Director of Operations

Director of Operations

Climate Leadership Initiative

San Francisco, CA   |   April 23, 2021

About Climate Leadership Initiative

The mission of Climate Leadership Initiative (“CLI”) is to rapidly and exponentially increase climate philanthropy by connecting donors with peers, experts, and high-impact solutions that restore the planet.

With less than 2 percent of global philanthropy investing in climate solutions, the Climate Leadership Initiative (CLI) was created in 2019 and is based on the fundamental premise that today’s leading climate funders are ready to do much more to leverage their credibility, networks, resources, and experience to attract new philanthropists to climate mitigation and inspire them to give on a scale commensurate with the global scope of the problem.

The founding funders include:

  • Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (Chris Hohn)
  • Hewlett Foundation
  • MacArthur Foundation
  • Oak Foundation (Kristian Parker)
  • Packard Foundation
  • Sea Change Foundation (Nat Simons and Laura Baxter-Simons)

CLI is fully funded, so does not fundraise for itself or any one organization. This frees the CLI team to help philanthropists find the smartest path for them.

CLI balances rigor with urgency in its work to nimbly engage donors with expert insights and tailored giving opportunities that cross-cut issues such as health, poverty, food and water, economic justice and biodiversity, all of which are affected significantly by climate. CLI believes that with their ability to be agile, take risks, and bring leverage, philanthropists can play a critical role in accelerating a cleaner, safer, and more equitable future for all.

CLI offers a range of advisory services, including:

Empowering philanthropists to get started quickly. CLI enables potential donors to see the full climate map and helps them navigate it, providing a practical framework for deciding where and how to focus their giving. CLI also serves as a translator, cutting through the complex and technical to the heart of a solution’s potential impact—accelerating the learning journey that gives philanthropists the confidence to act.

Connecting new and experienced philanthropists with peers, experts, and leading funders in the space. Climate is a global challenge that requires collective action to make the massive transitions needed away from the harmful status quo. CLI cultivates a community where donors can come together, learn from one another, and work collaboratively to scale big ideas. This includes unique engagement experiences, thought leader conversations, and informative and action-oriented webinars with meaningful follow-up opportunities.

Curating impactful giving opportunities that match interests and passions with ready-to-scale solutions sourced from the broader climate community. As a trusted advisor, CLI helps donors optimize their giving. Philanthropic investments can be targeted to specific sectors, geographic regions, or influential activities such as policy change, strategic communications, litigation, movement and coalition building, and political advocacy.

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The Opportunity

Climate Leadership Initiative is seeking a driven and dynamic leader to serve as its next Director of Operations.

The Director of Operations should be an independent driver who can implement innovative processes while fostering collaboration with third-party vendors and CLI staff. They should be curious, creative, and fascinated by problem-solving and efficiency. While a passion for climate solutions is considered additive, it is not a requirement for this role.

Reporting to the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, the Director of Operations will help to build and maintain the operational backbone of a fast-growing non-profit start-up.  CLI is at an exciting moment in its growth, where it is still highly dynamic but now ready to build the systems and processes needed for greater scale.  To meet this moment, CLI seeks an operations leader who can move seamlessly between strategy and tactical execution, expertly managing third-party partners to cover the full breadth of CLI’s operational needs.

The Director of Operations will work in partnership with CLI’s fiscal sponsor, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (“RPA”). RPA has a dedicated team that provides CLI services for finance and grants management, contracts, payroll, benefits and legal operations. As such, the Director of Operations should be prepared to oversee and leverage the resources of that relationship and will have the opportunity to continually develop this key partnership.

This Director will have the opportunity to scope and hire a new key hire and direct report. This new position will own the systems and processes for CLI’s data on climate donors and solutions, working closely with the teams that use the data and translating business objectives and use cases into a concrete plan for the Salesforce technical development partner to implement.  The Director will have the opportunity to train the new hire to project manage the prioritization and execution of improvements to the Salesforce functionality, data standards, policies, trainings and best practices. The new position will also support and train staff to leverage the functionality for optimized workflows, oversee data hygiene, produce reports, and interpret the data.

In 2021, the CLI team will grow from a team of 17 to 28. This is an opportunity for a growth-oriented and collaborative operations leader to dramatically influence an organization at a critical inflection point. This leader will have the opportunity to be on the ground in an organization’s growth stage as it expands its direct impact on worldwide climate solutions.

This leader will be based in San Francisco, CA at the Climate Leadership Initiative headquarters. The current team is mostly based in San Francisco, with 5 team members in the Washington, D.C. area, London, and Geneva.

The Director of Operation’s main objectives will include:

Finance, Legal & Grants Management

  • In partnership with the VP/COO and CLI’s fiscal sponsor, lead the process to build and approve the CLI budget, and manage CLI’s revenues (grant funds), expenses, and assets against it;
  • Oversee the preparation of quarterly financial reports for CLI’s board;
  • In partnership with the VP/COO and CLI’s fiscal sponsor, lead stewardship of CLI’s grants;
  • Ensure fiscal sponsor tracks all commitments in all CLI’s grant agreements and complies with all reporting requirements in a timely way;
  • Project manage the production of CLI’s annual funder report and funder briefings (3x/year), as well as the steps needed to unlock new tranches of multi-year grants and/or submit applications for renewals; and
  • Establish clear policies and protocols and serve as the point person for any team needs in execution of contracts and payment of invoices and expenses.

Technology, Data, and Systems

  • Manage external IT vendor service, governance, equipment procurement and asset tracking, and systems deployment to ensure a robust technology environment for the team;
  • Lead strategic analysis to meet new technology needs in CLI’s next phase of growth and maturation. Clearly define the need, map out options, and make recommendations on the best solution, vendors, and sequencing;
  • Lead the development of the processes, best practices, and trainings needed for a fast-growing team to effectively and securely use technology platforms to speed up work; and
  • In partnership with the VP/COO and the Managing Director of Philanthropic Advisors, shape, recruit and manage a new position that will own the systems and business processes for CLI data on climate donors and solutions.

Facilities and Administration

  • Oversee the management of CLI’s San Francisco headquarters, working closely with the team, technology providers and leasing partner to maintain the workspaces, amenities and general upkeep;
  • Develop and maintain office policies and procedures in compliance with CLI’s office lease, employee handbook building management guidelines, and public health guidelines; and
  • Manage the procurement of fixtures, furnishings and office supplies and provide recommendations to leadership on the most effective use and function of the floor plan, common spaces and conference rooms.

Organization-wide Priorities & KPIs

  • Lead the design and execution of the processes by which the Leadership Team sets and prioritizes organization-wide goals, cascades those to the team, and manages and communicates progress;
  • Develop priorities and key milestones for CLI operations to inform organization-wide goals;
  • In partnership with the VP/COO, support Leadership Team and wider staff reviews of KPIs and priority insights via a dynamic dashboard and monthly check-ins;
  • Oversee preparation of reports and analysis, and evolve the dashboard/process as needed to serve the Leadership Team’s goals; and
  • Support VP/COO in all strategic planning needs, including project management and partnership to engage the team and key stakeholders, keep all up to date, and present the final refreshed strategy to the Board.
Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills and characteristics:

A Strategic Self-Starter

  • Understand CLI’s goals and direction, extrapolating operational requirements to successfully execute against strategy.
  • Maintain a bird’s eye view of operational opportunities and challenges, owning and driving towards solutions and improvements.
  • Understand how to navigate through ambiguity while driving towards clarity.
  • Comfort and experience in start-up contexts.

An Expert in Problem-Solving and Execution

  • Lead with a can-do attitude and “client-service” orientation to supporting staff.  With very limited direct reports, willing to roll up his/her sleeves and dive into the doing while leveraging the support of CLI’s fiscal sponsor.

A Strong Understanding of Systems and Process Refinement

  • Liaise with CLI staff to understand pain points and bring best practices across finance, contracts, and information management systems.
  • Draw on operations experience to identify root causes of challenges, remove barriers, streamline workflows, and maximize efficiency through operational enhancements.

Project Management Expertise

  • Translate CLI’s needs and top priorities to CLI’s fiscal sponsor and key vendors, holding all stakeholders to account while moving the work forward in accordance with required timelines.
  • Display a willingness to wear multiple hats and thrive in a culture that places a high priority on collaboration and team support rooted in shared vision, goals, and mission alignment.

High EQ and Passion for People

  • Garner buy-in for solutions and lead change management process of implementation with a people-centered approach.
  • Experience leading organizations through change and growth, understanding the importance of culture, learning, and staff engagement.
  • Possess intellectual curiosity and a growth mindset.


At the Climate Leadership Initiative, we value diversity and always treat all employees and job applicants based on merit, qualifications, competence, and talent. We do not discriminate on the basis of or traits historically associated with race, color, religion, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, veteran and/or military status), domestic violence victim status, political affiliation, and any other status protected by state or federal law.


Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Kara Teising and Libby Cornelssen are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role, please visit this link. All nominations, inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part of The Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients.

Our founding philosophy — The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World — guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

For more information about Koya Partners, visit