President & CEO

Req Number: VK314
Location: New York, NY
Posted: 11/16/2020
Category: Government/Not-For-Profit : Education
Job Type: Permanent

To apply, please submit your application materials to Divina Gamble ( ), Kate Shattuck ( ), Cristina Fisher ( ), and , including a current resume and a brief statement of interest (a few well-thought out paragraphs, no longer than two pages). Please ensure your materials contain your first and last name clearly labelled in the document title.

Position -- President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Organization -- The Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF)
Location -- New York, NY
Reporting Relationship -- Board of Trustees
Website --


The Nathan Cummings Foundation focuses on finding solutions to the two most challenging problems of our time – climate crisis and growing inequality – and aims to transform the systems and mindsets that hinder progress toward a more sustainable and equitable future for all people, particularly women and people of color. With an endowment of $414 million dollars, the Foundation has provided nearly $500 million in grants over the last three decades to support social movements, organizations and individuals pursuing justice for people and the planet.

NCF has a strong history of leveraging its endowment and investment position to advance its mission and was one of the first to employ shareholder advocacy and active ownership strategies that directly engage companies. In 2018, the Foundation committed to aligning all of its assets for impact in order to receive more social return on investments and is one of the largest foundations to commit 100 percent.

As the organization enters this next chapter of its history, the Board of Trustees seeks a passionate and equity-minded executive to advance NCF’s critical work. Under the stability of the current interim leader, the foundation has focused recent efforts on organizational and board development, and the creation of a newly articulated vision, reaffirmed mission and a powerful set of values, and theory of change work for the next leader to carry forward.

This is an exciting opportunity for a dynamic leader to build on a rich legacy, collaborate with a committed community of internal and external stakeholders, and drive strategy that energizes and activates real impact. 



Vision: The Foundation envisions a future where all people, in body and spirit, can breathe, care for each other and flourish in just, loving and sustainable communities.

Mission: The Nathan Cummings Foundation is a multigenerational family foundation, rooted in the Jewish tradition of social justice, working to create a more just, vibrant, sustainable, and democratic society. NCF partners with social movements, organizations and individuals who have creative and catalytic solutions to climate change and inequality.

NCF is committed to using all of its resources - from its investments, to its grants and voice, to make a difference in the world. NCF invests in four focus areas that, together, advance the Foundation’s vision of a healthy planet and a healthy democracy.

  • NCF supports a just transition to a more inclusive clean economy where communities on the front lines are creating solutions to the climate crisis and where prosperity for all people is not at odds with a healthy environment.
  • NCF is determined to advance racial and economic justice by unlocking markets and reforming systems that exclude and criminalize, lifting up new models of democratic inclusion.
  • NCF believes in the transformative power of the arts, moral voices and spiritual practices to change hearts and minds. The Foundation seeks to amplify voice, creativity and culture to build empathy, nurture compassion and shift narratives about race, class, gender, ethnicity, who has power and how we value the planet.
  • NCF uses its influence as an investor and grantmaker to increase corporate and political accountability, activating investors and businesses as allies and advocates for clean energy and social justice.

While the Foundation’s work is primarily concentrated in the United States, NCF also supports visionary leaders and efforts advancing shared society, peace and equality in Israel.

Additionally, the Foundation’s Fellowship program is designed for emergent leaders who have limited access to institutional philanthropy and whose work is traditionally underfunded to help turn an inspired idea in the field of social justice into a reality.

Deeply committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, NCF chooses to work with organizations that lead with these values in all aspects of their work. The Foundation has a long track record of aligning its investments with its values through shareholder activism and is exploring how to expand the tools NCF uses to dedicate more of its investment dollars for greater impact.



Nathan Cummings was born in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1896. He moved from impoverished beginnings to great success by hard work, entrepreneurial genius and a willingness to take risks. In 1939, he purchased a small wholesale distributor of canned foods, coffee, tea, and spices that served as the beginning of the international company known as the Sara Lee Corporation. For three decades, he personally guided the growth of the company before retiring from active management in 1968 to pursue philanthropic interests. He died in 1985, leaving the majority of his estate to this Foundation.  As an entrepreneur and businessman, Nathan Cummings believed in innovation and risk-taking, and he inherited a spirit of sharing and community from his immigrant parents. He transmitted that spirit to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who contribute their time and energy to continue his philanthropic work.




In Jewish tradition, the guiding principle of Tikkun Olam positions justice as a pathway to repairing the world. The following Values Statement is rooted in an understanding of history and the ways in which philanthropy has the potential to perpetuate or disrupt a status quo of hierarchical systems that are neither sustainable nor fair. These values have been created to strengthen our ability to learn from the past, acknowledge the complexity of the present, and imagine a more just and vibrant future.

  • JUSTICE AND EQUITY: There is a long, devastating and sanctioned history of racialized violence and anti-blackness that has resulted in the destruction and continued social and economic exclusion of black, brown and indigenous people and communities. Policies and practices rooted in capitalism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism and patriarchy have worked together to prevent the vast majority of people—across identities—from reaching their full potential. We believe that philanthropy is a product of this history and that NCF, with its power and privilege, has a responsibility to work in partnership with and be led by those individuals and communities most harmed. We are committed to investing in strategies and solutions that seek to dismantle oppressive systems and promote just, fair and sustainable outcomes.
  • INTERDEPENDENCE: We know that all life on this planet is interconnected and part of a broader ecosystem. We believe that prosperity can be abundant, resources shared in ways that are not extractive, and that we are more powerful when we work together toward common goals. However, these beliefs will always be in conflict with a society that operates through rugged individualism and scarcity. We are therefore committed to working in community with others, the equitable distribution of power and resources, and contributing to the restoration of our communities, humanity, and planet.
  • LEARNING AND LISTENING: We believe that no one person has all the answers. We also acknowledge the reality that all voices and types of knowledge are not valued equally. This means we must participate in spaces where we are actively listening to diverse perspectives, valuing and compensating lived experience as expertise, and entering conversations with curiosity and humility. In this approach, we honor the work that has come before us and seek to support, build on and credit the collective knowledge and wisdom that already exists.
  • COURAGEOUS TRANSFORMATION: We believe that structural change requires disruptive thinking and a bold vision for the future. The radical transformation of our society and economy relies on partnership with those whose knowledge and ideas call into question our assumptions. Even through discomfort, it is those critical partnerships that prompt us to interrogate our biases, confront systems that seek to maintain harmful power structures, and show us our potential to courageously reimagine and transform our world.
  • INTEGRITY: We believe our values are what ground our work and, in difficult times, illuminate the path forward. If and when we stray from that path, clear and open lines of communication and systems of accountability will be paramount to us finding our way. However, the presence of wealth and power can create blind spots and relationships where accountability is one-way and unbalanced. We believe that shifting that balance means being transparent about our priorities and decision-making processes, being honest and open about our failures and successes, and making way for feedback with a willingness to change course to strengthen us to be better partners to the communities we serve.



Reporting to and partnering closely with the Board, the President & CEO will have overall accountability and responsibility for the philanthropic, operational and financial affairs of the Nathan Cummings Foundation. 

This leader will represent NCF in its work to advance the organization’s mission, will live out the organization’s values and will inspire a culture that honors the legacy of Nathan Cummings and his family. Specific responsibilities include:

Vision & Mission Stewardship: 

  • Provide the creative and strategic vision, direction, inspiration, and motivation necessary to ensure the Foundation's success and continued advancement toward the mission.
  • Incorporate the organization's vision into its programs and operations and ensure that this vision is embodied in the organization's work.
  • Effectively communicate a compelling, shared vision for staff, the Board and pertinent external groups, ensuring that the mission and programs are accurately understood.
  • Ensure careful stewardship of the endowment and the Foundation’s role as an institutional investor.

Board Engagement:

  • Work with the Board to help ensure proper constitution and available resources and information for effective governance; support Board members as they individually and collectively fulfill their governance and fiduciary responsibilities; ensure transparency and regular communication with the Board in all key areas.
  • Serve as a liaison and foster positive relationships within the Board and between the Board and with key Foundation leadership, staff teams, and external audiences.
  • Engage in contemplative discourse with the Board around emerging trends, and exploration of investments in existing and new initiatives; cultivate an open, thoughtful, and collaborative partnership with the Board to refine and implement NCF’s strategic direction and respond nimbly in an evolving external environment.
  • Embrace and support the next generation as they begin to engage with the board. 

Organizational Leadership:

  • Financial Management: Ensure the endowment management and financial administration strategies and systems are effective, aligned with the Foundation's mission/values, and implemented well. 
  • Programmatic Oversight:  Ensure the development of programming, grant-making and investment strategies (across the full continuum of capital – grants, PRIs and market-rate investments) and systems are effective, aligned with the mission/values of NCF, and implemented well.
  • Innovation and Impact: Ensure standards and systems are in place that track the foundation's effectiveness and impact, including more robust measurement and rigor around programmatic innovation and outcomes, and increased programs integration with endowment for a greater impact platform.
  • Staff Management: Recruit, lead, develop and inspire a diverse and autonomous staff.  Ensure that staff are supported, entrusted, and empowered, and that their unique contributions to the work of the Foundation are recognized, appreciated, and amplified.  Foster a community of meaningful collaboration, intellectual curiosity, continuous learning, and open feedback. 
  • Culture:  Model and create an equity-focused environment centered on NCF’s social justice values, actively supporting a culture of impeccable integrity, professionalism, commitment, and humility. Demonstrate the value of diversity, equity and inclusion in all actions and decisions, and instill those values across the organization. Ensure the adoption of and adherence to appropriate values and ethical standards in all foundation business. 

External Affairs:

  • Serve as the key representative of the Foundation to external constituencies, strategically leveraging its public voice and credible influence, and maintaining strong reputation and identity of the family’s legacy and its work.
  • Cultivate relationships with relevant organizations and executives in government, business, and other nonprofits, contributing to thought leadership around philanthropy, social justice, and impact; work collaboratively with other private and/or public funders and grantees for greater social impact.



The successful candidate will be a proven senior executive and stellar people manager with a deep commitment to social justice, coupled with knowledge and zeal for one or more focus areas in which the foundation works.  The individual will bring values alignment, notable intellectual curiosity, a steady presence, and strategic and outcome-oriented leadership to advance the organization’s goals.

Additional ideal qualifications include:

  • Experience in some combination of philanthropy and/or other nonprofits, government, private sector, and an ability to work across sectors and boundaries.
  • Proven experience managing board governance and engagement, ideally working with a family, founder, living donor, or complex board.
  • Strong people leadership and management skills. A strong track record of empowering a diverse group of professionals and content experts, entrusting and amplifying the work of others.
  • Experience executing a strategic plan, managing organizational complexity, and enhancing an organization’s capacity/impact.
  • Experience, ability, or orientation toward leveraging the full scope of social impact investing tools, philanthropic levers, and creative structures. 
  • Understanding of power dynamics around philanthropy and grantmaking structures.
  • Results-orientation with strong business acumen; a good manager of assets – people, money, and time.
  • Outstanding communication and diplomatic skills, including the ability to relate well to a wide range of constituencies and people at all levels. Political savvy, can listen well, and is able to clearly articulate the message and command the respect of any audience.
  • A history of successful engagement, partnering, fostering alliance-building among a broad range of constituencies. An ability to work with and effectively inspire innovative thinking among stakeholders and audiences in multiple sectors.
  • Balanced leadership: Approaches tensions with patience and tolerance. Demonstrates flexibility and considers multiple viewpoints of issues or alternative solutions. Manages key factors, opportunities, and stakeholders effectively through openness, active listening, transparency, and respectful decision-making.
  • Equity focused; eager to lean into the Foundation’s social justice values and shepherd the foundation along its DEI journey. 
  • Demonstrates situational awareness and grace under pressure.
  • Adept at managing within ambiguity; can hold productive space in the midst of change.
  • High level of emotional intelligence, empathy, and humility; low ego and a good sense of humor.
  • Impeccable character and integrity.



An undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university is required. An advanced degree and/or pertinent experience is preferred. 


Korn/Ferry shall provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified candidates, and will refer candidates without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected basis.