The Foundation’s Mission
The Conrad Prebys Foundation is committed to improving lives and providing opportunities for all San Diegans. The Foundation seeks to address community need in San Diego through impactful grantmaking and strategic initiatives in the visual and performing arts, higher education and youth development, healthcare, medical research, and other charitable purposes consistent with Conrad Prebys’ history of philanthropy in San Diego.
Over many decades, Conrad Prebys built a real estate empire and became one of the largest private owners of residential multi-family properties in San Diego County. During his later years, he generously dedicated his resources to the community through charities, donating over $350 million before his passing in 2016. To ensure his vision extended beyond his life, The Conrad Prebys Foundation was created to perpetuate his commitment to philanthropic endeavors in San Diego.
The Executive Director role represents an exceedingly rare opportunity to join the largest philanthropic organization in San Diego. With assets over $1 billion and grantmaking that exceeds $50 million annually, the Foundation is in the early stages of shaping its strategic trajectory and approach to impact for each of its interest areas. Over the next several years, the Executive Director will be leading the organization through its initial building phase to be in service to the San Diego community—covering a suite of diverse priorities for the Foundation, including programmatic strategy, evaluation and learning, operations, grantmaking systems, staff growth and development, community engagement, governance, and more.
What makes this such a unique moment and unparalleled opportunity for the Executive Director is the ability to—in collaboration with the Board—set the development and evolution of strategy, vision, values, culture, and impact for a young and growing philanthropy with immense capacity. Operating as a true and authentic leader who thrives on working in service of others, the Executive Director will build and foster an environment based on trust and co-creation, and bring exceptional planning and implementation capabilities to Foundation objectives. In partnership with the Board and staff, the Executive Director will lead the establishment of a best-in-class and forward-thinking Foundation that will be seen as a trusted partner and catalyst for positive change in the San Diego community.
The Position & Key Priorities
Reporting to the Board of Directors and overseeing a professional team based in San Diego, the Executive Director has overall strategic and operational responsibility for the Foundation’s programs, community engagement, finances and investments, administration, grants management, and communications. The Executive Director will set the tone both inside and outside the Foundation for a culture that promotes and inspires collaboration, humility, learning, deep thinking, action, and organizational effectiveness.
Key priorities for the Foundation and Executive Director in the first year include:
Strategic Leadership & Governance
- Lead a learning process to build out the strategic direction of the Foundation, encouraging bold and innovative ideas that leverage community input and advance programmatic and operational goals rooted in continuous improvement, learning, and adaptation. The Executive Director is expected to engage the Board, staff, and community in a highly consultative manner and ensure alignment through all phases of strategy iteration.
- Develop standardized reporting and communication mechanisms to keep the Board informed of the Foundation’s progress on the agreed set of criteria for what success looks like in the first year and how it will be measured.
- Partner with the Board to further establish good governance and effective committee structures, and institutionalize new organizational practices and policies.
- Design a process in partnership with the Board to identify, recruit, and support the onboarding of new Board members.
- In collaboration with the Board, develop a community relations and communications plan for engaging stakeholders throughout San Diego as well as to manage the Foundation’s profile.
Program Leadership & Grantmaking
- Develop a strategy, learning, and impact framework for each of the Foundation’s program areas. By end of year one, the Executive Director will have finalized a full-fledged strategy for at least one of these initiatives that the Foundation is prioritizing, which will establish the Foundation as a key leader on the issue in San Diego.
- Further build out and implement a high-functioning grantmaking process for all program areas, and ensure effective learning and impact assessment mechanisms are in place, including reporting and data collection, grantee needs assessment, decision-levels, and budgeting.
- Conduct needs assessment on organizational structure, staff capacity, and internal systems requirements, and recommend a corresponding multi-year plan to the Board that supports building a high-performing and highly effective Foundation, and that is the basis for setting the annual operating plan and budget.
- Oversee the Foundation’s budget and finances, including ensuring everything is in place for a smooth annual audit process.
- Lead, grow, and empower the Foundation’s team, fostering an innovative and results-oriented work culture that supports long-term professional development.
- Develop and institutionalize communication channels for the Board and staff, ensuring effective engagement and collaboration.
- Build a shared understanding across Board and staff on Foundation management practices, including how everyone’s roles contribute to the organization’s overall strategy.
Ideal Candidate Profile
The Foundation is seeking an entrepreneurial leader with a demonstrated track record of success working in the philanthropic grantmaking sector. The Executive Director will thrive in a start-up environment, yet bring the sophistication and depth of expertise necessary to establish the Foundation as a leading and credible philanthropy commensurate with its profile and resources. The position requires vision and passion for effective and impactful community giving, and candidates must have a background designing and delivering excellence across diverse program areas—successfully building upon the organization’s growing reputation as a driving force for good in San Diego and attuned to the multiple capitals available to the Foundation (financial, social, relational, human, intellectual, etc.).
The Executive Director will be results-oriented with the ability to inspire and motivate. Proven experience managing high performing teams through change and growth is necessary. The Executive Director will set a clear path forward for the Foundation’s growth and evolution, and will communicate strategies effectively to Board, staff, and community. Knowing how to leverage the expertise of others and operating as an honest broker, the Executive Director will navigate leadership and management issues with transparency, compassion, adaptiveness, and agility.
Given the Foundation’s exclusive focus on place-based philanthropy in San Diego, the Executive Director will be a natural relationship builder and able to work collaboratively with grantees and stakeholders in the community across all program areas. If not already from San Diego, candidates must show past success establishing themselves with stakeholders and integrating into new environments. Additionally, direct experience in one or more of the issue areas of the Foundation is a plus; as important is a demonstrated ability to drive learning and strategy on issues the candidate is less familiar with.
A confident and engaging personality, the Executive Director will be politically astute and exhibit a genuine desire to provide support in the humblest of ways. An exceptional listener, communicator, and facilitator, the Executive Director will be approachable and flexible, and have a demonstrated background building consensus, trust, and credibility.
Since the Foundation expects to maintain a nimble and entrepreneurial team, the Executive Director must bring the appropriate balance of strategic thinking, hands-on implementation, and effective collaboration skills. Knowing how to create and optimize a high functioning organization that is technologically savvy and can capitalize on everyone’s diverse strengths is essential. The Executive Director will be an empowering leader and mentor for the team, creating a work culture that supports continuous learning and professional growth.
Candidates must bring a strong combination of intellect, organizational management, and financial acumen to the role. The position also requires a skillset that effectively combines the ability to seek input from multiple sources, encourage constructive discussion, creatively analyze and synthesize data, but also know when to proceed with “doing” rather than overthinking.
A minimum of 20 years of professional experience, including significant leadership responsibilities in a philanthropic grantmaking context is required. Experience working in the nonprofit sector on the grant recipient side of the table is highly desirable.
To Be Considered
The Conrad Prebys Foundation values, celebrates, and supports a diverse and inclusive environment. All qualified candidates are strongly encouraged to submit their cover letters and resumes for consideration.
Please submit your resume and cover letter expressing your interest in the position and fit for the role via the Become a Candidate button. Letters may be addressed to Jeff Waldron.
The search for an Executive Director for the Conrad Prebys Foundation is being led by: