October 7, 2019 – Social sector focused executive search firm Waldron has been retained by the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation in Austin, TX to lead its search for a new chief executive officer. Principal Jeff Waldron is leading the assignment along with engagement manager Heather Mohler and administrative assistant Renée Sellers.
Katherine Lorenz, granddaughter of the charity’s founders, has led the organization since 2011. She is stepping down as the foundation moves toward a planned shift to a non-family staff.
“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,” said Waldron. “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 be charged with collaborating with family and staff to help bring the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation into its next phase of impact by building on its strong reputation and programmatic track record of philanthropic investment, said the search firm.
Key priorities for the role include board engagement and family stewardship, strategic leadership and organizational management. The new CEO will be expected to 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, said Waldron.
An Entrepreneurial Mindset
The leader will also be responsible for championing and leading a culture of forward momentum on the established strategic plan for the foundation, encouraging bold and innovative ideas, said Waldron. The individual should also build on and support the deep expertise and networks at both the board and staff levels to create partnerships that will catalyze non-profit, philanthropic, policy and private market efforts across Texas.
The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation wants 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, said Waldron. The new CEO must also 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, said the search firm. 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, the 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.
A Social Sector Recruiter
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.
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.
The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation is a grant-making 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.
Headquartered in Seattle with additional offices in San Francisco, Portland, OR and Phoenix, Waldron has 36 years of experience providing executive search and leadership development services to non-profits, NGOs and foundations.
Mr. Waldron has spent the better part of his career working in the social sector. He is a committed partner to mission-driven organizations which work across a myriad of issue areas that matter a great deal to him, including effective philanthropy, international development, and environmental conservation and climate change. Mr. Waldron helps to shape the firm’s strategic initiatives nationwide. He also leads a select portfolio of retained search clients, partnering with foundations, NGOs and social enterprises with national and international scope.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media