The Pittsburgh Foundation

President and CEO SearchJob Description

As part of its research work, the Isaacson, Miller team has solicited stakeholders for ideas and perspectives about the Foundation and the presidential leadership qualities needed for its next chapter. With the position description now posted, a candidate pool will be developed through recruitment, nominations and applications. Semi-finalists will be selected by the end of this year, with semi-finalist interviews continuing through early next year. The Board plans to announce the new president in the first quarter of next year.



The Pittsburgh Foundation seeks a dynamic president to lead one of the nation’s largest community foundations. For more than 70 years, The Pittsburgh Foundation has invested in the greater Pittsburgh community and helped donors meet their philanthropic goals. Today, with assets of approximately $1.2 billion in more than 2000 separate funds, and annual grants of nearly $65 million, The Pittsburgh Foundation plays an important leadership role in the region in addressing pressing economic and societal challenges. The Foundation’s influence and independence – as well as its financial resources – position it to be an agent of change. It addresses critical regional needs through its grantmaking, informs and inspires donors, and works “beyond the grants” to leverage its knowledge and influence through collaborations, advocacy, research and communications, and thought leadership.

This is an extraordinary opportunity to provide vision and leadership to a highly regarded institution with a proud legacy of community leadership and considerable potential for continued and greater impact. The president oversees a staff of 50 and an annual operating budget of $10.1 million (excluding its supporting organizations where the Foundation exercises oversight but not day-to-day management).

The Foundation is open to candidates from a variety of backgrounds who bring knowledge of community issues and a commitment to addressing the causes and effects of poverty and to advancing racial equity and opportunity. The position calls for leadership and management experience in a complex organization, including leading through organizational growth and change. The president should be a proven innovator and thought leader with public presence, a record of successful partnerships across diverse constituencies, and a keen grasp of public policy. Senior level volunteer or staff experience in the nonprofit sector is important as well as an appetite for fund raising. The Foundation prefers candidates who come from or know the Pittsburgh region and its stakeholders but also welcomes applications from exceptional leaders with experience in similar urban communities.

Isaacson, Miller, a national search firm, is assisting The Pittsburgh Foundation in this recruitment. All inquiries, nominations, and applications should be directed in strict confidence to the search firm as indicated at the end of this document.


Community foundations are permanent endowments that are established primarily to benefit the people of a specific geographic region. These institutions have traditionally carried out their missions through community leadership, grantmaking, and by providing a vehicle for charitable giving. Charitable funds are pooled and invested together so that the earnings provide a continuing resource for the community and donor advisors. Typically, donors to a community foundation have a range of philanthropic options. They can make contributions for general purposes in unrestricted funds or in support of particular areas of interest, designate funds to be contributed to specific organizations, or actively participate in grantmaking decisions through donor-advised funds.

Community philanthropy has grown exponentially in recent years and has taken on many new forms in the process. Competitors for traditional community foundation dollars include commercial charitable gift funds, technology that allows donors to connect directly with nonprofit organizations, new family trust vehicles, giving circles, federated giving, and many other institutional forms. However, a distinguishing advantage of a community foundation is that it employs a staff of full-time program officers whose job is to understand the needs of the community and to advise the board, as well as donors, on grantmaking. In the process of this work, it can inform and inspire, as well as be inspired by, its donor community, harnessing collective knowledge and resources to create a lasting presence for good in their community.

At their best, community foundations can also serve as strategic catalysts for community improvement. They do so not only through their grantmaking activities but also through a range of collaborations and special projects and by assisting and educating donors about how they might best meet their philanthropic and civic goals. A foundation’s history in and longstanding knowledge of a community or region, and often its stature and influence, allow community foundations to leverage their work through partnerships, communications and advocacy, by fostering community dialogue, attracting new funding to a region, and through a range of other efforts. Because these foundations are politically independent, nonsectarian, and provide flexibility to respond to a region’s changing needs, they can serve as a vital, coalescing voice and force for community benefit.

The Pittsburgh Foundation is one of the oldest and one of the 15 largest of more than 750 community foundations across the United States. Established in 1945, its evolution and growth have mirrored the changes in the community foundation field as a whole. In its early years, it had no professional staff and was governed by a small group of trustee banks that appointed a committee to distribute the trust earnings each year. Eventually, as the institution’s assets grew and professional staff was hired, this distribution committee transitioned into a more active governing body and The Pittsburgh Foundation completed the transition of its governance structure from a trust to a corporate form, with a self-perpetuating Board of Directors.

The Pittsburgh metropolitan area is unusual in that the nonprofit sector drives the local economy to a far greater extent than in other similarly sized regions nationally through an array of academic, health, cultural, and community service organizations. The region also benefits from a large group of private, family, and corporate foundations which support this robust civic infrastructure. Because The Pittsburgh Foundation operates within a constellation of funders, it is better able to focus its grantmaking on serving vulnerable populations than some other community foundations in regions where they are one of the only philanthropies.


The mission of The Pittsburgh Foundation, as articulated in 2009, is to improve the quality of life in the Pittsburgh region by evaluating and addressing community issues, promoting responsible philanthropy, and connecting donors to the critical needs of the community.

This mission is grounded in and inspired by a set of core values including: commitment to the public good; accountability to the public; respect for the worth and dignity of individuals; inclusiveness and social justice; respect for pluralism and diversity; transparency, integrity and honesty; responsible stewardship of resources; and commitment to excellence and to maintaining the public trust.

Governance, Organization, and Finance

The Foundation is governed by up to a 20-member Board of Directors. Board members can serve up to three consecutive three-year terms. The board, chaired by Edith Shapira, MD, is composed of a diverse and lively mix of leaders from business, government, academia, the professions, and social and community service who bring a range of interests and viewpoints but share a deep commitment to the Foundation and its mission. The board convenes four times a year and has an active committee structure.

The Foundation has 50 staff members (not including the teams of the supporting organizations) who report to the president and CEO through an executive team leading the departments of communications, development and donor services, finance and investments, and program and policy, joined by the executive director of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County and the president of the Forbes Funds.

In 2017, the Foundation’s operating expenses, including the supporting organizations, totaled $15.5 million. Through both the Foundation itself and its supporting organizations it disbursed $64.4 million in grants in 2017.

With more than 2000 individual funds, thousands of grantees, six supporting organizations, 60+ investment portfolios, hundreds of scholarship committees, and numerous other moving parts, there is significant complexity in ensuring careful compliance and sound financial and administrative management. The Foundation is known for its exceptional fiscal stewardship and holds to very high standards to ensure the integrity of its operations on behalf of its public trust.

Funds at The Pittsburgh Foundation

As of December 31, 2017 The Pittsburgh Foundation’s assets, including those of its supporting organizations, totaled over $1.2 billion in more than 2000 individual funds.

These funds include:

  • Unrestricted Funds (22%). These are established by donors who place no or few restrictions on the way in which they are spent, and along with Field of Interest Funds, are the primary sources of grants for which nonprofit organizations apply to the Foundation. In 2017, the Foundation awarded $7.3 million in unrestricted grants to 104 organizations.
  • Field of Interest Funds (12%). These funds allow donors to support a broad area of concern, often pooled with funds from other donors, in support of such areas as children, the arts, or the elderly, without naming specific grantees. In 2017, the Foundation awarded $5.9 million in field of interest grants to 159 organizations.
  • Donor-Advised Funds (26%). This group of funds is created by donors who want to participate actively in the grantmaking decisions and who draw upon the expertise of the Foundation’s staff to varying degrees. Providing philanthropic services to these donors is an important role of the Foundation as is its effective stewardship of their investments. In 2017, donor-advised funds accounted for approximately $21 million in grants to 1,717 organizations.
  • Designated Funds (17%). These grants are made annually to specific non-profit organizations as designated when they were created.
  • Scholarship Funds (6%). These funds support students at all levels, but primarily high-school seniors seeking post-secondary education. The scholarships are often supported by committees who review applications and make the award decisions.
  • Medical Research Funds (2%). These funds support investigation into the cause and cure of a variety of diseases.
  • Other fund types (such as Agency Endowments, Program Initiatives, and Special Purpose) account for 7% of the Foundation’s assets.
Supporting Organizations

The Foundation holds $98.6 million (8% of total assets) in assets of its supporting organizations. These organizations are separate nonprofit corporations established by an individual, family, or business that formally affiliate with The Pittsburgh Foundation, thereby receiving its favorable tax and regulatory status as a public charity. The Foundation has oversight of these organizations and appoints or elects a majority of their board members who are typically candidates suggested by the supporting organizations themselves. In some cases, the Foundation’s president sits on the board of the supporting organization and its executive director has a dotted line reporting relationship to the president.

The Pittsburgh Foundation’s five Type I supporting organizations include the Forbes Funds, focused on capacity building for local nonprofits and the broader ecosystem in which they operate; the Pittsburgh Promise, a scholarship program supporting the post-secondary educational aspirations of local students; the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation, which promotes scientific exploration by supporting local, early, and mid-career scientists and incentivizing innovative cross-disciplinary research; Neighborhood Allies, focused on bringing greater economic opportunity, healthier and safer environments, and cultivating local leadership to Pittsburgh’s most under-resourced neighborhoods; and the Jack G. Buncher Charitable Fund. The Pittsburgh Foundation also holds assets of one Type III supporting organization, the R.P. Simmons Family Charitable Trust, which supports programs in Western Pennsylvania.

In 2017, The Pittsburgh Foundation’s supporting organizations disbursed $20 million.

The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County (CFWC)

Established in 1995, CFWC serves as the principal, community-driven grantmaking entity for Westmoreland County, the eastern neighbor of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County. In 2010, The Pittsburgh Foundation and CFWC entered into a formal merger, with a member of the CFWC board appointed to The Pittsburgh Foundation board and the CFWC Executive Director joining The Pittsburgh Foundation’s executive staff team. CFWC currently has more than 220 individual donor funds, valued at $23 million.

Discretionary Funding and 100 Percent Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Foundation pursues its program priorities largely through its discretionary grantmaking — drawn from unrestricted and field-of-interest funds — and each successive foundation president has shaped what he and the board have felt are the best strategies to improve the quality of life in the region and “meet community needs as they arise.” Historically, these strategies have fallen into broad areas of education, health, human services, economic and community development, environment, and arts and culture. The 2009 strategic plan defined more sharply three priority categories: Self Sufficient Individuals and Families, which funds initiatives working toward quality pre-K-12 education, employment opportunities, affordable housing, public transportation access, and affordable healthcare; Healthy Communities, which funds initiatives toward carbon footprint reduction, violence reduction/integrated re-entry, and the arts; and Vibrant Democracy, which funds initiatives that increase civic engagement and conduct research with policy-impact potential.

Under the leadership of Maxwell King, in 2015 the Foundation introduced a new overarching organizing principle, 100 Percent Pittsburgh, designed to bring these priorities into even greater focus. This initiative, formally adopted in 2016, supports programs that will better enable marginalized groups to access the benefits of Pittsburgh’s recent economic renewal. While approximately 70 percent of the region’s population has seen the fruits of this revitalization, the remaining 30 percent — those who live at or near the poverty line — have been left out. Based on the results of careful analysis and stakeholder consultation, 100 Percent Pittsburgh has initially targeted its support toward single parent households led by women and toward youth ages 12 to 24. The initiative allocates 60% of the Foundation’s discretionary grantmaking to programs that tackle the barriers to social mobility experienced by these two marginalized groups. Inherent to all 100 Percent Pittsburgh grants are values of racial equity, voice, and courage. The remaining 40% of the discretionary grantmaking reflects the goals of the strategic plan and donor intent for specific field of interest funds.

Center for Philanthropy

The Pittsburgh Foundation has long prided itself on its excellent customer service to the generous individuals and entities that make its work possible. It has deepened this commitment through its Center for Philanthropy, which provides an opportunity for even greater donor education, inspiration, and partnership. The Center offers donors and their financial advisors expertise in every aspect of philanthropy, from grantmaking and nonprofit management, to personalized education sessions, to guidance on multi-generational giving. Through research, site visits, personalized fund management, co-creation grants, giving circles, and assistance in family giving, the Center serves as a trusted ally in understanding and addressing community issues, partnering with like-minded individuals and organizations, and meeting their philanthropic objectives.

Strategic Planning

The Pittsburgh Foundation’s last strategic plan, ratified in 2009, has been adapted over time to the community’s and nation’s changing circumstances and the Foundation’s own positioning. The past decade has seen the creation of the Foundation’s Center for Philanthropy, the articulation of 100 Percent Pittsburgh, a strengthened communications presence, and a remarkable doubling of assets. Throughout 2018, in anticipation of new leadership, foundation staff have worked to lay the groundwork for a new comprehensive strategic plan, assessing internal and external opportunities and challenges and laying out options for future direction.


Maxwell King joined The Pittsburgh Foundation as president and CEO in 2014. The former editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer and president of the Pittsburgh-based Heinz Endowments, King came out of retirement to lead the Foundation for a five-year term of office. His bold and impassioned tenure as president has included strong advocacy for including vulnerable groups in the benefit streams of a resurgent Pittsburgh through the signature 100 Percent Pittsburgh framework. In addition, he has strengthened and expanded the Foundation’s investment in its Center for Philanthropy to deepen the relationships between donors and expert program staff and grantees. He leaves The Pittsburgh Foundation as a strong and influential institution, poised for future success and impact.

In its next phase, The Pittsburgh Foundation intends to continue its longstanding role as a community leader. It aspires for growth both in asset size and in visibility and influence. It will continue to promote and stimulate philanthropy, to build strong relationships with donors, and to steward its investments carefully. It also anticipates a new era of strategic grantmaking that reflects the evolving needs of the Pittsburgh community and especially addresses the needs and concerns of those struggling with poverty and injustice. It hopes to strengthen its role as a community catalyst and to build productive collaborations with old and new partners. The lynchpin in meeting these goals is the recruitment of a dynamic and creative president and talented organizational manager to build upon the Foundation’s outstanding record and to provide leadership and vision in the years ahead.


The president reports to the Board of Directors and has overall fiduciary and managerial responsibility for all foundation activities.

The broad objectives for The Pittsburgh Foundation president are as follows:

Vision & Strategy

Building upon the considerable groundwork undertaken in 2018, as well as the Foundation’s 70+ -year history of service, coalesce and galvanize board and staff around a common vision for The Pittsburgh Foundation in its next chapter. The vision should incorporate the region’s special attributes, opportunities, and current challenges, and it must articulate persuasively the unique role the Foundation can and should play in addressing those challenges and informing public policymaking. Define clear goals and strategies as well as measurable outcomes to assess progress along the way.

Organizational Leadership and Management

Serve as an inspiring, accessible staff leader. Ensure an internal organizational culture of trust, transparency, teamwork, rigor, and accountability. Navigate and balance the inherent tension of being at once a grantmaker and a fundraising institution. Promote constructive and collegial collaboration between departments. Assess the Foundation’s structure, operations, staffing, and budget, and make adjustments as appropriate. Strengthen and creatively leverage the use of technology in all aspects of the Foundation’s work from social media to donor services to financial and administrative systems. Continue to diversify the staff and reinforce internal values of fairness, equity, inclusion, and mutual respect.

Community Leadership

Ensure that the Foundation provides insightful community leadership, highlighting and addressing community challenges and opportunities. Use the organization’s independence and influence to bring emerging critical issues to the attention of the community, to convene stakeholders to address these issues, and to attract public and private resources on their behalf.

Provide leadership in support of diversity and inclusion as values essential to vibrant healthy communities.


Assess the results of the first two to three years of grantmaking under the 100 Percent Pittsburgh initiative and extend and/or adapt it accordingly. Ensure that all the Foundation’s grantmaking programs continue to be relevant and innovative in response to changing community needs and dynamics. Identify and address important gaps in philanthropic support to organizations that address poverty and inequity in the region, and inspire other funders to do the same. Ensure the Foundation maintains strong working relationships, mutual trust, and open channels of communication with its grantees.

Strengthen the Foundation’s capabilities in research, knowledge management, and evaluation. Reinforce a learning culture and set a high standard for assessing impact even where it is difficult to measure.

Communications & Partnerships

Increase the visibility and community-wide understanding of the Foundation’s mission, goals, and activities, including what differentiates it from other foundations as well as from other vehicles for charitable giving. Earn increasingly broad recognition of the Foundation as an essential partner in shaping the civic and policy agenda of the Pittsburgh region.

Forge strong and effective collaborative relations with the full spectrum of stakeholders in the region – including business, community, academic, nonprofit, and governmental interests. Extend and deepen partnerships with other funders for leverage and increased long-term impact.

Development & Donor Engagement

Cultivate and steward new and existing donors in ways that make them feel integral to the Foundation’s mission and well supported by its services. Promote and deepen the activities of the Center for Philanthropy. Serve as a dynamic advocate for the value proposition of donor investment through The Pittsburgh Foundation, especially in the context of increased competition for such investments. Continue to grow the assets of the Foundation, consistent with its mission.

Board Relations

Engage the board in helping to set organizational vision and to serve as ambassadors for the Foundation’s mission and purposes. Keep board members well informed and energized about the Foundation’s ongoing activities and provide them with concise information to exercise sound policy and fiduciary oversight. Encourage productive staff-board interaction and partnership.


The Pittsburgh Foundation seeks a passionate and personable leader and spokesperson who embraces the values of the Foundation. The new president must be a strategic thinker, creative risk-taker, persuasive communicator, seasoned and decisive manager, capable fundraiser, and excellent relationship builder. Candidates may come from a nonprofit, public sector, philanthropic, or business background, preferably with experience spanning sectors. Experience and active networks in the Pittsburgh region are strongly preferred. At a minimum, the president should have worked in a similar urban setting and be excited at the prospect of becoming a leader in Pittsburgh’s civic and community life. An understanding of how nonprofits operate is also important, and experience working with and/or answering to an engaged governing board is preferred.

An ideal candidate will bring the following professional experience and personal characteristics:

  • Resonance with The Pittsburgh Foundation’s mission, values, and legacy. The highest level of personal and professional integrity.
  • A track record of providing strategic leadership and effective management of a complex organization of talented professionals. The more varied and broad the leadership experience, the better, including oversight of financial and human resources as well as program.
  • Very strong management and team-building skills, including the ability to recruit, inspire, and retain a strong staff, set clear priorities, and delegate effectively.
  • Excellent strategic and intellectual abilities and analytic skills and a reputation for rigor. Confidence and sound judgment. Willingness to challenge conventional thinking, take calculated risks, and venture carefully into controversial issues and challenging program areas.
  • Public presence. Outstanding presentation and communication skills and the experience and inclination to be an effective, outgoing spokesperson for the Foundation and for the greater Pittsburgh region.
  • Deep respect for both the grantee and donor communities, and for the importance of their strong partnerships with the Foundation. Enthusiasm for building bridges between and among a range of stakeholders. Skills in listening and collaboration.
  • Experience building and participating in successful, sustained partnerships, including cross-sector collaborations.
  • Commitment to the value of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness.
  • Interest in public policy, legislative and political processes, the way outside forces impact government, and the role of media and social communications in driving change.
  • Marketing and fundraising ability. Ideally, significant experience raising funds from a variety of sources, particularly individuals. Without question, enthusiasm for an intensive involvement in development and donor relations.
  • Experience with or an excellent understanding of complex organizational issues and finances, investments, and their legal administration. Aptitude for technology and understanding of its applications to foundation operations and philanthropic services.
  • An outgoing and optimistic personality. Strong interpersonal skills to work effectively with the full range of constituents from all walks of life.
  • Tenacity, pragmatism, flexibility, openness, patience, humility, and good humor.

download the job description


Inquiries, nominations/referrals, and applications (including resumes and 1-3 page letters of interest responding to the challenges outlined above) should be sent electronically to:

Karen Wilcox, Rebecca Swartz, and Chloe Kanas
Isaacson, Miller
263 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02210

Applications will be held in strict confidence. Material received by November 12 will be assured full consideration.


The Pittsburgh Foundation is committed to providing equal employment opportunity to all employees and applicants for employment in accordance with all applicable federal, state and local laws. We actively welcome and encourage a diverse pool of candidates in this search.

Read the news release announcing the search