Executive Director

Headwaters Foundation for Justice (HFJ) was established in 1984 when a group of thoughtful, progressive donors got together. They believed that the people who experienced society’s injustices were essential to ending them. They used that belief to radically change philanthropy’s landscape and created a new grantmaking model—one that shifted power away from funders by placing decision-making in the hands of the people. This was the start of an innovative, community-centered, trust-centered model.

Today, HFJ is on the leading edge of philanthropy. We still rely on a community-centered model to guide our funding decisions. Our participatory grantmaking programs prioritize community organizing that is led by and for Indigenous People and people of color (IPOC). To date, we have awarded more than $10 million to grassroots organizations across Minnesota.

Our Four Core Values

Advance Equity: Our work supports movements and systems that lead to individual resiliency and community power.

Demand Inclusion: The people who are most affected by inequity are often left out of decision-making work. We insist on changing that -- nationally, regionally, and locally.

Transform Power: We grow power through community-led grantmaking, donor education, and leadership development.

Trust in Community: A community knows itself best, and its people need to lead the way to collective liberation. Our job is to listen and support the solutions that will improve life for all Minnesotans.

Our Four Areas of Strategic Direction and their Guiding Principles

Community-led Grantmaking & Support Beyond the Dollars:

  • We invest in social justice movements to create change and promote self-determination.
  • People are at the center of HFJ grantmaking work. They learn how to lead our selections process and grow critical leadership skills.
  • Staff-facilitated group learning and mutual trust take time. They also lead to powerful results.

Donor Organizing & Stewardship:

  • We organize individual donors to support movement building with their personally meaningful gifts.
  • We help donors align their giving goals to their values.
  • We connect donors to our network of grassroots communities, organizations, and leaders.

Philanthropic organizing:

  • We lead social justice philanthropy in Minnesota.
  • We use that leadership to influence organizations and people to explore the connections between the different kinds of power and privilege they hold.
  • We support organizations and people to tip their awareness into action with their dollars.

Work & Organizational Culture:

  • HFJ is more than just a workplace. We work together to create the kind of culture where staff can bring their talents, grow their leadership ambitions, and tend to their wellbeing.

The Opportunity

We seek a strategic, creative, resourceful, visionary leader with a proven track record of major gifts fundraising ($10,000), partnership development, and effective management to serve as the next Executive Director for Headwaters.

This is a unique opportunity for a nonprofit or philanthropy executive who is deeply committed to equity, justice, and movement-building. This person will have established networks and relationships in the field, experience as a movement-builder, credibility in the philanthropic sector, and a demonstrated understanding of managing a team of colleagues.

HFJ’s next Executive Director will hold responsibility for a staff of approximately 10, oversight of a $3M budget, a stable and growing organization, and a newly refreshed strategic plan affirmed by the Board of Directors in 2018.

This position is based in Minneapolis, MN.

Position Overview

The Executive Director is responsible for the oversight and guidance of financial, administrative, programmatic, development, communications, operational, and strategic plans of Headwaters to maximize sustainability and growth, in alignment with our values. Other key responsibilities include developing and maintaining board governance, fundraising, and community outreach.

The ideal candidate is at ease working with multicultural, socio-economically, and politically diverse colleagues. They will also be at ease working with similar networks of people and organizations -- including many led by and for IPOC communities. The candidate will be a financially savvy and politically sharp leader who can set clear priorities, delegate duties, and guide HFJ’s investments in people and systems.

The Executive Director will demonstrate excellent coalition-building skills, communication skills, and interpersonal skills. They will negotiate consensus amongst differing points of view; and influence and affect equity and justice issues using the Foundation’s mission, strategic direction, and values.

With an authentic belief in the Headwaters mission, this leader will represent the Foundation’s programs and vision to all its stakeholders.

Key Accountabilities:

Passion for the Mission, Direction, and Work

The Executive Director will have a clear and informed understanding of the complex issues related to equity and justice. They will also have a demonstrated commitment to the Foundation’s mission, direction, and community-centered models used for its grantmaking and fundraising work.

Organizational Leadership, Program Management, and Development

The Executive Director will increase the awareness, visibility, influence, and impact of the Foundation. They will develop and empower staff leadership. The Executive Director will be accountable for following the Foundation’s recently refreshed strategic plan (2020 – 2022). The plan has four areas of strategic priority:

  1. Community-led Grantmaking & Support Beyond the Dollars
  2. Donor Organizing & Stewardship
  3. Philanthropic Organizing
  4. Work & Organizational Culture

The Executive Director will have proven and successful experience in organizational operations; program leadership; team and staff supervision and leadership development; fiscal management; and internal and external stakeholder relations.

Marketing, Communications, and Public and Donor Relations

Quickly develop and maintain strong relationships with a wide variety of existing Foundation partners and donors. Solicit major gifts from individuals and foundation partners. Build new partnerships with other funders, donors, decision makers, and community leaders to broaden the Foundation’s networks. Serve as an ambassador to and advocate for the community, our grantee partners, and others, using the art of storytelling and communications to support their efforts.

Board Relations and Support

Sustain a qualified, effective, and engaged Board of Directors. Provide the Board with adequate information to help directors reach sound decisions and establish necessary and required policies.

Collaborate with the Board to implement by-laws, policies, procedures, governance structures, strategies, and plans for continued Board recruitment, Board member skill and leadership development, Board members’ donor organizing, and training in governance best practices.


Demonstrated background and understanding of equity and justice issues related to the field of philanthropy with a strong commitment to the Headwaters mission, direction, values, and work. Activist-advised, public foundation, and/or social justice grantmaking experience is a major plus.

Five+ years of progressive management experience as a mission-driven organizational leader (e.g., launching, managing and/or expanding organization or programs). Supervising staff and demonstrated track record of developing and supporting a highly skilled team.

Demonstrated experience and excellence in major gifts fundraising. Experience as an effective fundraiser who can inspire a diverse set of donors to invest in the mission of the Foundation, executing a variety of approaches to fundraising.

Ability to engage a variety of internal and external stakeholders and authentically articulate the Foundation’s goals and priorities. Ability to forge partnerships and alliances.

Experience in community-centered grantmaking, establishing grant agreements, and measuring grant effectiveness.

Strong financial management and administrative skills to make sound financial decisions and oversee the operations of the Foundation.

Strong candidates will demonstrate:

  • Experience and ease in working with organizations led by and for IPOC communities.
  • Strong intersectional political analysis rooted in equity and justice.
  • Superior organizational and implementation skills.
  • Ability to handle multiple priorities and to facilitate team processes to meet goals.
  • Experience and excellence in securing major gifts of five figures or more, including multi-year commitments.
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills with a proven track record in developing creative solutions.
  • Deeply honed interpersonal skills to manage a wide variety of internal and external relationships.
  • Outstanding verbal and written communication skills, including facilitation, presentations, and public speaking.
  • Unquestionable integrity and transparent honesty in all matters.
  • Values-driven, self-motivated passion and strategic thinking.
  • A sense of humor.

Compensation and Benefits

This position reports directly to the Board of Directors.

The Executive Director salary range is $110,000 - $140,000 with excellent benefits. Headwaters is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate on the basis of sex; race; color; religion; HIV status; disability; gender identity or expression; nationality; ethnicity; sexual orientation; pregnancy, marital, or parental status; criminal history unrelated to this position; or any other protected category. We strongly encourage members of IPOC communities to apply.

We also know that great candidates may have skills and experiences we have not thought of yet and who won’t fit everything we’ve described above. If this describes you, don’t hesitate to apply and tell us what unique contributions you can offer.

How to Apply

Submit your resume and cover letter by 5 p.m. Central, Friday May 3, 2019, to No phone calls please.