Chief Operating Officer

The Opportunity:

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) role has been designed to address the financial and operational needs of the Christensen Fund as it moves into its next chapter of excellence. This is a unique opportunity for an executive with strong finance and operations skills to deeply impact a foundation going through an exciting period of growth and development.

Reporting to the Executive Director, this executive will serve as a key member of the management team and have overarching financial and operational responsibilities. As an integral partner, the COO will work closely with the Executive Director and Director of Grantmaking to ensure all areas of Christensen are aligned for success.

Bringing a new level of financial and operational leadership to the foundation, this leader will be responsible for the strategic and tactical management of the areas of operations, finance, investments, regulatory and risk management, compliance, facilities, information technology and human resources. The COO will also oversee learning, evaluation and implementation of strategies to improve organizational effectiveness and mission alignment. The COO will work with a diverse global staff, including two direct reports, and a supportive Board of Trustees.

Key responsibilities will include the following:

  • Stewarding the full range of finance and operations related functions for the Christensen Fund, including the annual budget, endowment, audit, treasury, risk management, compliance, internal controls, accounting, operations, facilities, investments and related relationships with financial partners and institutions.
  • Developing a strong, effective partnership with the Executive Director that ensures strategic, anticipatory management of the finance and operations functions.
  • In consultation with the Executive Director and Director of Grantmaking, leading the foundation’s annual organization-wide planning and budgeting process with Board and staff and ensure effective expense control, tracking, reporting and forecasting.
  • Building a learning framework to improve Christensen’s mission effectiveness and facilitating organizational change and development. Schedule, plan and oversee periodic organizational culture audits, team building processes and effective personnel performance evaluations
  • Oversee and enhance HR policy and practice and provide organizational leadership for talent acquisition, development and management to ensure consistency with the foundation’s values. Help create and maintain an environment which fosters a high-performance learning culture, good employee morale, teamwork and collaboration.
  • Partnering effectively and supporting the Board of Trustees in their oversight of Christensen’s assets and providing staff support and management team representation for the Finance Committee, Investment Committee, Audit Committee and Strategic Planning Committees.
  • Insuring that all finance and operational aspects of Christensen are in alignment with overall objectives and reflect the foundation’s core values; setting high standards for integrity, accuracy, productivity, professionalism and cooperation in the workplace.

Candidate Profile:

The ideal candidate possesses the following professional and personal qualities, skills and characteristics:

A Passion for the Mission

The COO will bring a passion for diversity and the mission of the Christensen Fund. This is a leader who understands, and embraces, that the finance and operations functions of a foundation are critical to serving the overall mission of the institution. Sensitive to the Christensen Fund culture, this executive will be committed to effectively leading teams and serving as a strategic partner to the Executive Director to support the goals of the foundation. This individual will bring a deep appreciation for biocultural diversity and the role of communities, lifeways and landscapes to sustain and enrich it. The COO will be excited to be part of a multidisciplinary and multicultural team that is focused on identifying creative and strategic solutions to help the Christensen Fund thrive in this next chapter.

Finance Expertise & Operations Acumen

The COO will bring deep experience running a 21st century finance department and the ability and confidence to ensure that Christensen’s financial oversight is of the highest caliber. The COO will be a strategic, visionary and creative finance leader with the tactical ability to “deep dive” into the details with strong quantitative and analytical skills. The COO is able to transition seamlessly between the “big picture” and minutia. This leader will bring a high level of intellectual horsepower with a collaborative, creative and service-oriented mindset. Given the focus of Christensen’s work, experience with international finance and HR and familiarity with the complexities of operating remotely and under different jurisdictions is preferable. It is imperative that the COO proactively bring innovative ideas to the Executive Director, serving as a thought partner and building a learning framework to improve Christensen mission effectiveness and evaluation. The COO must have proven experience in budgeting, strategic forecasting and planning, and in overseeing financial, accounting, compliance and risk management of a complex organization. The COO will be skilled at presenting financial information in a clear, confident fashion to a range of constituents with varying levels of expertise.

Building Relationships and Leading Through Influence

This leader will have strong executive presence, engender confidence and lead with authority. The COO will be skilled at quickly establishing rapport and cultivating relationships across all levels of the organization, with counterparts in philanthropy and with Board members. Highly articulate and a deft communicator, the COO will easily convey Christensen’s successes and opportunities with passion and intensity in written and verbal formats in both formal and informal situations. The COO will embrace the unique culture of Christensen, while also fostering best-in-class practices in a productive manner. The COO will foster trust and collaboration among the multidisciplinary and multicultural team and possess the ability to manage through change with flexibility and poise. This leader is an individual with unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted with highly confidential and sensitive information.

Ability to Execute for Results

The COO will have the skills to provide leadership for Christensen’s next chapter during a period of significant change. As a strategic partner to the Executive Director, the COO will conceptualize and analyze problems and solutions in a proactive, constructive, creative manner that will result in improved performance across the organization. A sound problem solver with excellent reasoning skills, this executive has the ability to understand and deal with complexities with ease and creatively overcome obstacles to achieve goals.  The COO will execute for results with a high degree of responsiveness and motivation. The COO possesses the curiosity and drive to stay ahead of trends in philanthropy in order to identify new and unique opportunities to serve the mission.

 A working knowledge of philanthropy would be helpful, however it is not necessary for candidates for the role to have previous professional experience in the nonprofit field. An advanced degree such as an MBA would be ideal.

About The Christensen Fund:

The Christensen Fund envisions a bioculturally diverse world enriched and sustained by beautiful, bountiful and resilient communities, landscapes and seascapes.

Christensen is a sixty-year old foundation in Northern California with a long history of funding internationally in the arts, environmental conservation and education. Since 2002, the foundation has focused its mission around biocultural diversity. Grant programs mostly support local initiatives in selected priority regions around the world which have unique heritage and are likely to play an important role for sustaining planetary diversity. The regions currently include the African Rift Valley, Central Asia, Melanesia, Northwest Mexico and the San Francisco Bay Area. Complementing grant making in the regions, Christensen seeks to build knowledge and practice worldwide around its mission focus through its Global Program.

Christensen’s grantmaking worldwide finds much opportunity for innovation and long-term thinking to back dedicated people, creative thinkers, unusual institutions and Indigenous and social movements. With its focus on strategies rooted in support for the local stewards and guardians of place, culture and environment, Christensen makes grants to community-based organizations, local and international NGOs, universities, arts and cultural centers and groups, local governments, museums and other institutions.

In December 2017, the Christensen Board approved a new iteration of Christensen’s mission of supporting local stewards and guardians of place, culture and environment. It refocuses the overall grantmaking strategy towards supporting the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It does so by building on their partners’ and Christensen’s strengths and experiences and reimagining their grantmaking strategy and organization to be in closer solidarity with the global Indigenous Peoples movement.

The next COO will be joining a foundation with a unique institutional culture that deeply values diversity, creativity and learning. Christensen seeks a professional with sufficient experience in the nonprofit world of grantmaking to generate a creative tension where critical analysis and learning about their overall work can take place, all the while maintaining fiscal discipline and a robust, responsive and high performing workplace.

With an endowment of over $300M, the Christensen Fund has a staff of more than 20 employees. The majority of the staff is based in San Francisco with others in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Mexico.


Alexandra Corvin of Koya Leadership Partners have been retained for this search. Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search firm that works exclusively with mission-driven clients.

To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role, please email Alexandra directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.