Senior Director, Global Climate Strategies

Climate Leadership InitiativeSan Francisco, CA or Washington, DC

About The Climate Leadership Initiative

The climate crisis touches all our lives and impacts everything we hold dear. There is no question that tackling this crisis is a formidable challenge – but the good news is that climate change is a problem with solutions.

Yet less than 2 percent of philanthropic giving goes toward climate solutions. The Climate Leadership Initiative (CLI) was created by leading climate philanthropists and foundations to help those with the means to act now, since the climate crisis cannot wait. Every delay means the solutions cost more in money and lives.

CLI is an advisory service designed to help philanthropists find their path to climate impact. Philanthropists can move with both urgency and rigor to address the climate crisis and protect our planet for generations to come. When working with CLI, philanthropists can get started quickly and with confidence, receive tailored guidance, and engage with our network of peers and world-class climate experts. CLI works with philanthropists to match their interests and passions with solutions ready to scale.

CLI is fully funded and acts as a trusted advisor without fundraising for itself, pooling grant dollars, or charging for its services. This frees the organization to help philanthropists find the smartest path for them.

Climate change isn’t its own cause, it’s every cause, because of its ability to threaten progress on any issue – poverty, education, conservation, economic justice, and more. It’s why CLI works across many sectors and regions to address this far-reaching problem.

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The Opportunity

As the world enters a make-or-break decade for tackling climate change, the Global Climate Strategies (GCS) team at CLI plays a vital role in guiding new climate philanthropists to the bold, outsized impact needed to solve the most profound challenge of our time. The GCS portfolio continues to be on a growth trajectory and its internal requirements for effective team operations and business processes are increasing as well. In direct response to these growing needs, the Senior Director role was created to design, build, and manage GCS team infrastructure, planning, process flows, and systems, including developing tools and approaches GCS uses to engage across CLI and externally with the global climate community.

This is an unparalleled opportunity for an experienced operations and systems-design specialist to join the growing GCS team to support its efforts to deliver world-class expertise to accelerate high-impact climate philanthropy. CLI is a matrixed work environment employing a sophisticated model of collaboration and engagement across the organization. CLI is organized into three pillars of work — Philanthropy, Global Climate Strategies, and Communications — these teams work in close partnership with each other across multiple geographies. Together, they draw philanthropists into the climate sector, advise them on the most impactful strategies and solutions, and present ideas in a way that compels action. The guiding principle for this work is to make it simple for new philanthropists to draw from the proven strategies of trusted peers, and curate the “big ideas” needed to unlock climate philanthropy at scale.

Key Responsibilities

The Senior Director will be joining CLI during a dynamic period of growth and potential to accelerate positive impact on climate change. Reporting to the Managing Director of GCS, the Senior Director will supervise three members of the GCS team – Knowledge Manager, Project Manager, and Executive Assistant. This role is focused exclusively on managing for effective team operations, designing and building GCS systems, processes, and infrastructure, as well as leading work planning, project management, budgeting, and quality control efforts.

At the core of the Senior Director role is to balance growth with practical and innovative solutions that allow the GCS team to continuously improve and scale their work. Because of the very nature of CLI as a start-up, the GCS team is consistently engaged in developing new models of work with climate funders, advisors, and partners in the global ecosystem. This results in a steady stream of first-ever initiatives and approaches that require designing and implementing processes and systems from scratch, which must be rooted in best practice, embrace creative thinking, enable scale without stifling the culture and drive of the organization, and accommodate the complex and vast-reaching nature of the GCS portfolio.

Business Design, Systems, Processes & Learning

  • Identify new or improved processes, workflows, and protocols in response to GCS team needs, and design solutions from scratch to implementation.
  • Oversee the management and further development of a dynamic knowledge management system for climate solutions, experts, and the knowledge products created for philanthropists. Help strengthen the strategy and process to efficiently source and vet climate solutions at scale to populate the knowledge management system with high-impact solutions.
  • Lead efforts to identify and develop modularity with CLI’s product sets to support effective scaling, flexibility, and speed with philanthropists to accelerate their engagement in climate strategies and solutions for impact, and enable CLI to systematically connect new climate entrants to trusted peers, collaborative giving vehicles, and stand-out grantees.
  • Develop and administer CLI’s Learning Culture, including overseeing team-wide learning sessions and building processes to cascade new learnings to the team.

Planning, Execution & Budgeting

  • Lead and support GCS team planning processes (i.e., quarterly and annual priority setting, budget development, etc.) and help coordinate cross-team planning within CLI.
  • Manage operations and work plans for the GCS team, keeping goals and priorities in front of the team and supporting efforts for GCS to adjust and adapt where needed.
  • Provide support to the Managing Director of GCS in ensuring timely, high-quality deliverables from the team, including workload prioritization, production calendars, and staff assignments.
  • Oversee regular team meeting agendas and facilitation.
  • In coordination with CLI’s Director of Operations, monitor and track financial and budgeting information for the GCS team on a regular basis.

Ideal Candidate

CLI seeks a Senior Director who will bring leadership skills and a passion for effective team operations, systems and business process design, and expert implementation to the Global Climate Strategies group. Candidates should be looking for an environment where they can be hands-on, start initiatives from scratch, and move in and out of tactical and highly detailed work with ease. A track record designing and building systems that mitigate redundancies and dependencies, specifically in the context of working with multiple stakeholder groups who have different needs, agendas, and priorities is highly desirable. The Senior Director will have numerous operating approaches in a toolset that can be applied to CLI’s unique needs in various ways to ensure the GCS team is working effectively and positioned for growth and adaptability.

Key success factors for the role include:

  • Systems and Design Orientation: Excited by opportunities to create or improve upon existing systems, processes, and workflows that are tailored to CLI’s environment, effectively meet team demands, and promote operational excellence while simultaneously planning for future growth needs that will allow the GCS team to scale their capabilities and bandwidth. A consistent eye towards iteration and ability to understand minimum requirements for viable systems is essential to succeed.
  • Operating Culture: Focused on solutions that put human users at the center and aligned with organizational culture. Capable of right-sizing systems and processes to the operating realities at CLI and for the GCS team. Highly adaptable and flexible and embraces a culture that requires responsiveness and elasticity in the operating environment.
  • Entrepreneurial and Hands-On Spirit: Self-starter with a strong entrepreneurial orientation who thrives in a fast-paced venture. Energized by helping to build something new and innovative. Capable of being both a strategic contributor and hands-on implementer.
  • Embrace Collaborative Teams: Brings a genuine respect for CLI’s powerful collaboration model, working in a participatory way across the organization and through CLI’s extensive global networks. Has a demonstrated track record of leading, coaching, and supporting high performing teams.
  • Servant Leadership: Active inquiry and learning; thrives by creatively synthesizing ideas and input from multiple sources, and an ability to recognize excellence; pinpoint key questions, distill frameworks, and weigh competing points-of-view. Enjoys working in an advisory or consultative setting.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Comfortable considering multiple points of view and encouraging constructive, balanced discussions to drive innovation and progress, while simultaneously being able to hold onto the bigger picture. Sophisticated understanding of how to build solutions that are responsive to people’s needs. Invites candor and a temperament that deploys a sensitive touch in teasing out points of disagreement.
  • Climate Sector Exposure: Direct experience working in climate-focused organizations, including extensive familiarity with climate networks, local or international institutions, and a high-level understanding of the broad climate solutions that are being developed or implemented in the U.S. and/or globally.


Candidates must have a minimum of 10 to 12 years of progressively responsible operations experience with a special focus on supporting teams and building systems in new entities or growing organizations. While direct experience in the philanthropic field is highly desirable, experience can come from NGOs, social enterprises, or business strategy consulting and/or design firms, but the throughline for candidates must be significant time in the climate / environment sector.

To Be Considered

At the Climate Leadership Initiative, we value diversity and always treat all employees and job candidates based on merit, qualifications, competence, and talent. We do not discriminate on the basis of, or traits historically associated with race, color, religion, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, veteran and/or military status), domestic violence victim status, political affiliation, and any other status protected by state or federal law.

Position Location & Travel

Occasional domestic and international travel is required. The location for the Senior Director, Global Climate Strategies may be based in CLI’s primary office in San Francisco or in Washington, D.C.

Submit Materials

CLI values, celebrates, and supports a diverse and inclusive environment throughout its organization. All qualified candidates who contribute to CLI’s broad commitment to diversity are strongly encouraged to submit their materials for consideration.

Senior Director, Global Climate StrategiesClimate Leadership InitiativeSan Francisco, CA or Washington, DC

GoodCitizen has been exclusively retained by CLI to lead this search. For questions, please contact:

Jeff Waldron
Senior Advisor
Direct: 415.529.2150