Chief Development Officer (LHF)

Change, not charity is the founding principle of the Liberty Hill Foundation.

When Liberty Hill began in 1976, it was a daring new foundation that turned philanthropy on its head. Today it is a national leader in social justice. Organizing and advocacy powered by Liberty Hill has changed national policies, launched social change movements, transformed neighborhoods, and nurtured hundreds of community leaders who respond to the experience of injustice by fighting for their rights.

In 1975, four young people who had inherited wealth met for a picnic in Topanga Canyon to discuss better ways to donate to progressive causes. In conversations continuing into 1976, Sarah Pillsbury, Larry Janss, Win McCormack and Anne Mendel—inspired by two already active alternative foundations—agreed to hire a consultant to see if there was a need for a similar foundation in Los Angeles.

By the mid-1980s, Liberty Hill had formed an infrastructure for reaching out and listening to grassroots leaders. The community grew, to the point of even establishing a fund for Santa Barbara and a chapter in San Diego. National economic policies were having a significant impact on the lives of poor people and people of color; homelessness was rampant; the crack epidemic dealt South Central Los Angeles a severe blow. In 1986, 2.7 million immigrants gained documentation in a milestone that resulted in a lasting demographic shift. Community organizers in Southern California responded with the birth of the environmental justice concept and the beginnings of multiracial strategies that are now a hallmark of the Los Angeles social justice movement.

Governed today by a 13-person Board of Directors, Liberty Hill has an $8 million annual operating budget and a 25 person staff.  It makes some $2-3 million in grants annually to emerging organizations in the racial, economic, LGBTQ and environmental justice sectors.  It also administers $2-3 million annually in grants from donor advised funds and creates giving circles for donors with common interests in the Southern California area.

In 2015, Liberty Hill raised a $1.75 million from individual donors to invest in fundraising and communications infrastructure to nurture the foundation’s growth, broaden its base of support and build a sustainable philanthropic organization for the future.

The Position

Reporting to the President/CEO, the Chief Development Officer (CDO) is part of a six-person executive management team and is responsible for the oversight and management of a multi-faceted development program in support of the Liberty Hill Foundation in accordance with its strategic plan. With responsibility for managing and expanding a team of development professionals, the CDO will be directly responsible for broadening the Foundation’s sources of revenue and for enhancing departmental systems and structures to increase functionality and efficacy. In addition to maintaining a portfolio of donors, the CDO will provide oversight for all individual donor fundraising, grant applications, grant reporting, event-based fundraising, and the donor advised program.  The CDO will develop campaigns to engage and solicit new and existing individual donors with a focus on high net worth individuals.

Working closely with the Director, Strategic Communications, the CDO will supervise a seven-person development department with the following direct reports: Director of Philanthropy (responsible for the donor-advised funds), Events Manager, Development Assistant, and Database Manager, Major Gifts Officer. The CDO will support the executive leadership team and board of directors to meet Liberty Hill’s annual revenue requirements.

The Chief Development Officer fulfills the following fundraising roles:

  • Model effective fundraising through personal and active management, solicitation and stewardship of a portfolio of major and special donors, and prospects.
  • Identify and cultivate relationships with a portfolio of approximately 50 major donors who provide leadership gifts from Liberty Hill’s existing database and outside sources to increase funding for infrastructure needs and for grant making.
  • Supervise research into family foundations and givers to other progressive causes.
  • Increase visibility and engagement in social change philanthropy by developing relationships with professionals where high net worth individuals seek advice, such as financial advisors, attorneys, etc.
  • Offer donors and prospective donors a menu of options and choices, while providing very focused social justice content
  • From within the existing base, lead efforts to steward, cultivate, renew and upgrade donors, using Moves Management protocols.
  • Increase giving through giving circles, donor advised funds, funding pools, etc.
  • Design and implement an effective annual giving program with year-end appeals that brings new supporters and sustainable revenue sources to the foundation.
  • Oversee the planning and execution of all special events, including the annual Upton Sinclair Dinner, house parties, donor briefings and other events to build community.
  • Increase opportunities for donors to connect to programs.
  • Implement a planned giving program that provides long-term supporters with a vehicle for legacy gifts.
  • Working with the Director of Strategic Communications, broaden Liberty Hill’s community of active common agenda donors.

The leadership responsibilities of the Chief Development Officer include the following:

  • Provide energetic and visible leadership and motivation to the board of directors, staff, and volunteers who raise support to achieve the strategic plan objectives.
  • Plan, deploy and evaluate all fund-raising programs and related resources and produce annual budgets.
  • Manage by objectives to promote development growth, track group and individual accountabilities and promote teamwork in a climate of excellence.
  • Assist in establishing LHF as a recognized leader among donors for its innovative approaches to supporting grassroots social change.
  • Interview, hire, and train and provide coaching to a relatively new development staff; plan, assign and direct work; appraise performance; reward and discipline employees; address complaints and resolve problems.

Professional Requirements

The successful candidate will bring the following:

  • 10-15 years’ experience in fundraising management.
  • Demonstrated ability to build and nurture relationships with major donors.
  • Experience with the personal solicitation of six-figure and greater gifts.
  • A working knowledge of the progressive foundation world and experience with grant writing and grant reporting.
  • Experience leading teams to achieve ambitious objectives.
  • A track-record of success in developing campaigns and meeting income goals.
  • Large- and small-scale event management experience.
  • Fluency in development department best practice systems, structures, policies and procedures.
  • Outstanding writing and editing skills. Proficiency in composing and editing compelling and accurate copy.
  • Fluency in social media applications is essential.
  • Knowledge of databases, Internet and personal productivity software such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint is required. Experience with CRM platforms such as Blackbaud, Raiser’s Edge or Sales Force is helpful.
  • A track record of building a successful, comprehensive development program in a social justice setting  is preferred.
  • Familiarity with the social and geographic diversity of Los Angeles would be a plus.
  • CFRE, FAHP or similar professional certification preferred.

Personal Characteristics

The ideal candidate will be a strategic thought partner to LHF’s President/CEO and a skilled collaborator able to build bridges across LHF’s departments. The candidate will be an exceptional writer, seasoned fundraiser and excellent communicator who is analytical, tactical, decisive and adaptive. In addition to being passionate about the social justice mission of Liberty Hill, s/he will be:

  • Articulate and able to translate complicated issues into accessible language and write compelling copy, reports, proposals and donor correspondence.
  • Enthusiastic and able to engage with local communities to cultivate donors and volunteers.
  • Connected to high-profile people and able to develop and manage high-value partnerships.
  • A team-builder with strong management and leadership skills.
  • Ability to manage multiple projects at the same time and to set realistic and achievable goals and timelines.
  • An innovative thinker with creative solutions to the challenges inherent in broadening the donor base.
  • Highly energetic, resourceful and flexible with the ability to thrive in a fast-paced culture in a growing organization.

Above all, the successful candidate must be passionate about and have a heartfelt commitment to the social justice mission of Liberty Hill and its supporters.


Our client is offering a highly competitive salary commensurate with experience as well as a comprehensive benefits package.  Basic relocation expenses are possible for an exceptional candidate. 


Celebrating its 40th year, Liberty Hill is a recognized leader is supporting social justice and change at the grassroots level.  Building upon this reputation, the foundation has growth opportunities that will increase its impact over the next 3-5 years. 

The successful candidate will enjoy increases in responsibility and compensation based upon the growth of the organization and will have the satisfaction of contributing to a cause of profound humanitarian merit. 


Learn more:

Please submit a brief cover letter and résumé as attachments via e-mail to:

Joseph McCormack, Managing Partner

Michelle Kristel, Partner


1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 110-202

Palm Springs, CA 92264

Tel  323.549.9200

Fax 323.549.9222

Email [email protected]


All inquiries or referrals will be held in strict confidence. 

Please note that education, dates of employment, compensation and other information provided will be verified prior to an offer of employment. 

Candidates may be required to submit writing samples or undergo skills assessment as part of the application process. 

Liberty Hill is an equal opportunity employer.

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