The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) was founded in 1999 by Jane and George Russell to make quiet and lasting change in communities while bringing family together in the joy of philanthropy. TRFF has been stewarded for the last two decades by a multigenerational family and community board and led by current CEO Richard Woo since 2000. TRFF’s reputation for innovation and positive impact in the Puget Sound region has grown to national recognition for groundbreaking collective impact models and breakthrough impact investing practices. As the Foundation builds on this strong and vibrant legacy, it now seeks a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who will embody its values and continue to expand on TRFF’s commitment to innovation in the philanthropic sector, making quiet and lasting investments and partnerships in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
The new CEO will work in close partnership with a family and community board of 14, lead a passionate and committed staff of seven, and further facilitate the refinement and development of the Foundation’s unique portfolio focused on environmental sustainability, grassroots leadership, and global peace. The Foundation’s programs and grantmaking are supported and enhanced by an investment approach and total resource activation strategy that reflects the unique business legacy, expertise, and values of the family. The new CEO will integrate best practices in the craft of philanthropy and the art of multigenerational engagement in connecting the Foundation in meaningful and authentic ways to the communities where it invests. The new CEO will be a seasoned facilitator and entrepreneurial leader who ideally brings vision to and experience with innovative philanthropy. The CEO will be a humble and thoughtful leader with a commitment to lifelong learning and innovation. They will ideally bring some familiarity with the content areas of interest to the Foundation and be a seasoned leader who integrates a values-centered approach. This is an exciting opportunity to lead a family foundation with regional and national reputation in its next phase of mission-focused, community-driven work.
Opportunities and Challenges Facing the New CEO
The new CEO will join The Russell Family Foundation at a critical transition moment as the family engages the next generation of leadership, recommits to the values and spirit of its founding vision, and celebrates Richard Woo’s long and successful tenure as the first CEO from outside the family. The new CEO should expect to engage in the following opportunities and challenges in the first two to three years of their tenure:
Working collaboratively with the Board of Directors and staff, the new CEO will facilitate a process that draws together the family’s philanthropic vision and will bring leadership to the Foundation’s key programmatic and community building initiatives. The CEO will partner individually and collectively with the board and other members of the family in the philanthropic expression of the family’s legacy and values, as well as in the next stage of refining its focus areas. They will lead strategic planning sessions and activities that engage all board members in the Foundation’s initiatives in action and will identify authentic ways to bring board members and community members together to experience the power of social impact through community focused philanthropy. The CEO will lead and promote innovation in the Foundation’s approach by sharing trends, best practices, and sector innovations with the board to ensure TRFF continues to be a humble, yet pioneering field leader.
Programmatic and Community Representation
The CEO will work closely with the board, staff, and community partners to develop an innovative and diverse array of philanthropic initiatives that support the vision and mission of TRFF. They will oversee the development and implementation of an evaluation framework that disciplines progress and inspires a culture of learning and accountability in the Foundation’s goals and strategies. They will identify partners and stakeholders to work with the Foundation to advance an innovation agenda. They will be the public face of the Foundation, representing TRFF in the community and beyond by building relationships with key leaders and stakeholders in support of the Foundation’s mission.
Board Development and Governance
Partnering closely with the Board Chair, the CEO will support the board in the further development of their deepening knowledge of the craft of philanthropy, integration of innovative community based philanthropic models, and commitment to learning together. They will nurture and facilitate a board culture that thoughtfully onboards and integrates third generation family members with second generation and community board members, facilitate discussions that identify and advance philanthropic initiatives reflective of the founders’ legacy, and further articulate the board’s role in grantmaking decisions. The new CEO will seek opportunities to increase board members’ active connection with TRFF’s work in the community.
The CEO will ensure organizational structures, investments, and resources are aligned with the mission and goals of the Foundation. They will build upon a rich culture that inspires creativity, risk-taking, authenticity, and learning. The CEO will lead a staff of seven in a manner that reflects the Foundation’s values for professional development, respect, sharing of successes as well as failures, and joy in the workplace. They will foster open and transparent channels of communication throughout the organization that build a culture of trust and partnership.
Qualifications of the Ideal Candidate
While no one candidate will embody all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
- An entrepreneurial spirit and love of innovation combined with a deep personal and professional commitment to advancing social good while leading with integrity, humility, and a spirit of partnership.
- Demonstrated track record of executive board-facing experience and leadership in philanthropy, public service, environmental stewardship, social innovation, financial stewardship or a related field.
- Successful leadership tenure in a foundation setting and/or collaboration with living donors; familiarity with current trends in philanthropy with a particular expertise in stewarding multigenerational leadership and engagement in a family foundation.
- Sophisticated facilitation skills that ensure a diversity of opinions are heard and knit together into a cohesive programmatic vision that builds the tapestry of the family’s philanthropic work; passion for connecting people to the powerful impact philanthropy can have with a community or issue.
- Well-established credibility and effectiveness in engaging diverse communities and embracing difference in tangible and pragmatic ways; an authentic and sophisticated understanding of leveraging a variety of tools to drive impact.
- Experience building and leading a high-functioning, diverse team; management savvy to develop a team that balances and effectively supports the CEO’s skill set; commitment to fostering an internal team culture that reflects the Foundation’s core values.
- Proven expertise working in partnership with others to translate a vision into clearly defined priorities and results; comfort working through iterative design to drive clarity and measure impact.
- Strong convening skills and an authentic interest in listening to and learning from others; ability to establish trust with a diverse set of stakeholders; a commitment to honoring and elevating community expertise and wisdom.
- High emotional intelligence and quiet gravitas to effectively represent the family’s legacy and values in the community; the personal presence to speak on behalf of that legacy and the grace to invite others into that shared space.
- Demonstrated organizational, financial, and operational management expertise applicable to the Foundation’s asset size and mission; familiarity with the impact investing space and the emerging tools outside of grantmaking that can lead to deeper impact.
- A commitment to learning and the diplomacy skills required to work at the intersection of family philanthropy and community change.
- A healthy sense of humor and appreciation for the creativity, fun, and inspiration that can accompany work in a mission-focused and entrepreneurial environment.
- Ability and willingness to become an integral part of the Tacoma and Pierce County area.
- Advanced degree preferred or equivalent lived experience in a relevant field of service to the Foundation’s work.
More information about The Russell Family Foundation may be found at www.trff.org
This search is being conducted by Katherine Jacobs, Carolyn Ho, and Chris Cannon of the search firm, NPAG. Nominations, inquiries, and/or applications, including a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, and your resume (in Word or PDF format), should be submitted to: TRFF-CEO@nonprofitprofessionals.com
The Russell Family Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and proudly values diversity. Candidates of all backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.