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Morris Animal Foundation - Chief Development Officer

Denver, CO

Job Description

The Morris Animal Foundation seeks a leader with exceptional strategic skills combined with the personal qualities necessary to build upon current successes to a new level of operational effectiveness and philanthropic investment in its enterprise. The chief development officer will be a person of significant gravitas who resonates both personally and professionally with Morris’ mission and the people who both carry out and benefit from its pursuit of that mission.

Morris Animal Foundation is the oldest and largest non-profit source of funding for science that improves the lives of animals. Established in 1948 by a veterinarian, the Foundation has funded over 2000 studies and committed over $100M to research benefitting companion animals and wildlife. Based in Denver, Colorado, its staff of 40 professionals manages approximately 250 studies at any given time, including the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, one of the largest and most important study to date in veterinary medicine. Building on this impressive and solid history, the Foundation is entering a new era.  They believe that with the increasing recognition of the vital role that animals play in their lives and society, extraordinary growth of their mission is not only possible but also imperative. 

Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer, the CDO will help facilitate and foster a culture of philanthropy that assures fundraising success and strategically advances the foundation’s mission, all while subscribing to the highest professional standards of prospect cultivation, gift stewardship and staff management. The CDO will be a member of a collaborative leadership team and will be expected to contribute to making institutional decisions, setting priorities, reviewing plans and developing policies and practices, in accordance with the foundation’s strategic goals for fundraising. The CDO will work closely with the foundation’s Board of Trustees in setting fundraising strategies and priorities that will help to realize the collective vision for the future of the foundation.
The CDO will have overall leadership responsibility for institutional advancement through the management of a portfolio that encompasses all development program areas: annual programs, leadership gifts, planned giving, corporate and foundation relations, stewardship and events and development operations. It is expected that the CDO will maintain and foster relationships with key donors and prospects.

The CDO will be the principal architect and director of all development activities. This will require strong coordination with the foundation departments, especially with marketing and communication colleagues to ensure the foundation’s messages are aligned with the institution’s overall communications strategy. 

The new CDO will have an exemplary background of demonstrated success in building relationships as well as leading a modern, complex development effort. Other essential qualities include exemplary interpersonal skills, a strong work ethic, personal integrity, belief in accountability and excellent communication skills. It will be important that this leader be a strategic thinker who can execute the plan, as well as, the ability to build positive rapport and work effectively with a diverse and wide range of constituencies. The successful candidate should have a proven track record in fundraising and comprehensive knowledge of all major advancement functions, including the ability to solicit and close major gifts. 

Inquiries, nominations and applications are invited. Confidential review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Nominations, expressions of interest, and applications (including a statement of application and a resume) should be submitted to the candidate portal by clicking on the Become a Candidate button above. Confidential inquiries and questions may be directed to the Witt/Kieffer consultants supporting this search: Mercedes C. Vance and Kim Brettschneider at 630-575-6175.

Morris Animal Foundation is dedicated to the principles of equal employment opportunity.  We prohibit unlawful discrimination and harassment against applicants or employees based on age 40 and over, race, sex, color, religion, creed, national origin or ancestry, disability, military status, sexual orientation, or any other status protected by applicable state or local law.  This prohibition includes unlawful harassment based on any of these protected classes.  Unlawful harassment means to create a hostile work environment based upon an individual's race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age 40 or over, or religion.  This policy applies to all employees, including managers, supervisors, co-workers, and non-employees such as customers, clients, vendors, consultants, etc.


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