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Program Manager & Experience Designer, Venture Cafe

The Program Manager & Experience Designer, Experience Team a will work in tandem with the Convene team to catalyze connections and help grow Philadelphia’s innovation, entrepreneurship, and creative communities. The Program Manager & Experience Designer will help position Venture Café Philadelphia, a program of the Science Center, as a valuable neutral player in the local ecosystem. The Program Manager & Experience Designer will be a leader in Greater Philadelphia’s innovation and arts community, helping Philadelphia maintain itself among the top US cities as a hub for startups.

Philadelphia is one of ten locations for Venture Café, and we expect to be in several more cities in the coming years. Our experience in Philadelphia will help to inform how the Venture Cafe Global community expands future initiatives in other cities.

The Program Manager & Experience Designer, Venture Café Philadelphia will be responsible for curating and managing Venture Café Philadelphia, a weekly event that regularly convenes over 300 members of the innovation and creative community in an inclusive and open way. This gathering strives to complement and amplify, not substitute, or compete with, ecosystem builders, entrepreneurial and innovation or artistic community gatherings in Philadelphia. Venture Café Philadelphia includes a social gathering to create opportunities for serendipitous encounters as well as structured conversations, events (seminars, info sessions, roundtables, etc.) and activations. Through strategic and inclusive partnership development the Program Manager & Experience Designer, will manage the weekly event including scheduling presenters for panel discussions, workshops, info sessions, office hours and roundtables.

The Program Manager & Experience Designer will be part of the Science Center’s Experience team and collaborate with the Director, Quorum and Experience Operations to ensure a connected experience across the Science Center and CIC General Manager and CIC Events Team. The Program Manager & Experience Designer will work with members of the Science Center or Convene team and the broader community to organize regular and special Science Center experiences.

Venture Café Philadelphia is part of the broader Venture Café Global Network which has a presence in ten locations in the US and internationally. This role will closely collaborate with Venture Café teams and Global across the network, with ongoing opportunities to share and exchange innovative ideas that serve the innovation community. Additionally, the annual Global Gathering of the entire Venture Café Network provides a platform to collectively learn and share best practices.

The Program Manager & Experience Designer, Venture Café Philadelphia has internal contacts with the entire Science Center staff and external contact with business partners, government agencies and the community. The Program Manager & Experience Designer is expected to work autonomously at times and exercise independent judgement. This position has access to sensitive UCSC and some start-up

company information and is expected to handle such information with integrity and professionalism. This position has regular contact with the media, industry partners, local government officials, and members of the community and is expected to represent UCSC in a professional manner.

The Program Manager & Experience Designer, Venture Café Philadelphia will report to the Director of Quorum and Experience Operations and participate in department/company activities as necessary.

Key responsibilities of this role include:

  • Lead the experience design, process, and data management of the Experience team with a focus on the Venture Café Thursday Gatherings to create attendee-centered experiences
  • Work in tandem with Senior Director of Experience and Digital Transformation and the Marketing team to build the Venture Café Philadelphia brand and position it as a neutral, valuable player that complements existing initiatives.
  • Advance the mission of Venture Café Philadelphia which is to enhance and grow Philadelphia’s innovation community by working to make it more diverse, inclusive, accessible, and better connected.
  • Share learnings from Philadelphia with the broader Venture Café Global community.
  • Create connections with themes, and topics across sessions, and work closely with partners, speakers, and sponsors to curate inspiring experiences
  • Oversee and report on all finance and accounting processes for Venture Café Philadelphia operation (understand P&L, tracking costs, etc.) and other programs the position has management responsibility.
  • Build out and support the Experience Coordinator in managing a volunteer corps that will help the day-to-day operations of the programs, particularly of the Venture Café Philadelphia Thursday Gathering.
  • Identify and continue to build on current collaborations with key individuals and organizations and partners with them to help in the implementation of these programs.
  • Balance work in the team office with being visible and engaged within the local innovation and arts community, including attending events, meeting people, and building meaningful relationships.
  • Be an advocate and spokesperson for Philadelphia’s innovation, entrepreneurship, and arts communities. Convene and connect individuals and organizations that should know each other and potentially collaborate.
  • Collaborate with the Community Liaison to ensure coordination of programming Science Center programming and Venture Café Philadelphia, as well as with the CIC Events Team.
  • Collaborate with Director, Quorum and Community Liaison to coordinate, manage and/or facilitate other Venture Café Philadelphia and Science Center and projects as needed.
  • Participate in the grant proposal process as needed.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Understanding of Philadelphia as a city, including its most pressing challenges (i.e. income inequality and unequal access to opportunity) and willingness to embrace them as opportunities for change and problem-solving.
  • Deep understanding of Philadelphia as an innovation community, including the key players and belief in its potential for growth. Broad and interdisciplinary understanding of the innovation process, including its business and social components.
  • Proven expertise envisioning, planning, and implementing events.
  • An inclusive, welcoming, and hospitable approach – ability to build strong community while also solving problems, directly and honestly as they arise.
  • Embrace Venture Café’s values and approach and lead by example, guided by the Venture Café Credo
  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills, and also a skilled listener. Real, natural comfort with public speaking, in formal and informal settings.
  • Ability to communicate and collaborate across business, academia, government, civil society, and other key stakeholders.
  • An appreciation for the role of user experience, design and aesthetics in creating better communication tools, spaces, products, and services.
  • Excellent organizational, project and task management skills.
  • Clear views and positions without being dogmatic. Not a “yes person.” A diplomatic and
  • consensus-oriented approach to decision-making.
  • Ability to manage multiple facets of event planning and implementation with strong attention to detail in an often fast-paced and constantly changing environment. Commitment to follow up and follow through.
  • A strong relationship with technology, including software (e.g. Adobe Suite, Salesforce, Google Suite, Asana, Zoom, TypeForm, Canva and Microsoft Office) and social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok)
  • Solid understanding of customer experience, marketing, public relations, and communication strategies and ability to align these strategies with business objectives.
  • Possesses strong interpersonal skills as demonstrated by compassionate, courteous, cordial, cooperative, and professional interaction with diverse groups of co-workers, external business partners, and the community.
  • Adheres to all UCSC and departmental policies and procedures.
  • Attends all UCSC in-services as required.

Embodies and Models Science Center Values: 

  • Unity: Promotes one Science Center, united and guided by our mission. 
  • Open Communication: Practices open communication by encouraging a diversity of ideas and recognizing the value of sharing opinions and experiences in our work.  
  • Integrity: Creates an environment of trust and integrity. Honest and ethical in everything.  
  • Impact: Works to make a meaningful and measurable difference in the lives of others.  
  • Equity & Inclusion: Fosters an environment that embraces the strength in the diversity of our team and our community.   
  • Innovation in Action: Committed to continuous learning and open to new ideas that drive positive change.  

The successful candidate will have 3-5 years of experience in a program and partnership development. Demonstrated event planning experience is a must. BA/BS degree from an accredited college or university. Advanced degree welcomed.

Candidate must be fully vaccinated by date of hire.

The Science Center offers a comprehensive employee benefit package which includes Medical, Dental, Short and Long-Term Disability, Flexible Spending, Life Insurance and 403(b) with a significant company match.

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer

Interested candidates should forward a resume and salary requirements to: Human Resources, University City Science Center 3675 Market Street, Suite 400 Philadelphia, PA 19104 or email resumes@sciencecenter.org.

About the Science Center

The University City Science Center is Philadelphia’s premier catalyst of entrepreneurial activity, healthcare innovation, and economic growth. Established in 1963, the nonprofit has been recognized by The Brookings Institution as a best-in-class investor, mentor, and economic development partner for young technology companies. Working alongside industry partners and leading research and academic institutions across the globe, the Science Center has supported over 1,000 early-stage companies. Today, the organization advances healthcare innovation from idea to the marketplace through startup support services, allocating capital, gathering the innovation community, and building inclusive STEM pathways for Philadelphia youth and adults. For more information visit sciencecenter.org or follow us at @UCScienceCenter.