Director of Learning and Evaluation

Director of Learning and Evaluation

The Builders Initiative/Family Office

Chicago, IL   |   August 28, 2020

About The Builders Initiative/Family Office

The Builders Initiative (TBI) is a private foundation established by a member of the Walton Family and his wife (the “Principals”). TBI is the philanthropic arm of the Principals’ broader family office (FO), which also includes a direct investing team (venture capital and private equity); an asset management team; and an operations team: all committed to the vision of a humane and healthy planet.  Collectively the FO is focused on four core issue areas:

  • A more humane and healthy food system, with a focus on sustainable agriculture and food production, the welfare of farmed animals, and equitable access to healthy food in Chicago.
  • Sustainably managed and healthy ocean ecosystems, with a focus on scalable innovations in fisheries management, restorative aquaculture to provide ecosystem benefits and healthy seafood, and resilience strategies to protect ocean habitats against climate change.
  • Renewable energy for all, with a focus on accelerating the pace to 80% renewable penetration and planting seeds for the remaining 20%.
  • A flourishing, democratized arts sector, with a focus on enabling artists to enhance communities through visual arts and storytelling and to lead communities to connect in Chicago and the Rural Midwest.

The FOs mission is shifting markets and minds for good. TBI and FO do this by applying a range of tools including grant-making, policy advocacy, strategic communications, impact investing, and direct investing to play three key roles:

  1. Demonstrating economic viability: Showing that sustainable goods and services can be profitable for producers and accessible for consumers;
  2. Building systems: Investing in the “missing pieces” for market development; and
  3. Challenging mental models: Engaging in targeted activities that create new knowledge, change cultural norms, and make the case for change.

Given this variety of tools and roles, TBI’s partners include non-profits, researchers, alliances, governments, peer investors and donors, companies, makers, and entrepreneurs committed to a better future. TBI currently grants out about $30-$50M, expected to scale significantly over the next few years. In addition, the foundation expects to deploy substantially more resources in mission-related investments over the coming years.

FO’s other entities, while well-established in their investing activities, are still in the very early stages of defining and implementing impact strategies to complement their investment approaches and the impact aspirations of the overall office.  However, that process is now underway.

When appropriate, FO and the Principals also collaborate with the Walton Family Foundation (WFF) and other individual members of the Walton family to further shared social and environmental goals. They also rely upon many services provided by a central family office, Walton Enterprises, Inc. (WEI), based out of Bentonville, Arkansas. This office serves the needs of the broader Walton family and includes dedicated staff for the Principals.

The Opportunity

This an opportunity to serve as the inaugural learning & evaluation leader for the FO. This leader will be dedicated to helping the organization create and use data and evidence to produce insights and judgments that collectively influence the FO’s decisions.

The FO is at an important stage in its growth and is selectively growing its team in order to achieve an ambitious vision. Reporting to TBI’s President, and working across the FO, this position will be charged with developing the capabilities of the learning and evaluation function using an accessible and significant toolkit of resources and alongside a talented team.  As this leader does so, they will have full access to and collaboration with the Walton Family Foundation’s Strategic Learning and Evaluation Division (SLED). The Director will be a critical partner at a crucial time in establishing and ambitious agenda for impact.

This is a unique moment for a leader to work alongside thoughtful and strategic philanthropists who possess a deep commitment to bringing about a better future for the world.

Key Responsibilities for this leader include:

  • Shaping what FO measures and tracks:
    • Helping grantmaking and investment colleagues articulate their learning agendas, hypotheses, assumptions, and theories of change
    • Collaborating to craft performance measures for specific grants, investments, and other interventions and projects
    • Defining medium-term and long-term outcome measures related to key strategy goals
    • Identifying research needs and scoping research projects in support of learning agendas, with a focus on applied research
  • Collecting and collating data:
    • Systematically capturing, tracking, and summarizing data related to individual investment metrics, investment portfolios, and strategy-level outcomes by working closely with grantmaking and investment colleagues and as relevant directly with grantees and investees
    • Integrating performance measures and research data into existing and/or newly established databases and reporting systems, in collaboration with grantmaking, investment, planning, and technical colleagues
    • As needed, collecting data from other sources to inform strategies and theories of change for core issue areas so that colleagues can understand and adapt to important trends and ideas
  • Translating data into strategic insights and shared learning opportunities:
    • Visualizing data in the form of dashboards and other reporting tools
    • Organizing and facilitating learning conversations to help grantmaking and investment colleagues develop implications for strategies, theories of change, and grant or investment decisions and apply those insights to refine investment approaches
    • Working in coordination with the FO Director of Planning to incorporate findings into FO’s strategic planning and performance reporting across the broader family office
    • Developing and implementing knowledge sharing tools that promote learning, dialogue, and reflection across issue areas and teams
    • Fostering a culture of learning that builds the capacity of colleagues as they incorporate new methods of planning, assessment, and continual improvement into their work
    • Determining what data and insights might be relevant to share with peer funders and investors and working with colleagues to create knowledge sharing products
    • Working in coordination with the FO Director of Communications to support internal and external messaging that supports our vision and mission
Candidate Profile

The FO has a strong commitment to racial equity and inclusion in grantmaking and seeks to build a highly diverse pool from which to select the strongest candidate for this position. The most competitive candidates for the position will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills and characteristics:

Deep Quantitative Understanding

This role requires an ability for deep, strategic thinking coupled with a willingness to roll up one’s sleeves and engage directly in data gathering, analysis, and insight generation. This leader must possess sophisticated, diverse research and analytical skills and comfort in compiling and analyzing disparate quantitative and qualitative information. They should have experience in an analytical role using traditional evaluation methodologies for a variety of intervention approaches. Ideally, this leader possesses an understanding of the basic concepts of investing in order to apply their analytical lens in partnership with investment colleagues.

Communication and Translation Skills

This leader should excel at creatively exploring problems, issues, and opportunities, and then translating findings across teams into actionable insights. They should be a lateral thinker who is able to communicate ideas from different spaces, make connections between seemingly disparate ideas, and see how they fit within a broader whole. Fundamentally, this role involves supporting grantmaking and investment colleagues by crafting key performance measures and learning agendas, collecting and analyzing relevant data and ultimately, translating all of the data into insights to inform strategic decision-making. It will be critical to be able to clearly communicate concepts, research findings, issues analyses and data interpretations, making complex information easy to understand.

A Team Player

The ideal candidate will be a team player, operating with a great sense of collaboration and diplomacy, with a commitment to teamwork – treating other people with respect and dignity, regardless of position, while also resolving issues in ways that preserve and strengthen key relationships. This individual should be a key contributor to a high performing team and highly collaborative office culture and have a client service orientation. It will be important for this leader to have a high tolerance for ambiguity and to be able to work independently as they build a function from scratch.

An Entrepreneurial Spirit

Because this is an inaugural position, this should be someone with an entrepreneurial spirit who is willing and able to build and evolve this role along the way. All team members across TBI must be committed to the FO’s values of bravery and creativity; beginner’s mindset; integrity with humility; diversity and collaboration; and making the world better. It is vital that this candidate has a deep passion for TBI’s vision, mission and roles in social change.

For FO, diversity, equity, and inclusion are directly aligned with our vision of a healthy and humane planet. FO knows that a diverse workforce allows everyone to see problems in more nuanced ways, creating the thought leadership needed to achieve the organization’s mission. We actively seek to recruit, develop, and retain the most talented people from a diverse candidate pool. FO is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes people from all experiences, abilities, and perspectives to apply.


Koya Leadership Partners, a member 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.

Alison Ranney, Kara Teising, and Libby Cornelssen are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role please visit this link or email [email protected]. All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.