Director of Strategic Initiatives

Position Description:

The Director of Strategic Initiatives will play a critical leadership role within The Tow Foundation. This dynamic full‐time position interfaces directly with the Executive Director and Chairman. Primary responsibilities include: managing the Foundation’s existing Strategic Initiatives portfolio, working collaboratively with the Director of Justice Programs to support current and develop new cross‐disciplinary projects, and researching and managing new grants and strategies. The ideal candidate will have qualifications and skills that demonstrate their ability to cultivate and maintain relationships with nonprofit organizations, external consultants, and Foundation staff and directors.

The Strategic Initiatives portfolio includes programmatic investments in three primary areas:

1. Higher Education: Includes grants such as faculty and student awards and fellowships, digital and entrepreneurial journalism programs, and college in prison programs.

2. Medical Innovation: Includes grants to institutions serving patients and conducting research on cancer, motor neuron disease, and genomics.

3. Cultural Institutions: Includes grants that support public broadcasting, performing arts organizations, and playwright residencies.

A full list of current grants in this portfolio is listed on our website:‐projects. The Tow Foundation is an entrepreneurial organization with a lively team in a small family office environment. All board and staff members contribute to the advancement of the Foundation’s vision and help grantee organizations build their capacity to fulfill their missions, advocate for themselves and the populations they serve, and demonstrate positive outcomes.


  • Collaborate with the Foundation’s Chairman and Executive Director to manage existing grants and to develop new projects and relationships
  • Work with the Foundation’s attorney and board secretary to create contracts and grant agreements for complex grants
  • Partner with the Executive Director, other staff, and board members to continuously work to refine and advance the intended impact of the Foundation’s grantmaking
  • Ensure that the Foundation’s grantmaking activities align with its over‐arching strategic goals
  • Create and execute Requests for Concepts and Requests for Proposals for programs within the Strategic Initiatives portfolio

  • Provide insight and counsel to grantees regarding their relationship with the Foundation and strategies for ongoing and new funding
  • Review and ensure that all grantees are in legal and financial compliance to receive funding
  • Represent the Foundation, its values and priorities, in the community and with the general public
  • Travel frequently to New York City for site visits, prospective funding opportunities, and programs and events, including evenings
  • Perform other duties and responsibilities assigned by the Executive Director


The ideal candidate for this position would be a seasoned professional with ten or more years of overall professional experience and five or more years in a programmatic role in a foundation, preferably a family foundation, a wealth management office, or as a development professional for a non‐profit organization. In addition, they will have a commitment to social justice and be passionate about developing innovative approaches to investing in high‐impact and promising nonprofits that range from small grassroots organizations to large complex institutions. They will also have an understanding of the political, economic, and social contexts of communities and interest areas where the Foundation focuses its investments, as well as the desire and skills to promote systems change.

Desired Background

  • Demonstrated experience working with family philanthropies or individual donors
  • Results‐oriented with an emphasis on measuring outcomes and ability to conceptualize and recommend new program strategies and opportunities
  • Knowledge and interest in the following areas: philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, policy and advocacy, research, fiscal responsibility, state and federal government
  • Familiar with New York City medical institutions, universities, and performing arts organizations, with an emphasis on off‐Broadway theater
  • Proven aptitude to seek input from others, work effectively in a team environment, and ability to drive decision‐making processes
  • Strong track record of building effective relationships within diverse communities and partnerships
  • Demonstrated capability to build collaborative teams and support around new initiatives with internal and external partners

Desired Skills

  • Highly energetic, self‐motivated and entrepreneurial individual who can work autonomously with confidence, but also seeks out opportunities to collaborate
  • Curious and eager to explore and learn new ways to achieve exceptional results in building the capacity of nonprofit organizations
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including excellent verbal and written communications skills, as well as a pleasant and professional manner

  • Knowledgeable about private foundation due diligence requirements necessary to analyze and ensure that grantees are in legal and fiscal compliance to receive funding

  • Experienced and comfortable traveling to site visits and other assignments requiring in‐person attendance at locations away from the office

  • Competency with grantmaking database management software, customer relationship management databases, and Microsoft Office

  • Willingness to use social media, in particular Twitter

  • The ability to maintain a healthy balance between their personal and professional life

  • Comfortable thinking on their feet and adapting to changing priorities

  • A sense of optimism and humor

About The Foundation:

The Tow Foundation is a private family foundation located in New Canaan, Connecticut. The Foundation envisions a society where all people have the opportunity to enjoy a high quality of life and have a voice in their community. We strive for this by supporting nonprofit organizations and working to influence the systems that affect them to help vulnerable populations and individuals become positive contributors to society. We pursue our vision by funding projects and creating collaborative ventures in fields where we see opportunities for breakthroughs, reform and benefits for underserved populations. Our goals include working to help others achieve success in their own lives, alleviate pain and suffering, and offer opportunities for joy. We strive to provide leverage and make possible far greater things than we could achieve alone. The organizations we support are primarily located, or operate programs, in New York and Connecticut.

How To Apply:

The Tow Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and encourages candidates of all backgrounds to apply for this position. Interested applicants should submit a cover letter and resume to: [email protected]. Please include your last name and Director of Strategic Initiatives in the subject line.

The deadline to apply is May 1, 2015 and the ideal start date is June 1, 2015.

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