality characteristics to the world. The organization does so by offering scientifically validated assessments of these personality characteristics, supporting researchers, and developing practical strengths-based tools for individual consumers and professionals, such as therapists, managers and educators. In the spirit of its non-profit status, the VIA Survey-with-results is offered free of charge worldwide in many languages, and in-depth interpretive reports are available for purchase. The revenue from the latter supports both the organizational operating costs and ongoing research projects.  The VIA Survey has been taken by over twenty-one million people reaching every country around the globe.


In the early 2000s, the VIA Institute initiated a project of unprecedented magnitude aimed at understanding what’s best about people and how we use those characteristics to build good lives for ourselves and others. This 3-year project, led by renowned psychologists Drs. Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman and involving 55 esteemed scholars and youth practitioners, culminated in the landmark text Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification.  In addition to impacting millions of people worldwide every year with its assessments for both adults and youth, the project has resulted in over 700 scientific publications by independent researchers. 



  • Strategic Leadership
    • Lead the development of strategic plans in collaboration with the Board and staff, prioritizing the organization’s various initiatives
    • Ensure that the plans, and the resulting strategies and budgets, are executed successfully
    • Keep the organization focused on the mission of improving customers’ lives


  • Increase Earned Revenue
    • Optimize the customer acquisition strategy
    • Review and modify the freemium offer/model
    • Improve the conversion rate of participants from taking free surveys to purchasing additional offerings
    • Prioritize target markets, including consumers, educators, coaches, therapists, and business consultants
    • Develop extension product lines to enhance the lifetime value of customers


  • Cultivate Philanthropic Support to Fund Research
    • Develop and execute a plan to generate support from foundations, corporate partners, government grants and other sources
    • Establish a research foundation with a director, budget, and plan
    • Expand the reach of evidence-based applications


  •  Team Leadership
    • Lead a small team that includes the Executive Director, Education Director, Administrative Coordinator, and IT Support
    • Manage outsourced vendors and shared service providers to maximize impact and efficiency


  • Financial Stewardship
    • Drive topline revenue growth through existing products as well as new product development and philanthropic support
    • Develop and manage the budget to ensure the financial health of the organization


  • Market Focus
    • Interact with key stakeholders to understand the company’s strengths and opportunities
    • Gain insight into industry trends and competitive activity to drive innovation and new product initiatives


  • Board Engagement
    • Expand the Board
    • Leverage the expertise of the Board to help guide strategy and employ best practices
    • Involve the Board in philanthropic fundraising efforts



  • Bachelor’s degree in psychology, business, or related field; advanced degree a plus
  • 10+ years in a key leadership position in a growing, successful enterprise
  • Proven track record of growing eCommerce revenue through digital marketing
  • Experience being the face of an organization with customers, community partners, Board members and other key stakeholders
  • Team management experience with multiple direct reports
  • An entrepreneurial spirit and “can do” attitude 

Nice to have but not required:

  • Demonstrated success raising philanthropic dollars through grants, foundations, major gifts, or corporate support
  • Familiarity with assessment tools and positive psychology
  • General management and P&L responsibility for an enterprise
  • Proven success as a “visionary” with the ability to solve the next obstacle



  • Competitive with the drive to win
  • Strategic thinker
  • Independent spirit
  • Decisive
  • Inspiring
  • Positive demeanor
  • Visionary
  • Motivated by the public good
  • Curious



  • Lead a successful organization to the next level of growth and global impact
  • Work with a passionate, smart, and engaged team
  • Make a difference in millions of people’s lives each year
  • Target base salary range is $200K - $250K plus performance-based incentive compensation


Barry Elkus, Partner