Organization: Grantmakers for Education

Location: Flexible, US

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About Grantmakers for Education:

Grantmakers for Education (GFE) is the nation’s largest and most diverse network of education grantmakers.  With the goal to improve outcomes for all learners, GFE serves as a trusted partner for all education philanthropists as they adapt to the changes impacting our world.

Founded in 1995 on the premise that collective insights, shared resources and constructive collaboration enable grantmakers to make more intentional and impactful investments, GFE set out to demonstrate the power of networks in affecting greater change. Today, GFE’s branches are as wide as our roots are deep. With a diverse membership of nearly 300 organizations and 1,800 individuals, GFE extends the reach and expands the influence of education philanthropy.

With its finger on the pulse of its diverse network and an eye on the broader horizon, GFE is uniquely positioned to break down siloes, bridge the gap between now and next, empower members to be better prepared today and tomorrow, and become a vital resource for members as they define and execute their short and long-term strategies.

GFE keeps members informed of relevant, pressing education issues while also identifying tools and knowledge that help address future challenges. GFE provides valuable professional development for education grantmakers through conferences, regional summits, webinars, “GFE Connects”, a funder-centered digital community, as well as topical Impact Groups.

The acclaimed GFE Annual Conference, scheduled for October 16-18, 2018 in San Diego, is well-regarded as the nation’s largest annual gathering of education grantmakers, and is expected to have its biggest year yet.  This year the conference will focus on The Equity Journey: Investing in the Whole Learner and will include ample networking opportunities, as well as access to some of the nation’s leading thinkers and doers in education reform. Read more about GFE’s Annual Conference here.

GFE has a staff of 10 located across the country and in the main office in Portland, Oregon. The GFE Board is reconsidering the best location for a main office and is open to remote working solutions. With a national membership, the Executive Director will need to have a national presence and should expect a fair amount of travel.

GFE is governed by a 10-member Board of Directors comprised of leading grantmakers from independent, family, community and corporate foundations. The Board meets four times per year. GFE operates with an annual budget of just over $2M and a healthy cash reserve.

For more information about GFE, please visit its website.

The Opportunity:

The next Executive Director of GFE will provide strategic and innovative leadership to continue to ensure the organization remains relevant and impactful. Given the changing landscape of the education and philanthropic sectors, the Executive Director will show flexibility to meet member’s needs and will be inspirational to members in these changing times. Starting from the existing strategic plan, the Executive Director will partner with the Board of Directors to build out a vision to achieve new heights in GFE’s next chapter.

The Executive Director will be the highly visible face of the organization and will represent GFE to its membership and in the broader education and philanthropic communities. S/he will have operational responsibility for GFE’s programs, annual conference, events, advocacy efforts, finances and staff. The Executive Director will manage GFE’s staff of 10 and ensure they are working effectively to support and advance the mission.

The Executive Director will be instrumental in helping GFE continue to strengthen its position as a leader in the sector and deepen relationships with the diverse membership. Key metrics for success in this role include:

  • Developing a vision to help GFE stay relevant and deepen engagement with the membership. The Executive Director’s vision will meaningfully increase GFE’s impact in the sector and help strengthen GFE’s position as a thought leader;
  • Successfully managing GFE’s operations including staff, budget and fundraising activity to enable the new vision to come to life; and
  • Partnering effectively with the Board of Directors and staff to grow and maintain the membership.

Candidate Profile:

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

Passion for the Mission

The Executive Director will be a champion of education and will have a true passion for improving outcomes and expanding opportunities for all learners. Although direct experience as a grantmaker is not required, s/he will have a nuanced understanding of how philanthropy is used as a tool to strengthen educational outcomes. The Executive Director will inspire and motivate others and exhibit a wide-ranging curiosity and interest in the needs of GFE’s members.

Vision & Thought Leadership

The Executive Director will be a strategic and results-oriented leader who will guide GFE to deepen its work as a convener, catalyst and thought leader. With a sophisticated understanding of the education landscape, s/he will speak passionately about race, equity and inclusion and will have the energy, passion and determination to guide the sector into uncharted territory. The Executive Director will be able to inspire the staff, Board and the GFE membership to see where the sector should be going and push the membership forward in an inclusive and collaborative manner. S/he will effectively use GFE’s position to strengthen the field of education philanthropy and promote best practices amongst the membership. The Executive Director will have the enthusiasm to remain at the forefront of the sector and to develop new and unique opportunities to serve the mission.

Organizational Management

The Executive Director will have a track record of success in organizational management. S/he will have strong financial and operational experience to continually improve GFE’s programs and outcomes. S/he will be a strong manager who engenders trust in the staff and holds people accountable. S/he will have a successful track record in staff development and Board relations. The Executive Director will be an inspirational and team-focused leader of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.

An Ambassador for GFE

The Executive Director will be a high-energy, charismatic leader who will serve as an ‘Ambassador’ for GFE. S/he will be a confident public speaker who inherently enjoys the external side of the role. S/he will represent GFE in the national education and philanthropic arenas and be credible and effective at conveying GFE’s mission and vision. The Executive Director will be an experienced or emergent fundraiser and will be successful at generating support from all stakeholders. S/he will be a strong verbal and written communicator who serves as an effective public face of the organization.


Alexandra Corvin and Alison P. Ranney of Koya Leadership Partners have been retained for this search. Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search firm that works exclusively with mission-driven clients.

To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role, please email Alex and Alison directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.