Executive Director- GSF



The General Service Foundation (“GSF” or “Foundation”) is a private grant making foundation that dedicates all of its resources to bringing about a more just and sustainable world.

Founded and endowed by Clifton and Margaret Musser, the General Service Foundation has been committed to social change and social justice for almost 70 years! It has consistently demonstrated its commitment to low income communities and communities of color through its programmatic work to promote sustainability and economic fairness for a broad base of community members. The Foundation has a strong reputation for strategically advancing democracy, human rights, diversity, equity, and access to information and resources via innovative, leading edge programs and grant making. GSF believes that funding organizations led by and focused on low income communities and communities of color is key to bringing about the changes needed for a more just world.

In the next five years, with the fourth generation of family members at the Foundation’s helm, GSF will achieve its goals by aligning every aspect of its organization with its deeply held values and beliefs articulated below. It achieves its goals by embracing risk and opportunity, and nurturing and learning from strategic partnerships. The Foundation aims to accomplish the most good for humanity that it possibly can.

To achieve its mission, the Foundation supports innovative leaders and organizations working to advance Human Rights and Economic Justice in the United States and Mexico as well as Reproductive Justice in the U.S. Additionally, the Foundation works to advance social justice and civic participation via state-centric programs in Colorado. There is deep collaboration and a shared strategy amongst these three areas of purpose, leveraging off synergies when possible.

Core Values and Beliefs

Every decision made at the Foundation is guided by these core values and beliefs:

  •  Leadership
  •  Integrity
  •  Diversity
  •  Experimentation
  •  Accountability
  •  Justice
  •  Excellence


The Board operates through the framework that the Foundation will live on in perpetuity; hence, the Board is committed to remaining a “family” foundation in the truest sense of the meaning.

The Foundation’s 14-member Board of Directors (“Board”) is intergenerational, comprised primarily of Musser and Lloyd family members. Building on the legacy of the Mussers, the family leadership of the Board not only live the values instilled from their predecessors, they also execute the business of the Board with a strong sense of humility, a commitment to service, and a vision for strong families and communities. Non-family members also serve on the Board to provide new ideas and perspectives, offer expertise on specific program areas, and help Trustees and staff to strengthen their effectiveness as grant makers.

The Board embodies and values integrity, warmth, as well as an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. They are, as a group, down-to-earth, casual, practical, humble and grounded. They demonstrate their curiosity, engagement and support of each other and staff as they work together in fulfilling the Foundation’s mission.

Administration and Operations

The annual operating budget of GSF is $1 million. There are six staff positions, five of whom report to the Executive Director:

  •  Executive Director
  •  Chief Financial Officer
  •  Administrative Director/Grants Manager
  •  Colorado Program Officer
  •  Human Rights and Economic Justice Program Officer - Domestic
  •  Human Rights and Economic Justice - Mexico/Reproductive Justice Program Officer - Domestic

The Foundation grants approximately $2.1 million annually in support of its program areas.

The Foundation’s Culture

The culture is one of respect at all levels of the organization and empowerment of people. The Board and staff are a warm, friendly group of people, related as family and not, who hold each other in respectful and affectionate regard; they enjoy each other’s company and value each other’s point of view. The time spent together at Board meetings and in other interactions together is professional yet playful. There is a lot of laughter and good humor (and a few occasional practical jokes!). The Board and staff possess both humility and drive to affect big social change. As a group they are collegial, casual and purposeful; they take the work seriously but are informal in style and very much enjoy working together.

The opportunity

The Foundation has high caliber administrative staff, outstanding program officers, and an engaged and committed Board of Directors. This is an opportunity to lead, manage, and inspire innovative and risk taking philanthropy to advance social justice and civic participation in Colorado, as well as advance human rights and economic justice in the U.S. and Mexico and reproductive justice in the U.S. The Board is open to identifying new and creative ways to further its mission; it encourages the staff, and themselves, to step outside their comfort zones and explore cutting edge organizations who are creating impact and systems change. This is an opportunity to both lead and partner with the Board of Directors, and to nurture and foster new generational leadership at the Foundation while appreciating and leveraging the leadership and participation of the intergenerational Board members.

The challenge

The successful candidate for this position will be following the long-time (20-plus years) and beloved executive director who passed away of natural causes unexpectedly in June of 2014. Hence, as with many situations where the successful candidate is following a long-time leader, the objectives of trust and relationship building with Board members, and Board leadership specifically, as well as staff, is the highest priority. This executive will be responsible for maintaining the balance of professional organization and a Board-dominated organization.

The successful candidate, working in partnership with the Board, must be able to achieve a smooth and successful executive transition, both internally and externally. Internally, this will include gaining an understanding of the people and operations of the Foundation, supporting ongoing high quality partnerships with grantee organizations, and continuing and improving GSF; it runs like a small family business and there are some internal operations of the business that will require a fresh examination and some process improvement. Externally, this will entail establishing oneself as the primary spokesperson for the Foundation, communicating with partners and grantees about what’s happening at the Foundation and, in partnership with staff, building relationships of trust with the grantee community. It also means representing GSF within the world of philanthropy, and articulating the Foundation’s mission, and effective execution and innovative philanthropy, to others.


The Executive Director is the most senior staff member and works closely with the Board of Directors to advance the mission and execute the Foundation’s programs. The Executive Director is a trusted leader who holds the overall vision for the organization. As such, the Board is seeking someone who is visionary, pioneering, and courageous while respecting and living the integrity of process. Given the Foundation’s work with communities of color, and goals of promoting diversity and equity, there is a strong preference for an exceptional leader of color to step into this role.

The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors, specifically the Board Chair and the Executive Committee. S/he works in close partnership with the Board Chair and the following Committees: Executive, Investment, Nominations. S/he works with other members of the Board, and staff, to execute the Foundation’s mission. The Executive Director works with the Board between Board meetings and manages special projects; examples of these projects may include website development and communications strategy. Building strong, familial relationships with the Board members and establishing a rapport will be paramount to success in this role.

The Executive Director fosters and facilitates intergenerational learning with a nurturing, gently directive, and supportive style and practice. The Executive Director supports the emerging leadership, governance, and commitment of the next generation (fourth generation) of family members, assisting them with transitioning into this role. This includes engaging and supporting them in the purpose and work of the Foundation – they are excited to explore new things! The Executive Director will help them capitalize on their creative ideas in philanthropy, fostering their energetic leadership while also understanding and meeting their needs and willingness to engage, reflecting their lifestyle demands. The Executive Director will help the fourth generation continue to explore and own their alternative and “new school” philanthropy that illustrates the transition of leadership to the fourth generation family members.

The Executive Director serves as the primary liaison between Board and staff, serving as the bridge between the two groups, and supporting the leadership and vision of the Board members and staff. S/he ensure the ongoing collaboration and communication among the Board, staff, consultants, grantees, and other grant making partners, while managing the day-to-day operations of the Foundation.

The Executive Director holds the organizational vision for the staff and ensures programmatic goals are connected. S/he supports and develops staff and encourages a culture of learning and experimentation throughout the organization. These efforts are particularly important during a time of significant leadership transition and potential organizational restructuring. S/he focuses on staff development and retention, energetic engagement of staff, as well as the push to grow and push beyond one’s natural comfort level. S/he serves as coach and facilitator for staff.


A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience is required.


The Foundation acknowledges that it is impossible to find all of the desired skills and experience in one candidate; however, the “unicorn” candidate would bring the following experience:

  •  A substantial and demonstrated commitment to the GSF mission and values;
  •  Track record of providing visionary leadership and effective staff management of a philanthropic or non-philanthropic organization; Board leadership experience is preferred;
  • Experience in grant making for a philanthropic entity, not necessarily at a family foundation;
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion; success in building an inclusive department or organization and managing staff from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skills sets;
  • Track record in organizational building while demonstrating proactive and self-starting behaviors;
  • Proven history of moving innovation from concept to practice;
  • Demonstrated deep respect for the grantee community and the importance of GSF’s strong partnership with this community; connected to a network in philanthropy and/or social justice community;
  • Sophisticated understanding of the appropriate role of philanthropy in helping to drive systems change and of how social change happens;
  • Experience in building systems and processes to create a culture for learning and adaptation;
  • Ability to work with a multi-disciplinary team environment, managing multiple projects and priorities, and working cooperatively to satisfy internal and external requests;
  • Experience or aptitude for leading and managing a virtual team in multiple locations;
  • Proven record of project management;
  • Demonstrated excellence in overseeing and managing finance, accounting, budgeting, control and reporting functions;
  • Knowledge of Reproductive Justice, Human Rights and Economic Justice domestically and in Mexico is preferred; and
  • Knowledge of organizing preferred.

S/he will also bring the following skills and attributes:

  •  Ability to be an effective spokesperson for GSF in the community at large and a thought leader in the philanthropic sector;
  •  Strategic and innovative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit to advance and enhance the Foundation’s mission;
  •  Demonstrated high degree of cultural competency; offers strong race and gender analysis;
  •  Strong skills in collaboration, adaptive and shared leadership, and teamwork; is a convener of people and ideas;
  •  Able to execute when the decision needs to be made;
  •  Management style that is goal oriented but flexible, respectful of the capabilities and independence of staff, and maintains a clear sense of direction and alignment;
  •  High emotional intelligence (EQ);
  •  Assertive when necessary and able to say no at times;
  •  Comfortable working with people from a range of socioeconomic classes;
  •  Impeccable judgment;
  •  High comfort level with ambiguity and change, and able to be effective in leadership and management roles in this environment;
  •  Humility and the capacity to understand that GSF’s resources are held in trust to serve the community;
  •  Bridge builder and neutralizer;
  •  Intellectual curiosity, approachability, and openness to input from all levels of the organization;
  •  Outstanding listening skills;
  •  Willing and able to travel to promote the Foundation and its work;
  •  Highly competent user of technology for communicating, work production, and supporting staff and Board;
  •  Excellent oral and written communication skills; and
  •  Demonstrated and compelling presentation skills.


The fit of the next Executive Director into the organizational culture is critical. Some personal attributes that might indicate fit include:

  •  Grounded, authentic, non-judgmental
  •  Personal warmth, openness, and empathetic; generous of spirit
  •  Curious and eager to learn; a student of social change
  •  Willingness to be silly and playful; sense of fun and humor
  •  Able to embrace the “love around the table”
  •  Leads others gently and patiently
  •  Willing to move beyond personal comfort zone and help others move beyond theirs in considering new areas of work or new ways of working


Here’s what the Foundation is absolutely not seeking in their next executive leader:

  •  Rigid, inflexible or dogmatic professional style and approach
  •  Motivation to work at the Foundation is to promote self; excessive ego
  •  Lack of self awareness


A competitive compensation package, including comprehensive benefits, will be offered.

For additional information on this opportunity, please contact:

Sally Carlson, Managing Partner

415.433.2299 direct, sally@carlsonbeck.com


Heidi Holzhauer, Senior Principal

707.963.1250 direct, heidi@carlsonbeck.com




The Executive Director plans, directs, coordinates, and evaluates the overall operations and activities of the General Service Foundation. This includes strategic planning, programs and services, new investment initiatives, general office administration, as well as financial and human resource management.

Governance and Direction Setting

  •  Directs the development and implementation of all strategic and operational plans to advance the vision and mission of the organization;
  •  Identifies governance issues, provides guidance and support to the Board and family members as they become involved in the Foundation;
  •  Works with the Board Chair and Executive Committee to plan for successful Board member transitions and to secure long-term family presence and leadership in the Foundation;
  •  Serves as a liaison between the Board and program staff to maintain alignment and ensure clarity of the Foundation’s program work at all levels of the organization;
  • Partners with Board Chair, Executive Committee and staff to organize Board meetings to engage members by identifying appropriate speakers and site visits for the Board and fosters an interactive agenda; and
  • Works with program officers to explore new areas of interest to the Foundation. Identifies experts in the fields of interest, ensures that appropriate research is conducted and collaborates with the Board to assess the viability of new program areas.

Staff and Systems Management

  •  Oversees organizational structure, systems, and capacity to ensure effective and efficient implementation of the mission including brand development, strategic communications, and technology and infrastructure;
  •  Manages the Foundation’s human resources, including staff and consultants, clarifies job responsibilities, supports staff in developing annual goals and workplans, establishes performance standards, conducts performance reviews and maintains a competitive salary structure;
  • Facilitates and develops leadership and builds on staff expertise to foster a collaborative staff culture;
  • Promotes communication among staff and Board regarding the governance and oversight of the Foundation;
  • Ensures maintenance of effective organizational systems for record-keeping and data management to support efficiency in Foundation operations; and
  • Monitors legal issues related to programs or general Foundation operations, and serves as primary contact to legal counsel.

Program Development

  •  Supervises and coordinates all areas of the Foundation’s grant making to ensure program goals are consistent with organizational vision, mission, and goals;
  • Provides guidance, coaching and facilitation to foster staff development for program officer of the Human Rights and Economic Justice, Colorado, and Reproductive health and Rights grant-making programs;

  • Partners with staff to prioritize and implement the Foundation’s program; attends conferences, meetings, and site visits;

  • Directs and coordinates the development of program docket to be presented for Board review and approval;

  • Reviews proposals and reports as needed; and
  • Represents the Foundation at affinity group meetings, conferences, and funder/donor related meetings; works with staff to determine where the Foundation may need to lead or participate.

Financial Administration

  • Oversees the Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) to maintain the day-to-day finances and ensures financial sustainability;
  • Authorizes all key financial transactions and works with the Board Chair and CFO to prepare and manage the budget while adhering to the guidelines of the Foundation’s spending policy;
  • Supports and participates with the CFO who is the staff contact and lead with the Board’s Investment Committee; is updated and apprised on Investment Committee work as appropriate;
  • Represents the Foundation in the implementation of contractual responsibilities as needed; and
  • Communicates with CFO, consultants, and the Investment Committee to stay informed about potential investment opportunities and financial areas of interest including impact investing.

External Relations

  •  Serves as the primary staff spokesperson for the Foundation;
  •  Supports and serves the Board’s desire to be much more externally focused and out in the world, raising the Foundation’s profile and visibility; and
  •  Has his/her finger on the pulse of GSF’s program areas and is watching out for political and social factors that may impact the programs.