Organization: Obama Foundation

Location: Chicago, IL

Express Interest

About Obama Foundation:

From the very beginning, President Obama has asked all Americans to join him in the work of expanding opportunity in a global age, improving the health of our families; protecting our children from the dangers of climate change; and looking beyond military force alone to promote peace, justice, and dignity throughout the world. Above all, he asked each of us to do our part to make real America’s founding promise, that we are all created equal and free.

Together, we have made extraordinary progress in meeting these challenges. And this work will live on in the Obama Foundation, because there is still more left to do.

The Obama Foundation, created in January 2014, will be the platform for the President and First Lady’s philanthropic activities after the President leaves the White House in January 2017.  In May 2015, the Foundation announced its plans to locate the Presidential Center and headquarter the Foundation on the South Side of Chicago. The Foundation moved into offices on the South Side in early 2016.

Over the next few years, the Foundation will develop plans in collaboration with academic institutions, thought leaders, community partners and other organizations to advance the Foundation’s mission.

The Foundation’s first major project is the creation of the Presidential Center, which will house Presidential records from the Obama Administration (the archives), a museum to tell the story of the President and First Lady and Foundation-based programming. The Foundation will be responsible for all aspects of the building, construction, design and planning processes for the Center.

The Center will exist not merely as testament to the President and First Lady’s legacy, but as a dynamic, vibrant forum for civic participation, education, action and progress. The facility will reflect President Obama’s values and priorities throughout his career in public service, including expanding economic opportunity, inspiring an ethic of citizenship, and promoting peace, justice and dignity throughout the world. The Foundation anticipates negotiating a joint use agreement with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) that allows NARA to operate the archives.

To be located on Chicago’s South Side in Jackson Park, the Center will be designed by award-winning firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners, with Chicago firm Interactive Design Architects (IDEA).

The goal with the Obama Presidential Center is to connect history with action. The space will tell President Obama’s story in ways no other presidential library or museum has. And perhaps more importantly, it will deliver on the President’s timeless idea that ordinary people can gather together and make change.

For more information on the Obama Foundation, please visit

The Opportunity:

Reporting to the Executive Director, the Vice President of Finance / Chief Financial Officer (“VP/CFO”) will play a critical role in the development and implementation of the financial systems and strategies of the Foundation. This will be the first senior level finance executive at the Obama Foundation. As a member of the senior leadership team, the VP/CFO will provide financial and strategic support to the Executive Director and Board of Directors in order to support the Foundation’s long-term growth and financial viability.

The first VP/CFO will have the following responsibilities:

Financial and Operational Management

  • Develop and implement financial policies and internal controls to ensure Foundation’s financial reporting and business practices are compliant with GAAP and governmental regulations;
  • Cultivate new partnerships and maintain long-term and existing relationships with third parties such as external auditors, banks, financial service providers and other service providers and advisors;
  • Manage financial information systems including maintenance, evaluation and implementation of new accounting systems and reporting tools;
  • Manage cash flow and forecasting. Develop a reliable cash flow projection process and reporting mechanism that includes minimum cash threshold to meet operating needs;
  • Identify process for defining banking relationships. Develop and manage those relationships to initiate borrowing arrangements and other appropriate strategies to enhance cash positions;
  • Develop processes and systems for organization-wide budgeting and the implementation of budgets so as to monitor progress and present financial metrics both internally and externally;
  • Oversee the treasury function and ensure that the Treasury-related responsibilities are fulfilled;
  • Establish investment and asset management strategies, including the process to create the Foundation’s endowment and manage and track the performance of that future endowment in keeping with the policies and investment guidelines established by the investment committee;
  • Develop a contract management system, including a process for managing and ensuring compliance of multiple contracts around the development of the Presidential Center with outside vendors including facilities, real estate accounting, insurance, etc.;
  • Ensure the accuracy and reliability of the books, records and tax returns of the Foundation. Responsible for developing internal controls to preserve the integrity of the system;
  • Work closely with the real estate department to ensure proper controls are in place to manage vendor payments;
  • Responsible for all aspects of risk management strategy, including identifying areas of risk and proposing appropriate strategies to protect the Foundation; and
  • Oversee internal IT and all related activities. 


  • Collaborate with the Executive Director and senior management team to provide financial insights to support organizational growth, strategy and operational effectiveness;
  • Oversee financial structuring and operations of the Foundation;
  • Lead the annual planning and budgeting process and serve as a strategic partner to the Executive Director in the development of budgets, the annual budget presentation, and monitoring of annual operating and capital budgets;
  • Assist in the development and implementation of the Foundation’s strategic plan;
  • Oversee long-term budgetary planning and cash flow management and projections in alignment with the Foundation’s strategic plan; and
  • Engage the Foundation’s finance, audit, and investment committees, as applicable.

Reporting & Compliance

  • Responsible for the coordination of audits and proper filing of tax returns. Ensure legal and regulatory compliance of all financial functions; and
  • Ensure timeliness, accuracy and usefulness of financial and management reporting for funders, the Foundation’s Board of Directors, and other stakeholders. Oversee the preparation and communication of monthly and annual financial statements.

Team Management

  • Oversee the finance and accounting department to ensure proper maintenance of all accounting systems and functions; and
  • Hire and build a finance team.

Candidate Profile:

A proven leader with 15+ years of financial management experience, the VP/CFO will be recognized as having the highest standard for financial integrity.

The VP/CFO will possess the following qualities and characteristics:

Finance Expertise & Business Acumen

The VP/CFO is a strategic, tactical and visionary finance leader with the ability to “deep dive” into the details of the organization while staying focused on the overall financial health of the organization.  S/he must have proven experience in strategic forecasting and planning and in overseeing financial, accounting, compliance and risk management of a complex organization with multiple funding sources. As a strategic partner to the Executive Director, s/he must be able to conceptualize and analyze problems and drive solutions and external partnerships that will support the organizational growth, strategy and effectiveness. S/he will have strong quantitative and analytical skills and outstanding oral and written communication skills. S/he will also be comfortable presenting financial information to the leadership team and the Board of Directors.

Building a Nimble & Lean Team  

This executive will have a ‘roll up your sleeves’ attitude and a start-up and entrepreneurial mentality to his/her work. S/he will have a successful track record of building and leading a financial department within an organization to achieve the mission and goals of an institution. S/he will possess the ability to manage with poise in a start-up environment and through change with flexibility. S/he will have demonstrated experience establishing rapport and cultivating relationships across all levels at the organization, including partnering with an executive team, and cultivate new external partnerships. S/he will embrace the culture of the Obama Foundation, while always having an eye on how to foster best-in-class practices in a productive manner with colleagues. The VP/CFO will be an individual with unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted with highly confidential and sensitive information.

Ability to Execute for Results

The VP/CFO will be driven to develop new systems and processes and create new financial partnerships and relationships. S/he will represent the Foundation in meetings with a wide range of constituents, including auditing firms and banks, and must be able to articulate and convey the Foundation’s needs and goals. The finance executive will have a bias for ‘getting things done’ while also working with the Executive Director to establish a course of action and lead a team to achieve the Foundation’s desired strategic objectives and growth.

A Passion for the Mission

The VP/CFO will have a passion for the mission of the Obama Foundation and the legacy of the Obamas. The leader will have a commitment to effectively leading his or her teams and to serving as a strategic partner to the Executive Director to support the goals of the organization. This leader will embrace the entrepreneurial nature of this role and be excited by the opportunity to build and lead the finance function of the Foundation.

A Bachelor’s degree is required; CPA and/or advanced degree in Business Administration or Management is strongly preferred. Candidates can come from a variety of backgrounds including higher education, nonprofit, government and/or the private sector such as real estate development.


Alison P. Ranney of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please email Alison 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