About The Foundation
The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) was created in 2008 to improve the lives of individuals by strengthening social, governmental, and economic systems. LJAF’s mission is to seek evidence-based solutions that champion policy change in order to maximize opportunity and minimize injustice. LJAF addresses pressing issues related to public safety, criminal justice, health, education, and governance and partners with communities to develop solutions that lead to systemic change.
LJAF’s co-founders, Laura and John Arnold, are signers of the Giving Pledge. They are committed to giving away the majority of their wealth during their lifetime and to using their time and philanthropy to maximize opportunity and minimize injustice in our society.
With an endowment of over $2.2 billion, LJAF has a bold vision to stimulate new, creative ideas and approaches to critical problems affecting our nation. To date, LJAF has primarily supported research and has provided technical assistance in its areas of interest. As LJAF has evolved, its emphasis has shifted to policy reform as an effective way to have the greatest impact on systems and the people they serve. In fact, the Arnold team is currently in the final stages of exploring a more progressive, expansive corporate structure that will position it to better leverage its resources to drive even greater impact.
LJAF is based in Houston, one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. with a population of nearly 7 million people, making it the fourth largest metropolitan city in the U.S. An international city, Houston attracts transplants from around the world who are drawn by the booming economy, inclusive culture, and one of the lowest costs of living in the nation. In 2018, Houston was ranked the country’s second most diverse city.
Houston is home to twenty Fortune 500 companies and is a leader in the energy, manufacturing, aeronautics, transportation, and healthcare industries. Its thriving economy is complemented by rich cultural offerings, boasting major symphony, opera, ballet, and theatre companies of worldwide acclaim. Houston was recently named by GQ Magazine as “America’s Best Food City” in recognition of a vibrant food scene that offers cuisine from over 70 different countries, reflecting the diversity of its residents.
The year-round, temperate climate affords Houstonians a wide range of outdoor activities and the city’s investment in parks, biking/running trails, and bayou additions provides residents with many active lifestyle options. Visitors and new arrivals are pleasantly surprised to find that Houston has over 337 parks throughout the city and is ranked first in the nation for total green space among cities of comparable density. Families enjoy a variety of easily accessible kid-friendly events at places such as the Houston Zoo, the NASA Space Center Houston, and the Children’s Museum. For sports fans, there are numerous professional and collegiate sports teams, including the World Series-winning Houston Astros.
This is an exciting moment in LJAF’s organizational evolution. LJAF is growing its team and investment portfolio to meet its desire to tackle and solve complex inequities in this country. Considerable thought and research have been invested in designing a new, holistic, organization-wide grants management operation that will advance LJAF’s growth and bold vision. This new department will be led by the future Vice President of Grants Management.
The Vice President will have tremendous autonomy and freedom to establish and build a best-in-class centralized grants management operation to support and further advance LJAF’s important work across multiple portfolios. This is a rare opportunity to shape the grantmaking operations at the heart of an ambitious, cutting-edge, founder-led philanthropy. The Vice President of Grants Management will play an instrumental role in enabling LJAF to learn from its investments, inform its strategies, and build its capacity for collective strategic impact.
Reporting to the Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel, the Vice President will launch and build out this essential operational function and hire a small team of dynamic professionals. With a focus on the big picture and a passion for leading high-performing teams, the Vice President will develop, communicate, implement, and integrate an effective and responsive grants management operation that advances LJAF’s strategic vision and goals.
The Vice President of Grants Management will oversee the transition from systems and processes that were designed to support LJAF in its early start-up years to today’s significantly larger and more complex investment portfolio. There is a need to reimagine the people, process, and technology systems required to fuel its grantmaking and measure the organization’s impact. Current LJAF team members with grants management responsibilities are excited about and are committed to a seamless transition as they shift into full-time legal roles as the Vice President brings on a new, dedicated team of grants managers.
The Vice President will partner with team members from across the organization to support and strengthen program activities. Along with improving processes and designing and building the systems, the Vice President will help create a culture that values the importance of efficient, flexible, and technology-based grants management processes.
Key Priorities and Responsibilities
Leadership & Strategy
- Design, build, and operate a best-in-class grants management system and department that responds to current needs and anticipates future growth and increased complexity.
- Set the vision and culture for grants management in partnership with senior leadership.
- Hire, train, and manage a new, small team of grants managers.
- Develop and lead LJAF-wide training on grants management systems, policies, and procedures.
- Clarify grants management responsibilities for all LJAF program and operations staff.
- Collaborate with senior leadership to contribute to strategic decision making across LJAF, including operations, finance, knowledge management, and institutional policies.
Systems Implementation & Compliance
- Oversee development of the grants management software system (Salesforce), lead effective deployment, manage LJAF-wide adoption, and ensure ongoing value of the system.
- Develop protocols to guide data management, database coding, and ensure data integrity to support knowledge management.
- Lead with a continuous improvement orientation by integrating feedback mechanisms for early detection of problems and responsive operational improvements.
- Partner with the legal and finance teams to ensure compliance with regulations and institutional policies across all grantmaking activities and manage risk assessment.
Inspired by LJAF’s mission and compelled by the same urgency to solve a broad range of intractable social challenges that drives every member of the team, the Vice President of Grants Management is an innovative strategist who knows what is required to build and implement a best-in-class grants management operation.
This is an exciting time to join LJAF and help to scale the organization. The ideal candidate brings deep expertise leading change management initiatives along with a well-developed ability to influence teams across disciplines and functions. They are self-directed; bring a creative, outside-the-box approach to the work; and embrace risk. The Vice President must be agile in approach, yet provide concrete recommendations grounded in sound data and analysis. Command of technology and experience with new and emerging platforms is essential. Similarly, experience and fluency with diverse philanthropic giving models [501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), donor advised funds, impact investing, etc.] is a highly desirable asset.
The Vice President of Grants Management is a proven, bold leader and a highly skilled people manager who not only knows how to build and integrate a team, but also inspires deep commitment to LJAF’s mission. Candidates must be dedicated to investing in people and cultivating a team culture that engenders confidence, trust, and respect. They are natural motivators, collaborators, and coaches who excel at empowering teams and developing staff. The successful candidate is a consensus builder and problem solver who is able to easily translate between the worlds of program and operations to ensure these critical functions, which are both supported through a robust grants management system, are all working seamlessly.
Outstanding communication skills are essential for success, as is the ability to be a thoughtful and active listener. The ideal candidate is a skilled presenter, comfortable conveying complex ideas in an accessible manner, be it written or oral, formal, or informal. Candidates are flexible, yet also have the gravitas to remain resolute when it comes to improving the effectiveness of the grants management system and stretching colleagues to use it in new ways.
LJAF is a rapidly evolving and highly dynamic organization where solutions-oriented self-starters flourish. Its culture rewards those who bring a learning mindset to their work, embrace continuous improvement, and are exhilarated by change. Those who thrive are individuals who seek out opportunities to simultaneously design, build, and fly the plane. Successful candidates are both strategists and tacticians—able to define a vision and willing to roll up their sleeves to bring that vision to fruition. The Vice President of Grants Management is passionate about changing the world, comfortable being challenged to look at a problem from every conceivable angle, and confident about what they know yet humble about what they have to learn.
A minimum of 12 to 15 years of experience in grantmaking, management consulting, and/or operations is required. Experience as a grantor or grantee in diverse contexts (private foundation, public charity, university, and/or government entity) is preferred, as is knowledge of grantmaking compliance rules and regulations for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations.