Position Summary

The McKnight Foundation seeks an experienced leader to guide its new Vibrant & Equitable Communities program, focused on advancing a more equitable and inclusive Minnesota. The goal of the program, anchored in McKnight’s core value of equity, is to build a vibrant future for all Minnesotans with shared power, prosperity, and participation.

Under the leadership of the Vice President of Programs (VPP), the Vibrant & Equitable Communities Program Director will drive programmatic strategy, innovation, and fresh approaches to advance the goal of the new program and to inform how we do our work. In collaboration with the VPP, the Program Director will provide oversight and ensure alignment to the strategic framework, resulting in positive systemic change in their area of focus. The Program Director will be joining at a critical moment in McKnight’s history as the Foundation advances its recently adopted Strategic Framework. This leader will steward strong, integrated programming in support of a vibrant and equitable Minnesota. The Program Director will be a strategic thinker and proven program developer, leading the new programming area statewide in Minnesota, while demonstrating skills in navigating strategic tensions, creating durable bridges across sectors, geographies, and stakeholders, and approaching problems from different vantage points, all in service of the program’s goals. This role will lead and work closely with a group of program officers responsible for developing strategic programming in economic mobility, equitable development, and civic engagement.

Reporting Relationships

The Vibrant & Equitable Communities Program Director will report to the Vice President of Programs and have direct oversight of four staff members:

  • Director of Program Integration/Program Officer
  • Three Program Officers

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

Key Internal Relationships

In addition to reporting to the VPP, the Vibrant & Equitable Communities Program Director will relate to the following:

  • Directors leading Foundation program areas, grantmaking, and learning functions that together advance foundation-wide priorities related to program operations, management, and integrated strategy.
  • Senior Leadership Team advising on external trends and reputational matters related to advancing program goals and the Foundation’s mission.
  • Board of Directors in elevating strategy, learning, and outcomes related to advancing the program goal.

Key Responsibilities

The Vibrant & Equitable Communities Program Director is responsible for the following:

Strategic and Operational Leadership

  • Effectively collaborate with peer directors and leadership across the Foundation to integrate processes, facilitate change, ensure alignment, and achieve organizational goals.
  • Actively facilitate internal dialogue with peers, staff members, and leadership to address the Foundation’s evolving strategy, structural, and systems changes.

Team and Culture

  • Build, strengthen, develop, and support a high-performing team, including skillfully holding tensions.
  • Effectively manage technical and financial resources.
  • Build and maintain robust relationships with director cohort and senior leadership across the Foundation; a proven collaborator.
  • Advance the Foundation’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and foster a culture aligned with the organizational values of curiosity, respect, equity, and stewardship.
  • Demonstrate cultural competency and emotional intelligence and communicate with candor and openness when addressing sensitive issues such as mental models/assumptions, power dynamics, historical contexts, and racial inequities.

Program Leadership

  • Continue the development of a new program area and lead the grantmaking strategy in Minnesota.
  • Play an active, facilitative role in strategy and systems change dialogues, including effectively addressing sensitive issues such as mental models/assumptions, power dynamics, historical contexts, and racial inequities.
  • Maintain accurate and current knowledge about policies, trends, systems, issues, movements, and other relevant data to Minnesota’s social, economic, cultural, and political landscape.
  • Identify key leverage points for Foundation investment and recommend and capitalize on emerging opportunities.

Building Relationships

  • Identify and engage Foundation partners for change efforts, ensuring commitment and readiness to persevere through the change process.
  • Develop and maintain strategic external relationships in Minnesota to leverage participation of other foundations, businesses, governmental agencies, and key decision makers and stakeholders in alignment with McKnight’s core values and program interests.

Core Competencies

  • Experience shaping strategy in partnership with senior leadership and 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 develop and implement impactful programs and effectively communicate conceptual program frameworks to grantseekers, partners, stakeholders, and trustees.
  • Comprehensive understanding of program design and 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 skills and experience participating in national and regional convenings as a panelist or keynote speaker.
  • 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.

Qualifications of an Ideal Candidate

The McKnight Foundation is seeking a proven, confident leader with a passion and vision for building a vibrant future for all Minnesotans with shared power, prosperity, and participation. The ideal candidate will be energized by leading in a dynamic, changing environment, adept at leading teams through change, and willing to dig in and “roll up their sleeves” when necessary. This strategic thinker will have proven program development experience and the ability to lead the development of new programming throughout Minnesota.

Minimum Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 10 years related full-time professional work experience in a directly related field in a foundation, nonprofit, or government field with five or more years of managerial level experience or a combination of equivalent experience and training. Master’s degree is preferred.
  • Minimum of eight years of experience in grantmaking or a related field with demonstrated expertise in strategy development and priority-setting.
  • Foundation, public sector, or nonprofit experience preferred. Experience working with a board of directors, preferably a family board, is strongly desired.
  • Proficiency with written and oral communications while understanding the benefits and risks with digital media.
  • Proficiency with technology platforms and software.

This is a full-time exempt position based in Minneapolis.

The above statements are intended to provide a general framework of what this position requires. There may be other functions and qualifications that emerge in time, and the chosen candidate may be asked to perform other duties that are not listed here.

Msingi wa McKnight ni mwajiri wa fursa sawa na hujitahidi kujitegemea tofauti. Tunasisitiza wagombea wa asili zote kuomba.


View the full profile. Apply here. For more information, please email McKnight@cohentaylor.com. All inquiries will remain confidential.

CohenTaylor is pleased to represent this exceptional career opportunity on behalf of the McKnight Foundation. Direct any inquiries to Katie Erickson at katie@cohentaylor.com.

Position is open until filled.