Organization: Nathan Cummings Foundation

Location: New York, NY

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About the Nathan Cummings Foundation:

The Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF) is a multigenerational family foundation that seeks to build a socially and economically just society. Located in New York City, NCF is a national grantmaking organization with assets of approximately $466 million, an annual grants budget of about $24 million and a current staff of 17. NCF, which has given away more than $425 million in the past 25 years, has established a strong track record as a leader and innovator in the philanthropic community.

NCF makes grants to address inequality and climate change, with approaches focused on arts and culture, constituency building, disruptive ideas and religious traditions, and contemplative practices. NCF also has a strong fellowship program that grants visionaries $100,000 to pursue a social or economic justice objective over one year.

The Foundation is rooted in the Jewish tradition and committed to democratic values and social justice, including fairness, diversity and community. It seeks to build a socially and economically just society that values nature and protects the ecological balance for future generations; promotes equitable health care and fosters arts and culture that enriches communities.

The Foundation’s approach to grantmaking embodies basic themes across its programs:

  • Concern for the poor, disadvantaged and underserved;
  • Advocating for diversity;
  • Promotion of understanding across cultures; and
  • Empowerment of communities in need.

In order to address inequality, NCF invests in work with strong potential to create pathways to economic opportunity, particularly for women and people of color, and that takes seriously the need to:

  • Improve quality of life for the poor;
  • Move toward greater equality of opportunity, meaning that where someone is born on the income distribution would not limit their chances to move up; and
  • Challenge structures and ideas that allow a vastly disproportionate share of the nation’s wealth to be concentrated in the hands of a few.

NCF also addresses climate change as a consequence of progress in human development and economic prosperity, and will fund promising work that helps activate American ingenuity in pursuit of three interrelated goals:

  • Increasing access to modern energy for the world’s poor;
  • Stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a low level; and
  • Improving resilience for those most vulnerable to the negative consequences of climate variability and change.

The Foundation owes its existence and inspiration to Nathan Cummings, who rose from impoverished beginnings to become the founder and guiding force of the Sara Lee Corporation. He inherited a spirit of sharing and a sense of community from his immigrant parents and transmitted these values to his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, who now contribute their time and energy to the Foundation.

The Foundation has an active and deeply committed Board of Trustees comprised of members of the Cummings family as well as independent members. Board members are philanthropists and activists in the arts, health services, religious and spiritual organizations, environmental advocacy groups, schools and universities, poverty programs and citizen action groups. The Foundation’s staff members are experts in their respective fields and make innovative grants that address important questions of public policy and social change.

For more information on the Nathan Cummings Foundation, please visit

The Opportunity:

The President & CEO works closely with the Board of Trustees and the family to achieve NCF’s strategic objectives and fulfill its mission. S/he will help the Board and family leverage its strategic planning work and lead its implementation efforts. The President & CEO will communicate clearly and with transparency to the Foundation’s various constituents.

The President & CEO is also responsible for leadership and overall management of NCF. S/he oversees the day-to-day operation of the Foundation, including all grant-making efforts and the Foundation staff. S/he will represent the Foundation in the philanthropic community and be an ambassador on behalf of the Board, family and staff.

The duties and responsibilities of the President & CEO will include, but will not be limited to:

  • Working with the multigenerational Board and family on the implementation of the Foundation’s goals and objectives;
  • Serving as the leader of the organization, overseeing all day-to-day activities and effectively managing Foundation assets and leading the staff;
  • Communicating effectively and with transparency with the Board, family and staff;
  • Collaborating with other Foundations and leaders in the field to help deepen the Foundation’s impact on its areas of focus;
  • Representing the Foundation in the philanthropic community and serving as a convener and community leader; and
  • Other duties as necessary for the leadership of the Foundation or as directed by the Board of Trustees.

Candidate Profile:

The President & CEO will be a proven leader with exceptional interpersonal skills. S/he will embrace the Foundation’s culture and family orientation and serve as an accessible leader. The President & CEO will value transparency and fairness and will demonstrate an open and caring attitude towards working with others. S/he will have a history of collaboration and experience effectively implementing a strategic plan.

A track record of success with Board relations and a desire to actively engage the multigenerational family and Board members in the work of the Foundation is imperative.

The ideal candidate will have the following personal competencies and characteristics:

Inclusive Leadership: The President & CEO will be an inclusive leader who supports a culture of collaboration among the Board, family and staff. S/he will be able to work well with others and have a deep appreciation for the nuances of multigenerational family foundations and philanthropy. The President & CEO will be a mature leader who embodies humility, wisdom and strength of character. S/he will actively engage the Foundation’s key stakeholders and will build trust among Board, family and staff.

Passion for the Mission: The President & CEO will have a true passion for the mission of NCF and a commitment to Foundation’s areas of focus. With a high level of emotional intelligence, the next President & CEO will work closely with the Board and family to achieve the greatest possible impact in the Foundation’s areas of focus. S/he will embody the values of the Foundation and will inspire and motivate others.

Executing for Results and Implementation: The President & CEO will be dedicated to the strategic direction of the Foundation and will work tireless to see its objectives through. Building on the success of the past, s/he will work in close partnership with the Board and family to ensure their vision for the Foundation is being implemented effectively and will bring ideas to the Board to help achieve greater impact. The President & CEO will be a steady and mature force, partnering closely with the Board and staff to achieve the Foundation’s goals. A thorough and transparent communicator, s/he will have a successful track record of attracting, hiring and retaining top talent.

Relationship Builder: The President & CEO must be able to build and sustain excellent relationships with the Board, multiple generations of family members and staff. S/he will earn their trust by exhibiting a sense of humility and dedication to the mission. The President & CEO will build a culture of collaboration among the Board and staff and will seek partnerships with other Foundations and key leaders in the field to help enhance the Foundation’s impact. It is imperative that s/he is able to treat others with respect and always stay 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.

A Bachelor’s degree is required and a graduate degree in a related field is preferred.


Koya Leadership Partners has been exclusively retained for this search. This search is being led by Alison P. Ranney and Alexandra N. Corvin.

To express your interest in this role, please email Alison and Alex 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