Seattle, WA

Director, Washington State Initiative, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Organization

The work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) both spans the globe and has deep roots and a commitment in Washington state. Washington, where the Gates family has lived for generations, is home. Here they are neighbors, community members, and school parents. As philanthropists, they are invested for the long-term in the well-being of communities in Washington state. The Pacific Northwest Portfolio, now Washington State Initiative, has attended specifically to regional investments and partnerships to support local communities. In addition, funding for nonprofits based in the greater Seattle area supporting national and international work means the foundation as a whole extends approximately $300 million in grants to nonprofits in Washington state. The foundation believes that every child deserves a chance to reach their full potential, regardless of race, ethnicity, family income, or gender, and that educational attainment—a college degree or work-ready credential—is the bridge to a career that supports a family and fulfills one’s purpose and potential. This is the aspiration behind the foundation’s investments locally and nationally.

Position Overview

The transition of its longstanding Pacific Northwest Director has afforded the foundation an opportunity to examine and reimagine how it leverages its total assets, financial and otherwise, in service of its vision for young people in the United States and to support longstanding relationships and grantee partners in Washington. With life upended by the pandemic and the country rocked by a reawakened civil rights movement, the foundation has seized the opportunity to reflect upon its historical investments and experience and look forward to refresh and focus its local strategy and relationships with renewed purpose. With that opportunity at the fore, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation seeks nominations and applications for the position of Director, Washington State Initiative. The Director plays a unique role in the United States Program (USP), leading and grounding the foundation’s national work in place and facilitating learning and synergy between the Washington state team, community partners, and the foundation’s national strategies. Reporting to the President, U.S. Program, the Director will work in close coordination with the USP division’s program, leadership, and functional strategies (Early Childhood Learning, K12 education, Postsecondary education, Economic Mobility and Opportunity, Pathways, and Data) in addition, to the foundation’s North America Team, which leads the foundation’s work in government relations, policy, advocacy, and communications. This cross-team approach aspires to drive greater collaboration, synergy, and coherence between national strategies and the foundation’s strategic investments in Washington state.

The ideal candidate will be a strategic and experienced leader with deep knowledge of Washington state — its people, culture, and history — and the role philanthropy can and should play to promote systems level change. S/he/they will bring a sophisticated understanding of how change is inspired and managed internally and externally, be a clear and authentic communicator and trusted leader in Washington, and possess the savvy and skill to translate, adapt, influence, and align locally defined needs with the foundation’s national work to achieve mutually shared objectives and outcomes. The Director will lead a team of highly talented individuals, develop and foster overall organizational effectiveness, and ensure the team nurtures collaboration and community connection in pursuit of mission-aligned strategies and equitable outcomes. Finally, the Director will have content knowledge and experience in at least one of USP’s primary program areas and understand the interconnectedness between education and economic mobility, especially how that is expressed across Washington, and will effectively leverage place-based learnings for the benefit of the broader foundation.

For the full position description and to apply, please visit:

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How To Apply

This search is being led by Katherine Jacobs, Carolyn Ho, Catherine Seneviratne and Britni Russell Bianchi of NPAG. Due to the pace of this search, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Candidates may submit their cover letter, outlining their interest and qualifications, along with their resume via NPAG’s candidate portal.

For general inquiries and nominations, please email:

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to the belief that all lives have equal value. We’re committed to creating a workplace where employees thrive both personally and professionally. We also believe our employees should reflect the rich diversity of the global populations we aim to serve—in race, gender, age, cultures and beliefs—and we support this diversity through all of our employment practices.

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