Position Summary

The McKnight Foundation seeks two Program Officers to advance the goal of its Midwest Climate & Energy (MC&E) program to take bold action on the climate crisis by dramatically cutting carbon pollution in the Midwest by 2030. The new Program Officers will help shape and guide the trajectory of the Foundation’s climate initiatives. These roles present exciting opportunities for thought leadership around philanthropic interventions, informed by a deep commitment to racial equity, to support and accelerate climate innovations and strategies.

Reporting to the Program Director of Midwest Climate & Energy, the Program Officers will oversee and build significant grant portfolios and partnerships with intermediary funders and actively collaborate with McKnight’s Impact Investing team and Vibrant & Equitable Communities program team. The MC&E program uses its philanthropic funding to support efforts that build power through partnership, aligning climate and equity goals to advance bold action on the climate crisis.

Reporting Relationships

The MC&E Program Officers are individual contributor roles. They report to the Program Director for MC&E.

Key Responsibilities

Strategic Implementation

  • Manage a portfolio of grants that support transforming the energy system, electrifying transportation and buildings, and sequestering carbon on working lands in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with existing grantees and new prospects to learn from current work, explore emerging opportunities, and build new concepts.
  • Actively engage with McKnight colleagues in Impact Investing and the board’s Mission Investment Committee to identify and analyze mission and program-related investments that advance program goals.

External Partnerships

  • Manage key partnerships with funding intermediaries and oversee new and expanded investments in and through these partners.
  • Convene and collaborate with advocacy organizations (including, but not limited to, those focused on climate justice, environmental protection, democratic participation, and clean energy), foundations, academic institutions, regulators, and policymakers to support cross-sector collaborations that reinforce program goals.
  • Serve as a representative of the Foundation in communities of learning and practice, helping to shape the field’s response to and support of carbon reduction.

Thought Leadership and Advocacy

  • Represent the Foundation and the MC&E program to external audiences and provide leadership in our efforts to achieve economy-wide greenhouse gas emission reductions while advancing a commitment to racial equity.
  • Serve as a resource on technical and policy issues relating to energy transformation. Track market and political trends to identify high-leverage opportunities for philanthropic intervention.
  • Stand as a trusted voice on the interdependence of climate and racial and economic justice.

Core Competencies

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

  • Strategic mindset
  • Communicates effectively
  • Instills trust
  • Drives results
  • Manages complexity
  • Builds networks
  • Collaborates effectively
  • Models resiliency

Key Requirements

  • A minimum of five years of experience in climate and energy issues on a local or national level.
  • Passion for and commitment to solving the climate crisis and addressing racial equity within the context of climate solutions. Must bring lived experience or a demonstrated commitment to addressing climate and energy through a racial equity lens.
  • A deeply curious and credible climate generalist who brings either technical or policy knowledge of decarbonization or experience in movement-building, running campaigns, grassroots organizing, or related activities.
  • Direct work experience in energy systems, electrifying transportation and buildings, and sequestering carbon on working lands.
  • Demonstrated track record of building strong relationships with allies and across lines of difference. Capacity to navigate the complexity of diverse environments and stakeholder groups, seeking to understand and drive towards common goals from competing perspectives.
  • Highly developed emotional intelligence and demonstrated ability to use interpersonal skills and political acumen in respectful, collaborative, and diplomatic ways.
  • Clear strategic and operational vision and exceptional skill in synthesizing information and translating vision into action steps for the long and short term.
  • Exceptional oral and written communication skills including the demonstrated ability to research, listen, synthesize and analyze information, compose documents, and present data in a clear and concise manner to appropriate personnel, including top management, program staff, and board of directors.
  • Exceptional analytical skills and an ability to influence change in highly nuanced contexts.
  • Proactive and forward-looking to follow trends and anticipate changes and potential impacts to the organization.
  • Demonstrated tolerance for ambiguity, with the ability to work independently yet seek input as needed.
  • Clear organization and prioritization skills to meet deadlines in a fast-paced environment with multiple and competing demands. Ability to switch from strategy development to daily execution with ease.
  • Genuine desire to listen to and learn from others, operating from respect for grantees and creating an environment of continuous learning with partner organizations and sector experts.

Compensation and Benefits

McKnight 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. These are full-time, exempt positions based in Minneapolis. The salary range is $106,000–$112,000.

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

To Apply

Please submit your resume and cover letter expressing your interest in the position and fit for the role via Good Citizen’s Candidate Portal. Letters may be addressed to Sarah Meyer.

This search is being conducted with assistance from a team from Good Citizen, formerly known as Waldron.

Sarah Meyer, Vice President
Direct: 206-792-4221

Mollie Smith, Search Associate
Direct: 206-462-6190

Midwest Climate & Energy Program

In 2019, McKnight’s board of directors approved a new mission statement, a new Strategic Framework, and several shifts in programmatic investments. These efforts included a significant expansion of its Midwest Climate & Energy (MC&E) program, which is on track to double from $16 million in annual grants in 2020 to $32 million by 2022, reflecting the urgency of the climate crisis and a high priority for the board.

The expanded MC&E program goal is to take bold action on the climate crisis by dramatically cutting carbon pollution in the Midwest by 2030. Achieving this ambitious goal at the necessary speed and scale also requires a healthy democracy, grounded in racial and economic justice, one in which all people have the voice and power to bring about change to the issues affecting their lives and livelihoods. The MC&E team will pursue this strategy in close partnership with McKnight’s Vibrant & Equitable Communities program, which supports communities in building powerful multiracial movements for change.

The MC&E program envisions a thriving, carbon-neutral Midwestern economy by transforming the energy system through clean power, electrifying transportation and buildings, sequestering carbon on working lands, and strengthening democratic participation. Anchored in McKnight’s core values, the work engages approaches, policies, and processes that empower community voices, mobilize collective action, and address racial equity within the context of climate solutions.