Morris Animal Foundation, President and Chief Executive Officer

Morris Animal Foundation Denver, Colorado
Job Type Paid permanent


Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) seeks a visionary nonprofit business leader skilled in driving organizational success and empowering high-performing staff. Reporting to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, the President/CEO will be based at the Foundation’s offices in Denver, Colorado and have overall management responsibility for a growing international organization with a $11.25 million annual budget, an endowment over $80 million, and 35+ employees. This individual will be charged with leading the Foundation through its next phase of growth and evolution and will work effectively with the Board of Trustees on governance, budget, strategy, and donor development.

Combining inspirational leadership and sophisticated management abilities, s/he will advance the Foundation in terms of culture, capability, processes, and impact. While working closely with the Foundation’s executive team, the CEO will inspire innovation and ensure that the Foundation is continually well equipped to identify and fund strategic research that produces significant outcomes to advance the health of companion animals and wildlife.

This is a rare, executive opportunity to lead an established and successful Foundation sponsoring groundbreaking work in the science community. The President/CEO has the pleasure of leading a talented executive management team that includes: VP, Marketing & Operations; VP, Development; Chief Scientific Officer; and the Sr. Director of Accounting (Finance).


Morris Animal Foundation was established in 1948 by Dr. Mark L. Morris Sr., a visionary veterinarian who was the first to understand the role of nutrition in the development of diseases in companion animals and use diet as a tool to manage these illnesses. He also believed there was a need for a foundation that solely addressed the health of companion animals. Using an idea ahead of its time, he funded his foundation by dedicating a royalty from the sale of each can of food he commercialized to fund research into these disease conditions. In 1968, Morris Animal Foundation became a public foundation; today, it stands as the largest non-governmental funder of animal health studies in the world.

With 70 years of history, Morris Animal Foundation’s reputation in funding impactful animal health studies is unprecedented. Since its inception, the Foundation has funded more than 1,600 humane animal health studies. Each year, the Foundation’s funding supports over 200 animal health and welfare research studies taking place at the most respected research institutions in the field, especially at colleges of veterinary medicine and zoos. All studies are evaluated and peer-reviewed by experts on the Scientific Advisory Boards, ensuring that only the most relevant and scientifically valid studies are funded.

Morris Animal Foundation helps animals worldwide enjoy longer, healthier lives. MAF funding has led to advances in veterinary care for dogs, cats, horses, llamas/alpacas, and hundreds of wildlife species on every continent. Morris Animal Foundation-funded research has advanced treatments for cancer and other fatal diseases, led to the development of diagnostic tests, identified ways to prevent disease, and helped save endangered species.

Morris Animal Foundation is sponsoring and conducting the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study (GRLS), a thirteen-year plus longitudinal study of the genetic, nutritional, and environmental factors related to the onset of various cancers and other health issues in dogs. This ground-breaking study has completed the enrollment of over 3,000 client-owned dogs throughout the USA and is creating unique opportunities for collaborative research in canine medicine, genomics, and oncology.


Executive Leadership and Organizational Management

  • Provide thoughtful and visionary executive leadership that is inclusive, transparent, and empowering in a manner that supports and guides the organization's mission as defined by the Board of Trustees
  • Oversee the day-to-day operations of the Foundation
  • Organize, motivate, and mentor internal team leaders as needed to strategically grow the Foundation’s impact, programs, fundraising, and to effectively fulfill its important mission
  • Provide insight on organizational, programmatic, and strategic opportunities the program team presents and work with the Board to set goals, direction, and strategy
  • Foster, monitor, and maintain the positive culture and staff morale at MAF; set and model the Foundation’s culture, values, and behavior
  • Contribute to the strategic plan and drive its implementation through ensuring ongoing scientific programmatic excellence, maximum fundraising, and consistent high-quality Marketing/Finance/Operations, and rigorous evaluation
  • Develop an organizational infrastructure to support and promote strategy and goals, effectively anticipating changes and planning for growth
  • Manage and motivate staff, overseeing processes such as hiring, separation, ongoing staff development, performance management, and compensation and benefits
  • Inspire a business-oriented, professional, results-driven environment across the organization
  • Establish, encourage, and maintain a clear process for staff to bring ideas and or issues to the CEO, ensuring the Board of Trustees is in a position to remain a policy-setting unit
  • Oversee and work closely with the Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer to inspire team innovation, recognize accomplishments, overcome challenges, learn of new strategic opportunities, and communicate programmatic updates as needed to the Board of Trustees

Development and Major Donor Relations

  • Cultivate and create strategic organizational partnerships to drive corporate giving and Foundation awareness; expanding corporate, major foundation, and governmental financial support of the Foundation’s research programs
  • Directly support fundraising goals through meetings with select high target major donors
  • Build personal relationships with major donors to help cultivate relationships, build trust, and share vision for the direction and impact of the Foundation
  • Represent the Foundation alongside Development staff to secure successful funding as required for large partnership and donor meetings
  • Bring passion and knowledge of Foundation programs and activities; seek to own and expand corporate, major foundation, and governmental financial support of the Foundation’s research programs
  • Cultivate a culture of philanthropy among the Trustees within their activities and build capacity if and where possible 

Financial Management and Administration

  • Provide strategic leadership and hands-on management for all of the administrative and operational functions of the Foundation in accordance with the Foundation’s mission, objectives, and policies
  • Assume responsibility for the fiscal integrity of Morris Animal Foundation
  • Monitor board-approved budget and manage daily financial operations to ensure maximum utilization of resources and optimum financial positioning for the organization
  • Oversee the established and highly effective organizational finance system, working closely with the Senior Director of Accounting
  • Analyze data and provide growth plans to overcome organizational challenges
  • Supervise the build and administration of the annual budget, with Board approval
  • Prudently assist in managing resources and all financials within established budget guidelines (and in accordance with current laws and regulations)
  • Provide data, analysis, and background for the Board to use in its budgetary review and approval process
  • Negotiate contracts and solutions for a variety of administrative, fiscal, and special projects
  • Oversee and facilitate a ‘clean’ annual audit and timely submission of IRS form 990
  • Ensure maximum resource utilization, budget management, and maintenance of the organization in a positive financial position

External Relations and Communications

  • Represent the Foundation and serve as their chief spokesperson publicly at events, conferences, and partnership meetings
  • Serve as the “Voice of MAF” in communications with key stakeholders, major donors, and partners
  • Ensure high visibility to both prospects and the public, building interest in the Foundation’s programs and partnerships
  • Present and promote Morris Animal Foundation and its mission, programs, partners, and members in a consistently positive manner
  • Oversee the strategic direction of the Foundation’s marketing and public relations

Board Governance

  • Maintain regular and ongoing communication to build strong relationships with the entire Board, providing leadership and support to members at all times
  • Communicate effectively with the Board by providing members with all information necessary to continually function properly and make informed decisions in a timely and accurate manner
  • Attend all Board meetings and provide reports and updates on staff as well as all current work, project timelines, and project and organizational progress
  • Gracefully manage the board as needed to build consensus, remind of outstanding deliverables, and offer support
  • Implement Board policies and procedures and build support for Board decisions amongst staff
  • Work closely and openly with the Board and its committees, ensuring ongoing communication of risks, issues, as well as successes
  • Advise the Board members on their work and Committee assignments; identifying the organization's needs and making strategic recommendations to further the growth and mission of the organization


Candidates may emerge from nonprofit, foundation, government, or industry backgrounds and should possess the following:

  • Five years of prior experience as a CEO, Executive Director, or in a related position
  • Strong business acumen and a history of providing visionary leadership at the executive level
  • Proven experience executing organization growth and leading a similar or larger size successful nonprofit and or related entity
  • Ability to interface and engage diverse donor and scientific/academic groups
  • Innate understanding of how to best empower scientific, academic, programmatic, and professional staff to excel
  • Prior experience working with and reporting to a Board of Directors
  • Track record of building strategic partnerships and alliances
  • Ability to travel up to 40% as required to foster partnerships, cultivate high target major donors, build rapport with Trustees, and create awareness at industry-related events and conferences
  • A deep appreciation for the scientific method and the importance of research
  • Comfortable in deferring to internal and external subject matter experts
  • A true passion for the Foundation’s mission, along with a commitment to, and enthusiasm for, animal health and welfare
  • Strong understanding of strategic planning and finance and high skill in exemplary fiscal stewardship and budget management -- including budget preparation, analysis, decision-making, and reporting
  • Experience in relating to a Board of Trustees, maintaining effective relationships, and forging consensus -- engendering the trust, confidence, and support that enables both groups to focus on their respective roles
  • A strong development-oriented mindset with an in-depth understanding of philanthropy, its nature, ethics, dimensions, and what motivates others to give; experience in successfully leveraging resources to generate revenue
  • Familiarity with diverse business functions such as Marketing, Public Relations, Human Resources, etc.
  • Experience and success in motivating, recruiting, developing, retaining, and mentoring high performance, mission-driven, and results-oriented teams
  • Excellent written, oral, and public speaking skills; a persuasive and passionate communicator with strong interpersonal and multidisciplinary project skills
  • A bachelor’s or advanced degree


Scion Executive Search ( has been retained to conduct this search. For immediate consideration please send your resume, cover letter, and salary requirements in a WORD.docx format to Scion Executive Search via email to Attn: Isaac Schild, Managing Partner using the subject title: “MORRIS ANIMAL FOUNDATION CEO SEARCH.”

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