President and Chief Executive Officer

Blandin Foundation | Grand Rapids, Minnesota


Ballinger Leafblad is pleased to conduct the search for President & Chief Executive Officer at Blandin Foundation, the largest rural-based and rural-focused private foundation in Minnesota.

The Foundation is the largest rural-based and rural-focused private Foundation in Minnesota and one of only a handful nationally. It provides approximately $12 million in grants each year and has nationally recognized community leadership development, broadband and other programs. The Foundation also convenes rural community leaders around critical issues such as student success, diversity, equity and inclusion, and economic development. The Foundation works throughout rural Minnesota and maintains a special relationship with its home area.

In establishing the Foundation, Charles K. Blandin emphasized flexibility to ensure it could adapt to changing times with an underlying philosophy that its work should lead to “the betterment of mankind.” Blandin established the Foundation in 1941 to aid and promote Grand Rapids and the surrounding area.

The Foundation’s management and Board of Trustees work diligently to ensure that Charles K. Blandin’s legacy is served through wise investment and community focused leadership programs, meaningful public policy engagement, and grant-making.

The legacy of Charles K. Blandin’s endowment truly shines when paired with the passion of individuals within these communities. Thousands of volunteers, social service professionals, business people, public officials, emerging leaders, families, educators, peers and others representing these communities are partnering to create a better rural Minnesota.

Blandin Foundation has proudly made its home in Itasca County (north central Minnesota) for more than 75 years. This region was the “wood basket” for the Grand Rapids-based Blandin Paper Company when it was owned by Foundation founder Charles K. Blandin in the early 20th Century. Today the Foundation partners with these communities as they design and claim vibrant futures. The Foundation invests at least 60 percent of its grant-making in the Itasca County area annually in addition to other programming. While no longer legally affiliated in any way with the paper company, the communities of, and bordering, Itasca County continue to be the primary focus of the Foundation’s resources. This includes several communities in the Leech Lake Ojibwe Nation.

The Foundation’s work in the home area is focused on building strong relationships for all Itasca communities to be vibrant, thriving and healthy. The Foundation supports a wide spectrum of partners and initiatives, with emphasis given to those based on collaboration and people facing inequities.

Charles K. Blandin Foundation, the formal name of Blandin Foundation, is a private foundation based in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. It is guided by the terms of the will of founder Charles K. Blandin, who passed away in 1958 following distinguished careers in education, publishing and paper-making, including owning the Blandin Paper Company in Grand Rapids. Upon his death, Mr. Blandin directed that his assets be used to strengthen rural communities, especially the Grand Rapids area.

To accomplish this vision, Mr. Blandin established the foundation in 1941. The Charles K. Blandin Residuary Trust was established in 1958 as a legally separate entity responsible for investing and growing the assets of the endowment in perpetuity. The Foundation is the sole beneficiary of the Residuary Trust.

Blandin Paper Company was sold by the Trust in 1977.  Today, Finland-based UPM owns the paper company. Blandin Foundation continues to be private and independent of the paper company.

The Foundation has distributed more than $400 million since it was founded in 1941. As of December 31, 2018 the total combined assets of the Trust and Foundation stood at $420 million. Grants in the local Grand Rapids/Itasca giving area currently average 74 percent with an average minimum of 60 percent to be directed to the Foundation’s giving area.

Detailed information about Blandin Foundation’s financials can be found here:

Blandin Foundation believes nothing truly worthwhile is ever easy. At Blandin Foundation, the core of all work is based on the belief that real communities are built on hard work, including the hard work of leadership, of genuine inclusion, of reaching across boundaries and building lasting connections. On commitments—families facing hardship together, individuals prepared to make a stand when it matters most. And on belonging—that indelible sense of place called home.

That’s what Blandin Foundation is all about. Minnesotans imagining, leading and growing healthy, inclusive, vibrant communities. The team at Blandin sees a world of possibilities in the state’s rural communities and is especially committed to the Itasca County area.

As stewards of the Blandin Foundation legacy, Blandin Foundation commits to a leadership role on these deeply held beliefs:

INCLUSION IS VITAL. Recognizing all people, voices and worldviews as essential to healthy communities. RELATIONSHIPS MATTER. Encouraging courageous dialogue, trust, and reciprocity among partners to create positive change. INTEGRITY IS CORE. Actions are guided by honesty, transparency and trustworthiness.

The team at Blandin Foundation has invested deeply in developing its intercultural competency and applying a diversity, equity and inclusion lens to its work over time. The staff believe in the power of inclusion and have made it central to who they are.

The Blandin Foundation team strives to address racial, socio-economic and other systemic barriers that have led to marginalization and works to act as an advocate and voice for social justice. The organization works to be a trusted partner and advocate to strengthen rural Minnesota communities, especially the Grand Rapids area, knowing that communities cannot be strong, healthy and vibrant unless they are working for, and safe for, every person. This spirit guides the Foundation’s vision, mission and values.

Since 2007, particularly, the Foundation board and staff have been working intentionally on bringing diverse perspectives into the organization, and developing internal intercultural competence.  This learning has fundamentally impacted the culture of the organization as well as the work the staff has done and will do over time. The Foundation is committed to continuing its own learning, working across all differences that make a difference, and helping rural communities and their leaders do the same. The Foundation is committed to helping rural communities address structural barriers that reduce opportunities for all residents to thrive.

To this end, Blandin Foundation staff members have used planful training, assessments (the industry-leading IDI) and courageous conversations to further this work. The organization has been intentional about recruiting diverse board members and staff and continues its journey toward diversity, equity and inclusion on a daily basis.

Blandin Foundation is seeking a CEO who can continue to lead the Foundation on its journey of learning and working to strengthen inclusion and equity within the organization and in all rural Minnesota communities. Please reference Blandin Foundation’s Theory of Philanthropy here:

The culture at Blandin Foundation is positive and collaborative.

Staff members describe the culture as:

  • Supportive/relationships matter
  • Family friendly/person-centered
  • Casual/authentic
  • Welcoming/fun
  • Pride in work/view a vocation, not just a job
  • Tolerant/learning environment
  • Non-hierarchical/team-based

Blandin Foundation provides services and programs, that, in addition to grants, further the mission and vision of the organization.

Healthy community is a place to live where all people can meet their economic, social, physical, cultural and spiritual needs, work together for the common good, and participate in creating their future.

Since 1985, Blandin’s community leadership programs have trained more than 7,000 leaders who reside in approximately 600 rural Minnesota communities. The leadership program includes week long retreats, workshops, and ongoing support for participants.

The programs have engaged with partners across the state in working with rural communities and leaders from all sectors to not only carry out training, but evolve programs to reflect current rural developments and feedback from participants.

Program and grantmaking details may be viewed on the complete position profile

Job Summary

The President and CEO of Blandin Foundation is responsible for providing leadership and management to the overall staff, program and administrative activities of the organization. The President and CEO works closely with the Board to develop and implement the Foundation’s vision, mission and strategies and is responsible for the effective use of financial, human and other assets of the Foundation. They will represent the Foundation at local, statewide and national levels and will promote and foster general public awareness and understanding of the Foundation, its mission, and its strategies. The President and CEO will work to maintain recognition of Blandin Foundation as an outstanding model of philanthropy on a state, local, and national level.

Reports To

The President and CEO reports directly to the Board of Trustees. The officers of Vice President, Director of Administrative Services and Director of Finance report to the President and CEO. A total of 33 people work in the organization.



  • Organizational Leadership
  • Develop and maintain relationships within the local community.
  • Develop and maintain collaborations and partnerships with other foundations, government and key organizations both within Minnesota and nationally

Program Leadership

  • Provide leadership to the Senior Management Team in the completion of annual program planning, goal setting and budgeting.
  • Present annual organizational work plan and budget to the Board and ensure that budgets are within the financial distribution targets established by the Board.
  • Ensure that grant requests presented to the Board fall within the mission, vision and strategy established by the Board and are presented succinctly with a staff recommendation.

Staff Leadership

  • Provide visionary and innovative leadership to the staff at Blandin Foundation.
  • Maintain a leadership style focused on growth, development, goal setting and coaching.
  • Ensure the Foundation has a sufficient staffing level of competent and well-trained personnel to effectively implement the vision and goals established by the Board.
  • Ensure that management systems and policies are in place to hire, develop, and retain team members with the necessary skills and experience to accomplish organizational goals.
  • Develop and maintain an inclusive working environment and positive, team-oriented, inclusive organizational culture.
  • Ensure each staff member has an appropriate professional development plan.

Strategic Leadership

  • Ensure that a long-term strategic plan exists informed by the Senior Leadership Team input and approved by the Board.


  • Ensure that the Chair of the Board and Board committees receive requested information and administrative assistance to develop meeting agendas and conduct productive and efficient meetings.
  • Ensure that the Board is informed in a timely manner regarding significant issues, events, opportunities and challenges relating to the Foundation and implementation of the mission.


Blandin Foundation seeks the following skills and experience in the fully-qualified candidate:


  • Executive leadership experience at a complex organization
  • Rural leadership experience
  • Experience in organizational visioning and strategic planning
  • Advocacy and community organizing
  • Senior management and organizational leadership, preferably holding executive or senior management positions.
  • Public speaking and community outreach
  • Ambassadorship and relationship building with stakeholders at all levels
  • Leadership of equity and inclusion efforts with a preference for experience with the IDI (Intercultural Development Inventory)
  • Community building/economic development
  • Advocacy/partnerships with Tribal Governments and a commitment to nurturing those relationships
  • Experience/expertise in leadership development, organizational development, staff professional development and board governance/development
  • Program conceptualization, design, development, delivery, evaluation and assessment experience


  • Budgeting, planning and identifying new revenue sources
  • Developing relationships across socioeconomic lines and a commitment to engaging low income people in ongoing conversations for the betterment of rural Minnesota
  • Cultural competence and ability to nurture and build relationships with diverse communities
  • Embrace systems change for equitable outcomes

Strategic Leadership

  • Willingness to serve as an active advocate among Indigenous communities
  • Clear understanding of economic development issues
  • Networking abilities with other nonprofits, organizations and leaders


  • Be a good listener
  • Possess a genuine sense of humility
  • Be willing to leverage the skills of others and develop the Blandin Foundation team
  • Demonstrate a passion for rural communities and their unique challenges/opportunities
  • Be an enthusiastic, outward facing ambassador for the Foundation and build new relationships
  • Serve as a “host” to the community and nurture a welcoming environment
  • Serve as an advocate for social justice and equity
  • Serve as an active leader in the community and help prepare the community to embrace change
  • Be a coalition builder
  • Be intentionally inclusive
  • Be an innovative thought leader
  • Possess lived experience in rural communities
  • Be realistic and pragmatic, yet willing to be creative and have vision


The compensation package for the President & CEO is very competitive and includes the opportunity to participate in the Foundation’s benefit package.


Blandin Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and believes each individual is entitled to equal employment opportunities without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, national origin, age, veteran status, religious beliefs, or disability. The right of equal employment opportunity extends to recruiting, hiring selection, transfer, promotion, training and all other conditions of employment.

View the complete profile:

How to Apply

For additional information or to apply, please contact:

Marcia Ballinger, PhD


Holly Kelsey-Henry
Vice President

Blandin Foundation