Director of Learning and Enrichment (WF)

The Wallace Foundation

New York, NY 

The Wallace Foundation – an independent, national, New York-based philanthropy with $1.4 billion in assets – traces its origins back more than half a century to DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, founders of The Reader’s Digest Association. The Wallace Foundation seeks to improve learning and enrichment for disadvantaged children and foster the vitality of the arts for everyone. 

The Foundation has an unusual approach: in each of its program areas – Arts, Education Leadership, and Learning and Enrichment – the Foundation seeks to identify, and help answer, one or more significant questions whose answers are not known but which, if known, could help propel social progress more broadly.  Accordingly, they work with a small number of grantees both to help them test new ideas and generate improvements for those they serve, and to generate evidence and insights that, when shared broadly, can improve policy and practice in an entire field.

This “Wallace Approach” is reflected in the way the Foundation develops its strategies and designs its initiatives. They begin by attempting to understand the context deeply in order to identify the right unanswered questions to address.  They then simultaneously fund (a) programmatic work in the field by their grantees—including providing technical assistance and supporting peer learning communities—and (b) research that evaluates the process and results in order to generate improvements and insights that can benefit both the people served by their grantees and the field as a whole. The public reports emanating from this work support their strategy of catalyzing broad impact, acting as a source of credible, useful lessons to be disseminated to key audiences.

The Wallace Approach is carried out in an interdisciplinary team-based structure.  The Foundation’s three disciplines are program, communications, and research and evaluation.  In each discipline, Wallace seeks employees who are both highly skilled in their professions and able to work collaboratively across disciplines to capture the synergy of diverse experiences and ways of thinking.  Wallace team members need to be able to work collaboratively, think analytically and communicate clearly.  The Foundation values the flexibility to adapt to change, a desire to learn, and the ability to work productively both on one’s own and with colleagues inside and outside the foundation.

Learning and Enrichment at the Wallace Foundation

Learning and Enrichment currently has initiatives in afterschool systems building, summer learning, and expanded learning at various stage of maturity.  Development is underway on a major new initiative to test whether and how urban schools and out-of-school-time (OST) programs could work together to support the social and emotional development of disadvantaged elementary school students. The initiative is projected to cost about $57 million over three years, and Wallace plans to work in up to six cities.

Participating school districts will join forces with an OST umbrella organization, or “intermediary,” to promote children’s social and emotional learning (SEL). In tandem with that system-level effort, each city will be home to three to five pairings of a school and OST provider, which will jointly design, test and refine approaches to supporting SEL during school and out-of-school hours. The team is beginning this work by asking district-OST intermediary partnerships in nine cities to spend eight months carefully planning this work. Based on their plans and what the Foundation learns during this period, Wallace plans to select up to six cities to implement the initiative over three years. Planning will begin by the end of 2016; implementation will begin about late summer in 2017.  

The Wallace Foundation will commission researchers to conduct an evaluation focusing on the effects of SEL in schools and OST programs on children’s outcomes; changes in the social skills and emotional self-awareness of school and OST staff members, and how these changes affect the children they serve; how to carry out effective SEL in schools and OST programs; and how districts and intermediaries can use a “continuous improvement” approach to effectively implement SEL.

Over the course of the evaluation, the researchers will produce six to eight knowledge products – including two or three non-public grantee feedback reports; one or two high-visibility public reports on the operational lessons learned from the work at the system and site levels; a high-visibility final public report on the initiative; a guide to implementing SEL in school and OST settings; and, if needed, a special report on a topic not identified at the outset of the evaluation.

The Role

The Director of Learning and Enrichment leads the interdisciplinary team responsible for design, development, implementation and ongoing management of the Foundation’s current initiatives in after-school system building, summer learning, and expanded learning—and its planned initiative in social and emotional learning.  The Director oversees the program staff in the Learning and Enrichment unit.  The Director is a member of the Foundation’s senior management team, and as such, shares responsibility for contributing to strategic planning, policy and organizational development in the achievement of the Foundation’s mission. 

This position reports directly to the President. The Director of Learning and Enrichment directly supervises five staff: a senior program officer, three program officers, and an administrative unit. The grants administration team provides support to the unit.

Specific responsibilities will include:

  • § Lead an interdisciplinary team of program, communications, and research and evaluation professionals in the design, development and implementation of strategies and systems to support the Foundation’s initiatives in learning and enrichment.  Foster and ensure integration of program, communications, and research and evaluation perspectives and ideas to achieve the Foundation’s overall goals to generate evidence and insights that, when shared broadly, can improve policy and practice in an entire field.
  • § Actively engage in and contribute to the strategic thinking and planning for the Foundation’s overall approach to grantmaking and knowledge development as expressed in the Wallace Approach: understand the context; generate improvements and insights; and catalyze broad impact.
  • § Develop and foster relationships with policy makers, practitioners, thought leaders and researchers to advance the thinking and dialogue in the fields in which Learning and Enrichment works as relevant to the goals of the Foundation’s initiatives. Represent the Foundation at professional conferences, convenings and events as requested by the Foundation.
  • § Lead the review and analysis of proposals from potential grantees, the development of recommendations for funding, and the ongoing support and measurement of grantees’ progress against goals.
  • § Working with the Director of Research and Evaluation and the Director of Communications, contribute to the development of appropriate knowledge development and dissemination strategies to further the Foundation’s overall initiative goals.
  • § Prepare Board book materials and present to the Board of Directors on learning and enrichment strategies, grant proposals, program updates, new program development and initiatives. Contribute to the development of the annual State of the Foundation report.
  • § Effectively manage Learning and Enrichment unit staff to meet team and Foundation goals, maximizing the value gained from the foundation’s interdisciplinary approach.
  • § Other duties as assigned by the President.

Candidate Profile

The Wallace Foundation is seeking an exceptional leader skilled in managing within a consensus-oriented environment, and with experience working closely with expert staff, consultants and grantees to achieve ambitious goals. The successful candidate will bring demonstrated executive-level experience in strategic decision-making, leadership, project management, and the demonstrated capacity to innovate and solve complex problems

The Director will demonstrate an inherent “partner-like” leadership style to be effective in an organization where the ability to add insights in a collective analysis is more influential than the exercise of positional power. He or she will demonstrate patience and persistence in leading teams through collaborative processes in which a wide range of voices and perspectives are included and encouraged.

The successful candidate will exhibit self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and an understanding of others that enhances interpersonal communication. He or she will demonstrate team leadership that encourages diverse voices and perspectives building to consensus.

In terms of the professional competencies required for the position, we would highlight the following:

  • § Contributing to Strategy: The successful candidate will have excellent analytical, conceptual thinking, and strategic planning skills. He or she will have a demonstrated record of developing and executing sophisticated strategy, and thinking creatively about the future possibilities in and across systems.
  • § Team Leadership and Management: The Director will demonstrate an interest in and ability to effectively lead and collaborate in a consensus-driven, interdisciplinary team environment and have a breadth of experience with project management..
  • § Communicating, Influencing, and Building Relationships: The successful candidate will possess excellent listening and communications skills – both written and oral – and an ability to collaborate both internally and externally to build relationships to accomplish objectives. 
    • § Field Knowledge: The ideal candidate will have 15 or more years of substantive experience in a leadership role in the field, particularly serving low-income communities, policy knowledge in community development, and experience in the public sector. Knowledge of policy and practice in the fields in which Learning and Enrichment works is a plus. An advanced degree in a relevant field is preferred.

The Wallace Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to maintaining a diverse workplace where differing perspectives are a source of strength


Katherine Armstrong, Lucia Ferreira, or Michael Singleton
200 Park Avenue, Suite 2300
New York, NY  10166-0002
Tel: +1-212-351-2000
[email protected]

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