Organization: MacArthur Foundation

Location: Chicago, IL

Express Interest

About MacArthur Foundation:

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions and influential networks building a more just, verdant and peaceful world.

Led by President Julia Stasch, the MacArthur Foundation is one of the nation’s largest independent foundations with assets of approximately $6.2 billion, annual grantmaking of approximately $250 million, and a $500 million allocation for impact investments.

In addition to the MacArthur Fellows program, MacArthur’s grantmaking activities fall into three categories: a few ‘big bets’ that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarcerationglobal climate changenuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector; enduring commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy and to the strength and vitality of its headquarters city, Chicago; and 100&Change.

About 100&Change: $100 million to Help Solve a Critical Problem of Our Time

100&Change is a MacArthur Foundation competition that will periodically make a $100 million grant to fund a single proposal that promises real and measurable progress toward solving a significant problem affecting people, places or the planet.  Launched in 2016 and led by Managing Director Cecilia Conrad, the competition is open to organizations working in any field of endeavor across the United States and around the world.  By funding at a level far above what is typical in philanthropy, the Foundation hopes to address problems and support solutions that are radically different in scale, scope, and complexity.

In addition to the competition, 100&Change includes stewardship of a public database of promising solutions.  Through 100&Change, MacArthur Foundation hopes to inspire, encourage and promote bold approaches to solving society’s most pressing problems

100&ChangeThe first 100&Change competition is nearing its close. The competition attracted robust participation: 7,069 registrants submitted 1,904 proposals. In February 2017, the Foundation named eight bold solutions as semifinalists and in September 2017 identified four finalists. Finalists will present their proposals during a live event in December 2017, before the Board selects a single recipient to receive $100 million over up to six years.

In early 2018, the Foundation will consider what it has learned to refine the approach for the next competition.

The Broader Impact of 100&Change

The high volume and intense interest in the creative proposals have created the potential for impact beyond the $100 million grant. Efforts are underway to encourage participation and support from other funders.

To learn more about 100&Change, please click here. To learn more about MacArthur Foundation, please click here.

The Opportunity:

At this critical moment, MacArthur Foundation is seeking an inaugural Director to partner with the Managing Director on the leadership of 100&Change.  In addition to running the competition, the Director will also have the unique opportunity to leverage proposals to build a platform to amplify the impact beyond the single $100 million grant.

With a commitment to philanthropy as a vehicle for helping to solve critical problems and a passion for the mission of the Foundation and goals of the competition, the Director will play a critical role in refining and strengthening the theoretical framework of the competition including the definition and refinement of competition parameters, the review process and the benefits for all participants.

S/he will lead efforts to stimulate interest in the program among potential applicants, potential philanthropic partners and the broader public and will support and work with other Foundation staff to ensure a rigorous review of proposals to inform the Board of Directors’ selection of the 100&Change grant recipient.

In addition, the Director, in collaboration with other Foundation staff, will monitor the successful project’s performance and work with the grantee to make course corrections and build collaborations and partnerships to ensure meaningful progress in meeting agreed upon milestones.

Reporting to the Managing Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program and overseeing a team of two Program Officers and one Coordinator, the Director’s primary responsibilities include:

  • Strategy momentum and progress: oversee the design and refinement of competition parameters and the proposal review process; develop a pool of viable competitors by providing benefits for all participants; monitor and evaluate the competition and selection process and the work of the grantee to ensure the goals of the competition are met; demonstrate creative use of the Foundation’s reputational assets to support the engagement of philanthropic partners and to inspire a focus on solving problems;
  • Marketing, outreach and storytelling: serve as a public spokesperson for 100&Change; seek external philanthropic partnerships to enhance impact; lead efforts to excite and inspire a focus on problem solving;
  • Program leadership: develop and activate internal and external networks and partners; find opportunities for continuous program and process improvement; actively participate in the field of prize and competition philanthropy;
  • Staff development and motivation: screen and hire staff; foster a positive environment for staff participation and collaboration; create conditions for program and administrative staff success; provide candid feedback on performance and opportunities for personal and professional growth; evaluate the skill, experience, and professional development needs of all team members; support and collaborate with colleagues and adhere to performance standards and Foundation values;
  • Process management: conduct education and outreach to develop a competitive pool of applicants; cultivate, recruit and manage judges; facilitate board deliberations; lead the continuous improvement and refinement of process in light of previous experience

Candidate Profile:

The successful candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities and characteristics:

An ‘Ambassador’

The Director will be a senior, inspirational leader who will serve as a public spokesperson for 100&Change and its broad potential impact. S/he will bring outstanding written and oral communication and presentation skills to effectively articulate and convey 100&Change’s mission and its impact to a range of key external philanthropic partners and others to inspire action and participation. S/he will be skilled at building strong brand awareness through inspirational marketing and storytelling.

Leading Through Influence and Strategic Collaboration

The successful candidate will inspire trust, confidence, shared purpose and commitment with a range of external and internal stakeholders. A strong communicator, s/he will be comfortable seeking strategic partnerships and collaboration to enhance impact and leading efforts to excite focus on solving problems with philanthropic partners, participants and the broader public. Inspiring meaningful teamwork and collaboration and developing productive and fulfilling working relationships across the organization at all levels, s/he will have the ability to engage multiple, interdisciplinary voices to share expertise and make effective connections among researchers, policymakers and practitioners to ensure meaningful progress in solving problems.

Strategy & Program Management

The ideal candidate will excel at turning ideas into reality, overseeing the strategy, refinement and execution of large scale programs, competitions or challenges. With a strong attention to detail, s/he will demonstrate the ability to monitor and evaluate the competition and selection process and the work of grantees, while adhering to a timeline. S/he will engage with others to test ideas and find opportunities for continuous program and process improvement and making course corrections as needed with the team, sharing lessons learned along the way. Serving as an internal champion, s/he will foster a positive environment for participation, collaboration and rigorous review from the Foundation’s Board of Directors, leadership team and staff.

Passion for the Mission

Fully embracing the mission of the MacArthur Foundation and the goals of 100&Change, the Director will have a strong understanding of the full potential, power and impact of a Foundation to use its leadership and full range of tools and assets to inspire engagement and help solve significant problem affecting people, places or the planet. A bold thinker, s/he is an individual with strong diplomatic skills and a collegial approach to work, high professional standards and excellent judgment.

Candidates with deep knowledge of, appreciation for, and experience with bringing solutions to scale will be welcomed.  Experience developing tailored prize competitions, challenges, or open calls is also desirable.

Candidates can come from a variety of backgrounds. An advanced degree is desirable.


Koya Leadership Partners, a national retained executive search firm that works with mission-driven clients, has been exclusively retained for this search. To make recommendations on candidates or express interest in the opportunity, please email Alison P. Ranney and Anny K. Chou at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.