Chief Executive Officer, VitalTalk

Seattle, Washington, United States Full-time

Title:                                                    Chief Executive Officer

Location:                                             Seattle, WA

Reports to:                                          Board of Directors

Salary:                                                 DOQ

Organization Budget:                         Projected $2.1 million (FY 2020)


The Organization: 

VitalTalk is a national leader in providing specialized communication trainings to thousands of clinicians and clinician-faculty across the country.  We provide clinicians with best-practice communication methodologies and tools, a rich community of support and ongoing development to better serve the needs of seriously ill patients and their families.  VitalTalk was founded in 2012 by three doctors and professors with NIH research funding.  Today we are the leading provider of evidence-based communication trainings to clinicians across the country, supported by nationally recognized funders and a robust earned income revenue stream.  Our influence can be felt in academic and tertiary medical centers, integrated health systems, hospitals and community clinics through our post-graduate training for specialists who work with serious illness.


Our Mission:

We know and believe that effective, empathic, and honest conversations between a clinician, patient and their family are the cornerstones of patient-centered care.  Just as no doctor is born knowing how to handle a scalpel, the same is true for communicating effectively with patients. But, despite best efforts, too few clinicians are trained on or get to practice critical patient conversations.  99% of clinicians report understanding the importance of advance care planning, yet more than 60% of physicians say they never received formal training and only 14% actually had these conversations with their patients. 46% of physicians said they were uncertain of what to say in these situations. Inadequate clinician communication skills impact not only patients from intake to discharge but the entire health ecosystem; it’s the most expensive line item hospitals don’t see. 


Our two primary programs include:

  • Clinician trainings that teach evidence-based methods to change clinician behavior and improve communication skills.
  • Train the Trainer programs that use best in class faculty programs to train clinicians on how to teach.


Our approach draws on a unique educational philosophy built on empirical research of proven strategies to combat communication pitfalls.  In our courses actors give clinicians a realistic patient experience, a safe space to fail and the opportunity to hone effective, authentic strategies.  Because behavior change doesn’t happen in two hours behind a screen, we use real scenarios to give clinicians the opportunity to practice with real-time feedback.




Key Results:

  • Over 10,000 clinicians trained in the past 2 years
  • 550 clinician-faculty developed in the past 5 years
  • 674 courses conducted in the past 3 years
  • Acknowledged by the National Academy of Medicine as a premier provider of programs for teaching communication skills among seriously ill patients


The Opportunity for VitalTalk: 

We are experiencing an increase in demand for VitalTalk’s courses from hospitals, health care systems, and large government agencies. Some of our partners include Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield, the American Cancer Society and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Since our founding in 2012, the organization has grown significantly to accommodate that demand and the number of courses offered has grown year over year since inception.  VitalTalk is now transitioning from an early stage lean approach to our business to a more mature, higher-capacity organization with investment in staff and infrastructure that will support continued growth. Along with our growth, we are committed to retaining our entrepreneurial culture. With a staff of 8, a projected 2020 budget of $2.1 million and $900k in earned revenue, this agile, fast paced social enterprise is well poised for significant growth to reach over 200,000 medical providers who care for patients with serious illness.


Our big picture goal is to ensure that every patient with serious illness has trained and competent clinicians who can communicate with them effectively.  To achieve that goal, we seek to:

  • Grow VitalTalk’s programs (courses, faculty, and revenue) to increase our impact
  • Ensure that the right processes, systems, and people are in place to support our goal of training over 200,000 clinicians by 2030
  • Continue to train, invest in and grow our faculty community
  • Embed VitalTalk’s program in health systems across the US
  • Foster strong relationships with key funders to ensure funding for continued innovation


The Position:

We seek an experienced Executive Director/CEO with demonstrated experience growing and scaling organizations, either in the private or social sectors, ideally with a combination of experience in both. A background in medicine or healthcare is not required but personal or professional knowledge of palliative care is helpful and a passion for the mission is critical. Our next leader will thrive in an entrepreneurial environment and enjoy creating systems and structures to manage and facilitate growth.  S/he/they will lead the founding Board of Directors through a Theory of Change and strategic planning process that will crystallize the evolving business model, product offerings and financial structures to enable the successful implementation of the strategic plan.  The new CEO will be seasoned enough to anticipate challenges and potential pitfalls, using their prior experience in growing organizations and setting strategy to create solutions that allow VitalTalk to grow, scale and meet our mission.


The CEO will guide the process to expand the Board of Directors, identifying skills and experience needed and partnering with the board to recruit two new board members each year for the next three years.  S/he/they will guide the founders’ transition from active founder roles to a more traditional board governance function. This individual will oversee board development and define the role that board members will play in growing the organization and maintaining high quality products and support to the faculty, clinician community and staff.


The CEO will oversee and lead the effort to maximize the earned revenue income stream and take primary leadership for growing sales, contributions, grants and sponsorships. This individual will be financially savvy and will have demonstrated experience with financial forecasting and growth models. S/he/they will also take a leadership role in building and marketing VitalTalk’s brand by leveraging social and traditional media, public relations and serving as a spokesperson for the organization and the mission.


The new CEO will demonstrate exceptionally strong emotional intelligence and the ability to interface with a wide variety of stakeholders including founders, staff, faculty, clients, and funders. The CEO will support VitalTalk staff, providing mentorship, guidance and development opportunities.  S/he/they will model the VitalTalk high touch culture and support the community of clinicians and faculty by traveling approximately once per month to meet with clients and strategic partners or attend VitalTalk courses.


Specific qualifications include:

  • 7+ years of executive management experience combined with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent professional experience, with emphasis on experience leading a startup organization during a time of significant growth
  • Proven record of bringing regional or national programs to scale, including recent examples of well executed strategies that have taken an organization to higher stages of growth and development.
  • Demonstrated experience with fundamental business practices including strategic plan development, well-developed practical financial management and budgeting skills at an operational level.
  • Passion for furthering VitalTalk’s mission and the desire to serve as an eager and enthusiastic representative for the organization.
  • Unwavering commitment to quality programs and data-driven program evaluation.
  • Passion for excellence in learner experience.
  • Proven ability to coach and develop high-performance teams, set and achieve strategic objectives, and manage a budget.
  • Established board recruitment strategy and experience cultivating board engagement.
  • Passion for working in partnership with an experienced and committed staff and Board of Directors to achieve VitalTalk’s objectives.
  • Prior experience working with founders helpful but not required.
  • Proven track record of successful sales, fund development and external relations; working knowledge of relevant funders helpful but not required.
  • Visionary mindset with the ability to think and communicate at a big picture level while also embracing a “roll up your sleeves” mentality and leading implementation through effective communication, time management, delegation and facilitation.
  • Experience with and aptitude for engaging stakeholders with a variety of perspectives and opinions toward a common direction, set of strategies and goals. Specific background in building exceptional board relations, change management, organization development, and consensus building strongly desired.


Compensation and Benefits:

Compensation will be competitive and reflect not only the current budget and size of the organization, but the expected growth and development.  Benefits include 100% paid employee healthcare insurance, transportation benefit, and generous paid time off.


To Apply:

Interested candidates can upload in one document a resume and a cover letter detailing your passion for the VitalTalk mission and how your experience is a match for the requirements of the CEO position to the following URL:

Application deadline is September 2, 2019.



Applications received by September 2, 2019 will be given priority but applications will be accepted until the position is filled. We will contact qualified candidates.  First and second round interviews will take place throughout September 2019.  Finalist interviews will take place in Denver, CO on 10/13/19 and a hiring decision is anticipated by the end of October 2019.


VitalTalk is a progressive and innovative equal opportunity employer. We embrace and encourage our employees’ differences in age, color, disability, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, physical and mental ability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, and other characteristics that make our employees unique. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply.