The Christensen Fund (the Fund) envisions bioculturally diverse landscapes and seascapes stewarded by Indigenous Peoples and local communities with thriving governance systems, vibrant culturally-rooted stewardship practice, and secure territorial rights guided by community wellbeing and buen vivir. The Fund backs the Global Indigenous Peoples’ Movement in its efforts to advance the rights and opportunities of stewards of biocultural diversity. This new mission is rooted in a commitment to support the full and effective implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
The Indigenous Peoples’ Movement and its allies are among the most articulate, persistent and strategic advocates for biocultural diversity today. They are a critical force in challenging the anthropocentric worldview that has brought us to the brink of ecological collapse. The Christensen Fund has a 15-year history partnering directly with, investing in, and learning from Indigenous communities. To realize its new mission, the Fund has shifted its focus to specific UNDRIP themes, currently those of Lands, Territories, Resources and Governance (LTRG). Applying a rights-based approach to philanthropy, the Fund’s goal is to become a strategic philanthropic ally to the Global Indigenous Peoples’ Movement.
Founded in 1957 by Allen D. and Carmen M. Christensen, The Christensen Fund is a private grantmaking foundation contributing approximately $10M in annual grants. The founders’ global perspective, interests in non-Western art and the environment, and appreciation for creativity and education strongly influenced the Fund’s initial direction and have informed the Fund’s evolution over its sixty-year history.
The Fund’s team members represent broad cultural and geographic diversity and are based in San Francisco, CA and selected regions abroad. The Christensen Fund is currently governed by a seven-person Board of Directors which will expand to nine in 2021; two of these seats are held by Christensen family members.
The Christensen Fund’s new executive director is an inspiring leader who sees the opportunity to advance Indigenous Peoples’ rights as a calling. Whether or not you have lived experience with indigenous or marginalized communities, you bring a deep understanding of the challenges we are trying to address and the cultural competencies to help us do it successfully. You are an individual who has established your reputation as a leader in philanthropy or in a field relevant to the Fund’s work (social justice, human rights, land rights, climate change, food justice, agroecology) and will leverage your networks and passion to serve and promote our mission.
The new Executive Director will exhibit a leadership style that is highly collaborative, fosters diverse points of view and encourages constructive discussion to advance the Fund’s work. You operate with a sense of humility and an intellectual curiosity that encourages continual learning and understanding. You are a seasoned people leader who has guided a team through transition, enjoys a mentoring role, and who is creative in finding ways for employees to grow professionally. You have an ability to nurture an environment of shared vision and responsibility between the board, the executive director, and staff.
Successful candidates will possess a high level of emotional intelligence, diplomacy and a warm, approachable style that readily engenders trust; you are as comfortable in conversation with an indigenous community leader as you are giving a conference keynote before a large audience. Exceptional communication and interpersonal skills are required to be an effective advocate for our partners and a successful leader of our staff and board.
Additional attributes that will serve candidates well include high intellect; flexibility; charisma and an engaging presence; the ability to build trust, respect, and credibility with low ego; and a sense of humor. Nimbleness and flexibility are also important characteristics for the role.