Executive Director

The Opportunity

The Catherine Donnelly Foundation is seeking a new Executive Director to lead our national Foundation and to promote and advance the Foundation’s commitment to social and ecological justice.

Reporting to the Chair of the Board of Directors and leading a small but mighty staff team, the Executive Director is guided by the vision, mission and values, derived from our Founders, the Sisters of Service, in order to implement the strategic plan set by the Catherine Donnelly Foundation’s Board of Directors. The Executive Director oversees ongoing operations for the Foundation including administration, programs, finances and communications.

Catherine Donnelly Foundation: Vision, Mission, Values

The Catherine Donnelly Foundation is committed to promoting positive social change by funding a combination of multi-year programs and shorter-term projects in our priority areas of Environment, Housing, Adult Education and Impact Investing. Our efforts in this respect are intended to promote joint action and networking by enabling key institutional actors to combine their efforts, to build on one another’s strengths, constituencies and common experiences in pursuit of social change objectives.

Established in 2003 with current assets of $46,000,000, the Catherine Donnelly Foundation is the legacy of a progressive community of Catholic women religious, The Sisters of Service. The Foundation is a living testament to the Sisters’ tradition of response to the greatest needs in communities across Canada.

The Foundation honours, maintains, and builds upon the spirit of service and dedication that inspired Catherine Donnelly, the foundress of the community. It affirms the inherent dignity of every person and the sacredness of creation. It seeks to extend the radical commitment to social change, and to empower the marginalized that characterized the sisters’ every action.

Animated by the Christian faith that inspired the Sisters’ work, the Foundation is a lay-religious alliance that supports projects and programs designed to promote social and ecological justice and to engage those that have been excluded.

Our Strategic Direction

The Foundation recognizes that our granting and investing process has been influenced by Western colonial approaches. CDF is committed to integrating Indigenous-influenced perspectives in order to move towards a more decolonized approach to philanthropy (as grantmakers, communicators and investors.) This includes exploring decision-making models different from standard grantor-recipient relationships.  We seek initiatives that promote community decision-making and control over community resources.  Drawing upon Indigenous-influenced perspectives, we affirm worldviews that all life, human and nonhuman, is interrelated. This approach will encourage the exploration of more flexible, crosscutting work between CDF housing, environment and adult education granting streams.

The CDF identifies the ethical investment of all of its capital resources as part of its strategy for promoting positive social change.   The Foundation has made impact investments a specific priority, stating its intention to deploy 10% of its capital in impact investments.

The CDF works to build relationships with allies and partners within the social and philanthropic sectors. We are intent on increasing the profile of the CDF in the public arena so we can further our mission by amplifying grantee voices, and sharing our program and project granting experiences to influence the public and philanthropic space.

The Foundation values diversity and inclusion in recruiting board members, committee volunteers and staff. CDF has instituted a new board recruitment process to increase diversity so that the board membership will better reflect the constituencies it seeks to serve.

The Ideal Candidate      

  • Comfortable and committed to working within a lay and faith grounded organization.
  • Straightforward and honest, dependable and courageous.
  • Confident in personal strengths and aware of weaknesses.
  • Open to different perspectives, a collaborative team player.
  • Highly organized and goal-oriented, excited to create change.
  • Comfortable with ambiguity.
  • Works well independently and is self-regulating.
  • Ability to build trust and engender confidence internally and externally.
  • Ability to translate strategic priorities into practical, attainable implementation plans.

Key Responsibilities

The Executive Director is responsible for the successful leadership and management of the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, in accordance with the strategic direction set by the Board of Directors. The Executive Director reports to and works closely with the Chair of the Board, and will have responsibility and accountability for the following areas:

  • Responsible for leading the Foundation in a manner that supports and guides the mission and vision as defined by the Board of Directors.
  • Participate with the Board of Directors in developing a vision and strategic plan to guide the organization.
  • Represent the Foundation publicly in the media, communications or at events (in collaboration with board members).
  • Maintain and manage collaborative relationships with institutional stakeholders, program partners, allies and experts in the field.
  • Ensure excellent relationships with relevant foundations and other relevant bodies.
  • Prudent stewardship of the organization’s resources, overseeing financial planning, budgeting, tracking and reporting to support the long-term goals and objectives of the Foundation.
  • Work with board and staff to ensure that the mission is fulfilled through programs, strategic planning and community outreach.
  • Oversee the Foundation’s Adult Education, Housing and Environment funding programs: their development, planning, implementation and evaluation.
  • Supervise, develop, motivate and manage staff.

Other responsibilities consistent with the role of an Executive Director.

Qualifications & Competencies:

  • Commitment to the vision and mission of the Catherine Donnelly Foundation
  • Degree in a relevant field, plus three to five years relevant experience with a foundation, or non-governmental organization
  • Organizational leadership skills, including initiative, problem-solving and delegation of work
  • Excellent teamwork skills
  • Experience and competence with financial oversight, budgets, financial reports, audit
  • Demonstrated ability to oversee and collaborate with staff
  • Skills to collaborate with and motivate board members and other volunteers
  • Proven experience collaborating effectively with a wide variety of partners and stakeholders
  • Demonstrated experience of engagement in social concerns
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability in strategic and operational planning
  • Mastery of the computer programs for word processing, simple accounting and spread- sheets, email, internet
  • Ability to use key social media, and an understanding of its importance.
  • Availability and ability to travel within Canada as needed.

This is permanent full-time position and falls within the terms of the CDF Personnel Policy.

Application Process:

Application deadline: August 15, 2019

Start date:  November 4, 2019

To apply: Please send your resume and cover letter as a single PDF to with the subject line, “Application for Executive Director Position.” Your cover letter should be no more than one page, and the filename of your PDF should follow the format, “FirstName_LastName_Application”.

For a downloadable version of the job posting, click here.

All inquiries and applications will be held in the strictest confidence.

The Catherine Donnelly Foundation is committed to diversity and welcomes applications from diverse faiths, visible minorities, women, Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, members of sexual minority groups, and others. The Foundation believes that recruiting diverse candidates who bring valuable skills and voices to the staff will strengthen the Foundation.

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