President & Chief Executive Officer

CIFAR - President and Chief Executive Officer  

The opportunity


CIFAR is a global research organization that convenes extraordinary minds to address science and humanity’s most important questions. By supporting long-term interdisciplinary collaboration, CIFAR provides some of the world’s best researchers with an unparalleled environment of trust, transparency and knowledge sharing.  CIFAR’s time-tested model inspires new directions of inquiry, accelerates discovery and yields breakthroughs across borders and academic disciplines.  Through knowledge mobilization, CIFAR is a catalyst for change in industry, government and society.  CIFAR’s community of fellows, advisors and global scholars includes 20 Nobel laureates and more than 400 researchers from 22 countries.  In 2017, the Government of Canada appointed CIFAR to develop and lead the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy (PCAIS), the world’s first AI Strategy.   

It is within this context that CIFAR welcomes nominations and applications for the position of President & Chief Executive Officer (“President”) commencing July 1 2022, or soon after. The position will be based out of CIFAR’s Toronto office, with travel across Canada and globally as required. 

Reporting to the CIFAR Board of Directors, the President & CEO works closely with the Chair of the Board of Directors, takes counsel from a President’s Research Council, and interacts regularly with the community of researchers within the programs to address the most important questions facing science and humanity. The President & CEO leads an exceptional and diverse staff team. The President & CEO has a depth of knowledge and familiarity with Canadian research university settings and research environment. The President & CEO supports fundraising and revenue generation activities,  and works closely with the Board of Directors and its Advancement Committee. 

The ideal candidate is an internationally known and respected research leader who is committed to the pursuit of research and knowledge mobilization. The ideal candidate can communicate in a compelling and exciting manner to both academic and non-academic communities the important role that CIFAR plays in the global research ecosystem, supporting fundamental research which addresses important aspects of life and health, individuals and societies, information and matter, and earth and space. Candidates must have an understanding of the Canadian university research setting and a good appreciation of the global research environment. They should also have the ability to evaluate new programs and initiatives on behalf of the organization. The ideal candidate will bring significant senior administration and leadership experience with financial management, human resources, governance policies and procedures, and science funding policy. The ideal candidate will ideally have had experience working with a diverse set of external stakeholders including but not limited to academic and research institutions, government officials, donors, partners, and researchers. The ideal candidate is an articulate and effective speaker and will have presence in public and private settings with various audiences and constituencies. Candidates should hold a graduate level degree, and a PhD or equivalent degree in the humanities, biomedical, social or natural sciencesThe ideal candidate will have high integrity and an unwavering commitment to and demonstrated ability to advocate for equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. 

To apply or explore this key leadership position at CIFAR, please contact Jane Griffith ( and Sam Walton ( Consideration of candidates will begin immediately.  

CIFAR is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion. We recognize that bringing together individuals from multiple backgrounds, perspectives and experiences is integral to advancing excellence and increasing the impact of our organization. Our leadership, staff and volunteers strive to create an equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace and, in turn, an environment that will give our diverse global community of fellows, scholars and advisors the support to successfully address the most important questions facing science and humanity. Ensuring that every person feels valued and welcome, regardless of age, education, sexual orientation, gender expression and identity, parental status/responsibility, immigration status, Indigenous status, religion, disability, language, race, place of origin, ethnicity, culture, socio-economic status, and other attributes is vital to achieving our mission. We strongly encourage applications from members of our society who face systemic barriers and biases, including, but not limited to, women, Indigenous persons, members of visible minority/racialized communities, 2SLGBTQ+ persons, members of marginalized gender identity communities, and persons with disabilities. Applicants may confidentially self-identify at the time of application. 

All qualified candidates are welcome to apply; however, priority will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents. 

In accordance with the provincial legislation, accommodation will be provided by Griffith Group and CIFAR throughout the recruitment, selection and/or assessment process, upon request, to applicants with disabilities. If you require accommodations during the recruitment process, please contact and/or  

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