Founded in 1991, Living Cities harnesses the collective power of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions to close racial income and wealth gaps in American cities. Utilizing a network of U.S. cities committed to addressing racial economic disparities, racially equitable impact investing strategies, and ongoing partnerships within the private and philanthropic sectors, Living Cities seeks long-term, sustainable solutions at scale. Together with cross-sector leaders in cities across the country, Living Cities works to imagine and create an America in which all people are economically secure, building wealth, and living abundant, dignified, and connected lives. Through the recently launched Closing the Gaps Network, Living Cities helps city leaders reckon with their cities’ racial history, operationalize racial equity within city government, address the root causes of racial and economic inequality through systems change, and deepen their accountability to the communities they serve.
Through investment funds and a network of primarily Black investors and fund managers, Living Cities is increasing access to capital to support business starts and growth as an avenue for Black people and other people of color to create good jobs and build wealth.
And as a collaborative of major philanthropic and financial institutions, the Living Cities board is composed of senior executives from our member institutions, who serve as governance, funders, and key influencers and connectors in pursuit of the organization’s vision and mission. The participation and commitment of Living Cities’ members over the years has provided the organization with significant stability, influence, and the solid foundation on which their work is built.
From building the infrastructure for the community development field to serving as a major catalyst for the collective impact movement, Living Cities’ impact over the last 30 years has been significant. The clarity of the current mission positions Living Cities for even greater impact in the future.
Living Cities’ core values guides everyday decisions about how, why, and what it does:
- Racial Equity and Inclusion: Racism is at the root of so many of the problems they are trying to solve, so addressing racism must be squarely at the center of how they work.
- Impact: They hold themselves accountable for evaluating their effectiveness and are intentionally self-reflective as they strive to continuously improve, adapt, and inform future innovation.
- Leadership: They continually ask difficult questions, challenge obsolete norms, and support others in their efforts to do the same. They look for strategic opportunities to promote their point of view and to move innovation from the periphery to the mainstream.
- Collaboration: They believe that respect, diverse perspectives, and the open exchange of ideas will lead to the innovative solutions and catalytic change that our country needs.
- Innovation: They take risks, catalyze fresh thinking, and test new approaches in order to creatively disrupt the status quo, change broken systems, and provide opportunities for all.
This moment marks an exciting and important time in Living Cities’ history as they seek a visionary and galvanizing leader, grounded in racial equity, who will drive innovation to address structural racism and inequity. The successful candidate will mobilize financial institutions, philanthropy, investors, government and cross-sector partners and establish a vision for the organization that is achieved through the efforts of a diverse and high-performing team of about 40 staff. The President/CEO must leverage the power of relationships and networks, and be effective at generating resources and activating member support for the organization.
Broadly speaking, the CEO will bring strong leadership skills, an implicit service orientation, and an exacting sense of accountability and will:
Develop and communicate an inspiring vision and strategic focus in service of closing racial income and wealth gaps: The CEO will be able to work effectively with Living Cities’ board to articulate a clear vision for Living Cities’ programs and strategies. The CEO will be the leader of the strategy and growth goals of the organization, and must be able to inspire stakeholders, motivate in ways that advance the mission of Living Cities, and maintain the highest standards of service and integrity. The successful candidate will have an established record of setting investment priorities, leading organizations through innovation and growth, and enhancing systems level outcomes. The next leader will represent Living Cities’ point of view and brand through writing, speaking, presenting, and facilitating. They must possess the marketing, communications, and development skills to mobilize and empower others towards a common goal. They must authentically navigate conversations about racial equity and systems of oppression with grace and humility.
Lead fundraising and actively manage member relations: The next CEO will serve as the primary fundraiser and must be skilled in stewarding institutional donors and inspiring the sector to join in their mission. The next CEO will engage philanthropies interested in Living Cities’ mission to assure continued funder involvement over time. They must effectively engage with existing Living Cities members to ensure their continued enthusiasm and commitment. The next leader will review, refine, and advance strategic approaches to building funder relationships that secure the financial stability of the organization to advance the organizational mission.
Maintain accountability for organizational results: The CEO will report to the Board of Directors and will work with the executive committee to plan for short and long-term goals in service of the organization’s vision and mission. The CEO will manage the development/refinement of overall performance measures and metrics – both programmatic and financial – and work with the staff to collect, analyze and report relevant data on a regular basis. The CEO will also pursue authentic community accountability relationships.
Foster collective action among members and partners: The successful candidate will facilitate member institutions’ abilities to work collaboratively and amplify impact, while also working closely with national and community-level partners advance Living Cities’ priorities and help them to adopt new ways of working. They must be able to build up and motivate partners with an anti-racist lens, and they must bring others along to advance social justice. They must experiment with blending best practices from the private and social sectors. The CEO will have a broad understanding of pertinent national trends and be highly networked with organizations and stakeholders seeking to close racial income and wealth gaps.
Provide organizational leadership and management that builds an equitable, inclusive and accountable culture: The next CEO will have the opportunity to continue to build and lead a diverse and high-impact team in executing on the organization’s long-term strategy. The CEO will work with the staff and Board to ensure that the entire organization pursues excellence, continuous learning, and consistently exhibits Living Cities’ core organizational values. Living Cities strives to attain those goals with its own employees by fostering a workplace that welcomes and embraces diversity and encourages teamwork and mutual respect. The new CEO must not only embrace these values, but continually lead in creating an atmosphere that promotes anti-racism and shared leadership and accountability, along with professional development that helps the organization adapt to changing needs. The next CEO will collaborate with the executive management team to develop and implement plans for the operational infrastructure of systems, processes, and personnel designed to accommodate the growth objectives of the organization.
We are looking for an inclusive, creative and strategic leader with a deep commitment to racial equity and a set of personal and professional values that align closely with Living Cities’ core values. They will have strong analytical skills, financial and business acumen, and the knowledge, experience, and judgement to cultivate, develop, and steward strong relationships. Their track-record will demonstrate their leadership orientation towards transformational growth of organizations and systems-level change to drive social impact. The CEO will be a poised, confident, and energetic spokesperson who can lead an organization during a time of great national evolution and change. The CEO will be a force for constructive dialogue and relentless advocacy – passionate and productive in their pursuit of creating an America in which all people are economically secure and building wealth.
This will include:
- Senior Executive Experience:
- Professional experience in a senior leadership role in one or more of the following contexts: strategic philanthropy, financial services, racial justice nonprofit, impact investing, and/or the public sector. Fluency across more than one sector helpful.
- Experience building and representing the brand of an organization, serving as a primary spokesperson on behalf of an organization, with stakeholders, government entities, and the public and building the organizational brand through storytelling and partnerships.
- A proven ability to develop innovative strategies to expand a network of potential members and engage existing and new funders and investors in productive, long-lasting relationships.
- Commitment to Racial and Economic Justice:
- Have a proven, authentic, and tangible commitment to diversity, equity (particularly racial equity), and inclusion, as both an internal way of operating and an external goal.
- Demonstrate strong racial equity competencies, including foundational knowledge and an understanding of the history of race in the U.S.; ability to analyze power and apply racial equity to work; empathy and compassion; and the ability to self-reflect and interrogate one’s own biases.
- Organizational Management Skills:
- A demonstrated track record building, motivating, and managing a high-performing team is required, including experience leading, guiding, directing, and evaluating the work of other senior leaders in a way that is both collaborative and clearly focused on achieving the organizational mission.
- Experience reviewing financial and non-financial reports to devise solutions or improvements.
- Highly energetic, self-motivated, and entrepreneurial, and able to balance a meticulous and highly rigorous professional approach with a flexible and empathetic responsiveness to the needs of colleagues.
- Ability to maintain the organization’s legality and business ethics, and build a human-centered organizational culture.
- Relationship Skills:
- Strong relationship-building and network-weaving skills.
- Outstanding interpersonal skills, with a professional and genial demeanor, and the ability to work with and lead people with different backgrounds and experiences.
Russell Reynolds Associates has been exclusively retained for this search and prospective candidates are invited to contact Russell Reynolds Associates directly. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
To apply for the role or submit a nomination, please reach out to:
Russell Reynolds Associates
101 California Street | Suite 4200
San Francisco, CA 94111-5867