The Organization

Ballmer Group supports initiatives and organizations aimed at improving economic mobility for children and families in the United States. We envision a country where the promise of the American Dream – that every child has an equal opportunity to build a better life – is within reach. We make grants and collaborate with partners in order to scale the nation’s most effective interventions, accelerate place-based, neighborhood interventions, and improve the efficacy and efficiency of public systems and programs that support low-income communities.  

Our Approach

A thriving social services sector is vital to advancing economic mobility in the U.S., and yet the core health of the strongest nonprofits is challenged by restricted private funding and government contracts that often do not cover the full cost of services. To help address this, we are making unrestricted long-term (5-10 year) grants to leading national and regional organizations with demonstrated impact that align with our interest in improving economic mobility for children and families.

Many of the services that support the most vulnerable populations are primarily publicly funded. We leverage private philanthropy and partner with government to incent more impactful use of public dollars that target the people who need it most. We encourage public agencies to identify and achieve better outcomes for our neediest citizens, and we build advocacy capacity in policy areas that influence economic mobility.

Poverty is often concentrated in neighborhoods, many of which have suffered from systemic underinvestment. In the last two decades, community efforts have increasingly grown to provide connected, wrap-around support to individuals and families that extends cradle-to-career. We accelerate existing neighborhood transformations across the country by convening key partners, empowering local leadership, and supporting the use of proven programs and interventions.

Because the conditions of poverty are complex, no single intervention or philanthropic investment will solve them. We fund proven interventions for children and families at various life stages, including early childhood, school entry and progression, healthy adolescence, and stable family formation. We lend our support to strengthen partnerships between government, philanthropy, and the social services sector because more can be accomplished when we unite unique strengths and diverse perspectives. We use data and evidence to make strategic decisions that leverage opportunities for those disproportionately likely to remain in poverty, and those outcomes help to inform our next steps.

Ballmer Group is co-chaired by philanthropist and civic activist Connie Ballmer and her husband Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft and owner of the LA Clippers.  

The Opportunity

The Executive Director for Detroit is a newly created role reflecting Ballmer Group’s commitment to improving economic mobility in a city where the Ballmer family has deep roots. Reporting to the Managing Director and Founders, and working closely with other regional offices (LA and Washington state) and philanthropy colleagues at the Bellevue headquarters, the Executive Director will establish Ballmer Group’s presence in Detroit, build out and implement a strategy, and extend its social investing in the region.

Key Priorities and Responsibilities

Leadership and Strategy

  • Develop a strategic plan that advances Ballmer Group’s philanthropic investments in Detroit and aligns with the work of regional activities in LA County and Washington state.
  • Serve as Ballmer Group’s representative in Detroit, cultivating relationships and partnerships with nonprofits, community leaders, government officials, funders and other key stakeholders. 
  • Lead special projects and initiatives identified by the Managing Director and Founders.

Program Management and Team Collaboration 

  • Handle all aspects of program management including partnerships, grantmaking, funding collaboratives and systems-level initiatives.
  • Manage the full grant process for the region, from building a pipeline of potential investments to vetting projects and organizations to preparing docket materials and advancing proposals through the approval process.
  • As a member of a multi-site, startup organization that values shared learning, generate opportunities for Ballmer Group to collaborate and leverage cross-program knowledge, lessons learned, successful practices, and strengths.
  • Partner with program team to create and maintain management and reporting tools to inform leadership on the developments, recommendations, and workflow demands across the program areas.

Operations and Fiscal Management 

  • Oversee the day-to-day operations in Detroit, including eventual hiring and management of program and support staff.
  • Create streamlined systems for organizational workflow, managing priorities, and handling time-sensitive requests.
  • Develop and manage a multi-million dollar budget for Detroit grants, initiatives, and partnerships.
  • Prepare internal financial and other key performance indicator reports.
  • Liaise with outside financial and legal advisors to institutionalize sound fiscal management and foundation stewardship policies and practices.

Ideal Candidate

We are seeking a seasoned, strategic, and action-oriented leader with established roots in the Detroit community, strong networks within and across the public, private, and social services sectors, and a deep knowledge of the local context, neighborhoods, and key players. Experience engaging with government and civic leaders, as well as knowledge of the role of policy and advocacy is key. The ideal candidate is a self-starter who shares a passion for Ballmer Group’s philanthropic mission, thrives in an entrepreneurial, results-oriented culture, and has a strong track record as a leader of and partner to innovative, mission-driven organizations.

The successful candidate has the agility to pivot from big picture strategy to rolling up his/her sleeves to implement at a tactical level. S/he is a nimble generalist with the knowledge and capacity to juggle and advance multiple initiatives across a broad range of issues simultaneously, yet possesses the curiosity and resourcefulness to rapidly get up to speed on what s/he doesn’t know. Ballmer Group embraces risk for the opportunity it provides to test innovative approaches and learn what works as well as what doesn’t; we are seeking candidates who are self-aware and able to reflect on lessons learned to inform future work.

The Executive Director is a relationship-driven individual who easily establishes rapport and trust with diverse audiences and who has a reputation for leading through influence tempered by humility. S/he possesses exceptional written/verbal communication and interpersonal skills and is a strong team player able to easily collaborate with colleagues in multiple US locations. While initially the Executive Director will be the sole employee of Ballmer Group’s Detroit office, experience identifying, hiring, and managing talent will be necessary to accommodate anticipated growth in investments and related activities. Important personal characteristics include a collaborative nature, sound judgment, profound commitment to social change, and a good sense of humor. Critical to success in this role is a belief in the value of human dignity, and empathy for people struggling with intergenerational poverty and its related challenges.

Minimum Qualifications

All successful candidates must have a strong social impact track record from a private firm, foundation, public agency, nonprofit organization or, ideally, some combination thereof. A minimum of 10 years of progressively responsible leadership is required. Candidates must also bring financial acumen and data analysis expertise to drive decisions. Experience as a community practitioner or familiarity with the systems that support economic mobility is a distinctive advantage. A deep commitment to Detroit combined with knowledge of the community and key leaders is required.

Candidates should hold a bachelor’s degree or have equivalent experience. The position is based in Detroit, Michigan with frequent and regular travel to Bellevue, Washington where Ballmer Group headquarters is located.