“This is a story about mission-driven innovation in education—innovation that is giving thousands of children an opportunity to access high-quality university preparatory education.”

– Tom Vander Ark, CEO of GettingSmart and Cristo Rey supporter

Who we are

Our mission at Cristo Rey San Diego High School is to transform San Diego, one student at a time. We deliver a career focused, college preparatory education in the Catholic tradition for students with limited economic resources, uniquely blending rigorous academic curricula with four years of professional work experience. This includes support to and through college, with a focus on character and accountability. We partner with educators, businesses, and communities to enable students to fulfill their aspirations for a lifetime of success.

Located in Southeast San Diego, 90% of our students are Latino, and all of whom will be the first in their family to attend a college or university. Students of any faith, race, color, gender identity, sexual orientation, and national and ethnic origin are welcome at Cristo Rey San Diego.

We opened our doors to our inaugural freshman class in August of 2020, becoming the 37th school in the Cristo Rey Network, the only such institution integrating four years of professional work experience into the curriculum. This national network of faith-based, college and career preparatory schools serves over 12,000 students across 24 states. Today, with more than 25,000 graduates, Cristo Rey schools deliver a powerful and innovative approach to education.

A core part of our curriculum, the Corporate Work Study (CWS) Program breaks down the socioeconomic and cultural barriers that all too often inhibit the success of students from diverse communities. Every Cristo Rey San Diego student is placed in a professional job (on-site, remote, or hybrid) five full days a month, through all four years of high school. This enables students to connect classroom to career, strengthening their social and professional acumen as they develop newfound awareness to pursue and excel in careers or industries to which they may not otherwise have had access. CWS is also where they find mentors and forge the networks fundamental to their future success. Cristo Rey San Diego is a private, nonprofit educational organization, certified by the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Please visit: to learn more.


What makes Cristo Rey San Diego so special? We are a small, tight-knit community of learning, with a culture based on trust and accountability. With the addition of our third freshmen class last fall, Cristo Rey San Diego’s enrollment is 155 students and will continue growing up to 400 students. Our small class size enables us to provide students and their families with individualized attention, where the vision of attending a 4-year college or university begins the very moment a student first steps on campus.

As we enter our fourth year in operation, this very much still feels like a start-up, which we embrace enthusiastically. Our faculty are entrusted to create and teach their own curriculum, and our staff engage with students and their families to ensure they are supported in all areas.

Cristo Rey San Diego is overseen by a local Board of Directors, with representation from the business, philanthropy, education, and faith communities. As we transition from an initial founding to a growth phase, we look forward to welcoming a dynamic, passionate leader as President, who can tell our story and build the relationships and partnerships to fuel our growth and further our impact.


Salary $165,000 – $200,000 DOE/NEG 


This role will primarily be in-person. Cristo Rey San Diego High School campus is located adjacent to St. Jude’s Church at 1228 S 38th Street San Diego, CA 92113. 


Our impact, told through the stories of Cristo Rey San Diego students and families, is truly phenomenal. Every day we are actively working to close the opportunity gap and transform lives through the power of education and community. The President serves as our Chief Executive Officer, with overall financial, academic, and operational responsibility for the organization. They will create and advance a vision and strategy that supports and promotes the school’s mission and values, with special emphasis on the Corporate Work Study Program and the religious and spiritual orientation of the school.

The President is the face of the school, focused on four main strategic pillars: fundraising, corporate partnerships, board development/relations, and leadership/management. Much of their time and energy will be focused off campus, representing the school and engaging with donors, corporate work study partner organizations, board members, and community leaders. However, these external requirements must be balanced with a strong on-campus presence, building relationships with faculty, staff, students, and parents, and serving as the leader of our community.

The role of President at Cristo Rey San Diego is an opportunity to build something amazing. It is a highly connected position, partnering with stakeholders across the San Diego region, actively working to leverage the power of education to close the opportunity gap and transform lives. It is real work, with real meaning.


  • Leadership: work in close partnership with the board and wider Cristo Rey San Diego community, develops and executes a compelling vision and mission. Embodies and nurtures a positive organizational culture that is highly inclusive, transparent, and reflective of Cristo Rey San Diego’s values. Actively and thoughtfully coaches, mentors, and develops team members.
  • Relationship-building:get to know our students, faculty, staff, and parents, as well as investors and board members, through warm, authentic, and frequent engagement.
  • Resource-development:in partnership with our Chief Advancement Officer, scale our investor outreach and stewardship efforts to ensure the school’s financial success. Think creatively about additional nonfinancial resources that will also further our mission.
  • Corporate relations:connect with the business community and other local employers to create quality employment opportunities for Cristo Rey San Diego students under the CWS program.
  • Celebrating: we graduate our first class of seniors next year and will look to the President to lead us in highlighting and celebrating this incredibly important milestone, including our first round of college acceptances!
  • Facilities: develop a plan for maintaining and upgrading the campus, and creating a vision and strategy that will allow the school to reach its target enrollment of 400 students.
  • Staffing: continue to hire, engage, and retain high-quality faculty and staff, including a new school Principal who will serve as the President’s leading academic and programmatic partner.
  • Partnerships: develop strategic collaborations with other organizations that share our mission.
  • Networking: build the Cristo Rey San Diego brand and awareness of the school’s unique mission and impact. Leverage relationships to secure speakers on campus and other learning opportunities such as field trips, cultural events, and college visits.

Candidate Profile

  • Awareness of and commitment to the Catholic traditions of education, service, and social justice, the credibility to lead and represent a Catholic organization with integrity, and facility for working well with diverse Catholic church leaders, lay and clerical.
  • Exceptional communication and interpersonal skills including proven ability to engage and inspire a wide range of stakeholders and build creative and mutually beneficial relationships within the philanthropic, corporate, public, and nonprofit sectors.
  • Proven fundraising and/or revenue-generating success, preferably in the nonprofit sector and with foundations.
  • Significant visionary leadership and management experience, with demonstrated success in addressing immediate organizational needs but driving toward longer-term goals with buy-in from all stakeholders.
  • The executive presence to inspire organizational and professional confidence, passion, and persistence in an ambitious, fast-paced, and results-oriented period of growth, all while maintaining a positive and healthy work environment.
  • The maturity and wisdom required to optimize board members’ engagement in the mission.
  • Strategic planning experience and execution capabilities.
  • Strong budget management skills.
  • Preferably, previous experience in the education sector and/or the sensibilities and perspective necessary to validate her/his leadership in a school.
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills, including evidence of enhancing an organization’s financial strength and sustainability.
  • Unquestionable integrity.

Leadership Attributes

  • Inclusive:inviting different voices to the table, especially board members, faculty, staff, students, and parents. A true leader and a team player.
  • Curious:someone who actively listens, learns, and asks lots of questions
  • Empower:a leader who is self-aware and wants to give responsibility to their team.
  • Diverse:brings a diversity lens to everything they do, with a commitment to equity and social justice.
  • Humble:a leader who is happy to pitch in, roll up their sleeves and take on whatever challenge may arise, no matter how large or small.
  • Present:a visible and approachable leader who is truly part of the Cristo Rey San Diego community, attending sports events, hosting meetings with parents, etc.
  • Compassionate:brings a genuine understanding/appreciation for the challenges many families face, including barriers to education and achievement.
  • Executive presence:a credible and amazing communicator, able to approach and build relationships with local executives and community leaders.
  • Inspire:an authentic and engaging storyteller who can share our mission and vision in a way that inspires action.
  • Entrepreneurial:a builder who enjoys the start-up environment and brings a sense of urgency to both our mission and organizational development goals.
  • Resilient: able to manage many different people of many different backgrounds, as well as the ability to overcome start-up and growth challenges and see the learning opportunities in fulfilling a vision.
  • Flexible:able to attend school events during evenings and weekends as required, including travel for occasional national Cristo Rey Network events and retreats.


Sarah Thompson, Senior Director, Blair Search Partners
1855 1st Ave., Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92101