Biophysical Society

Biophysical Society

Executive Officer

Client Overview

The Biophysical Society (BPS), located in Rockville, MD, has retained Sterling Martin Associates to search for BPS’s next Executive Officer (EO).  BPS’ budget is in the $5M range, and 17 professional staff members serve the organization. BPS is led by its officers (5 members) and governing body, known as the BPS Council (12 members). The Executive Officer is BPS’s chief staff executive.

The Biophysical Society is an international scientific society whose purpose is to lead the development and dissemination of knowledge in biophysics. Biophysics is a vibrant scientific field where scientists from many fields including math, chemistry, physics, engineering, pharmacology, and materials sciences, use their skills to explore and develop new tools for understanding how biology—all life—works.

Founded in 1958, the society currently consists of over 9,000 members in academia government, and industry. Although the Society is based in the United States, it is an international organization. Overseas members currently comprise over one third of the total.

BPS develops and disseminates knowledge in biophysics through many programs, including meetings, publications, and committee outreach activities. BPS convenes and connects a global community of scientists working at the interface of the physical and life sciences and creates, shares, and advocates for biophysical knowledge and methods through programs and communities that support biophysicists.

For more information, visit www.biophysics.org.

Executive Officer

The Executive Officer (EO) of the Biophysical Society is responsible for ensuring that BPS serves the needs and interests of its membership in accordance with the Society’s stated purpose to lead development and dissemination of knowledge in biophysics. The EO implements the strategic goals and objectives of the organization, and, with the President (chief volunteer officer), enables the Council to fulfill its governance function. The EO gives direction and leadership toward the achievement of the Society’s philosophy, mission, strategy, goals, and objectives.

Specific Duties & Responsibilities

Under the broad direction of the Council, the Executive Officer is responsible for the following duties and activities:

Strategy & Planning

  • Collaborate with the Council to develop, plan, and implement BPS’ strategic direction, ensuring that a Strategic Plan with appropriate metrics is in place.
  • Develop a regular process to review the Strategic Plan, reporting progress to ensure that priorities and resources align. With Council agreement, correct course as needed based on internal or external factors.
  • Enhance BPS’ already-strong reputation in the field of biophysics.
  • Oversee the day-to-day operations of BPS to provide for the sustainability and long-term stability of the organization.

Governance | Compliance | Risk Management

  • Support operations and administration of the Council by advising and informing Council members, interfacing between the governing body and staff.
  • Ensure the Council is kept fully informed on the condition of the organization and on all the important factors that influence it.
  • Support the Council and BPS committees in order to ensure governance efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Foster and encourage active volunteer leadership, participation, and development across all levels of the organization.
  • Ensure the maintenance of official records and documents consistent with BPS policies, and ensure that there is effective compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.

External Relations

  • Ensure that the Society and its mission, programs, products, and services are consistently presented in strong, positive image to relevant groups.
  • Serve as a key internal and external spokesperson for BPS, in conjunction with the Council Chair, speaking for the organization to the media and public.
  • Lead efforts to enhance organizational visibility and awareness, including further developing relationships with relevant partner organizations.
  • Ensure continued productive partnerships with federal policy makers, regulators and collaborating organizations.
  • Ensure regular and ongoing effective communications with all BPS constituent groups.
  • In conjunction with the senior team, lead public relations efforts as they relate to key regulatory activities, mission-related activities, and BPS events.
  • In conjunction with the senior team, ensure all communication and public relations materials and plans are in keeping with organization brand guidelines and depict the accurate message regarding BPS initiatives.

Program Development | Advocacy

  • Overseeing the design, marketing promotion, delivery, and quality of BPS’s programs, products, and services.
  • Collaborate with staff, Council, and volunteers, overseeing and managing the development and execution of policy goals and tactics aligned with the Strategic Plan.
  • Champion the biophysics profession in ways that clearly advance the professional status of BPS members. Ensure that the organization’s program delivery and solutions are relevant, of consistently high quality, and client-centered.
  • Engage volunteers and staff to oversee the development of learning resources, tools, and consulting activities that enhance the profession.
  • Lead the active engagement of BPS in appropriate coalitions, think-tanks, and other policy groups, as appropriate.
  • In cooperation with relevant BPS staff and the Council, monitor federal and state agencies and policy issues to ensure a proactive role in influencing policy or legislation that could affect the BPS and its constituents.
  • Ensure oversight of the development of BPS communications strategies related to advocacy matters.

Organizational Culture

  • Champion organizational culture and values. Build effective working relationships with all employees. Contribute to creating a positive work environment that promotes staff satisfaction.
  • Practice servant-leadership internally, ensuring good talent management and adherence to best practices and applicable employment law.
  • Facilitate organizational operating stability, by continuing to attract, engage, and retain high caliber staff.
  • Develop and manage an effective staff team to achieve the strategic goals and to conduct the business of the organization successfully.
  • Ensure that human resources are allocated in a manner that promotes and supports a positive results-focused work environment.
  • Supervise all staff including evaluation and ongoing training.

Financial Management | Performance

  • Work with staff to propose an annual organizational budget for Council approval based on an assessment of needs, external environmental factors, and the BPS Strategic Plan. Assume accountability for financial stability as well as regular reports to the Council.
  • In conjunction with BPS staff and volunteer groups, ensure the achievement of the annual operational plan and financial goals with appropriate resource allocation, goals, and performance metrics.
  • Ensure a financial management strategy that promotes good stewardship throughout the organization and makes certain that both systems and strategies are managed well.

Ideal Background & Experience | Qualities & Characteristics

The ideal candidate will have been a senior executive leader within a scientific, professional society or other professional membership association. Specific qualifications include:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; master’s degree preferred.
  • Experience as a senior executive having worked in a similar or larger size organization.
  • A minimum of seven years of leadership/management experience in a scientific professional society or nonprofit membership association.
  • Experience working with a nonprofit governing board on matters involving strategy and vision.
  • Proven track record of strategic leadership and accomplishment of annual goals.
  • General knowledge of global scientific publication issues a plus.
  • A high-level customer service orientation, exhibiting both internal hospitality and external member satisfaction.
  • Strong financial management and strategic insight to deliver on the strategic initiatives through the development of programs and services.
  • Strategic and analytical thinker who sees the big picture and motivates staff, volunteers, donors, and key constituents toward a common vision.

Personal and Professional Qualities

  • Act ethically and adhere to BPS’ mission and core values.
  • A unifier, with the ability to assess the organization’s current position and build strategies to advance it rapidly and strategically.
  • Demonstrate empathetic concern and emotional intelligence in interactions with partners, staff, members, volunteers, and key influencers.
  • Ability to foster trust and build a sense of a shared purpose and commitment with the Council, staff, volunteer leaders, and key influencers.
  • Ability to react appropriately and strategically to key external trends and market demands.
  • Ability to guide and mentor others in performing effectively and in providing professional development opportunities.
  • Affinity for networking outside and within the organization and the field to build positive strategic relationships to further BPS’ Strategic Plan.
  • Ability to address problems and challenges, use critical-thinking in moving beyond the standard methods and solutions, thereby keeping BPS at the cutting-edge and ahead of the curve.
  • Practice life-long learning and be willing to implement new concepts, technologies, and methods.


The Biophysical Society’s highly dedicated staff is passionate about and proud of supporting the scientific research, professional development, advocacy and public education activities that serve their members. BPS offers excellent employee benefits in a financially stable organization that encourages a balance between work and life while promoting the professional development of their employees. The Society seeks highly motivated, results-oriented, bright, and energetic team players to carry out the challenging work of the Society’s multi-faceted mission.

To apply, please send a cover letter and current résumé (Microsoft Word® format preferred) to bps@smartinsearch.com. A well-crafted cover letter outlining how your background and experience relate to the position is considered an important part of the candidate review process. All applications will be acknowledged.

The Biophysical Society is an equal opportunity employer, dedicated to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

For more information, contact:

Sterling Martin Associates
1025 Connecticut Avenue, NW | Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036

David S. Martin | Managing Partner
202.257.1627 | bps@smartinsearch.com

Leigh Beal | Senior Associate
347.804.4237 | bps@smartinsearch.com

Tricia Bork Canavan | Senior Consultant
913.314.0114 | bps@smartinsearch.com