Knight Foundation

Vice President/Community and National Initiatives, Miami, FL


The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports a stronger democracy through more informed and engaged communities. The Foundation, headquartered in Miami, continues the legacy of John S. and James L. Knight, who built one of the largest and most commercially successful newspaper companies in America in the 20th century.

Like the newspaper company, the Foundation has evolved over time and continues to do so. This flexibility is intentional; as John S. Knight wrote: "A truly effective foundation should have freedom to exercise its best judgment as required by the times and conditions under which they live." What remains constant is Knight Foundation's commitment to informing and bettering our communities.

Today, Knight Foundation is an innovative, fast-paced, transformational philanthropy willing to fund experiments as well as institutional programs. With an endowment of approximately $2.3 billion and annual grants of about $145 million in journalism, the arts, and the communities where the Knight brothers worked, Knight Foundation's focused grantmaking has led to impact far beyond its size.

Community and National Initiatives

Knight Foundation supports inclusive and equitable engagement in communities where the Knight brothers owned and operated newspapers. Knight Foundation believes an engaged community is one where people are attached to the place where they live and are invested in the community's future. Engagement includes many things such as choosing to stay in a place, participating in community and civic affairs, voting, volunteering, and simply taking part in the social life of the community.

Knight staff and leadership see themselves as social investors. This means the ideal candidate is strategic: focused on identifying opportunities for transformational impact and knowledgeable about how to identify and invest in sustainable enterprises and projects.

In 2020, Knight's Community and National Initiatives program is budgeted to invest in excess of $40 million in Knight communities across the following strategic areas:

  • Public Spaces To connect people to the places where they live and to the public life of the community through the design, construction, and programming of inclusive and equitable public spaces;
  • Opportunity To attract and retain people in communities through inclusive and effective pathways to economic opportunity;
  • "Smart Cities" as Responsive Cities As digital technology reshapes our lives, Knight invests in technology-enabled efforts that help residents connect to each other and become more informed, and that help cities be more responsive to residents.

Knight Foundation funds primarily in eight cities where the Foundation has resident program officers, including: Akron, where the founders started Knight Newspapers; Miami, where their business was eventually headquartered; and other Knight cities such as Charlotte, Detroit, Macon, Philadelphia, San Jose, and St. Paul. Through donor-advised funds in local community foundations, Knight Foundation also funds in 18 additional cities in the United States.


Reporting to the Senior Vice President and Chief Program Officer, the Vice President/ Community and National Initiatives serves as an officer of the corporation and an active member of Knight's management team. The Vice President will provide leadership in the vision, creation, execution, and measurement of the program's strategy and initiatives, while overseeing a team of 21 people across communities with a resident program director and in the Foundation's Miami headquarters. This person will be an innovative and entrepreneurial thinker and doer able to elevate the impact of the Foundation's grantmaking, drive new strategies, and leverage emerging technologies along a continuum of ideas generated through the cultivation of relationships within the Foundation's communities and external sources.

The Vice President, in partnership with and through the Foundation's resident program directors, will develop strong and trusted relationships to enhance the Foundation's ability to attract the best possible grantees, thought leaders, and partners to accomplish the mission of informed and engaged communities. Additionally, the Vice President will represent the Foundation externally to grantees, funders, media, foundation communities, and the general public. The Vice President will have exemplary collaborative skills to promote internal cooperation and external partnerships with other funders and organizations.


  • Direct a team of program staff in the planning, design, development, implementation, and assessment of a major grants program focused on communities.
  • Keep current with trends in the marketplace, in technology, and in urban development to formulate innovative initiatives and creatively generalize these insights to the work of a philanthropy.
  • Maintain understanding of the fields relevant to Knight's program and in philanthropy.
  • Works with Knight's learning and impact team to monitor and assess the program's strategies; work with communications to develop the program narrative.
  • Collaborate with executive team to develop and execute the Foundation's strategic plan.
  • Serve as an officer of the corporation and exercise accountability and fiduciary oversight in making decisions for the Foundation.


The ideal candidate has experience in related work including progressive leadership in driving transformational change. She, he, or they will:

  • Have an appreciation for the dynamic role of technology; anticipate future trends and their implications and articulate strategies and pictures of possibilities to inspire and foster big ideas;
  • Translate strategy into priorities and implementation plans; identify obstacles and develop contingency plans;
  • Drive results despite obstacles by pushing self and others to achieve objectives;
  • Seek to understand differences, be sensitive to cultural norms, and cultivate a work climate where differences are lifted for their value;
  • Manage with courage by championing ideas despite dissent, delegating control and providing direct and actionable feedback;
  • Work collaboratively across the organization, partnering with others and gaining their trust to achieve shared objectives;
  • Communicate well verbally and in writing, able to adjust communication to fit the audience; actively listen and provide timely and helpful information across the organization.

Applications, including cover letters and r sum s, and nominations should be sent to the attention of Jane Phillips Donaldson and Mark Tarnacki at KnightVP@PhillipsOppenheim.com.

For more information about Knight Foundation, please visit knightfoundation.org.

Knight Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and considers all applications without regard to race, color, religion, creed, gender, national origin, age, disability, marital or veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected status.