The Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives.
The Lemelson Foundation is a private family foundation based in Portland, Oregon, with a unique focus on improving lives through invention. Established by prolific US inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife Dorothy in the early 1990s, and guided today by the Lemelson family, The Lemelson Foundation has investment assets of around $370 million and an annual budget of approximately $18 million. All told, the Foundation has provided over $210 million in grants and other investments to hundreds of organizations around the world.
We believe that invention is essential for creating the future we all want, and we need the people and systems to make that possible. We work to strengthen the invention ecosystem and empower inventors to solve the biggest local, regional, and global challenges and opportunities of our time, whether it’s ensuring equal access to a healthy life, providing clean water and sanitation, developing clean energy alternatives and cost-effective medical devices, rethinking how the world grows, shares and consumes its food, or building a strong and stable economy. We work to create a pathway for invention by inspiring and educating the next generation of inventors, and cultivating the entrepreneurial environments needed to support invention-based businesses. The ultimate goal of our programs is to build a more resilient economy in the US and address the needs of the poor in developing countries.
We approach our work using a three-part framework we call impact inventing:
- Inventions should have positive social impact;
- Inventions should be environmentally responsible—from the materials and processes used through final products that go to market; and
- Business models should become financially self-sustaining.
The Lemelson Foundation has created an internal culture of collaboration, continuous learning, and innovation. An entrepreneurial environment with huge flexibility and opportunities for impact has allowed the small team of 11 to create an outsized presence for the Foundation. Commitment to diversity is one of The Lemelson Foundation’s core values as we work to foster an inclusive work environment. We cannot do our work without collaboration among people with diverse skill sets and backgrounds.
In the spirit of inquiry, learning and collaboration, all Foundation team members have the opportunity to periodically accompany Program Officers on site visits and engage directly with grantees and partners for ongoing exposure to the work of the Foundation.
As a member of the senior leadership team, together with the Executive Director and Senior Director of Strategy, the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer (CFAO) plays a key role driving the Foundation’s overall success toward achieving its mission. The CFAO directs the Foundation’s financial operations, administrative operations, informational technology (IT), and program-related investments as well as actively participating in the Foundation’s planning, management, strategic planning, strategy implementation, and external relationship management. The Lemelson team provides thought leadership in its focus areas and more broadly in the field of philanthropy; the CFAO will also carry this mantle, contributing to the field and bringing best practices into the Foundation.
The CFAO ensures that business practices are efficient and support the Foundation’s strategy, and that strong administrative systems enable the work of the Foundation and its employees. Overseeing the Foundation’s financial operations will include: accounting, financial planning, tax planning and tax return preparation, investment oversight, grants management, and Program-Related Investments (PRIs). Leading the administrative operations will include: information technology (IT), human resources, and facilities management. The CFAO will also provide guidance for general policies and procedures, contract administration, corporate insurance, legal matters (in consultation with legal counsel) and related areas of responsibility.
The Lemelson Foundation has assets of $370 million and an annual budget of between $18 and $20 million; including a portfolio of multi-year PRIs. The CFAO, in partnership with the Executive Director, will work closely with external investment advisors who provide investment recommendations to the Board of Directors; however, the Board has the ultimate authority for asset investment decisions. The documentation of investments, flow of funds into and from investments, and tax treatment of investments are overseen by the CFAO. The Foundation is committed to values-based investing and the CFAO will work with partners to promote impact reporting best practices with respect to all investments, including PRIs and Mission-Related investments
Reporting to the Executive Director, the CFAO provides direct supervision to the Director of Grants Management and the Finance and Grants Accountant. Because the Lemelson team is small and well-integrated, the CFAO will work with colleagues across the Foundation and engage with internal working groups and projects related to strategy development and implementation, IT, as well as in support of setting the annual management and programmatic priorities of the Foundation.
The position is based in Portland, Oregon and will include domestic and international travel.
- In partnership with the leadership team, share responsibility for promoting and maintaining a positive organizational culture.
- Work closely with the Executive Director and Senior Director of Strategy to align strategic priorities, business practices, and operations.
- Lead strategic and annual planning processes for finance and operations; actively contribute to cross-team planning.
- Remain current with private foundation best practices in business, investments, and operations and offer recommendations to the Executive Director and Board as appropriate.
- Represent the Foundation through public speaking engagements, interviews, conferences, workshops, committees, task forces, and other meetings of relevant affinity groups and communities of practice.
- Develop, cultivate, lead, and manage a high-performing, high-impact team.
- Provide oversight and guidance for the accounting, auditing, budgeting and reporting of all Foundation financial activity and supervise the Finance and Grants Accountant.
- Manage the auditing process and communicate the results to internal stakeholders.
- Conduct research to ensure policies and procedures reflect current industry practices and regulations.
- Coordinate preparation of all required tax returns with staff, tax accountants and legal counsel.
- Work with the Executive Director to prepare and administer the Foundation’s annual administrative and grantmaking budgets.
- Oversee development of all financial planning, budgets and related reports.
- Manage financial projection models related to the annual five percent grant payout, with subsequent analysis and review of the results with the Executive Director.
- Ensure accurate and up-to-date documentation of Foundation finance-related policies and procedures.
- Maintain current knowledge of tax and other laws and regulations affecting private foundations and lead related Foundation planning, training and compliance.
- Prepare cash flow needs analysis for administrative expenses, grant payments, and capital calls, and review with investment consultant to ensure adequate liquidity.
- Review the investment information and schedules for all tax returns and annual audit and book investment results.
- Oversee investment consultant’s timely processing of capital calls and ensuring distributions are accurately reconciled.
- Work in partnership with investment consultants to oversee presentation of investment results to Board of Directors and implementation of investment decisions approved by the Board, in consultation with legal counsel.
- Ensure up-to-date documentation and compliance with Foundation investment-related policies and procedures and compliance related to Disqualified Persons.
Grants & Contracts Management
- Provide oversight and guidance to the grants management function and supervise the Director of Grants Management.
- Review all contract terms before issue.
- Ensure compliance with all Foundation grants management policies and procedures and up-to-date documentation of related policies and procedures in consultation with legal counsel.
- Ensure appropriate records management related to Foundation’s grant agreements, contracts and supporting materials.
- Oversee relationship with legal counsel in support of Foundation’s grantmaking, contracts, and contract practices and policies.
Program-Related Investments (PRIs)
- Lead the Foundation process for investment review of potential and established PRIs.
- Partner with program leads to source, review, recommend and manage PRIs.
- Maintain knowledge of best practices in field of PRI investing through research and active participation in relevant professional conferences and meetings.
- Ensure compliance with PRI investment policies and procedures and maintain up to date documentation in partnership with program leads and in consultation with legal counsel.
- Track PRI interest or dividend payments and principal repayments or other distributions and monitor financial covenants for PRIs.
- Responsible for all aspects relating to the vision, planning, development and support of technology systems and applications for the Foundation including emerging technologies and digital trends that are most relevant to the Foundation’s evolving needs.
- As strategic lead for all IT systems, deliver seamless, reliable technology to enable staff productivity.
- Coordinate with systems leads (team members) to ensure quality and coordination across the Foundation’s IT systems.
- Establish and monitor cybersecurity policies to protect the Foundation’s technological systems, data and mitigation of reputation risk.
- Liaise with IT vendors and consultants to select optimal systems, provide training to ensure user adoption, ensure documentation of policies and procedures, and serve as Systems Administrator for core IT systems such as Office 365, telecommunications, audiovisual or other as needed.
- Oversee all HR functions and coordinate closely with the Executive Director on hiring, termination, annual performance appraisals and compensation-related procedures.
- Maintain knowledge of HR best practices in the philanthropic community, including recruiting and compensation, and manage relationship with HR consultants.
- Coordinate renewal and replacement (as needed) of medical, dental, life and short & long term disability insurance while managing service relationship with benefits consultant.
- Recommend appropriate changes to employee policies and procedures and maintain updated employee handbook and administrative policies and procedures handbook in consultation with legal counsel.
- Coordinate all facility-related requests for the Foundation office space including repairs, renovations or moves as well as communication with landlord.
- Manage all service contracts on office equipment and telephone/internet service.
- Ensure adequate coverage for commercial liability and directors’ & officers’ liability insurance, and periodically review appropriate insurance coverage, types and amounts.
- Oversee maintenance of Board minutes and other corporate records of the Foundation.
The Chief Financial and Administrative Officer is enthusiastic and passionate about The Lemelson Foundation’s mission and motivated by the opportunity to play a leading role supporting the next generation of impact inventors and the strengthening of the invention entrepreneurship ecosystem in both the US and developing countries. Every Foundation employee should feel a deep personal connection to our work and embrace our commitment to positive social change, economic growth, and environmental responsibility. The ideal employee has the motivation to be a key contributor and leader within the organization, bringing a positive influence to our culture of collaboration, creativity and continuous improvement.
The CFAO is a confident, mature, and seasoned leader who routinely demonstrates sound judgment and a high degree of discretion and tact. They are an innovative and strategic thinker who has a proactive and forward-looking orientation, and the capacity to identify trends and anticipate changes that might impact the Foundation. The ability to articulate a clear vision for the Foundation’s finance and administrative operations while simultaneously ensuring a seamless integration between these functions and the Foundation’s programs is essential. The CFAO will be the team’s “go to” person for assessing the legal and business factors that inform decision making.
A talented people leader, the CFAO derives a sense of accomplishment and professional pride from helping others achieve their goals, be they subordinates or superiors. They know how to empower a team of high performing direct reports while simultaneously providing the right balance of leadership and mentorship.
The preferred candidate is humble with the self-awareness and comfort to set ego aside and focus on the mission and team. With strong interpersonal skills and an approachable style, the CFAO is a collaborative team player who is able to influence broadly and successfully within an organization. An upbeat bridge-builder, the successful candidate fosters a positive, professional atmosphere and connects across issues and functions actively developing trusting relationships up, down, and across and organization. Considered credible and reliable, the CFAO effectively cultivates relationships with diverse partners including grantees, peer foundation professionals, legal counsel, and consultants. Cultural sensitivity and cultural competence are essential.
Ten to fifteen years of senior operations leadership experience with a minimum of five years as a CFO (or equivalent responsibility) is required, preferably in a foundation with assets of $200M+. A broad business background working at a senior level across multiple functional areas such as financial planning, investment management, human resources, IT and operations is strongly desired. Experience in a senior financial management role working closely with executive staff and a board of directors is preferred.
Candidates will be considered from diverse backgrounds that might include nonprofit (grantmaking foundation, NGO, social enterprise) or the private sector. Previous experience working with Program Related Investments (PRIs) and/or in developing countries is an advantage. A bachelor’s degree is required with a relevant advanced degree and/or a CPA certification strongly preferred.