St. Paul, MN

Chief Operating Officer, Bush Foundation

The Organization

The Bush Foundation invests in great ideas and the people who power them in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography. Founded in 1953 by Archibald and Edyth Bush, the Foundation stewards an endowment that has grown to $1.5 billion, operates with a staff of 30, and has a budget for 2021 of $70 million. The Foundation has always supported organizations and people to think bigger and think differently about what is possible in their communities and works to inspire and support creative problem solving — within and across sectors — to make the region better for everyone. The Bush Foundation’s operating values guide everything they do and they try to live them out in every aspect of both grantmaking and operations. They are:

Spread Optimism. We encourage individuals and organizations to think bigger and think differently about what is possible. We are positive and supportive in our internal and external interactions.

Work Beyond Ourselves. We actively seek opportunities to work in true collaboration with others to have more impact. We are willing to both lead and follow. We candidly share what we learn with others.

Everybody Matters. We are a champion for both excellence and equity inside and out of the Foundation. We have fair, open and inclusive processes. We work to raise overall quality of life while also closing opportunity and achievement gaps.

Steward Well. We demonstrate appreciation for the Foundation’s history and thoughtfully build on its legacy. We hold ourselves to high standards of integrity and accountability and conduct ourselves in a way we hope would make our founders proud.

More Good. Every Year. We are a true learning organization and work to be smarter and more effective every year. We never lose sight of the reason we exist: to do the most possible good with the resources left to the community by Archibald G. Bush.

The global pandemic, the recession that deeply affected communities in the region and the racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd sparked extensive reflection at the Bush Foundation. Fortunately, its founders ensured that the Foundation’s purpose was open-ended, and could evolve and change as communities change and needs change.

In this spirit, the Foundation recently announced several critical changes to its grantmaking strategies to be more open, more responsive and a stronger force for equitable change in the region. These strategies include prioritizing advancing racial equity, deepening community partnerships, expanding traditional priority areas to respond to more community-identified priorities, working more openly and transparently, and giving fewer, larger grants. It is hoped that these changes will spur much-needed transformative change across the region and maximize the impact that the Bush Foundation can have.

In support of these changes, the Foundation has announced a decision to realign its non-grantmaking functions – Finance and Investments, Program Operations, Communications, and Learning, Evaluation and Talent Development – under a single leader, the Chief Operating Officer.

For more information about the Bush Foundation, please visit

Position Summary

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) is a new role for the Foundation and will be a critical partner to all in ensuring the execution and impact of its strategies. This person will provide leadership to a broad set of team members stewarding the Foundation’s assets, ensuring integrity, equity and transparency in all aspects of finance and operations, engendering trust through effective communications, making sure that the Foundation remains a great place to work, learn and grow, and contributing to the design and execution of community-led processes. The COO will inspire accountability, innovation and continuous improvement across the Foundation. This person will partner with the CFO and CIO to staff the Finance & Audit and Investment Committees, engage with the Board of Directors, and provide organizational leadership as needed.

Reports to: President

Direct Reports: Chief Financial Officer (+4)
Program Operations Director (+6)
Talent, Learning & Evaluation Director (+2)
Communications Director (+2)
Total team of 18

Other key relationships: Vice President, Grantmaking
Board of Directors and Board Committees
Investment Consultant (Cambridge Associates)
Various external advisors

Position Location: St. Paul, Minnesota; occasional travel may be required.

Key Responsibilities

Organizational and Strategic

  • Contribute to development of the Foundation’s strategic goals and objectives as well as overall management of the Foundation and leadership in equity-centered operations.
  • Collaborate with other organizational leaders and staff across functions to achieve results and advance the Foundation’s mission.
  • Collaborate as a thought partner to the President.
  • Engage the broader Foundation on performance indicators and ensure alignment of improvement efforts.
  • Demonstrate core Foundation values in performing all duties.

Finance and Investments

  • Support, lead and inspire staff members responsible for investment and fund stewardship, enterprise risk, internal/external compliance, legal, insurance, and facilities management.
  • Ensure all aspects of finance and investments support the Foundation’s strategic goals and meet the highest standards of integrity and accountability.
  • In partnership with the CFO and the CIO, staff the Finance & Audit and Investment Committees of the Board and oversee the development and implementation of finance and investment policy and strategies.
  • Continue to build organizational expertise and capacity for impact investing, including both endowment market-rate investments and program-related investments.
  • Ensure continuous improvement of the Foundation’s financial operating systems, including strategic use of technology to improve financial processes.

Note:  In the Foundation’s recent reorganization, they did not make changes to the finance and investment functions.  One of the COO’s responsibilities will be to design the structure, roles and succession plan for this function in cooperation with the current CFO and CIO.

Talent, Learning & Evaluation

  • Support, lead and inspire the team responsible for maximizing staff productivity and impact through high quality, simple and strategic HR and evaluation activities.
  • Support, lead and inspire the development and care of a positive culture that thrives on challenges and innovation with equity at the core.

Program Operations

  • Support, lead and inspire the team responsible for developing and delivering grantmaking processes that are simple, supportive, strategic and advance equity.
  • Support and inspire team members who lead information technology strategy and optimize systems.


  • Support, lead and inspire the team responsible for strategic and tactical external communications plans including website, marketing collateral, social media, media partnerships/relations, individuals and organizations as well as engagement of grantees, Bush Fellows and other key partners.

Team Leadership

  • Support, lead and inspire direct reports to ensure a positive and collaborative environment resulting in a high performance and continuous improvement culture which values the contribution of each team member.
  • Conduct individual and team performance assessments. Facilitate and support growth, training and development of team members.

How To Apply

Ideal Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will possess passion for the power of philanthropy to transform communities and a genuine commitment to advancing racial equity, as well as skills to effectively lead and inspire a team of experienced professionals. The ability to be a thought partner to the President, build collaborative relationships with key stakeholders and naturally demonstrate an executive presence that conveys support and engenders trust internally and externally are critical for success.

The ideal candidate will bring a unique combination of operational, finance, investment and people leadership skills. They will be highly strategic and agile, will embrace the Foundation’s operating values and will be energized by working within a dynamic, innovative environment where a sense of humor is valued even while tackling really difficult issues. They will also be a proven leader of change and transformation who is approachable and inspiring, and who is excited about continuing to build an operations function that lives out the Bush Foundation’s operating values.

Leadership Competencies Expected

  • Builds Talent: Develops and maintains diverse, high-performing teams and coaches other leaders to develop their own capabilities and careers. Ensures all leaders and team members challenge and support each other while respecting others’ unique roles and contributions.
  • Cultural Competence: Demonstrates a personal commitment to anti-racism. Models inclusion and champions equity by effectively engaging people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. Creates systems to recognize and mitigate bias and place equity at the core of decision making and culture.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Possesses a high level of self-awareness, empathy, humility and social awareness. Effectively manages personal emotions and behaviors to foster productive relationships and influence others.
  • Inclusive Decision-Making: Models intellectual curiosity and collaborative problem solving. Builds capacity to evaluate ideas and information analytically, conceptually and critically and effectively shepherd recommendations and solutions.
  • Inspires Innovation: Constructively challenges the status quo or accepted ways of doing things. Pushes the Foundation to identify new approaches and uncover unconventional ideas that better enable the mission. Supports well-reasoned risks and new ideas.
  • Fosters Collaboration: Creates an environment that supports collaboration by facilitating communication and coordination across all parts of the Foundation. Builds an intentional and inclusive culture that aligns functional agendas and unites the team.

Skills and Experience Required

1.     15+ years of experience leading and managing complex work streams in public, nonprofit and/or for-profit sectors.

2.     10+ years of financial leadership experience at the staff or board level.

3.     A track record of advancing equity in community and/or workplace.

4.     Experience managing multiple functions.

5.     Demonstrated experience leading and managing a team of competent professionals including leading relevant functional areas without subject matter expertise.

6.     Experience with institutional investment management.

7.     Experience serving on or staffing board committees.

8.     Highly effective communication, interpersonal and project management skills.

9.     A strong work ethic, clear demonstration of honesty and integrity, and the highest ethical standards.

Experience Preferred

1.     Experience working in philanthropy or serving on a philanthropic board of directors.

2.     Experience participating in board-level investment discussions and managing external investment relationships.

3.     Experience leading the functions of human resources, communications, information technology and/or grants management.

4.     Experience working with impact, mission, and/or program-related investments.

5.     Relevant advanced degree(s) and certifications.

To apply or learn more, contact Heidi Westlind at

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