Kansas City, MO

Director of Entrepreneurship, Kauffman Foundation

The Organization

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation was established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, the Kauffman Foundation is among the largest foundations in the United States with an asset base of approximately $2 billion.The Foundation’s vision is to foster “a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, contributing to the improvement of their communities.” In service of this vision, we focus our grant making and operations on two areas –education and entrepreneurship –which our founder, Ewing Kauffman, saw as two ends of a continuum. A quality education is the foundation for self-sufficiency, preparing young people for success in college and in life. Many young adults will work in businesses started by entrepreneurs. Some will become entrepreneurs themselves, providing jobs and wealth for society.

Our mission: To help individuals attain economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success, consistent with the aspirations of our founder, Ewing Marion Kauffman.

Position Overview

The Director serves as the key programmatic, operations and administrative director for the Entrepreneurship Department of the Foundation, executing the strategic vision of the Vice President of Entrepreneurship. The Director is responsible for implementing the Entrepreneurship Department’s strategic plan while building strong relationships and alignment, and establishing accountabilities for senior program officers and directors across all entrepreneurship functions to inform and influence outcomes and maintain momentum.

Specific Responsibilities include: 

Strategy Implementation, Execution, and Operation

Translate high-level vision and strategy into operational plans that provide role clarity, accountabilities, resourcing, and trackable performance indicators for all team members.

· Ensure trackable key program and grantee performance measurements are in place to inform department strategy, design, and effectiveness.

· Monitor progress reporting and associated dashboards for active oversight and insight of program areas’ progress to strategic goals.

· Accountable for implementation and execution of strategic and operational plans for all Entrepreneurship-related work products while seeking out and implementing methods and processes to increase efficiency and response time to team members.

· Accountable for cross-departmental collaboration and alignment on department initiatives supporting strategic plan goals.

· Oversee, and provide support and guidance to departmental finance, budget and grant management areas.

· Serve as trusted thought partner and inform, advise, interact and work with the VP through weekly in person and ongoing communications in support of effective strategic implementation, execution and operations.

· Recommend novel contracting and grant strategies to ensure timely delivery of core Foundation priorities and secure non-employee assets to meet these needs.

· Serve as final decision maker on operations, proposed work and projects and personnel assignments, (including recruiting, hiring, and on-boarding as well as staff development) and provide input on the ability to operationalize strategic commitments.

Team Culture and Staffing

Support Vice President in developing and maintaining a high performing, high trust team culture in which associates achieve ambitious goals.

· Plan for and manage processes related to staffing plans, management, recruitment and performance reporting.

·  Increase focus on inter-departmental communication to develop strong working relationships among all senior program officer team leads and directors so that initiative is taken to share resources, assist with cross-departmental problem solving with the goal of expediting workflow and decision-making.

· Review and approve team engagement, activities, meetings, and as necessary, internal communications.

·  Act as liaison to senior Foundation staff and constituencies on Entrepreneurship-related workflow, performance standards, measurements, and outcomes and coordinate across the Foundation to enhance collaboration, alignment and communication for all Entrepreneurship Department initiatives.

·  Oversee the engagement and management of external contractors.

Finance and Operations

· Monitor budgets and provide expenditure plans on future spending allocation to support the strategic plan.  Work with finance to monitor and adjust as needed and make decisions on budget and personnel as required.

· Oversee the department’s grants process management team, including progress monitoring and related budget implications.

· Oversee travel, paid time off and expense approvals with an eye toward their impact on deliverables and budget.  Work with Directors to mitigate impact on deadlines and work product to ensure that program priorities are achieved.


·  Serve as a deputy to the Vice President to meet senior departmental needs

· While focused primarily on internal operations, will be asked to represent the department at high-level events and organizations to drive the strategy and performance priorities of the Entrepreneurship department at the discretion of the Vice President.

· Support the Vice President as needed in evaluating new business models for programs to ensure sustainability and impact.


Education:  Bachelor’s degree or equivalent years of related experience required. Master’s degree preferred in a relevant discipline with demonstrated success relevant to the Foundation’s work.

Work Experience: Minimum of eight years proven experience in providing senior administrative management in a large organizational setting.  Demonstrated experience with comprehensive and complex project management while building and managing high-performing, innovative teams.

Travel: This position may require up to 20% regional or national business travel, including as a delegate on behalf of Vice President, facilitating decision-making, and executing department strategy.


Qualified incumbents for this position must be highly motivated, capable of self-direction, detail oriented, and able to work collaboratively across the department and Foundation in a teamwork environment.  Incumbents must exhibit a keen sense of responsibility and enjoy working with multiple demands, shifting priorities, and constant change, ensuring accountability for required outcomes.

· Training and experience in project management and administrative oversight of organizational budget, financial and grant management functions.

·  Proficiency in program management and analysis, particularly in data collection and research related to economic development, entrepreneurship, cities, or related topics. Ability to think rigorously and analytically about advanced program outcomes and policy issues. Ability to identify gaps and think creatively about solutions and performance drivers.

·  Highly motivated, capable of self-direction, detail-oriented and able to work collaboratively in a teamwork capacity while working with multiple demands, shifting priorities and constant change.

·  Ability to design and implement cross-department progress reporting and financial procedures to ensure continuous access to program performance data.

·  Possesses strong financial acumen and experience managing and monitoring budgets.

·  Ability to engage in and think critically about systems-level analysis and problem-solving.

·   Ability to lead culture and behavior change in a team environment.

·   Ability to manage and oversee innovative programs/projects and plan resource strategies to meet program needs.

·  Ability to synthesize and translate information and content.

·  Practical, hands-on, ‘in-the-trenches” experience building entrepreneurial ecosystems or large-scale innovation programs, preferably in the private sector.

·  An understanding of, or interest in, place-based focused work, and expressed interest in systemic change related to growth/economic opportunity and entrepreneurship.

·  Experience in organizations that prioritize race, equity, diversity and inclusion in culture and strategic or programmatic work.

·  Excellent writing and speaking skills.

· High level of ethics with a strong sense of integrity and commitment to the values of the Foundation and adherence to confidentiality.

All of the statements in this position description are intended to describe the general nature of the work being performed and are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required. This document describes the position currently available.  The organization reserves the right to modify job duties or job descriptions at any time.

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