Head of Global Climate Strategies

Climate Leadership Initiative U.S. / Europe

The Organization

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

With less than 2 percent of global philanthropy investing in climate solutions, the Climate Leadership Initiative (CLI) was created in 2019 and is based on the fundamental premise that today’s leading climate funders are ready to do much more to leverage their credibility, networks, resources, and experience to attract new philanthropists to climate mitigation and inspire them to give on a scale commensurate with the global scope of the problem. The founding funders include Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (Chris Hohn), Hewlett Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Oak Foundation (Kristian Parker), Packard Foundation, and Sea Change Foundation (Nat Simons and Laura Baxter-Simons).

CLI is both an advisory service for new climate philanthropists as well as strategic support to help experienced climate funders enlist their peers. When working with CLI, philanthropists can get started fast, receive tailored guidance, and engage with its network of peers and world-class climate experts. CLI works with philanthropists to match their interests and passions with solutions ready to scale — all with the rigor and urgency this cause requires.

CLI is fully funded, so does not fundraise for itself or any one organization. This frees the CLI team to help philanthropists find the smartest path for them.

For more information, please visit www.climatelead.org.

The Opportunity

As the world enters a make-or-break decade for solving climate change, the Head of Global Climate Strategies (GCS) will play a vital role in guiding new climate philanthropists to the bold, outsized impact needed to solve the most profound challenge of our time. Operating from an unparalleled strategic perch, this is a rare opportunity for an experienced international specialist to build and lead a team that will deliver world-class, systems-oriented expertise to accelerate high-impact climate philanthropy. CLI has such a unique vantage point as it looks across a broad, cross-cutting landscape of intersecting issues and philanthropic investment models on climate. The CLI team also has access to the best minds in the field – from funders to experts to those implementing solutions on the ground – and the Head of GCS will be joining an organization that is translating all of these assets into trusted resources and real action for philanthropists.

CLI is a highly matrixed environment employing a sophisticated model of collaboration and engagement. 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 ultra-high-net-worth individuals into climate philanthropy, advise them on the most impactful strategies and solutions, and present ideas in a way that compels action.

In concert with the Philanthropy and Communications teams, the Head of GCS will work to cut through the complexity of climate change and give philanthropists who are new to the space confidence to act with the urgency and scale that the climate crisis demands. The Head of GCS will build on CLI’s network model of advisors from around the world to source, vet, and lift high-impact, leading-edge climate solutions. 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.

The Head of GCS will bring a genuine respect for this unique and powerful collaboration model, working in a participatory way across the organization and through CLI’s extensive global networks.

Key Responsibilities

The new Head of GCS will be joining CLI during a dynamic period of growth and potential to accelerate positive impact on climate change. In partnership with the extraordinary team of individuals at CLI who are passionate about scaling climate solutions, the following represent the priorities and objectives for this new role.

Strategy & Leadership

  • In close collaboration with the VP/COO and senior leadership team, develop the strategy and operating plan to infuse the world’s leading expertise into CLI’s work with new climate philanthropists and guide them toward the greatest impact at each stage of their climate journey.
  • Build and lead a high-performing in-house team of 3 to 4 charged with sourcing and managing the global expertise that is essential for CLI to be credible with its target audience, and to be confident it is directing philanthropic capital to high-impact solutions.
  • More broadly across the organization, play a contributing role in helping to build a dynamic, fast-growing start-up entity, enabling it to continue to scale and advance its unique mission.

Move New Climate Philanthropists to Impact

  • Source and vet solutions from across philanthropic and civil society sectors working on climate mitigation, matching new entrants with trusted opportunities for their philanthropic capital to flow toward impact. The Head of GCS will not be wedded to a single theory of change or climate agenda, but rather be an expert broker for the field at large. This includes helping philanthropists understand different points of view around various climate strategies and guiding them to viable pathways to impact through the paces of a rigorous vetting framework.
  • Build the knowledge base that enables CLI to systematically connect new climate entrants to trusted peers, proven philanthropic strategies, collaborative giving vehicles, and stand-out grantees. With unparalleled access to leading climate funders, CLI is uniquely positioned to help ultra-high-net-worth individuals enter climate philanthropy alongside their peers with confidence – and to curate lessons learned, trends, and gaps.
  • In close partnership with the Philanthropy and Communication teams at CLI, design and craft a suite of accessible materials for new climate philanthropists, including developing frameworks to quickly educate philanthropists on investment options, elevating the questions that matter most for impact, and equally important, moving them from the learning to action.
  • Co-create “on-demand” knowledge products with involvement from networks of experts, grantees, and other key stakeholders to support starter investments in climate philanthropy and eventual scaling.
  • Identify and curate big ideas with the potential to draw eight – and nine-figure philanthropic investments into ripe strategies that pursue an ambitious impact goal.
  • Across all of this work, embed an equity and justice approach to ensure a just future for all, and make climate strategies more successful in the near and long term.
  • Build a bridge for philanthropists anchored in health, poverty, oceans, biodiversity/conservation, and equity and justice to take meaningful action on climate change. Build and elevate cases for why climate mitigation is vital to every cause, and curate portfolios of solutions with compelling co-benefits. 

Systems for Scale

  • Build on CLI’s Interim Advisory Council to ensure it has the diverse, rigorous, and cross-cutting advisory function it needs to review knowledge products, vet solutions, curate big ideas, and be guided by the best possible expertise.
  • 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.
  • In close partnership with the Director of Operations, develop a robust and dynamic knowledge repository for (1) knowledge products produced for new climate philanthropists, (2) vetted climate mitigation solutions, and (3) the network of specialized experts CLI taps for all its work.
  • Lead ongoing development of CLI’s learning culture, including overseeing team-wide learning sessions and building processes to cascade new learnings to the team.

Ideal Candidate Profile

CLI seeks a senior global climate strategist who has the ability to help define and lead this growing practice area with vision, creativity, and commitment. Candidates must have broad global content expertise, demonstrated experience working across sectors and geographies, an international network, and a deep understanding of the strategies and vital role philanthropy plays in tackling issues around climate mitigation. Intellectual dynamism and an objective approach to the full breadth of climate strategies and solutions will be essential in order to work effectively across a wide spectrum of networks, partnerships, and funder groups.

The ability to work with a long-term sightline is critical, while at the same time recognizing the urgency and agility that is necessary to address one of the world’s most pressing challenges. The ideal candidate is a self-starter with a strong entrepreneurial orientation, who will thrive in a new, fast-paced venture and will be energized by building something new and innovative.

The Head of GCS will be deeply connected to leading experts from across the climate community and around the globe, and skilled at cultivating and convening trusted networks. Excellent analytical skills are required, with the ability to pinpoint key questions, distill frameworks, weigh competing points-of-view, and synthesize actionable findings – all with rigor and speed. Outstanding writing, editing, and verbal communication skills are a must, with an emphasis on clear, compelling presentation for audiences new to climate change. 

A leadership style that is driven by active inquiry and learning is necessary, alongside an intellect that evolves and thrives by creatively synthesizing ideas and input from multiple sources, and an ability to recognize excellence. Candidates must be comfortable considering multiple points of view and encouraging constructive, balanced discussions to drive innovation and progress with philanthropic strategies for climate mitigation. In particular, a posture that invites candor and a temperament that deploys a sensitive touch in teasing out points of disagreement is essential to this position’s success.

The Head of GCS will have a proven track record designing, building, leading, and coaching high performing and highly collaborative teams. Candidates must have a passion for and belief in the importance of creating a team and work environment in which people from diverse cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds can thrive. The culture of CLI also requires a balanced sense of confidence and humility, along with unimpeachable ethics, judgment, and the discretion required when working with and supporting high profile philanthropists. Additionally, candidates must have a demonstrated history of effectively engaging and managing external talent, such as consultants and retained experts, in order to create the leveraged capabilities CLI needs to do this work at scale.

Finally, experience designing processes and system requirements that enable efficient knowledge management and streamlined workflows both within and across teams is highly desirable – with an eye toward the agility start-ups require.

Location and Response to COVID-19

Position Location

CLI has an increasingly global team, now located in San Francisco Bay Area and in Europe. The location for the Head of Global Climate Strategies may be based in CLI’s primary office located in San Francisco, CA or other alternate locations across the U.S. and Europe.

Response to COVID-19

Due to circumstances caused by the novel coronavirus, the team at CLI is currently working remotely full-time. Recognizing that this is a highly unusual and rapidly evolving situation, questions on work logistics and travel requirements will be actively addressed during the course of the search process.

To Be Considered

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.

The search for a Head of Global Climate Strategies is being assisted by a team from GoodCitizen: 

Jeff Waldron
Senior Advisor
Direct: 415.529.2150

Alison Kaneko
Search Director
Direct: 415.678.5001

Mollie Smith
Search Associate
Direct: 206.462.6190