AVDF Board of Trustees Launch Search for Next President of the Foundations

Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Salary: Commensurate with leadership and professional experience
Employment Level: Full-time
Application Deadline: September 10, 2018

Background:

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations (AVDF) are a national philanthropic organization established through the generosity of Arthur Vining Davis, the late American industrialist and an early leader of the Aluminum Company of America (now Alcoa Corporation). Since their origin in 1952, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations have remained committed to "Strengthening America Through Education" by providing highly effective philanthropic grants to educational, cultural, scientific and religious institutions. Located in Jacksonville, Florida, the Foundations have assets of approximately $275 million with grant awards of approximately 5 percent of the Foundations' corpus annually.

The Foundations focus on five philanthropic grant program areas that include Private Higher Education; Public Educational Media; Interfaith Leadership and Religious Literacy; Environmental Engagement, Stewardship & Solutions; and Palliative Care. Private Higher Education support has centered on colleges and universities with a strong undergraduate teaching focus and a reputation for academic excellence. Higher education grants in 2018 total $4.5 million.

The Foundations' trustees have also recognized the high value impact of public educational television and media by supporting children's programming and historical and scientific documentaries. A longtime supporter of Ken Burns's documentaries, the Foundations have also been instrumental in launching popular children's literacy and character development programs such as Arthur, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and Nature Cat. Grants in this program area total $2.4 million in 2018.

In 2016 the AVDF trustees adopted a strategic plan that now emphasizes support for interfaith literacy and interreligious understanding for leaders of colleges, medical schools, hospitals, journalism, and business. In 2018, grants to support interfaith work are approximately $1.5 million.

In 2017, grant making began in Environmental Engagement, Stewardship & Solutions, notably to 14 designated partner organizations including The Nature Conservancy, Sea Education Association, Mission Blue, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Cornell Lab of Ornithology, among others.

Finally, the trustees' plan also endorsed support for Palliative Care as a new grant program area, including partnerships with medical schools and leading organizations promoting standards of care, interfaith issues in palliative work, and support for pediatric palliative care initiatives and research.

In the last five years, the AVDF trustees and staff have also accomplished several key priorities as the board of trustees membership went through its first intergenerational succession. Key accomplishments include updated board governance procedures and policies, automation of the office operations and grant-making efficiencies, updated communications to grantees through improved website and grant submission and evaluation systems, improved budgetary and fiscal management, trustee and staff professional development, the completion of the first strategic plan to guide philanthropic priorities from 2016-2023, and the inclusion and orientation of the next generation of future trustees.

The AVDF Board of Trustees consist of nine individual trustees and two corporate trustee representatives responsible for managing the Foundations' endowments in perpetuity. The trustees invite nominations and applications for the President of the Foundations. Nancy J. Cable, who has served as AVDF President since February of 2013, is leaving on October 1, 2018 to become the Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Expectations:

Reporting to the Chair of the Board of Trustees, the President of the Foundations administers and coordinates all staff activities that support the Board of Trustees' goals and objectives. Additional specific responsibilities include:

  • Working with the AVDF Board and staff to provide a focused vision and strategy for its philanthropic efforts and priorities.
  • Oversee all of the Foundations' grant-making activities.
  • Provide day-to-day leadership and management of the Foundations' six staff, administrative budgets, human resource policies and procedures, including evaluation and development of Foundations' staff.
  • Provide leadership and oversight for prudent yet high impact website and grant management platforms for grantees, including the portal for trustee materials.
  • Oversee the Foundations' budget and ensure prudent management of resources, working closely with the CFO, corporate trustees, auditors, and tax professionals.
  • Ensure compliance with both the spirit and letter of the Foundations' policies and procedures as well as the laws governing private foundations.
  • While two corporate trustee banks hold sole responsibility over investment decisions, the President will support the trustees in their fiduciary role of sustaining the Foundations' assets in perpetuity.
  • Represent the Foundations at national conferences and other appropriate and timely convenings about the Foundations' philanthropic values.

Qualifications:

  • Seasoned and successful senior leadership experience, preferably in a medium or large nationally-known organization such as a college or a university, medical school, environmental, faith-based organization, philanthropic foundation, military, and business organization. This individual is expected to have served as an accomplished leader in their chosen field and to have demonstrated leadership ability with progressively greater responsibilities over his/her career.
  • Knowledge of the field of philanthropy is preferred, possibly gained as a foundation executive, foundation board member, or grantee of a foundation.
  • Strong leadership and management skills, including staff development, fiscal and budgetary management expertise, strategic planning experience, warmth and candor in high importance relationships, acumen at managing board of trustee governance and activities, excellence presentation and public speaking skills.
  • Senior-level experience or an advanced degree in one or more of the program areas supported by the Foundations is useful.

Application and Nomination Process:

Applications and nominations will be accepted beginning July 22, 2018 through September 10, 2018. Letters of interest, a resume or curriculum vitae, and three names of initial references should be submitted to The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations at 225 Water Street, Suite 1510, Jacksonville, FL 32202 to the attention of Doreen Gross at dgross@avdf.org. A phone call is not necessary.

The search committee will begin review of candidate materials in early September and will continue until the successful candidate is chosen. Ideally the new president will be able to begin work in January 2019. This is an executive position and salary and benefits will be commensurate with the successful candidate's level of leadership experience and expertise.

Confidentiality:

The search for the President will be strictly confidential for all candidates and only the successful candidate will be announced and known to others.

EEO Policy Statement:

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations provide equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, marital or veteran status in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws.

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