The Roles

Reporting to the Program Director of Vibrant & Equitable Communities, the two Program Officers will oversee and build significant grant portfolios and partnerships with intermediary funders and actively collaborate with McKnight’s Impact Investing team and the Midwest Climate & Energy program team. The Communities program uses it’s philanthropic funding to foster shared power, prosperity, and participation so that all Minnesotans can thrive.

This role presents an exciting opportunity for thought leadership around philanthropic interventions, through four strategies. Within these strategies, the program officers will work on a team aimed to achieve systemic improvements in individual, community, and societal outcomes.

Reporting Relationships

The Vibrant & Equitable Communities Program Officers will report to the Vibrant & Equitable Communities Program Director.

In addition, this role will have opportunities to collaborate with staff members in other amplifying functions day-to-day, including other program teams, Impact Investing, Integration, Grants & Information Management, Learning, and Communications.

Key Responsibilities

The Vibrant & Equitable Communities Program Officers are responsible for the following:


  • Provide expertise in one or more of the core program strategies to Accelerate Economic Mobility, Build Community Wealth, and Cultivate a Fair and Just Housing System.
  • Manage a portfolio of grants to Accelerate Economic Mobility, Build Community Wealth, and Cultivate a Fair and Just Housing System.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with existing grantees and new prospects to learn from current work, explore emerging opportunities, and build new concepts.
  • One of the two program officers will 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 statewide program goals.
  • One of the two program officers will lead on impact investment strategies, including activating and coordinating public and private sector capital to advance program goals, partnering with our Investment Team to assess opportunities and deploy resources, including but not limited to guarantees, recoverable grants, Program Related Investments, Employee stock Ownership Plans, etc.


  • Manage key partnerships with funding intermediaries and oversee new and expanded investments in and through these partners.
  • Convene and collaborate with advocacy organizations, 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 advancing program goals.


  • Represent the Foundation and the Communities program to external audiences and provide leadership in our efforts to achieve program goals.
  • Serve as a resource on technical and policy issues relating to rebuilding efforts. Track market and political trends to identify high-leverage opportunities for philanthropic intervention.
  • Stand as a trusted voice on the interdependence of racial, economic and climate justice efforts.


  • Participate in Foundation-wide meetings and events.
  • Attend and actively participate in staff meetings and retreats.
  • Participate in cross-functional work groups as appropriate.

The Ideal Candidates

The McKnight Foundation is seeking two proven, confident program officers with a passion and vision for building a vibrant future for all Minnesotans with shared power, prosperity, and participation. The ideal candidates will be energized by working in a dynamic, changing environment, adept at leading teams through change, and willing to dig in and “roll up their sleeves” when necessary.


  • Experience shaping strategy in partnership with senior leadership and other program officers with the ability to translate strategy into priorities and goals.
  • Ability to take a broad view when approaching issues, including using a global lens.
  • A thorough understanding of how to leverage best practices in collaboration to achieve program alignment across an organization.
  • Capacity to implement impactful programs and effectively communicate conceptual program frameworks to grantseekers, partners, stakeholders, and trustees.
  • Comprehensive understanding of program development, systems, and networking.
  • Ideally have demonstrated experience in innovative grantmaking practices, including and especially program learning and evaluation, strategic alignment, and grantee communication.
  • The knowledge and sensitivity to effectively work with and support communities, including appreciation for historical context, discernment of relationship nuances and power dynamics, and understanding of social, racial, and ethnic realities.
  • Demonstrated ability to create a climate in which people are motivated to do their best to help the organization achieve its objectives, including collaborating with stakeholders to inspire and manage a high-performing team.
  • Ability to advance the Foundation’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and foster a culture of curiosity, innovation, excellence, and purpose.
  • Exemplary public communication and presentation skills.
  • Ability to take on new opportunities and tough challenges with a sense of urgency and enthusiasm and the ability to manage ambiguity and operate effectively, even when things are not certain or the way forward is not clear.
  • Foundation-wide competencies: Collaborates, Communicates Effectively, Manages Complexity, Builds Networks, Being Resilient, Drives Results, Strategic Mindset, Instills Trust.


  • Ability to work collaboratively and respectfully with a variety of people and groups, particularly nonprofit organizations, community leaders, private sector/business, governmental groups, and research institutions or universities.
  • Ability to analyze, question and identify key issues and use data to support conclusions.
  • Ability to view issues and challenges from multiple dimensions and apply intellectual energy and creativity.
  • Ability to prepare clearly written summaries and analysis.
  • Ability to engage others and influence shared outcomes.
  • Knowledge of governance and operations of nonprofit organizations.
  • Ability to communicate effectively interpersonally and in group presentations.
  • Ability to handle heavy workload and meet deadlines.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ability to develop trusting relationships up, down, and across the organization. Cultural sensitivity and cultural competence are essential.
  • Knowledge of or personal ties to Minnesota and its people preferred.
  • Frequent off-site and evening meetings and events as well as statewide and national travel is required.

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 two opportunities are full-time, exempt positions based in Minneapolis. The salary range is $111,600 – $117,800.

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


These positions close November 1, 2021 at 5:00 pm Central Time.


For more information, please email