Organization: Field Foundation of Illinois

Location: Chicago, IL

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About the Field Foundation of Illinois:

The Field Foundation of Illinois (“Field Foundation”) provides support for community, civic and cultural organizations in the Chicago area and is considered one of the most thoughtful forces in Illinois philanthropy. It accomplishes its mission by enabling both new and established programs to test innovations, expand proven strengths or address specific, time-limited operational needs. A dedicated Board and a staff of seven direct assets of nearly $70 million to nonprofits seeking solutions to pressing issues facing Chicago’s community, civic and cultural organizations.

The Foundation was established by Marshall Field III in 1940. Moved by the despair created during the Great Depression, he was inspired to help those struggling with poverty and endorsed a wide range of New Deal policies, activists and progressive thinkers.

Today, the Foundation responds to the changing needs of the community, continuing to support Chicago’s institutions as well as a diverse range of community based efforts. The Foundation’s leadership has long viewed its role as a strategic supporter, rather than a long-term sustainer, of innovative programs and organizations. Its primary emphasis is on underserved and disadvantaged individuals and populations.

A convener and thought leader, the Foundation acts by strategically stimulating and maximizing efforts and resources in support of projects within six program areas:

Education                    Environment                Community Welfare

Health                          Culture                         Community Affairs

Each program area has a significant catalytic effect upon efforts to enhance the vitality and quality of life of the community. The Foundation receives nearly 400 funding requests annually in its six program areas and typically supports more than 110 individual organizations each year with nearly $2.6 million in total grantmaking.

In one of its most recent initiatives, the Foundation has intensified its longstanding efforts toward violence prevention and intervention, taking a leadership role in cooperation with government and private institutions. It has devoted more than $3.1 million in grants toward this new emphasis in the past eight years – initiatives that involve parents and children, teachers and students, police and the courts to deter the kinds of destructive behavior and violence that can and do happen in a community.

Known for “competing above its weight,” the Foundation takes the means at hand and accomplishes more than would have been thought possible. By carefully and creatively targeting its efforts and resources and developing and collaborating within its wide network, the Foundation has built a reputation in Chicago for having much deeper impacts than its modest grants might suggest.

For more information on the Field Foundation of Illinois, please visit its website.

The Opportunity:

The next Executive Director of the Field Foundation will have the opportunity to lead one of the most well regarded forces in Illinois philanthropy. The Field Foundation Board is seeking an executive to craft and lead the Board and staff on the Foundation’s next chapter of its work and impact. The Board will look to its next Executive Director to think creatively and strategically about the current opportunities and challenges facing the city of Chicago and how the Foundation can continue to be a highly effective catalytic force in its communities.

The Executive Director will also be responsible for leadership and overall management of the Field Foundation. S/he oversees the day-to-day operation of the Foundation, including all grantmaking efforts and the Field Foundation staff. S/he will represent the Field Foundation in the philanthropic community and be an ambassador on behalf of the Board and staff.

Key responsibilities of the Executive Director include:

  • Working with the Board and staff to confirm the goals and objectives of the Field Foundation for this next chapter and implement the path to achieving them;
  • Leading the effort to strengthen the Field Foundation’s operational and technological systems, which are essential to its ability to increase its capacity and achieve its goals for the future;
  • Representing the Field Foundation in the Chicago and larger philanthropic community as a thought leader, convener and community leader;
  • Collaborating with other key leaders, including emerging leaders, in the community to maximize the Field Foundation’s impact;
  • Convening stakeholders in the city of Chicago and beyond through thoughtful conversations and initiatives around how best to accomplish philanthropic goals on a larger scale than any one foundation acting on its own;
  • Serving as the internal leader of the organization:
    • Overseeing day-to-day activities and leading the staff;
    • Effectively managing Field Foundation assets;
    • Organizing and managing the grant review process of the Board, monitoring grant distributions and ensuring efficient and effective follow-up, evaluation and communication with grant seekers;
    • Creating and implementing an impact evaluation strategy that facilitates continuous analysis and learning throughout all levels of the organization.
  • Communicating effectively and with transparency with the Board and staff; and
  • Other duties as necessary for the leadership of the Field Foundation or as directed by the Board.

Candidate Profile:

The ideal candidate will have the following qualities and characteristics:

A Strategic and Visionary Leader

The Executive Director will be a strategic and visionary leader who is able to set and articulate a vision for the Foundation and how it can effectively deploy its human and financial assets to better the Chicago community. S/he will understand the full power and impact of a foundation to use its leadership and grantmaking in combination to meet the needs of a community. S/he will be innovative and bold in responding to community needs. S/he will successfully act as a convener, a catalyst and an innovator, pursuing a “venture capital” approach to grantmaking.

Ambassador for Field Foundation

The Executive Director will exemplify leadership and inspire trust and confidence across a diverse range of stakeholders. S/he will be flexible, energetic, positive, creative and ambitious and experienced in establishing strong working relationships in furtherance of an organization’s mission. S/he will be collaborative with the ability to build a strong connection with the Board as well as staff, grantees, partners and a range of other stakeholders. The Executive Director will be skilled at building partnerships with other foundations, institutions and key leaders in the field to enhance the Foundation’s impact and advance its mission and strategic priorities.

Nonprofit Management

The Executive Director will be a seasoned executive with strong staff and financial management experience. S/he will have a track record of sound financial planning, oversight and accountability, with the ability to clearly communicate financial status to the Board. The Executive Director will possess the ability to build and inspire a staff with a diverse set of skills, provide a productive work environment and professional growth opportunities that result in team cohesion and camaraderie. S/he will be a facilitator of staff and Board teamwork with the ability to provide clear expectations and accountability measures for staff deliverables while encouraging innovation and initiative. Lastly, s/he must have the skills to lead the adoption of new technologies to take the Foundation into today’s digital era.

Passion for the Mission

The Executive Director will have a true passion for the mission of the Foundation and a commitment to strengthening the Chicago community. Working in close collaboration with the staff and Board, s/he will help achieve the greatest possible impact through the Foundation’s grantmaking. S/he will have passion for, and professional experience in, directing philanthropic programs in the Chicago area, ideally in areas of the Foundation’s focus. S/he will exhibit humility, a capacity to listen and dedication to the mission. It is imperative that s/he treats others with respect and always stays true to the values of the Foundation. Moreover, the ideal candidate is an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.


Alison P. Ranney, Anne B. McCarthy and Anny K. Chou of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please email Alison, Anne and Anny directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit