Executive Summary

The McKnight Foundation, an internationally recognized private family foundation based in Minnesota, envisions a world that recognizes the dignity of every human being, where the creativity of the arts and sciences come together to protect our one and only earth. The Foundation believes in taking a brutally realistic yet fiercely optimistic outlook in addressing the pressures that continually act on our social, political, and natural systems, through empowering people and communities to make positive change happen. McKnight’s newly updated Strategic Framework grounds its mission, values, and approach to philanthropy, even as the dynamism of the world requires perpetual adaptability and strategic agility.

Reporting to the President, the Vice President of Finance and Operations (VPFO) will join a passionate and highly experienced leadership team at a critical moment in the Foundation’s history to help achieve its strategic goals. The VPFO will build and steward strong, integrated systems and practices encompassing finance, operations and relevant compliance in support of McKnight’s mission. This person will be a strategic thinker and proven implementer in bringing about organizational, technical, and service enhancements. The VPFO will lead and work closely with a group of seasoned directors responsible for finance, grants and information management, reception and facilities, information technology, and talent and culture to continually adapt McKnight’s internal systems for impact, agility, and sound stewardship. Leadership experience and emotional intelligence in collaborating with internal and external stakeholders are crucial along with the ability to inspire and manage high-performing teams. Along with McKnight’s Senior Leadership Team, the VPFO will help to advance the Foundation’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and foster a culture of curiosity, innovation, excellence, and purpose in which all staff grow and thrive. Reflecting McKnight’s mission and values, the VPFO will serve as a thoughtful and active leader and ambassador for the Foundation, internally and externally.

This search is being conducted by NPAG. Application instructions can be found at the bottom of this page.

Opportunities for Leadership for the VPFO

The VPFO will work with the President and Senior Leadership Team to oversee and steward McKnight’s financial, operational, and compliance functions in a manner consistent with its mission and values. This person will have a significant role in developing and maintaining a culture of high trust, performance, and accountability aligned with our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Supported by the Directors of Finance, Grants and Information Management, Information Technology, Reception and Facilities, and Talent and Culture, the VPFO can expect to engage with the following opportunities for leadership:

Operationalizing New Strategic Directions and Priorities

  • Bring a sophisticated understanding with an organization-wide leadership lens to translate strategic directions and priorities into organizational capacity;
  • Assess enterprise-wide risks and set parameters for risk mitigation; identify financial, operational, and compliance gaps and fill those gaps with best-in-class practices, combined with the Foundation’s internal wisdom, to support mission achievement;
  • Establish and consistently communicate organizational priorities as part of McKnight’s Senior Leadership Team and ensure alignment and cross-cutting integration of ideas, problem solving, and execution of work;
  • Provide insights and leadership to the ongoing improvement of organizational systems, structures, policies, and talent to enable the highest level of programmatic quality and effectiveness;

Integrating and Strengthening Financial, Operational and Compliance Functions

  • Ensure that efficient and effective systems, processes, and practices are in place to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Foundation’s mission; develop plans for high-quality, cost-effective maintenance, development and implementation of services, systems and tools to support effective grant making, legal and policy compliance, and overall organizational effectiveness of the Foundation;
  • Guide, in partnership with the Director of Finance, all aspects of financial oversight including planning and budgeting, accounting, audit, corporate filing, and compliance. Provide financial systems and tools for generating real-time forecasts, supporting sound business decisions, providing philanthropic support, and building capacity to review programs from a budgeting perspective;
  • Maintain subject matter expertise of, advise, and ensure foundation-wide compliance on a broad range of corporate, employee, regulatory and compliance matters; promote training, processes, procedures, and controls to mitigate compliance risk as needed;
  • Oversee the integration and functioning of Finance, Reception and Facilities, Grants and Information Management, Information Technology, Talent and Culture, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives;
  • Provide general contractual oversight and coordinate external legal counsel and support as required to address the Foundation’s needs;
  • Participate in all Board meetings and serve as the main liaison to the Board’s Finance and Audit Committees.

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 Senior Leadership Team, 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.

Qualifications of the Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate will be deeply committed to McKnight’s mission and understand the critical role that philanthropy plays in advancing social change. While no one person will embody all the qualities enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:

  • A minimum of 10 years of strategic leadership and career growth in finance, operational and compliance functions at a similarly complex organization;
  • Demonstrated track record of delivering quality services, organizational improvements, and excellence in strategic, organizational, and budget management along with outstanding stewardship of financial, physical, and human resources;
  • Demonstrated body of work that reflects a commitment to organizational excellence and efficiency, servant leadership, management of collaboration and effective teamwork, and promotion of equity, diversity and inclusion;
  • 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 of Directors, senior level department heads, and staff 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, and Board of Directors;
  • 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 private foundation Board of Directors a plus.

To Apply

Click here to apply for the opening.

This search is being conducted with assistance from Linh Nguyen, Tamar Datan, Nureen Das, and Javier Garcia of NPAG. Due to the pace of this search, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. All inquiries should be directed to MF-VPFO@nonprofitprofessionals.com

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

Posted July 2019.