Kansas City, MO

Vice President of Strategy, Learning, and Communications, Health Forward Foundation

The Organization
Every day, we work to support and build inclusive, powerful, and healthy communities characterized by racial equity and economically just systems
With this as our purpose and reason for being, Health Forward Foundation is building the future of our region by grasping the issues that cause disparate health outcomes at their roots.  Health Forward Foundation’s mission is to achieve health equity and secure a fair and just region through leadership, advocacy, and resources. We support direct services and drive systems change for healthy people, community power, and equitable and just places. We support and partner with community-based and cross-sector organizations to improve health on all fronts, from providing vital health services, to working to advance safe and affordable housing, to amplifying the power that exists in our communities through civic engagement on matters that influence heath. Health Forward Foundation was created in 2003 with an original endowment of $440 million from the sale of Health Midwest, a nonprofit hospital system, to Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), a for-profit hospital management company. Health Forward’s service area encompasses Kansas City, Missouri, and Jackson, Cass, and Lafayette counties in Missouri, and Johnson, Wyandotte, and Allen counties in Kansas. Our history in these communities predates the foundation, as these were the places served by Health Midwest, which after the hospital’s sale evolved to form Health Forward. The foundation is governed by a 21-member board of directors and is managed by a professional staff of 26 employees. As of December 2021, the approximate net market value of the foundation’s investment portfolio was $950 million. With nearly two decades of history, Health Forward has invested more than $332 million to improve health throughout its service area. Health Forward is committed to the process and the outcome of equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in its investments in services and systems change, employment practices, talent management, investments, vendor selection, and governance. Health Forward views equity as a fundamental element of social justice and integral in our purpose and to our mission. Health Forward Foundation seeks a senior executive agent of change to lead our efforts to develop and assess highly impactful strategies, deepen our learning from our work, and sharpen our influence in the broader systems in which we work. The Vice President will lead adaptive challenges that involves: positioning the foundation for the best and highest use of philanthropy within the context of our complex systems; developing diverse strategies for engaging these systems; and learning from our activities and investments so that we engage more effectively and achieve our intended impacts, while continuously advancing our purpose.

Position Overview:
The Vice President will provide leadership to the foundation’s cross-cutting functions which include strategy, learning, and communications, and partners in leadership accountability for embedding equity, inclusion, and anti-racism as a process and an outcome throughout the organization. Through the success of this executive leader, Health Forward will employ diverse strategies, including narrative change and communications-based methods, that create positive sustainable and measurable impact on health. The Vice President will be responsible for institutionalizing learning infrastructure and a learning culture, which demonstrates that concurrent learning and action are imperatives when operating in rapidly evolving and dynamic systems, thereby increasing comfort for risk, and learning from setbacks and successes. The Vice President will be a strong leader of people and adaptive processes with a focus on facilitating sound decision making in support of Health Forward’s purpose and mission. At Health Forward, evaluation must be in service of equity. The Vice President must possess an expanded notion of evaluative practice which embraces Equitable Evaluation;- a mindset and practice which repositions evaluation to advance equity and expand ideas of objectivity, validity, rigor, and embraces complexity. The successful leader will generate an understanding of and build capacity for centering racial and economic equity using mixed methods (qualitative, quantitative, etc.) to conceptualize and implement a longitudinal strategic learning plan designed to improve internal practices and measure systems level impact in the Kansas City region. Lead an integrated cycle of planning, evaluation, learning, and adaptation across the foundation and ensure that there is a systematic and organizational-wide approach to purpose alignment (strategic planning). Play a leading role in facilitating and coordinating the team’s review and updates of Health Forward’s purpose plan and Theory of Change, providing significant inputs on the impact we seek, strategies, initiatives, indicators, and outcomes. Provide strategic analysis and recommendations as required to support board and leadership decision making and resolution of strategic issues. Ensure that decision making is aligned with the foundation’s short- and long-term strategies through representation in the leadership team, and participation in the Program & Grants and Finance and Investment committees of the board. Reflect the direction and learnings of the philanthropic sector and health ecosystem, and center the voices of partners and communities most proximate to the issues and solutions in Health Forward’s purpose plan. Ensure the foundation utilizes internal and external data, including lived experience, to systematically assess community investments and provide a platform for foundation-wide learning and improvements to ensure that we become a best-in-class learning and action organization. Champion the infusion of learning as a key value within the organization, and as a core competency for all roles, ensuring learning is decentralized within the foundation. Ensure the learning team strategizes with and in support of all foundation staff to identify learning priorities, conduct, or commission research, and support the learning and evaluation needs of our partners. Ensure the development of knowledge management systems, processes, and practices that codify, store, and manage results and learning. Collaborate with peers and teams to analyze trends in the advocacy, grantmaking, and investment portfolios for learnings and impact to share internally, with the board of directors and externally. Cultivate a concurrent learning environment in which conception, action, and reflection through a lens of innovation and smart risk taking are highly valued. Communications Ensures Health Forward communications are an influential strategic asset, are informed by institutional learning, harmonizes our purpose and that storytelling and narrative change are integrated throughout impact areas, learning and evaluation. Publishes articles, participates on panels, and organizes forums to share Health Forward’s approach and learning with external audiences. Provides executive leadership within the organization. Leads a collaborative team providing integrated leadership across the organization, balancing care, and accountability to achieve intended impacts through coaching, supporting, directing, and guiding. Develop strong and collaborative networks in the fields of philanthropic strategy, communications/narrative, equitable evaluation, and systems thinking and measurement, Develop and manage a small grant making portfolio dedicated to research and thought leadership to advance the field’s understanding of systems, learning, impact, and equity in philanthropy. Contribute to a collaborative internal team and develop strong networks among peers within the larger field. RELATIONSHIPS: Reporting to the President and CEO, the Vice President will play a prominent role guiding strategic conversations among leadership and facilitating learning and purpose led governance with the Board of Directors. They will also be responsible for collaborating throughout the organization and learning from cross-sector partners, the field, and philanthropy serving organizations with respect to strategy, learning, and communications. The leader will be expected to lead internally and externally on these topics and provide regional and national thought leadership in relation to the foundation’s purpose. The VP is one of seven members of the leadership team which includes the: Chief Administrative, Financial, and Investment Officer. Chief of Staff, Director of Communications, Director of Community Investment and Impact. Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives. President and CEO, Vice President of Strategy, Learning and Communications. Reporting to the VP is the: Director of Communications, Director of Learning and Evaluation, Equity Fellow (internal fellowship), Learning role (vacant), Process and Innovation Strategist, The VP stewards critical relationships with:, Cross-functional leaders and teams within the foundation, Board of Directors and Community Advisory Committee. Regional and national partners and stakeholders.
Qualifications: A demonstrated commitment to and fluency in issues of health and race equity, economic inclusion, the social and political influencers of health and key areas of the purpose plan. Minimum of 7-10 years’ experience leading strategy, learning and/or measurement, with experience catalyzing social change within a nonprofit or social impact context highly desirable (foundation, NGO, advocacy organization, government, etc.). Adaptive leader with a high tolerance for ambiguity, and ability to successfully navigate changing and/or competing priorities, strategic frameworks, and definitions of success. A strong understanding of and an ability to teach, present on, and stimulate systems thinking and equitable evaluation. Advanced degree in social sciences, evaluation, or related field with substantial experience in research and program/systems evaluation. MPA, MPP, MBA, or PhD and communications experience preferred. Strong leadership skills with a track record of aligning and developing talent to achieve desired impacts, nimbly shifting between directing, coaching, guiding, and supporting. Must be able to facilitate complex discussions around adaptive challenges. Experience in matrixed organizations beneficial. Must be very logical and structured in thinking and have excellent problem-solving ability, but tempered by an unmatched ability to successfully pivot in response to opportunities and challenges. Deep sense of curiosity, and demonstrated experience in learning, distilling learnings and turning them into action. Vaccination for COVID-19 is a requirement for this position, requests for medical or religious accommodation will be considered.

Personal Qualities:
Servant-leader who embodies Health Forward values of Trust, Partnership, Learning, Stewardship, Equity, Inclusion and Antiracism. Compensation: The starting salary range for this position is $160,000-225,000. The package will be determined by the experience level, credentials and personal characteristics of the candidate offered. Health Forward Foundation offers its employees a comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental and vision insurance, a retirement plan, group life insurance, paid time off and a hybrid work environment. We appreciate your suggestions or referrals to professionals who may have an interest in this outstanding opportunity.

Formal interest accepted here or direct all inquiries to:
OMNI Human Resource Management
Michelle Anderson, VP of Executive Search | manderson@omnihrm.com
OMNI and our clients are Equal Opportunity Employers and seek diversity in candidates for employment. EEO Employer W/M/Vet/Disabled/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity.

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