Conference Director

Cato Institute Conference Director
Location Washington, DC, USA
Application deadline 30 September 2024
Contract type Permanent
Hours Full-time
Salary Commensurate with experience
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About Cato

The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization—a think tank—dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.

Founded in 1977, Cato owes its name to Cato’s Letters, a series of essays published in 18th-century England that presented a vision of a society free from excessive government power. Those essays inspired the architects of the American Revolution. And the simple, timeless principles of that revolution — individual liberty, limited government, and free markets – turn out to be even more powerful in today’s world of global markets and unprecedented access to information than Jefferson or Madison could have imagined. Social and economic freedom is not just the best policy for a free people, it is the indispensable framework for the future.

The Cato Institute is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


About the role

Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank conveniently located in downtown Washington, DC, seeks an experienced Conference Coordinator to help in our fast-paced Conference and Events Department. This full-time position is responsible for handling all the pre-planning, on-site execution, and post-event follow-up for 100+ in-house forums/conference/small events and assisting as needed with other in-house and off-site events. Responsibilities include but are not limited to planning weekly forums and conferences, creating & implementing timelines, overseeing the invitation process, working with speakers, organizing event materials, coordinating catering and audiovisual, determining room sets, communicating details to relevant departments, maintaining conference budgets, scheduling building-wide meeting space, coordinating travel and managing inventory.

This position will report to the Associate Director of Conferences & Events and work with the Institute’s entire conference team and policy staff. A qualified candidate will have a degree with 2 years of relevant experience, be capable of effectively working in a fast-paced environment, multitask, have great attention to detail, and be a responsible and professional representative of the Cato Institute. Proficient computer skills, specifically Microsoft Office, are required. Knowledge of EMS, Swoogo & Social Tables is a plus. Salary commensurate with experience. Some travel is required.

This is a full-time on-site position in Washington, DC.


Key roles and responsibilities

  • Create and maintain event timelines.
  • Draft budgets and track expenses.
  • Manage the invitation process, including collecting text, initiating and completing the editing process, formatting copy, proofing, and scheduling web posting and invitation delivery.
  • Coordinate book sales during events by working with publishers, bookstores, and the accounting department.
  • Determine and collect appropriate publications and handouts.
  • Recruit and supervise volunteers from the intern class to staff each event.
  • Manage speaker needs to include audiovisual requirements, presentation materials, travel arrangements, hotel accommodations, and honorarium payment.
  • Work closely with caterers selecting menus, determining appropriate guarantee numbers, and placing orders.
  • Submit RFPs for room blocks, collect proposals, present recommendations, and manage rooming lists.
  • Generate banquet event orders using EMS, including setup, catering, audiovisual, and services.
  • Decide appropriate room setup and produce floor diagrams using Social Tables
  • Communicate meeting requirements to appropriate departments (communications, facilities, marketing, web, etc.) by producing and supplying reports.
  • Works closely with the Conference Specialist to execute meeting sets.
  • Collect, track, and report registration, marketing, and catering information.
  • Review invoices for accuracy.
  • Schedule and service in-house meetings and event space.
  • Act as the department EMS representative by understanding the software, staying current with updates, and working with the vendor to provide the department with technical assistance and support.
  • Generate monthly reports as assigned.
  • Receive and respond to meeting-related phone and email inquiries.
  • Regularly update the conference manuals.
  • Carry out other duties as assigned.


Experience and skills

  • College degree with 2 years of relevant work experience.
  • Meet deadlines, manage time well, and perform job responsibilities without constant supervision.
  • Professional demeanor and comfortable working with top-level executives, internal customers, and vendors.
  • Ability to problem-solve, manage crisis situations effectively, and maintain professional composure under pressure.
  • Strong customer service with a proactive and positive attitude.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work well in a team environment and independently.
  • Exceptional attention to detail, quality, and accuracy.
  • Great communication skills, both oral and written.
  • Proficiency with standard desktop software, including all Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel & Outlook).
  • Knowledge of EMS, Swoogo, and Social Tables a plus.
  • Ability to work beyond normal business hours (9 am-5:30 pm) as well as occasional weekends and willingness to travel on an as-needed basis.


All Cato employees are provided with:

  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance
  • Employer contribution to a Health Savings Account (HSA)
  • Generous vacation and sick days
  • Paid parental leave
  • Employer-provided life and disability insurance 401(k) employer match
  • Transit/ Parking benefits
  • Pet discount plan