December 9, 2019 – Insight Executive Search, which finds top talent for non-profit, research and commercial organizations, has been chosen to find a strategic learning and evaluation officer for the Walton Family Foundation. Vice president Ari Ayares is leading the assignment for the Washington, D.C.-based recruitment firm.
The new strategic learning and evaluation officer will be charged with working to support the research, evaluation and learning needs of the Walton Family Foundation’s education program, said Insight Executive Search.
The individual will be expected to work with the education team program staff, strategy, learning and evaluation department (SLED) team members and SLED director to develop and report information useful to the ongoing execution of the education program strategic plan. The new officer must also provide support to improve the adaptive learning capacity of program staff and continue shifting the organization’s culture to one of learning and reflection (e.g., translate research and evaluation findings into actionable insights, help program staff incorporate lessons learned into strategic decision-making processes).
The role also calls for developing third-party research and evaluation grants and contracts and manage third party researchers and contractors; conducting evaluations of grants, grantees and education program strategies and initiatives; and tracking third party-research and producing summary reviews and synopses of complex K-12 education and public policy research, among other responsibilities.
Candidates are required to have a master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g., economics, education policy, public policy), said Insight Executive Search. They should also have at least five years of experience in a professional setting, ideally with a strong focus on data analysis, research and analytical writing. Strong project management skills, ideally with experience in managing grants and/or contracts, are expected.
Prospects should be technologically savvy, with demonstrated competency with the Microsoft Office suite of programs, including the ability to retrieve, array, summarize, and graph data using Excel. Additional capabilities with a statistical package (e.g., SPSS, STATA) are also necessary.
Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to communicate effectively detailed technical material to non-technical audiences, would also be helpful to candidates, said the search firm. A demonstrated ability to engage with issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, particularly as they relate to strategy, research and evaluation would also be beneficial. Data visualization skills will play an important part in the role as well.
The Walton Family Foundation wants candidates to have a commitment to the mission of the organization and a passion for education and creating high-quality education opportunities for students, particularly low-income students. They should also show intellectual agility and the ability to analyze, think critically, and understand emerging issues that are directly relevant to evaluation and the foundation’s focus areas. Experience and comfort working both independently and under close supervision, as required by the task is also critical.
A Family-Led Non-Profit
The Walton Family Foundation prides itself on being family led. Three generations of the descendants of its founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the organization and create access to opportunity for people and communities. The non-profit works in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in the group’s home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. In 2018, the foundation awarded more than $595 million in grants in support of these initiatives. Headquartered in Bentonville, AK, with offices in Washington, D.C., Jersey City, NJ, and Denver, CO, the Walton Family Foundation has about 125 staff members who conduct the group’s day-to-day operations.
Why Recruiters Center On Fundraising Skills
Organizations nationwide are under pressure to find leaders who can act as de facto chief fundraisers – and recruiters are in lock step to find talent to satisfy the demand. These leaders need to be strategic thinkers who can motivate the stakeholders whose philanthropy pulls everything together.
Insight Executive Search focuses on economics, education, fundraising and development, healthcare, human services, public policy, statistics, survey research, workforce and community development. Within these sectors, the firm is engaged by the nation’s leading research firms, associations, foundations and non-profit organizations. Its clients span the nation: from Ann Arbor to Research Triangle Park from Massachusetts to Menlo Park from Washington, D.C. to Kansas City. The firm’s clientele and candidate pool extends throughout the U.S.
The firm is led by Aaron Schmidt, president and CEO. Mr. Schmidt has directed senior-level searches for many of the nation’s most highly regarded research and non-profit institutions, providing clients with widely acknowledged leaders in their respective fields: senior scientists, directors, principal investigators, scholars and their executive management.
His expertise spans the fields of healthcare, education, economics, workforce, community development, human services, children and families, survey research, statistics, life sciences, development and corporate affairs. Prior to Insight Executive Search, Mr. Schmidt was a director at Interconnections, where he led searches for the nation’s leading research institutions, managing complex searches for multiple clients.
Mr. Ayares manages recruitment and leads the business development efforts for the firm. With 10 years of experience conducting national searches, he has a specific familiarity in hiring for the social science research sector. He also advises and instructs others in how to conduct the most cutting edge executive search research and candidate identification methodologies.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media