Hidden Leaf’s story: Founded in 1988, Hidden Leaf Foundation was the inspiration of humanitarian, businessman and philanthropist, David (Dave) Brown. Dave undertook a decades-long pursuit of spiritual discipline and awareness that both informed his own evolving values and priorities, and generated the progressive ideals that guide the Foundation’s philanthropy today. His personal journey—itself a profound example of how individual awakening can lead to social transformation—inspired Hidden Leaf’s creation and its mission: to expand inner awareness within social change organizations in order to enhance the effectiveness of the progressive movement.
Initially, Hidden Leaf (HL) was managed by the board—Dave and his three daughters; in 2002 Tara Brown stepped in as HL’s first Director, working half time. The Foundation’s early grants lent crucial credibility to social change leaders wanting to bring awareness practices (such as centering, meditation, deep listening, yoga, mind-body work, and others) into their workplaces. HL’s investment enabled them to experiment, learn, and begin to articulate the impact of these practices and, over the last two decades, has helped build the field that we now call “Transformative Social Change.”
Today, through the efforts of Hidden Leaf’s many partners and allies, phenomenal trainers and consultants are supporting hundreds of frontline organizations to make radical changes in how they engage with each other and with both allies and adversaries. The results have been truly transformational as scores of organizations give at least partial credit for increasing their impact and wellbeing to inner practices—groups including National Domestic Workers Alliance, Stand.earth, Forward Together, Greenpeace, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, Partnership for Working Families, Rainforest Action Network, and SCOPE.
Hidden Leaf itself has also thrived. From awarding 11 grants for a total of $150,000 in 2002, HL made 36 grants totaling $1 million in 2017. An endowed organization since Dave’s passing in 2013, grantmaking will likely increase to $1.5 million per year over the next three to five years. After 15 years at the helm, Tara is stepping down as Director, though she will continue to serve on the board alongside her sisters, Karie and Kristen. Hidden Leaf’s two other dedicated staff members will stay on to continue their good work under new leadership. Staff and board alike are committed to honoring Dave’s legacy and Tara’s leadership while partnering with the new ED to boldly steward HL through this next critical phase.
The time is ripe to strengthen the Foundation and the field. Now that transformative practices have taken root, HL intends to share more stories about what works and why, engage more partners and funders, invest in new tools and approaches, and deepen the collective understanding of how transformative social change can facilitate powerful alliances and spur new solutions to social and environmental injustice. This is the work to be championed and led by Hidden Leaf’s next Executive Director.
Position overview and candidate profile: Hidden Leaf board and staff are excited to engage a visionary, strategic, and highly collaborative ED to work as a true partner to an effective, loving, committed staff and board. As the first non-family member to lead the foundation, the next ED will build upon HL’s strong, long-term relationships with a wide range of grantees and partners, while also deepening HL’s internal and external capacity as the grantmaking budget grows. Bringing their experience as a seasoned nonprofit director, strategist, and field- and alliance-builder, the new ED will help chart a course towards expanded grantmaking, deeper partnerships, and an enhanced role in convening, evaluating, articulating, and advocating for practices that strengthen organizations working toward a just and sustainable world.
The successful candidate will bring a personal commitment to inner awareness and previous experience applying practice within social change organizations and/or movements. They will be motivated by the opportunity to work in close partnership with a progressive family, honoring Hidden Leaf’s spirit, history, and accomplishments while leading with wisdom, grace, skill, and rigor towards even greater impact.
Key areas of focus: Hidden Leaf’s new ED will guide the Foundation toward increased capacity, visibility and impact, while also holding the operational, financial, personnel and programmatic oversight responsibilities inherent in executive positions in small nonprofits. Specifically, they will:
Provide institutional leadership ensuring ongoing alignment with HL’s founding values and vision; guiding strategy and program development; and developing strong, reflective, collaborative relationships with staff, board, advisors, grantees, and philanthropic and nonprofit leaders. As a visible external leader, they will build HL’s profile by representing the Foundation at conferences and convenings, and by developing compelling materials, reports, and presentations.
Partner with the board to supportthe board’s active and appropriate participation in guiding HL’s strategic direction. Work with the board to refine board structure and composition to best support HL going forward (including shaping pathways for integration of the next generation of Brown family members). Recommend and implement approaches to harness the wisdom of a newly-forming Advisory Committee to strengthen practices, identify opportunities for partnership, and inform investment of resources.
Plan, design, and oversee impactful grantmaking programs: The ED will assess and adapt grantmaking priorities in keeping with HL’s evolving strategies and will oversee the refinement of HL’s guidelines and procedures—ensuring that the application, review, and approval processes balance rigor and thoroughness on one hand, with respect for the grantee relationship, time, and trust on the other.
Map, build, and grow funding for the field: In partnership with key stakeholders, the ED will assess the current state of the field, explore how best to fill gaps, build grantee capacity to measure effectiveness, and share what works through convenings, research and evaluation initiatives (as appropriate). They will lead HL’s philanthropic advocacy: by developing a communications plan to increase understanding of transformative change among foundations and by pursuing strategic alliances that leverage HL’s knowledge and experience to mobilize increased funding for this work.
Ensure excellence in operational, administrative, and financial management through hands-on implementation, as well as through supervision, management and professional development of HL’s virtual staff and collaboration with the Foundation’s professional advisors and consultants. The new ED will also oversee and assess HL’s financial, administrative, and grantmaking systems, refining them as needed to promote efficiency, information sharing, and data collection. They will draft, manage, and monitor annual budgets, ensuring that the board receives timely, clear and accurate financial data. While the board will hold major asset management decisions, the ED will manage investment portfolio logistics, maintain advisor relationships, and offer input on investment strategies that reflect HL’s goals and values.
Ideal experience, qualifications, and attributes: Hidden Leaf is looking for a seasoned leader and manager with the following “must-haves:”
- Mission: An established personal commitment to contemplative practice; experience with transformative approaches within progressive movements; and a strongly-held conviction about their value and impact.
- Values: Deep passion for environmental, social and economic justice—demonstrated through work, activism, and/or personal experience; attunement to racial and economic power and privilege and sensitivity to how these show up in grantee/funder relationships.
- Skills:At least five years of senior level leadership experience, preferably as an executive director in a social change organization and/or foundation; a proven track record of success in staff management, program development, and operational oversight including stewardship of resources, budget development, and fiscal oversight.
- Character: A compelling, compassionate, and inclusive leadership style with exceptional personal awareness, strong interpersonal relationship skills, and the ability to direct, inspire, and collaborate with others.
- Head: Outstanding analytical skills; a strategic thinker and problem solver, able to make decisions using sound process; project design and management excellence; a strong, clear compelling writer and communicator; a stickler for detail and timelines with appreciation for streamlining, rigor and high standards; and
- Heart: Emotional intelligence and capacity for professional intimacy; ease and fluidity working within family and class systems; grounded and flexible with a high degree of integrity, transparency, and humility; able to maintain an atmosphere of kindness, trust, and respect internally and with all foundation partners.
The ideal candidate will also have many of the following, of which all are desirable, but none of which are deal-breakers:
- Proven success in supporting a board in its governance role and fostering its ongoing development.
- Experience working in and/or with foundations and philanthropy, including grantmaking and field-building experience; and ideally, know-how and interest in organizing people with wealth towards deeper investment in transformative social change organizations.
- Strong racial, gender, class, social and environmental justice lens and analysis.
- Strong advocacy, communication and organizing background.
- Experience or aptitude in research and/or evaluation.
- Successful stewardship of responsible growth, including resourcefulness in setting priorities, proposing efficiencies, and guiding investment in people and systems.
- Experience coaching and leading the development of collaborative intersectional teams.
- Prior experience with financial and asset management.
- Marketing experience including preparing annual reports, articles, social media, and website content.
Candidates must be able to use Excel, Word, and other technology and programs necessary to perform the job. While undergraduate and graduate degrees in a relevant field are very helpful, neither is required when candidates can demonstrate significant evidence of equivalent experience and training.
Location, compensation, and benefits: This is a full-time, exempt, salaried position (however, we are open to ¾ time if appropriate for the right candidate). Exact salary will be determined upon hiring, in the range of $115,000 to $125,000, plus benefits.
The ED will work from home or a small office and will likely work virtually with staff and board. For ease of communication and developing relationships with board and some staff, grantees, partners and contractors, HL is only considering applications from candidates based in the greater Bay Area.
Equal opportunity: Hidden Leaf is an at-will equal opportunity employer that deeply values diversity, inclusivity, and kindness in the work place. We strongly encourage and seek applications from women, people of color, and bilingual and bicultural individuals, as well as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. Applicants shall not be discriminated against because of race, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, color, marital status, medical condition, or any other classification protected by federal, state, or local law or ordinance. Reasonable accommodation will be made so that qualified disabled applicants may participate in the application process. Please advise in writing of special needs at the time of application.
How to Apply
Our search is being supported by Cory Pohley and Paula Morris of Bandwidth Consulting who will confirm receipt of applications and keep candidates updated on the process. Applicants should submit a substantive and thoughtful cover letter describing their interest in the position and making the case for the relevance of their experience to the key areas of focus. The cover letter can be submitted together with a current resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications should be submitted by February 1, 2018 and early applications are encouraged. The position will remain open until filled. Our goal is to have the new Executive Director selected by April and at their desk by June 2018.