Max Dalton appointed as CEA's Executive Director

Posted on Friday, October 18th 2019
(last updated Wednesday, September 2nd 2020)

We are delighted to announce that CEA’s trustees have appointed Max Dalton — who has been serving as Interim Executive Director — as Executive Director of CEA.

Max joined CEA as a researcher after earning a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from the University of Oxford and an MSc in Economics from the University of York. In 2017, he was promoted to head the content team. In this role, he led major redesigns for, the EA Forum, and the EA Handbook, among other projects. In January, he was appointed as CEA’s Interim Executive Director. For the past nine months, he’s managed CEA’s core teams, while overseeing substantial process improvements across our grantmaking and community outreach programs.

The committee, CEA’s trustees, and CEA staff have been impressed by Max’s work during a challenging interim period. Under Max’s leadership, CEA has been more consistently meeting its external commitments, providing clear and informative updates to donors and the board, and setting a culture that has resulted in high staff morale. Max has demonstrated humility, clear communication, good judgment, and unwavering dedication to CEA’s mission.

Max’s appointment draws the leadership search, which started in January, to a close. This process was conducted on behalf of the board by a search committee, which consisted of Owen Cotton-Barratt, Julia Wise, Nick Beckstead, Will MacAskill, and Jenna Peters, with Owen leading the search and Jenna serving as the project manager. Holden Karnofsky provided extensive advice to the committee, and Claire Zabel (who is a trustee of CEA) participated in some committee discussions. Both Holden and Claire contributed to the final recommendation to the board of trustees. 

The committee solicited recommendations for possible candidates from over 70 stakeholders and performed tailored investigations into roughly a dozen recommended people, including Max. The committee would like to thank staff, stakeholders, and community members for their input, and the candidates for their time and patience during this process.

Historically, CEA has faced significant challenges, and its execution on projects has not consistently been at the standard we would like. Max and the board are happy about the progress CEA has made on this over 2019, and hopeful about continued improvements over the next months. In the near future, Max is planning to write more about some of the mistakes that CEA has made in the past, as well as the ways they’ve been working to address those mistakes. Max also aims to share more information about CEA’s thinking and plans, in order to receive feedback from the community. (CEA’s recent post on community building grants is an example of what this might look like.)

Looking forward, we are excited about CEA’s potential. We have a great deal of trust in Max. With his leadership, and input from the community, we are optimistic that the organization will thrive in the coming year and beyond.

CEA leadership search committee, October 2019

Owen Cotton-Barratt Julia Wise Nick Beckstead Will MacAskill Jenna Peters

Note (14 November 2019): We tried to be very straightforward in our announcement post, including with our acknowledgement of CEA's past mistakes, because we think this is a good epistemic virtue for EA organizations and community members to uphold. However, we’ve heard from some people who read between the lines and thought we had more major concerns than we had intended to convey!

As a result, we've made some small edits to try to better indicate that we're genuinely pleased and optimistic about the direction CEA has been moving in this year.