Jobs: Executive Search

Executive Director, Leever Foundation

Waterbury, Connecticut
Feb / 13 / 2018


The mission of the Leever Foundation (the “Foundation”) is to “create opportunities for people, especially children, in greater Waterbury to fulfill their potential and become productive members of society.” After decades of dedicated philanthropy in the Waterbury CT area, Harold and Ruth Ann Leever founded the Foundation in 1991 with two core goals: to contribute to the well-being of the Waterbury community and to provide a vehicle for their family to continue in philanthropy through successive generations. 

Last year, the Foundation awarded more than $650,000 in grants and scholarships. The Foundation has been a leader in bringing proven program models and initiatives to the community including the Algebra Project in Waterbury Public Schools, an el Sistema inspired music and youth development program (Bravo Waterbury!) at Children’s Community School and Brass City Charter School, and the inquiry based science program in partnership with the Connecticut Science Center.


In recent years the Board of Directors of the Leever Foundation (the “Board”) has undergone a significant change in leadership, with long-time second generation family members stepping down and relocating to other parts of the country.

Over the past two years the Board, which includes three non-family community representatives, has engaged in rigorous planning and organizational assessment processes. The outcomes include a reaffirmation of historic principles and values, and the development of new strategies focused on increasing impact through analysis of systemic and structural issues, community engagement, and data-driven approaches to philanthropy.

While the Foundation has relied on part-time program and administrative management in the past (through an agreement with an allied foundation), at this juncture it will engage for the first time a full-time professional executive director. With a new strategic plan in place, and strong full-time executive leadership, the stage is set for a new era of innovative grant making and community impact.


The Board is offering the opportunity for an exceptional professional to lead an organization that is highly regarded by city and community leaders, and philanthropic and program partners.

The executive director will be the primary liaison to the community, grant seekers, government, social services agencies and organizations, and other funders with an emphasis on building and maintaining meaningful, cooperative, and professional relationships through networking, collaborating with other community leaders, and representing the Foundation’s core mission, values, and beliefs. The executive director will partner with leaders throughout the community in diverse settings to assess needs and make recommendations to the Board in support of the Foundation’s grant making objectives and criteria.

In addition to the above, the executive director will work with Leever family members to build the Board and support board and committee members. The executive director will also work with the Board to ensure the Foundation’s financial integrity. The executive director will monitor and evaluate funded and potential projects, and provide the Board with updates and recommendations.

Ideal Candidate

The inaugural executive director of the Leever Foundation will be an active community member and leader who will set an example for others to follow.  He or she will ably inspire others to be creative and innovative and to reach beyond their perceived limitations. The Foundation seeks a strong leader with experience in nonprofit management, philanthropy (family philanthropy experience is a plus) and grant making; relational skills with a board of directors and community members; and strong communication and administrative skills.

Required qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree required, Master’s degree or higher preferred
  • 8-10 years of nonprofit leadership or management experience

The executive director will make the biggest impact in his or her role with the following skills and experience:

Board relations

  • Develop and maintain an effective partnership with the Board while working skillfully with the Board
  • Recommend annual objectives based on vision, goals, and budget
  • Encourage and facilitate participation by the Board
  • Maintain confidentiality of discussions with the Board and avoid conflicts of interest
  • Understand and have an interest in working in a family-led foundation
  • Collaborate with the Board and committee chairs to prepare and suggest agenda items based on best practices and discussions
  • Staff board and grants committee meetings and prepare minutes

Grantmaking and foundation experience

  • Facilitate and develop the grantmaking framework and process
  • Manage the grantmaking process
  • Build and manage relationships between the Foundation and grantees
  • Manage competitive, legacy, donor advised, and grandchildren grants
  • Incorporate knowledge of children and family issues into grant making

Administrative and finance skills

  • Prepare and process correspondence, decision letters, etc.
  • Develop quarterly disbursements for processing
  • Serve as liaison to the Connecticut Community Foundation for financial disbursements, check processing, scholarships and coordination of grantmaking and other efforts related to the Leever Foundation's priority areas
  • Experience with fiscal management of an organization or department
  • Proficient in the use of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel

Community relations and activity

  • Familiarity with, sensitivity to, and understanding of Waterbury, Connecticut or similar urban environment
  • Genuine interest in the community and participation in community events and activities
  • Cultural competence and commitment to valuing the leadership and engagement of the communities served
  • Professionalism, integrity, and consciously demonstrating an empathic understanding of the issues and needs facing the community
    • Create space and opportunities for all concerned parties and voices to be heard
    • Create and maintain an environment of mutual respect and trust
    • Respect role and participation of family members
    • Maximize use of collaborative problem solving and management approaches

Strategic planning and implementation

  • Guide overall strategy in collaboration with the Board
  • Determine the foundation's programmatic and operating goals and strategies in collaboration with the Board
  • Ensure, in collaboration with the board, that the Foundation’s activities clearly align with its strategic plan
  • Advance the Foundation’s mission of helping people, especially children, to realize their full potential
  • Attend briefings, symposiums, meetings to remain informed and up-to-date about the needs and opportunities in Waterbury and in urban philanthropy in general
  • Understand the big picture; be a long-range thinker

Communication skills

  • Employ an appropriate sense of humor
  • Exhibit exceptional verbal, written and presentation skills
  • Influence and inspire through written and verbal communications
  • Bilingual preferred
  • Be comfortable speaking in public to a broad audience
  • Facilitate and support communications with and engagement of family members (most of whom are not local and are not on the Board)

Relationship builder, negotiator, decision maker

  • Politically savvy; able to assess power and influence dynamics
  • Strong networking skills and ability to build relationships
  • Cultivate relationships through good listening and humility
  • Build and maintain relationships with various stakeholders within the community and greater Connecticut area organizations
  • Seek opportunities to work with the Board and/or committees, and community representatives
    • Build/create teams to address Foundation or community issues and opportunities when necessary
    • Solicit differing opinions and points of view to provide a range of options and potential outcomes to addressing issues or opportunities
  • Anticipate potential areas of differing opinion and bring parties together to discuss/negotiate equitable resolution of differences; ensure involved parties are treated respectfully to maintain personal and organizational dignity and integrity
  • Foster results, outcome, and data-based decision making

Candidate Guidelines

This search is being conducted by TSNE MissionWorks’ Executive Transitions Program with Transition Consultant P. Stewart Lanier. All submissions are confidential. Interested candidates should submit materials to:

Apply online here.

Please include a resume and a cover letter, where you learned of the position and a description of how your qualifications and experience match the Leever Foundation’s needs and mission.  All submissions of candidacy will be accepted until the position is filled. Salary is commensurate with experience, within the framework of the Foundation’s annual operating budget.

The Leever Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer and will not discriminate in its employment practices due to an applicant’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identification, veteran, or disability status.