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Opening: CEO

Publication date: 
October, 2019

Position: CEO
Organization: The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation
Location: Austin, TX

Organization Summary

The Texas-based Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation (CGMF) is a grantmaking foundation that seeks innovative, sustainable solutions for human and environmental problems. The Foundation works as an engine of change in both policy and practice in Texas, supporting high-impact initiatives at the nexus of environmental protection, social equity, and economic vibrancy.

Since its inception in 1978, the late George P. Mitchell and Cynthia Woods Mitchell, and the Foundation, have distributed or pledged an estimated $750 million in grants to myriad causes, programs, and institutions. The Foundation’s funding priorities focus on sustainability issues in the state of Texas, issues that require actionable solutions driven by knowledge, creativity, and rationality—elements that formed the pragmatic yet innovative approach of the Foundation’s benefactors. In 2018, the Foundation’s grantmaking programs included Clean Energy, Galveston, Land Conservation, Shale Sustainability, Sustainability Education, and Water.

CGMF has six full-time staff based in the Austin office and receives support from the Mitchell Family Corp based in The Woodlands, Texas. It is governed by an all-family Board of Directors. The CEO will be based in Austin, Texas.

The Opportunity

George Mitchell, born in Galveston and the son of Greek immigrant parents, led a lifelong career of persistent innovation in the natural gas industry, during which he pioneered the technology that enabled shale gas to become economically viable. Alongside his notable accomplishments in the oil and gas sectors, George Mitchell upheld a deep commitment to sustainability. Cynthia and George Mitchell’s respected legacy in Texas, and across the country, has enabled the Foundation to become a trusted partner in navigating the complex network of stakeholders inherent to working on environmental and socio-economic issues in Texas.

The Foundation is uniquely positioned to convene and collaborate with unexpected partners; serving as a credible bridge across issues, perspectives, and policies; and bringing an inclusive, collective-impact approach. The new CEO will join a Foundation that is working deeply in Texas, but engaged at a national level to share progress and lessons learned from their work in the state as well as to build awareness of key, strategic investments that can be made to advance environmental sustainability.

This is a rare opportunity to help shape the trajectory of the Foundation’s philanthropic aims, creating and implementing the necessary plans in partnership with staff to carry out the organization’s objectives in the coming years. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the CEO will collaborate with family and staff to bring the Foundation into its next phase of impact by building on an exceptional reputation and programmatic track record of philanthropic investment. While CGMF’s grantmaking focuses exclusively on Texas, its footprint extends beyond state borders. The Foundation uses multiple philanthropic levers—including strategic grantmaking and communications, convenings, incubation, and collective action—to make significant progress on environmental practices, policies, and community impact.

The CEO Position

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the CEO will partner with family and staff to bring the Foundation into its next phase of impact by building on an exceptional reputation and programmatic track record of philanthropic investment. The Foundation uses multiple philanthropic levers—including strategic grantmaking and communications, convenings, incubation, and collective action—to make significant progress on environmental practices, policies, and community impact. This is a rare opportunity to help shape the trajectory of the Foundation’s philanthropic aims, creating and implementing the necessary plans with staff to carry out the organization’s objectives in the coming years.

Key Priorities

Board Engagement & Family Stewardship

  • Spend the essential time building and fostering relationships with the Mitchell family in order to deeply understand the distinguished legacy of George and Cynthia Mitchell’s philanthropy and family history. The CEO will authentically engage the family, honoring each individual’s personal commitment to the mission of the Foundation and ensuring a strong platform for the family to collaborate and contribute.
  • Proactively inspire, support, and engage the next generation of family members in the field of philanthropy and the Foundation’s work, specifically.

Strategic Leadership

  • Champion and lead a culture of forward momentum on the established strategic plan for the Foundation, encouraging bold and innovative ideas that will advance its mission and promote a spirit of continuous improvement and adaptation to the evolving needs of the field.
  • Build on and support the deep expertise and networks at both the Board and staff levels to create partnerships that will catalyze nonprofit, philanthropic, policy, and private market efforts across Texas.
  • Leverage the Foundation’s existing political capital and strong bi-partisan credibility across all program areas to articulate a clear voice for the Foundation’s stance on state-wide issues.

Organizational Management

  • Partner with the Board of Directors to continually advance good governance and effective committee structures, looking for opportunities to strengthen, clarify, and streamline Foundation practices.
  • Lead and manage a high-performing and highly committed team in Texas as well as external consultants, fostering an innovative and forward-thinking work culture.
  • Guide and maintain strategic communication channels for the Board and staff, ensuring effective engagement and collaboration.

Ideal Candidate Profile

CGMF seeks an inspiring, compassionate, and values-driven leader to partner with the Mitchell family to capture and distill the Founders’ vision, while honing the focus and clarity of the Foundation’s strategy. The CEO must demonstrate a genuine connection to and passion for the work of the Foundation in the state of Texas. A true collaborator with the Board and family, the CEO will steward their philanthropic strategies as well as lead the Foundation in a way that is an authentic reflection of their interests, effectively moving the organization into its next phase of impact.

The new CEO will exhibit a leadership style that is driven by active inquiry, learning, and confidence of intellect that thrives by creatively synthesizing ideas and input from multiple sources. Candidates must be comfortable considering disparate points of view, encouraging constructive discussion to determine how issues should be addressed, and integrating them as appropriate to drive innovation and progress. Nurturing an environment where shared vision and responsibility amongst the Board, the CEO, and staff is essential.

The successful candidate will have an entrepreneurial mindset, opportunistic rigor, and appreciation for disruption, yet also be able to apply proven experience and knowledge in practical ways. Operating with a systems approach to philanthropic intervention and ensuring ideas are put into action, the CEO will spearhead initiatives to build capacity and operations to deliver on the Foundation’s priorities.

At times, this role will represent the Foundation’s interests to a broad array of external audiences and stakeholders. The CEO will be a visible leader in the community, capable of identifying and building partnerships across government, philanthropy, policy groups, NGOs, and others, and bringing together co-funders and coalitions that will advance and promote the Foundation’s work. As such, the CEO must be an exceptional listener, communicator, and facilitator who is effective at building consensus and trust. The ideal candidate will bring a high-degree of emotional intelligence and an ability to foster individual, purposeful relationships with members of the Board, staff, and external partners and stakeholders. The CEO must also operate with a sense of humility and an intellectual curiosity that fosters continual learning and understanding.

Candidates should have an appreciation for and grounding in being data-driven and scientifically-minded in their approach to decision-making and analysis of issues. 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.

Minimum Qualificaations

Candidates must have a significant track record of progressively responsible executive leadership experience with a proven history of successfully leading and navigating organizations through growth and strategic evolution. The highest levels of integrity, honesty, and ethics are required. Familiarity with the social, environmental, and political landscapes in Texas is highly desirable, and a deep commitment to and passion for science and sustainability is essential. A career that spans multiple sectors, including the social sector and family philanthropy, is preferred, but not required.

The CEO will be based in Austin, Texas.

To Be Considered

The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and invites individuals who bring a diversity of culture, experience, and ideas to apply. To be considered, please submit your resume and a cover letter articulating your interest in this position and the Foundation through Waldron’s Candidate Web Portal.

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