San Francisco, CA

Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer, Clara Lionel Foundation

The Organization

The Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) was founded in 2012 by Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty in honor of her grandparents, Clara and Lionel Braithwaite. CLF focuses on the effects of climate change on those most marginalized through emergency preparedness and climate resilience projects across the United States and Caribbean. At every juncture, CLF leverages their support for greater impact. Through the voices of Rihanna and her fans, CLF also advocates for policy and systems change while mobilizing people to take action in response to the world’s injustices.

Since 2012, they have raised upwards of $80 million dollars and supported over 150 projects through grantmaking in more than 20 countries. In 2020, they invested $47 million across climate resilience, education, racial justice, and COVID-19 response efforts in 35 countries and all 50 United States.

CLF believes access to health, housing, education, economic opportunity and a safe future are basic human rights. These rights are continuously threatened by the connection between inequitable systems and climate change. CLF is determined to push forward with a greater sense of urgency than ever before.

By taking risks and testing new partnership models, they are not only funding innovative programs around the world, they are redefining what is possible within philanthropy. More information about CLF can be found here.

Position Overview

Reporting to the Executive Director, the Chief Financial & Operations Officer (CFO/COO) will be responsible for overseeing all fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities for the organization, in conjunction with the Board of Directors (Board). Further, this role will manage all human resources and operational elements of CLF, ensuring efficiency, compliance, and establishing the highest caliber work environment for employees.

A new position, the CFO/COO will be responsible for oversight of the day-to-day financial operations of the Foundation, accounting for grants and investments – as well as preparation and monitoring of budgets and spending, and the preparation of tax returns, financial statements, and other financial filings required by applicable law. This role will serve as a key partner to the Executive Director and advise on the full range of strategic, operational, and financial matters. The CFO/COO will plan, develop, organize, implement, direct, and evaluate the CLF’s financial objectives and performance in alignment with priorities and mission.

This successful candidate will also make a strong contribution to furthering a culture of transparency, collaboration, and dynamic leadership in the organization. The CFO/COO will play a significant role with the Board and serve as the main liaison to the Finance, Audit, and Investment committees. This role will ensure all financial and operational activities are conducted in an environment that fosters continuous improvement and innovation, safeguards assets, and mitigates risk.

The CFO/COO will inspire change and organizational growth by encouraging new ideas, removing barriers, and being responsive to innovative programs and solutions. They will drive an environment of transparency, accountability, and consistency. As a data-driven organization, this position will also be responsible for enhancing the information capability within the Foundation by using data, research, and analysis to guide the development of baseline measures and metrics, facilitating critical decision making and tracking progress and impact of the organization.

The CFO/COO must be able to adapt to a continually evolving environment and thrive in an autonomous and deadline-oriented workplace.

The CFO/COO will provide oversight and direct leadership over a significant and critical set of areas, including:


●       Partner with the Executive Director on all operational and strategic issues as they arise; provide strategic recommendations based on financial analysis and projections, cost identification and allocation, and revenue/expense analysis.

●       Oversee long-term budgetary planning and cost management in alignment with the strategic plan, especially as the organization considers sponsorships, potential acquisitions, and collaborations with external entities.

●       Support on fundraising strategy where applicable.

●       Engage the board finance committee around issues, trends, and changes in the operating model and operational delivery.

Financial and Operational Management

·        Oversee budgeting and the implementation of budgets so as to monitor progress and present operational metrics both internally and externally.

·        Oversee all accounts, ledgers, and reporting systems, ensuring compliance with appropriate Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, regulatory requirements, and audit requirements.

·        Oversee the preparation and approval of all financial reporting materials and metrics for funding organizations and CLF’s board of directors; prepare and communicate monthly and annual financial statements.

·        Manage cash flow and forecasting. Develop a reliable cash flow projection process and reporting mechanism that includes minimum cash threshold to meet operating needs.

·        Select, engage, and manage outside consultants and processes (auditors, investment advisors).

·        Maintain internal control safeguards and coordinate all tax and audit activities.

·        Procure and manage necessary finance or CRM systems that meet the needs of the organization.



●       Manage CLF’s state registrations through their external facilitating partner.

●       Manage any operational issues for the organization such as facilities, IT, hardware, and any other operational areas or issues that arise.

●       Maintain all of the organization’s charitable registrations.

●       Manage contract processing.

 Human Resources

●       Evaluate and oversee all benefits negotiations and assess new benefit opportunities, thus providing the most competitive packages for CLF’s employees.

●       Review all HR-related procedures, processes, and administration, recommending improvements to the systems in place and managing the systems going forward.

Candidate Profile

The Clara Lionel Foundation is seeking a strategic thinker and proven financial leader to build on current systems and establish an agile, world class operation that will further the organization’s overarching goals and ambitions. The successful candidate will be effective working in a hands-on management capacity and thrive in fast-growing environments.

They will be a seasoned and mature leader with at least ten years in financial leadership roles. This person will bring in-depth knowledge of nonprofit financial reporting, budgeting, forecasting, and strategic planning. The successful candidate will be experienced engaging and presenting to boards and board level committees. This person will have experience managing critical financial management systems and a deep understanding of the audit process.

The successful candidate will bring strong problem solving and creative skills, and the ability to exercise sound, informed judgment, and make decisions based on accurate and timely analyses. They will be highly technical and a proactive, engaged partner to leadership.

This individual will be knowledgeable of current and emerging trends in financial technologies and analytical tools. They will have the ability to harness technology solutions in order to operate more efficiently and communicate resources needed for key activities and performance against plans.

The successful candidate will bring exceptional written, oral, interpersonal, and presentation skills. The CFO/COO will bring a successful track record of providing excellent communication and relationship building skills with an ability to prioritize, negotiate, and work with a variety of internal and external stakeholders. They must be able to translate financial concepts to – and to effectively collaborate with – programmatic and fundraising colleagues with varying levels of financial acumen.

The successful candidate will have impeccable integrity and discretion, and will actively promote the values and practice of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. This individual will be a highly motivated, collaborative, and creative individual who is comfortable with ambiguity and evolving business models. They will have a bachelor’s degree in business or a related concentration. A CPA is highly desirable. Ideally they will have their MBA.

The following performance and personal competencies are required or desirable:

Strategic and Organizational Leadership

·        The ability to create and articulate an inspiring vision for the organization, not only for the areas they are directly responsible for, but the organization as a whole.

·        The inclination to seek and analyze data from a variety of sources to support decisions and to align others with the organization’s overall strategy.

·        An entrepreneurial and creative approach to developing new, innovative ideas that will stretch the organization and push the boundaries within philanthropy.

·        The ability to effectively balance the desire/need for broad change with an understanding of how much change the organization is capable of handling, to create realistic goals and implementation plans that are achievable and successful.

Executing for Results

·        The ability to set clear and challenging goals while committing the organization to improved performance; tenacious and accountable in driving results.

·        Comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty; the ability to adapt nimbly and lead others through complex situations.

·        A risk-taker who seeks data and input from others to foresee possible threats or unintended circumstances from decisions; someone who takes smart risks.

·        A leader who is viewed by others as having a high degree of integrity and forethought in their approach to making decisions; the ability to act in a transparent and consistent manner while always taking into account what is best for the organization.

Relationships and Influence

·        Naturally connects and builds strong relationships with others, demonstrating strong emotional intelligence and an ability to communicate clearly and persuasively.

·        An ability to inspire trust and followership in others through compelling influence, powerful charisma, passion in their beliefs, and active drive.

·        Encourages others to share the spotlight and visibly celebrates and supports the success of the team.

·        Creates a sense of purpose/meaning for the team that generates followership beyond their own personality and engages others to the greater purpose for the organization as a whole.

Leading Teams

·        The ability to attract and recruit top talent, motivate others, delegate effectively, celebrate diversity within the team, and manage performance; widely viewed as a strong developer of others.

·        A leader with a high degree of integrity and forethought in making decisions; able to act in a transparent and consistent manner, while always considering what is best for CLF.

·        A leader who is self-reflective and aware of their own limitations; leads by example and drives the organization’s performance with an attitude of continuous improvement by being open to feedback and self-improvement.

How To Apply

John D. McNaught
Russell Reynolds Associates
101 California Street, Suite 4200
San Francisco, CA 94111
Direct: +1 (415) 352-3378
Mobile: +1 (317) 439-1651

Katie Nivard
Russell Reynolds Associates
101 California Street, Suite 4200
San Francisco, CA 94111
Direct: +1 (415) 352-3310
Mobile: +1 (781) 690-5955

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