Position Summary

Reporting to the Vice President of Programs, the Midwest Climate & Energy (MC&E) Program Director will collaborate with the Vice President of Programs and other program directors to guide McKnight’s effort to position the Midwest as a national and international leader in addressing climate change. The MC&E program aims to achieve economy-wide greenhouse gas emission reductions while advancing a commitment to racial equity.

The MC&E Program Director will support cross-programmatic work that supports the goals of the MC&E program and includes the management and implementation of a shared Minnesota civic engagement strategy with the Vibrant and Equitable Communities (V&EC) program. The scope of work will encompass developing a portfolio of grants to advance progress across the program’s approved strategies, cultivating and managing intermediary partners across the Upper Midwest, and designing and managing program learning and evaluation. Additionally, the Program Director will partner with the Impact Investing team to identify and analyze mission and program-related investments that advance program goals. The role will have direct supervision over two program officers. The MC&E team is additionally supported by a program officer shared with the V&EC program, a program grants associate, and a program teams administrator.

This leader will model the Foundation’s values, advance its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and meaningfully contribute to building a culture of trust, transparency, respect, and results.

Reporting Relationships

Direct Reports: Program Officer (2 FTE)

Key Responsibilities

Advancing and Executing a Robust Climate and Energy Strategic Vision

  • Provide expertise in climate and energy grantmaking and in leveraging and integrating philanthropic, public, and private investment. Maintain current information about local, regional, national, and international activities related to the Foundation’s grantmaking interests in climate and energy, as well as areas of intersection between climate and energy and other McKnight programs. Foster working relationships among nonprofits, policy makers, funders, and others to strengthen the field and connect across other fields of work.
  • Ensure that programs are aligned with the Foundation’s mission and the program priorities established by the board. Model behavior that aligns grantmaking principles and practices with McKnight’s values and represent the Foundation positively in the community. Working with the Director of Learning, develop learning and evaluation frameworks and tracking mechanisms to monitor the progress of grantee organizations and overall movement toward the goal and integrate knowledge from grantmaking experience back into program activities. Collaborate with the Impact Investment program staff and the Mission Investment Committee.
  • Host convenings and meetings with grantees and the community at-large about MC&E program priorities. Make funding recommendations on grant requests from climate and energy organizations. Review letters of inquiry and grant requests from climate and energy organizations. Nurture positive relationships with key grantees. Review and approve all climate and energy grant recommendations.

Developing Integrated Program Implementation

  • Supervise staff members and consultants working in the MC&E program, providing day-to-day management, development support, and other collegial support. Organize, prioritize, and participate in program-related workshops and meetings.
  • Advise the President and Vice President of Programs on climate and energy related programs that are aligned with the board’s priorities. Prepare MC&E program materials for the quarterly board book and provide updates at the quarterly board meeting. Support Foundation-wide communication about MC&E program activities, ways of working, and site visits.
  • Develop and manage the MC&E program budget and payout schedules. Review and approve all MC&E grant payments. In partnership with the Director of Learning, assess effectiveness of program outputs through application of outside evaluations and internal monitoring of grantee effectiveness and progress toward program goals. Participate in cross-functional work groups as appropriate. Attend and actively participate in staff meetings, retreats, and Manager’s Roundtable meetings. Manage Foundation programs, initiatives, and special projects.

Stewarding Culture and Organizational Change Management

  • Model, through leadership and support, a culture in which all team members feel valued and recognized as vital to advancing the Foundation’s mission and goals and are encouraged to grow professionally.
  • In partnership with the President and Vice President of Programs, take a highly visible leadership role to offer an inclusive approach to preserving the collaborative and transparent culture of McKnight.
  • Establish short- and long-term goals, develop strategies and plans, and facilitate change management activities to ensure organizational alignment with McKnight’s strategic framework.
  • Develop individuals and teams, manage work allocation, provide performance feedback and professional development, and support positive team dynamics. Display the skills, sensitivity, and personal confidence to tap into the power that each member of the team brings to the mission.

Core Competencies

All leaders at McKnight are expected to display the following attributes:

  • Strategic mindset
  • Communicates effectively
  • Culturally self-aware
  • Drives results
  • Manages complexity
  • Instills trust
  • Models resiliency

These qualities are specific to the MC&E Program Director role:

  • Intellectual horsepower
  • Advocates for equity
  • Interpersonal savvy
  • Nimble learning
  • Builds effective teams
  • Business insight

Key Requirements

  • A minimum of 10 years of strategic leadership and career growth in climate change, social justice, or philanthropy at a similarly complex organization; five or more years of managerial experience; master’s degree preferred.
  • Experience in climate and energy issues on a local, regional, national, and international level along with strong professional networks within the climate and energy space.
  • Demonstrated ability to source opportunities for high-leverage investments and the judgment and organizational savviness to assess the probability of success.
  • Demonstrated track record of building strong relationships with allies and across lines of difference, implementing organizational improvements, and excellence in strategic, organizational, and budget management.
  • Demonstrated body of work that reflects a commitment to organizational excellence and efficiency, servant leadership, management of collaboration and effective teamwork, and promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Demonstrated cultural competency and emotional intelligence and communicate with candor and openness when addressing sensitive issues such as social justice, power dynamics, historical contexts, and racial inequities.
  • Clear strategic and operational vision and exceptional skill in synthesizing information and translating vision into action steps for the long and short term.
  • Demonstrated resourcefulness in setting priorities, navigating change management, and proposing new ways of achieving desired outcomes with inclusive approaches to planning, problem solving, and decision making.
  • Combined experience, maturity level, and flexibility to interact with a broad set of stakeholders, including the board, senior level department heads, and staff members across the organization.
  • Exceptional oral and written communication skills including the demonstrated ability to research, synthesize, and analyze information, compose documents, and present data in a clear and concise manner to appropriate personnel, including top management, program staff members, and the board.
  • Highly developed facilitation, coaching, and engagement skills; comfort with managing diverse group dynamics and leading toward common desired outcomes.
  • Highly developed emotional intelligence and demonstrated ability to use interpersonal skills and political acumen in respectful, collaborative, and diplomatic ways.
  • A strong, intuitive communicator, skillful at managing through influence; demonstrated ability to connect and inspire across stakeholder groups.
  • Passion for the mission-driven sector and the role philanthropy can have in addressing some of society’s most challenging problems.
  • Experience with nonprofits, foundations, and working directly with a family foundation board of directors is a plus.

Compensation and Benefits

The McKnight Foundation provides a competitive compensation package. Benefits include health, dental, life, and disability insurance; generous paid time off; contribution to a retirement plan; matching charitable gifts program; and a flexible work environment. This opportunity is a full-time, exempt position based in Minneapolis. The salary range is $164,227–173,351.

The McKnight Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and proudly values diversity. We encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply.

To Apply

Download the job profile. Apply here. Due to the pace of this search, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

This search is being conducted with assistance from Linh Nguyen, Allison Kupfer Poteet, and Paola Peacock of NPAG. All inquiries should be directed to McKnight-MCE@nonprofitprofessionals.com

About the McKnight Foundation

The McKnight Foundation, an internationally recognized family foundation based in Minnesota, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. Established in 1953 by William and Maude McKnight, this fourth-generation family foundation is deeply committed to advancing climate solutions in the Midwest; building an equitable and inclusive Minnesota; and supporting the arts in Minnesota, neuroscience, and international crop research.

Today, the McKnight Foundation works across many disciplines, sectors, and geographic boundaries. McKnight’s work supports communities in its home state of Minnesota and beyond, spanning several continents. Its diverse programs are united in a quest to improve our shared fate. The Foundation envisions a world that recognizes the dignity of every human being, a world where we celebrate the creativity of the arts and sciences, and where we come together to protect our one and only Earth.

McKnight has been named one of the best workplaces for women and one of the best small workplaces in the nation. McKnight offers a high-trust, high-performing culture that encourages continuous learning and improvement across its program areas. The McKnight Foundation is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values.

For more information about the McKnight Foundation’s work, impact, and values, please visit www.mcknight.org.