The Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF) is pleased
to invite nominations and applications for Independent
Trustees of the Board of Trustees. NCF is in the midst of
a transformative and exciting time. Building upon its work to
clarify its vision and values, the foundation just announced a
new strategic plan
centered around its pursuit of racial, economic, and environmental
The new Independent Trustees will join the board of 13,
including 9 current family members and 4 additional independent
trustees in realizing the foundation’s full potential and power of
its leadership, grantmaking, and endowment to advance its mission
and REEJ goal. With the recent appointment of Rey
Ramsey as President and CEO, an approved five-year strategic
plan, and new board-level commitments to strengthen governance and
practices that uphold its values, NCF is decisively answering the
call for philanthropy to examine how its structures, systems, and
practices support or hinder racial equity and justice. NCF is
committed to leveraging all of its assets toward impact, including
sector leading practices in mission-aligned investing, shareholder
activism, and its decision to partner with BIPOC-owned and led
investment partner for the management of its half-billion-dollar
endowment. Incoming Trustees have the opportunity to advance
effective governance, strategy, capacity building, and other
Ideal candidates for the Independent Trustees will first and
foremost share NCF’s commitment to equity and justice and will
complement and broaden the skills, experiences, and expertise
currently reflected on the Board. As part of the foundation’s new
strategy, it will invest in designated places in the U.S. South and
refine its giving in Israel–Palestine in alignment with racial,
economic, and environmental justice. Ideal candidates will bring an
understanding of the role a board plays in supporting the
activation and evolution of strategy in a philanthropic context, as
well as professional and lived experiences to that work. History in
the Deep South and/or professional experience in international
contexts relevant to racial, economic, and environmental justice in
the Israel–Palestine context is particularly welcome. The new
Trustees will commit the time and attention needed to fully
participate in the work of the Board.
Success in this role will require individuals who are:
- Exceptional relationship builders who nurture positive rapport,
trust, and transparency across a diverse Board and staff.
- Curious learners with an appreciation for the Jewish heritage
of the foundation and its evolution into a multi-racial,
multi-ethnic organization committed to social movements.
- Hold an understanding for how racial, economic, and
environmental justice show up not only in our U.S. national
context, but also in a global context.
- Bold thinkers, effective communicators, and committed
bridge-builders who can articulate and amplify the Foundation’s
values, and who can elevate interconnection across generations of
- Experienced leaders who bring insights, humility, and strength
to the work of change management, governance, and organizational
- Committed partners, with the time and capacity to engage deeply
during this dynamic time for the Foundation.
THE NATHAN CUMMINGS FOUNDATION STORY
The Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF or ‘the Foundation’), is a
social justice foundation working toward a future where all people,
in body and spirit, breathe freely, care for each other and
flourish in just, regenerative, and loving communities.
As a family-led foundation, NCF is rooted in Jewish history and
inspired by the traditions of tzedek (justice) and
tikkun olam (repair of the world), which
call on us to dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of justice not just
in Jewish communities but in the wider world. Acknowledging the
foundation’s evolution into a multi-racial, multi-ethnic
organization committed to social movements, it clarified
institutional values of justice and equity, courageous
transformation, learning and listening, interdependence, and
The Foundation owes its existence and inspiration to Nathan
Cummings who rose from impoverished beginnings to become the
founder and guiding force of the Sara Lee Corporation. He inherited
a spirit of sharing and a sense of community from his immigrant
parents, and transmitted these values to his children,
grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who now contribute their
time and energy to the Foundation.
NCF is located in New York City and holds assets of
approximately $450M, with an annual budget of about $25M, and a
current staff of 18. The active and deeply committed Board is
comprised of third and fourth generation members of the Cummings
family as well as four independent Trustees including the President
& CEO. Board members bring a deep commitment to social justice
IMPACT FOCUS OF THE NATHAN CUMMINGS
NCF is focused on supporting solutions to the two most
challenging issues of our time – the climate crisis and growing
inequality. It believes these dual crises cannot be addressed
without first addressing their root causes, so we invest in
systemic solutions that advance racial, economic, and environmental
justice (REEJ). NCF prioritizes partnerships with organizations
that are led by and serve those most impacted by and most capable
of dismantling systems of oppression – particularly communities of
color. The Foundation is committed to leveraging 100 percent of the
foundation’s assets – from its relationships to its grants to its
investments – in pursuit of people-centric impact.
NCF is modifying its grantmaking focus areas to bring them into
alignment with its recent strategic decision to focus solely on
REEJ. Specifically, it will be reducing the number of grantmaking
focus areas and moving toward a more integrated grantmaking
portfolio that supports REEJ-aligned work. It will also modify
grantmaking strategies in line with its belief that advancing REEJ
requires organized people and allied institutions, disruptive ideas
and innovative approaches centering equity and justice, equitable
capital investments, repaired relationships, and restored humanity
to all people.
In addition to grantmaking, NCF has doubled down on its
commitment to align 100 percent of the Foundation’s half a billion
endowment with its mission – an endowment that is managed by the
Black owned and BIPOC led investment firm Bivium-Westfuller.
Additionally, its ramping up its Shareholder
Activities, seeking to use its role as an institutional
investor to push companies to address REEJ-related issues.
Going forward, the Foundation will take risks and adopt
innovative thinking to disrupt conventional definitions and
generate new possibilities and alliances. To those ends, NCF is
expanding organizational capacity and building a culture to support
progress toward ambitious, long-term goals while remaining flexible
with regard to means and tactics.
THE OPPORTUNITY: INDEPENDENT TRUSTEES AT
Growing global climate and public health crises as well as
deepening social divides over the last several years have presented
significant challenges to organizations in the social sector. NCF
has joined a growing movement of philanthropies explicitly
examining values, craft, practices, and governance in support of
more impactful grantmaking to carry out next stage planning and
bring clarity and focus to NCF’s next level operations, program
strategy, and governance. The board’s successes include recent
commitments to NCF’s new strategic plan, ongoing staff-board
collaborations and trainings toward more effective governance and
operations, and the launch of a search for two new Independent
Trustees. In this period of evolution, the incoming Independent
Trustees will have an opportunity to participate in and contribute
significantly to the continued development of NCF’s work and
strategy both internally and externally. As full voting
participants and strategic partners on the Board, Independent
Trustees have always and continue to play an important role as
peers alongside multiple generations of family members to joyfully
engage in philanthropic work together in the spirit of Nathan
NCF is deeply committed to inclusive leadership across the Board
and staff. In fact, the Board, leadership team, and staff interact
often and collaborate to advance the Foundation’s goals.
Specific Information on Independent Trusteeship:
- Being an active, engaged Trustee of NCF requires the commitment
of time relative to the season of work for the board and is
occasionally in person. Membership requires a total commitment the
equivalent of approximately up to 10 days annually (yet only
occasionally in full-day commitments). Board activities include
three board meetings per year plus relevant meetings for committee
service, Foundation funded travel, and other staff-board activities
as appropriate. Many meetings can be attended via Zoom, although in
person time and travel, as it is safe to do so, has resumed this
- Independent Trustees are full voting members of the board and
are expected to attend and participate in all NCF Board meetings
and Board Retreats.
- The NCF Board meets three times annually (one meeting
alternates yearly as a retreat). Meetings involve two-day blocks of
time (on both weekends and weekdays) and advance preparation.
- Trustees serve on Board and Foundation Committees, as
appointed. Independent Trustees chair the Governance and Nominating
Committees and may chair other committees during their term.
Committees meet regularly by video.
- Trustees are supported to participate in conferences, forums,
conference calls, and other activities that deepen their knowledge
of the Foundation’s work and opportunities, and where they may
engage as foundation trustees in other contexts of service to the
- The majority of travel is domestic but has historically
included international travel.
- Foundation-related expenses are reimbursed to Trustees.
CORE COMPETENCIES OF THE NEW INDEPENDENT
NCF welcomes Independent Trustee candidates who have a knowledge
of and passion for racial, economic, and environmental justice and
skills and professional experiences that inform the work ahead. As
an organization deeply committed to diversity of experience and
ideas, NCF values the wide range of personal and professional
backgrounds and perspectives that are represented on its Board.
Ideal candidates will have a diverse range of experiences in their
background, combining work in the private, public, philanthropic,
and/or nonprofit sectors.
The Board places significant importance on demonstrated skills
to function as a Trustee and fiduciary in decision-making,
collaboration, goal setting, communication, and board governance.
These skills include the following professional and personal
qualities and characteristics:
Passion for the Mission and Values of the Nathan
The new Independent Trustees will be fierce believers in social
justice and will be energized by the mission and values of NCF.
They will approach the work with strong values of open-mindedness
and service with a commitment to integrity. As bold thinkers, they
will embrace ideas that challenge the status quo and draw on
creative problem solving, engaging other board members and staff in
a constructive, collaborative fashion. They will find inspiration
in NCF’s dedication to learning and will actively seek
opportunities to increase their knowledge. Committed to serving
NCF, they will be active contributors and engage fully in Board
meetings, Board Retreats, and conferences. Effective Trustees will
also engage enthusiastically with the organization’s
multi-generational culture of collaboration, values-driven
decision-making, transparency, creativity and entrepreneurship, and
respect for a wide range of voices and perspectives.
Relevant Expertise and Experience
As active contributors, the new Independent Trustees will bring
diversity of creative acumen, experience, and humanity to
conversations. They will demonstrate a deep appreciation of, and
respect for, the privilege of serving as a steward of resources for
the greater good. Governance and change management experience and
demonstrated problem-solving abilities will be highly prioritized.
The new Independent Trustees will ideally bring experience as
leaders and experts in one or more of the Foundation’s focus areas,
with the ability to engage networks on behalf of the
Emotional Intelligence and Cultural
The new Independent Trustees will embody humility, practical
wisdom, objectivity and partiality, and good judgment in difficult
decisions. As effective listeners, they will bring high intellect,
a good sense of humor, and a wide-ranging curiosity to their work
as a Trustee. Embracing NCF’s multigenerational philanthropic
family organizational culture and philosophy as a learning
organization, they will demonstrate sensitivity to the dynamics of
a multigenerational family philanthropy and have the ability to
partner successfully with other Trustees and staff. This includes
the ability to interact with a diverse range of stakeholders
effectively and authentically, give and receive critical feedback,
and work well in teams. They will enjoy the prospect of
bridge-building as they become increasingly engaged in the
Leading Through Influence
Collaborative in nature, the new Independent Trustees will
exhibit a thoughtful approach to working across the organization
through their board and committee service. They will develop strong
relationships and will partner with Board members and staff and
enjoy serving and working with people from diverse cultural,
social, and ethnic backgrounds in furtherance of the Foundation’s
mission. They will respectfully push the boundaries of NCF’s work
and challenge the perspective of others to encourage mindful
risk-taking, innovation, and proactivity.
QUALIFICATIONS OF THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
While no one person will embody all of the qualities enumerated
below, ideal candidates will possess many of the following
professional and personal abilities, attributes, and
- The ability to approach work with joy and with deep attention
to, and consideration of, all dimensions of intersectional racial
equity and how it aligns with philanthropic strategy and
- A strategic contributor who balances wisdom with empathy and
humility when building and maintaining relationships with new and
existing staff, Trustees, and partners in the field.
- Lived experience that promotes knowledge of and sensitivity to
the challenges underrepresented communities face, including
appreciation for historical context, discernment of relationship
nuances and power dynamics, and understanding of social, racial,
and ethnic realities.
- Strong relationship building and exemplary communication skills
to support the ability to have authentic dialogue around sensitive
issues including strategic priorities and ecosystem partner
- Broad knowledge of best practices and emerging trends in
philanthropy with appreciation for the opportunities specific to
- Successful experience working effectively with persons from
diverse cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds; willingness to
set aside a personal agenda in favor of organizational and/or
community goals and objectives.
- Highly developed emotional intelligence and active listening
skills, and the ability to use interpersonal and political skills
in collaborative ways.
- Excellent analytical and communication skills including the
ability to collect, review, synthesize, and present information in
small and larger group settings.
- Demonstrated resourcefulness in setting priorities; strong
organizational skills and exceptional change management
- An optimistic outlook and the humor, integrity, kindness, and
patience necessary to work within a transformative
- An appreciation for fun, joy, learning, and respect that
philanthropic work can inspire.
For more information on The Nathan Cummings
Foundation, please visit www.nathancummings.org.
The Nathan Cummings Foundation is assisted in this search by
Jackson and Sharon Gerstman of the
national talent strategy firm NPAG.
Due to the pace of this search, candidates are strongly encouraged
to apply as soon as possible. Candidates may submit their cover
letter, outlining their interest and qualifications, along with
their resume via NPAG’s website.
The Nathan Cummings Foundation is an equal
opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from
people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+, and
other underrepresented applicants.