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Chief Operating Officer

New York City, NY, USA | Non Profit Organization

  • Industry:
    Non-Profit / Social Enterprise
  • Position Type:
  • Functions:
    General Management
  • Experience:
    10-12 years
Job Description:
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Reporting to the President, the Chief Operating Officer and Treasurer (COO) serves as an integral member of the Ford Foundation's executive leadership team. The COO is a strategic partner of the President and Vice Presidents (VPs) and functions as an operational bridge looking across all areas of the Foundation to ensure the smooth operations of the Foundation and the integration of its programmatic and operating departments. The position is responsible for setting financial and operational strategy goals that advance the Foundation's institutional objectives and works closely with the Board, and in particular, the Finance and Audit Committees, to achieve them. Guided by the Foundation's operating principles, the COO sets the highest standards of excellence for global infrastructure in order to advance the Ford Foundation's mission of supporting visionary leaders and organizations on the frontlines of social change worldwide.

The COO plays a significant role in promoting and modeling the Foundation’s commitment to operational excellence and continuous improvement. The partnership between operations and programs is strong and essential to the Foundation, and the COO and Executive Vice President for Programs work closely to ensure the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.


Reports to President

Direct reports Chief Financial Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Deputy Chief Operating Officer

Other key relationships Executive Vice President for Programs

Vice President, International Programs

Vice President, US Programs

Vice President and Chief Investment Officer

Vice President, Secretary, and General Counsel

Vice President, Talent and Human Resources

Board of Trustees

External Auditors


Strategy and Vision

Develop, articulate, and implement a strategy for the Ford Foundation's critical infrastructure functions –finance, IT, grants management, international operations, convening, and facilities – on a global basis.

Assume a leadership role on the President's strategic planning team to develop and implement the President's vision for the Foundation.

Work closely with leadership team colleagues, including programs, investments, general counsel, human resources and communications, to develop the Foundation's strategic goals and objectives.

Contribute as a key thought leader to help design and oversee organizational management of the Foundation globally.

Serve as an executive liaison on relevant Board committees. Communicate and present on financial and operational matters at Board and committee meetings.

Lead and oversee the finance team, annual budget and payout planning, analysis, and reporting process. Advise the President and leadership team on financial management and reporting, cash flow, and fiscal and spending policy. Liaise with the Chief Investment Officer on investment priorities and policies.

Lead the Information Technology team's mission to deliver world-class technology and global user support through initiatives to restructure.

Lead all major institution wide systems development as the chief executive sponsor.


In coordination with the Chief Financial Officer, ensure that the Foundation meets all of its long term strategic financial objectives while operating within accepted accounting standards, in accordance with all legal requirements, and to best practice standards.

Oversee staff and systems to develop and manage annual spending budgets.

Meet all external and internal reporting requirements, including the development of value added management analytics that support decision making at all levels of the organization.

Oversee the annual audit process with external accounting firm.

Routinely communicate accurate short- and long-term financial information to the President and Board.

Work closely with the President and the Finance Committee of the Board to achieve the Foundation’s long-term strategic financial objectives.

Work closely with the President, General Counsel, and the Audit Committee of the Board to effectively identify, manage and mitigate all business risks.

Oversee, support, and guide relevant Foundation Board committees.

Systematically monitor, review, and upgrade systems, policies, controls, accounting standards, and procedures.

Manage operational treasury functions and banking relationships.

Oversee the Foundation’s tax reporting responsibilities.

Support investment accounting reporting and performance functions.


In coordination with the Chief Technology Officer, ensure that the Foundation uses technology effectively to support all programmatic and operating functions globally with special attention to enterprise wide systems and cyber-security.

Oversee the selection and implementation of all enterprise wide technology systems, acting as executive sponsor of those systems and bringing together departments across the Foundation to achieve common goals.

Serve as a change agent for ensuring that the Foundation business processes are efficient, reflect best practices, and leverage available technologies. Key systems for which replacement is currently underway include enterprise wide financial management systems and constituent relationship management systems.

Work closely with the Audit Committee to periodically review and update cyber-security threats and mitigation strategies.

Develop technology solutions that support teamwork across a diverse and global organization.

Develop support strategies consistent with new technology deployment and revised staffing considerations in the regional offices.

International Operations, Grants Management, Convening & Facilities Leadership

In coordination with the Deputy Chief Operating Officer, ensure the Foundation serves its mission in several critical areas including grants management, international operations coordination, convening, food service, property management, facilities management, global security, travel, and business continuity.

Oversee the global grants management function which sits at the nexus between programs, operations, finance, and legal compliance. Develop cohorts in the U.S. and regionally to ensure best practices are adopted throughout the Foundation in a coordinated and consistent manner.

Create a center for the coordination of international operations through organizing NY operations teams with respect to their work in the regional offices; and through the improved management of operational functions in the regional offices themselves.

Oversee management of the newly renovated Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice and support the management of facilities owned and rented across ten offices internationally.

Oversee the security for all Foundation employees and guests across all office locations including the security of Ford staff who travel for business.

Oversight for the development of a new centralized convening program for the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice which serves the Foundation, all of its program teams, its tenants, and guests of the Center. Manage the food service program which serves the convening Center as well as lunch for staff and tenants

Manage the Business Continuity and Risk Management program of the Foundation including the quarterly meetings of the Risk Committee and annual reports to the Audit Committee of the Board.


The COO is a key member of a senior leadership team during an exciting period in the Foundation's evolution into a 21st century high-impact, innovative, learning organization. Being an ambitious and creative strategist, the COO will have broad experience in developing and managing high performance organizations. It is an outstanding opportunity for a dynamic, seasoned, forward thinking executive with proven experience to partner with the President in driving institutional excellence and leading the necessary change.


The successful candidate will have fundamental finance/operations knowledge and have no less than 10 years of executive experience

A track record of impactful leadership, creative problem-solving, and organizational capacity building

Experience working as an integral member of a senior leadership team where he/she served as a key influencer, actively engaged with peers and mentored teams with diverse levels of expertise

Demonstrated success leading internal change management processes

Strong technical finance skills developed in a compliance-intensive environment

Demonstrated ability to lead enterprise wide systems change and implementation processes

Demonstrated ability to lead and manage areas outside of his/her specific domain or expertise

Must have an advanced or professional degree

Exceptional written, oral, interpersonal and presentation skills



Strategic Thinking

Challenges assumptions and conventional wisdom with specific, supported, reasoned proposals

Identifies changes consistent with the organizational strategy and outlines an implementation plan to achieve buy-in across the Foundation

Establishes processes or practices to encourage innovation and change thinking

Driving Organizational Capability and Financial Excellence

Spends time building a clear understanding of the capabilities and potential of her/his team as well as opportunities to build strategic capability to support the whole organization

Proactively seeks to improve processes and implement best-in-class solutions, raising quality and productivity in a calculated way

A focused yet flexible and resilient leader

Collaborating and Influencing

Collaborates and openly and respectfully debates with the team to manage projects, solve problems, discuss challenging issues, or learn more about critical issues as a group

Decisive and thoughtful leader who deftly engages stakeholders to achieve desired outcomes

A natural connector who builds strong relationships with, and bridges to, colleagues at all levels across the organization


A consultative approach and service orientation

Desire and ability to communicate clearly, listen attentively and engage and persuade others as a trusted colleague

The highest ethical standards, personal drive, and passion to pursue challenging goals aggressively while generating enthusiasm and dedication among team members and fostering a positive/collaborative environment

An enthusiasm for the mission of the Foundation; a steward of its culture; and an advocate for all employees


This position is primarily a sedentary role. However, the person in this position may need to occasionally move about inside the office to liaise with internal staff, access files, office machinery and a copy machine/printer. Additionally, domestic/international travel will be expected.

Alignment to Culture and Values

Commitment to the Foundation’s mission and core values of equity, openness, collaboration, trust, accountability and urgency

Personal qualities of humility, capacity for self-reflection, and a sense of humor

Discretion and ability to handle confidential issues

Action-orientated and entrepreneurial self-starter who can work well independently and in teams

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