Controller (Job ID: 2021-2552)

Posted Date 3 weeks ago(2/17/2021 12:45 PM)
Office of Financial Services
Job Function
Job ID
Commensurate with experience


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The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC. Our mission is to conduct in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national and global level.


We bring together leading experts in government and academia from all over the world, rooted in open-minded inquiry and representing diverse points of view, who provide the highest quality research, policy recommendations, and analysis. Research topics cover a full range of public policy issues in economics, foreign policy, development, governance and metropolitan policy.


With fair and transparent business practices, clear communication, mutual respect, and a collaborative atmosphere that offers both professional and personal development opportunities, Brookings offers an inclusive and welcoming workplace that values the efforts of all contributors.


The Controller’s Office leads the accounting activities within the Institution and ensures: appropriate internal controls are in place and maintained; general ledger accounts are reconciled on a recurring basis; and periodic financial statements are produced timely and accurately. Annually, the Controller’s Office manages the successful financial audit of the Institution which provides management with independently verified accurate and reliable statements. The audit process includes: liaising with the auditors, preparing schedules/reconciliations, responding to auditor questions, and preparing the final audited financial statements and footnotes.


The Controller’s Office is comprised of the following functional areas: Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Billing, General Ledger, Grants Administration, Payroll, Procurement, Financial Systems support, and Special Projects.


Please note: This position is based in Brookings' Washington, DC office. In response to COVID-19, Brookings staff are temporarily teleworking. The person hired for this position must be willing to move to or currently reside in Washington DC, Maryland, or Northern Virginia by their date of hire. 


Ready to contribute to Brookings success?


The Controller provides leadership and direction to a team of eleven accounting professionals and is responsible for all financial aspects of the general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, grant compliance and financial systems. This is a key role in the Office of Financial Services with a unique opportunity to build out a successful accounting and compliance strategy and effective accounting processes in a complex compliance environment with a diversified funding portfolio, including U.S. and foreign governments, private foundations, individuals and universities. This position reports to the Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer (CFO).


This position is responsible for ensuring compliance with the US generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and the implementation of policies and procedures to ensure proper controls are in place to mitigate organizational risk. The Controller is responsible for being proactive in keeping up to date with all new accounting pronouncements, proper treatment of new revenue sources, and any other developments in the compliance space that could impact the Institution. The Controller manages the coordination and submission of the annual financial audits; ensuring that all financial records and reports of the organization are maintained accurately and produced on a timely basis. H/she coordinates the month-end close process, performs analysis of organizational finances and ensures that all payments and other disbursements are made in an accurate and timely manner. The Controller maintains financial systems and works with staff and leadership to ensure financial processes, systems and reporting are in place to support the achievement of organizational goals.


This position also includes direct support to the CFO in on-going management and implementation of strategic plans and development of tactical plans. The Controller is responsible for analyses, performance monitoring and supporting the CFO on strategy development and implementation. The Controller develops and leads presentations on financial matters to various stakeholders as requested by the CFO. The Controller can represent the CFO at organizational meetings, where appropriate. The Controller will also support the CFO in strengthening interdepartmental communications and other staff engagement initiatives salient to the success of the team.


Accounting (65%)

  • Maintain the system of accounts, ledgers, and fiscal records on all transactions and assets, ensuring compliance with appropriate GAAP standards and legal and regulatory requirements. 
  • Develop and maintain ‘best in class’ internal control framework in collaboration with the CFO and other senior staff in the Office of Financial Services.
  • Develop, analyze, and interpret accounting information and present financial reports in an accurate and timely manner. Deliver monthly, quarterly, and annual financial statements; monitor progress and changes and keep Senior Management Team and Board bodies informed of Brookings financial status.
  • Ensure the accuracy and timeliness of the financial close process (monthly, quarterly, and annual year-end closes) including preparation of journal entries, additional supporting schedules, and key account analysis and reconciliations.
  • Coordinate the annual independent audit and any additional audits required by specific donors or funding agencies; ensure the timely resolution of any audit findings.   
  • Oversee all department, project, and grants financial accounting; ensure that expenditures are consistently aligned with related budgets; develop high quality financial report materials for government, corporate, foundation, and individual grants and assure they are delivered timely to funders in compliance with donor requirements.
  • Oversee the accounting and reporting for the endowment and operating fund, and related assets and liabilities, and provide appropriate oversight to assure consistent coordination and reporting between the Chief Investment Officer and the Controller’s Office.
  • Manage tax planning and compliance with all federal, state, and local tax jurisdictions.
  • Prepare all financial statements including financial position, financial activities, expenses by major categories, and cash flows in compliance with US GAAP principles.
  • Provide timely and accurate financial information to support the management and performance tracking of invested assets in keeping with policies and investment guidelines.
  • Maintain ‘best in class’ internal controls and safeguards for cash management, including establishing a sophisticated cash management procedures across the Institution; integrate closely with remote operations beyond the US. 
  • Manage Brookings cash flow forecasting to meet operating needs; coordinate regularly with Chief Investment Officer, sharing information and analysis regarding cash flow trends and needs.
  • Keep up-to-date on all accounting and auditing standards particularly as they apply to investments and alternative investments. Stay current on Internal Revenue Tax Code, FASB, and Sarbanes-Oxley-like proposals and pronouncements as they relate to non-profit organizations; ensure they are implemented and that Brookings remains compliant.   
  • Develop federal indirect cost rate proposal (NICRA) and allocation structures for accurately reflecting the total cost of projects and programs as well as funding proposals and reporting. 
  • Determine depreciation rates to apply to capitalized items; advise management on any proposed adjustments.
  • Represent Brookings as the Certified Acceptance Agent to the IRS; liaise with the IRS to help foreign nationals in obtaining an Individual Taxpayer ID Number.

Team Leadership (20%)

  • Provide effective leadership, management, coaching, and development to Controller’s Office staff members. 
  • In consultation with CFO, directs the development of short- and long-term goals and priorities for the Controller’s Office.
  • Accountable for the team’s outcomes and responsible for workload assignments and productivity monitoring.
  • Trains and mentors staff to support individual outcomes, professional development and cross-functional collaboration.
  • Manage oversight and direction of personnel, including departmental hiring, performance evaluations and performance improvement plans as appropriate.
  • Provide leadership in building effective relationships with internal and external stakeholders, with a particular focus on customer service and problem solving approach

Financial Systems (15%)


Brookings is in the process of implementing a new ERP financial solution. This position will provide critical ERP project management and subject matter expertise as follows: 

  • Continued stewardship of the current PeopleSoft ERP system until the new one is implemented. Oversees the design, development and delivery of effective trainings for staff across the Institution for the current PeopleSoft ERP functions.
  • When the time comes, lead the financial design, management, and implementation of the related modules of the ERP system in coordination with design/functional resources and contractors. Evaluate and re-engineer processes to standardize, simplify and build efficiencies across the Institution.
  • Act as primary liaison with shared service providers to design and implement seamless interfaces, ensuring controllership and efficiency of data exchange. Assure that staff are adequately trained.



Ready to make an impact? In this role, you will support Brookings values of collegiality, respect, inclusion, diversity and community, and bring the following qualifications:


Education/Experience Requirements:


Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or other business degree with accounting emphasis required. CPA license required (CFA, CMA, or Master’s degree in business or related field highly desirable).  A minimum 15 years of accounting and finance experience, at least five of which must be at a senior managerial level; knowledge of the nonprofit arena required, and direct experience preferred; emphasis will be placed on experience in a complex nonprofit environment that has multiple program areas. Some previous public accounting experience or its equivalent preferred. Experience with global organizations/foreign offices helpful. Knowledge of grants management as it relates to compliance and reporting of government, corporate, foundation, and individual grants is essential.


A minimum of 8 years supervisory experience required. Experience with medium/large team management is required; demonstrated leadership skills and ability to manage and motivate a team, including ability to lead staff and promote productivity in a diverse work environment.


Technology-savvy with experience selecting and overseeing enterprise-wide financial systems installations/implementations. Proven experience in complex ERP implementation(s) highly desirable. Experience with implementation of projects/initiatives required. Experience with change management preferred. Must have experience managing relationships with software vendors, process consultants, and system implementers. Must be able to pass background check in order to represent the Institution for the IRS as the Certified Acceptance Agent. Must be authorized to work for any employer in the U.S.


Knowledge/Skills Requirements:


Thorough knowledge of non-profit accounting with extensive knowledge of GAAP, FASB, Sarbanes-Oxley, and financial management and internal control compliance. Understanding of internal control frameworks, audit design, and implementation required. Knowledge of grants management as it relates to compliance and reporting of government, corporate, foundation, and individual grants is preferred. Advanced knowledge of mid-range accounting and reporting software capabilities required; proficiency in PeopleSoft (including GL, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, nVision Reporting, Query Manager) desired. Proficiency in desktop applications such as Microsoft Excel, Word, Access, and PowerPoint.


Strong interpersonal and communication skills, both written and verbal; experience in effectively communicating key data, including presentations to senior management, board, or other outside partners as well as internal stakeholders. Ability and desire to translate complex financial concepts to individuals at all levels including finance and non-finance leaders.


Demonstrated leadership skills and ability to manage and motivate a large team, including ability to lead staff and promote productivity in a diverse work environment. Ability to mentor and guide professional growth and development for the team. Demonstrated commitment to recruiting, coaching, training, and retaining a skilled, diverse team as well as the foresight and ability to delegate effectively. Ability to interact effectively with staff and vendors at all levels as well as ability to work independently and as member of a team.


A self-motivated individual, with strong conceptualizing skills, ability to envision, design and lead implementation of new projects and initiatives. Seen as an advocate of change management and forward looking as organization continues to grow. Keen analytical, organizational, and problem-solving skills which allow for strategic data interpretation as opposed to simple data reporting. Ability to work flexibly in fast-paced, complex environment handling multiple tasks; must be comfortable managing through influence. Personal qualities of integrity, credibility, and unwavering commitment to Brookings mission; high degree of discretion in handling confidential, sensitive data and issues; high attention to detail.


Additional Information:


What can we offer you? Brookings provides a generous benefit package that is comprehensive and includes both traditional benefits and unique offerings.


Brookings requires that all applicants submit a cover letter and resume. Please attach your cover letter and resume as one document when you apply. Please note: if you have applied to more than one Brookings job opening you should add a position-specific cover letter as a separate attachment.


Successful completion of a background investigation is required for employment at Brookings.


Brookings welcomes and celebrates diversity in all its forms.  We welcome applications that reflect a variety of backgrounds based on ideology, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, veteran status, first generation college goers, and other factors protected by law. Brookings is proud to be an equal-opportunity employer that is committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace.







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