Position Summary

The McKnight Foundation seeks a Senior Program Officer 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 Senior Program Officer will play a lead role in advancing a portfolio and partnerships across an eight-state region focused on deep decarbonization strategies. This role presents an exciting opportunity 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 Midwest Climate & Energy Program Director, the Senior Program Officer 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.

Reporting Relationships

The MC&E Senior Program Officer is an individual contributor role. The position reports to the MC&E Program Director.

Key Responsibilities

Strategic Implementation

  • Play a lead role in the design and implementation of one or more decarbonization program strategy areas (i.e., transforming the energy system, electrifying transportation and buildings, and sequestering carbon on working lands in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest). This includes identifying gaps and opportunities in the field ripe for philanthropic engagement and executing a responsive grantmaking strategy to deploy resources.
  • 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 on the Impact Investing team 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 ten years of experience in climate and energy issues on a local or national level; philanthropy experience a plus.
  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related field is desirable.
  • Publications, formal papers, certifications related to the climate and energy field.
  • 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 thought leader in climate and energy who brings a sophisticated understanding of the technical, political and economic pathways to decarbonization in the industrialized economies of the Upper Midwest is sought for this role.
  • 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.

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. These are full-time, exempt positions based in Minneapolis. The salary range is $138,600 to $146,700.

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 GoodCitizen’s Candidate Portal. Letters may be addressed to Sarah Meyer.

Applicants applying by February 12 at 5:00 pm central time will be given priority consideration, with the position open until filled.

This search is being conducted with assistance from a team from GoodCitizen.

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 Program (MC&E), 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.