Jun 14, 2024

Chief Executive Officer

$257,000 - $352,000 yearly
  • NPAG
  • Missoula, MT, USA
Full-Time Executive Management (CEO/ED) Finance/Accounting Strategic Planning

Job Description


Headwaters Foundation (“Headwaters”) is dedicated to working side-by-side with Western Montanans to improve the health of our communities. With the active involvement of families in shaping solutions to Western Montana’s most pressing health challenges, we work to power community-driven approaches that proactively address upstream issues affecting community health and well-being.

Based in Missoula, Headwaters was formed in 2017 to steward community resources that were transitioned into an endowment after the sale of Western Montana’s Community Medical Center hospital. Governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees, Headwaters is one of the largest health-related foundations in Montana, with assets of $120 million and annual grantmaking in Western Montana of about $5 million. In 2022, we proudly opened Confluence Center, a hub for nonprofit events and community gatherings on the ground floor of our downtown Missoula headquarters.

Headwaters has become a proud leader in the growing Trust-Based Philanthropy movement, an approach that flips the script on conventional philanthropy by advancing equity, sharing power, and building mutually accountable relationships. The Headwaters team recently introduced a new ten-year strategic framework, doubling down on our commitment to community empowerment and equity. We seek an inspirational leader to help us propel this transformative agenda forward.

Working Side-by-Side with Western Montanans
Serving the fifteen westernmost counties of Montana, Headwaters’ reach encompasses the population centers of Missoula, Kalispell, Helena, and Butte, along with numerous small towns, rural communities, and the Flathead Reservation, the ancestral home of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT).

Headwaters’ journey began with listening. Our team embarked on what we now call our ‘600 cups of coffee tour’ to engage with neighbors across the region to understand the health issues they face. What emerged was a resounding call to action – to direct resources to benefit children, families, and Native American communities, go ‘upstream’ to address the root causes of problems, and foster collaboration between organizations and across sectors.

Headwaters believes deeply in listening, building trusting relationships, and targeting investments to improve health. We partner with organizations dedicated to dismantling barriers to well-being alongside those who face them most, to ensure that every Western Montanan, regardless of age, race, identity, or income level, has the opportunity to thrive.


Working alongside the Board of Trustees, the incoming Chief Executive Officer has a unique and exciting opportunity to position an established, young, and growing organization for continued success as we pursue ambitious plans to more than double our grantmaking over the next ten years. The supportive, respectful, and mission-driven Board of Trustees is comprised of professionals who bring a range of expertise and perspectives on the upstream factors that contribute to the health of the communities that Headwaters serves. The CEO will collaborate with the Board of Trustees to set organizational strategy and vision, work with staff and the community to co-create an implementation plan for the ten-year strategic framework, ensure strong and transparent governance, engage the community, promote an inclusive and transparent organizational culture, and represent the organization locally and nationally.

The CEO will have the opportunity to shape the Foundation’s brand and image in the region, serving as the primary representative of our vision, mission, and impact. In this capacity, the CEO will build and foster impactful relationships and partnerships with other organizations in the region. They will seek out and orchestrate opportunities for collaboration with and between service providers in Western Montana communities and with other grant-making organizations in the state, to unify efforts and leverage resources in a values-aligned way.

Missoula, Montana
Headwaters Foundation’s headquarters are nestled in downtown Missoula, Montana, a vibrant city of 77,000 residents. An important health, commercial, and cultural hub for the region and home to the University of Montana, Missoula offers a blend of urban amenities and natural beauty. Missoula is well-known for its dynamic arts and cultural scene, entrepreneurial spirit, and breathtaking landscapes. Situated at the confluence of three rivers and between Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, Missoula has unparalleled recreational opportunities for hiking, camping, kayaking, fishing, and more.

Missoula has been listed as one of the greatest places to live in America, and Montana has been named one of the ten happiest states. Missoula hums with energy, hosting an array of cultural and community events throughout the year. From weekly farmers markets to a monthly downtown art walk, an incredible amphitheater that attracts major names in music, as well as film and literary festivals, great breweries, and more – there is always something exciting happening in Missoula.


Engage with the Community
It will be crucial for the CEO to engage authentically and deeply with communities throughout the service area and the state, with the grantees who serve them, and with policymakers who represent these communities in state government. The new CEO will be tasked with building bridges across diverse populations representing the different geographic, racial, socioeconomic, and gender identities that make up the state, and who represent the full spectrum of political views. As Headwaters embarks on a new strategic framework that will position us to take up firm policy positions and continue to advance our important work to improve the social determinants of health, the CEO will need to find common ground and build alliances without sacrificing the organization’s principles or undermining our values.

Provide Strategic Vision and Leadership
Stepping into leadership during an important period of transition and opportunity as the organization embarks on a new ten-year strategic framework, the new CEO will chart a path as we grow our grantmaking, lean into our public profile on key issues relevant to the health and wellness of Western Montanans, and explore innovative ways to further deepen and amplify the trust-based philanthropy approach. The incoming CEO will recognize and honor the intense and sophisticated work that has brought the organization to this point and will bring vision, flexibility, and creativity to ensure that this momentum continues to grow thoughtfully and strategically. They will work with staff, the board, and the community to develop an inspiring and effective roadmap to implement the ten-year strategic framework and will guide critical conversations when emerging events and circumstances invite recalibration of our approach. They will also guide our approach to evaluation as we enter the second decade of our trust-based approach to grantmaking.

Cultivate a Cohesive, Engaged, Impactful Team
The staff at Headwaters is without question our greatest asset. Since its inception, Headwaters has prided itself on recruiting, retaining, and developing a talented staff that is deeply engaged in the community and committed to the mission of the organization. Headwaters staff are co-creators and implementers of the approaches we take to achieving impact. As we prepare to launch a new ten-year strategic framework, the CEO will need to create and sustain the conditions for staff to do their best work, operate effectively with one another and as community partners, learn together, and grow.

Provide Leadership in the Field of Trust-Based Philanthropy
Headwaters has built a national reputation as a leader in the field of trust-based philanthropy. Our status as a proving ground for the effectiveness of this approach has both contributed to the development of the field and brought attention and resources to Montana’s nonprofit ecosystem. It has also created important learning and development opportunities for the staff. The new CEO will be expected to balance their local obligations to the people of Western Montana with the national profile that this role brings and to find ways to leverage all of it to advance our vision for impact.

Steward Financial Resources Effectively
The CEO is responsible for ensuring sound financial management of the organization, which includes operational budget management, effective grantmaking practice, and stewardship of the endowment. In consultation with the Board of Trustees Investment Committee and in partnership with the Chief Financial Officer, the CEO is responsible for ensuring prudent management of Headwaters’ financial assets.  We are actively exploring potential approaches to leveraging these assets to further amplify our mission-driven impact and will look to the incoming CEO to guide those discussions strategically and effectively.

Hiring Organization

Headwaters Foundation



We seek candidates with a minimum of ten years of professional experience with executive management responsibilities, preferably in a health-related nonprofit or philanthropic organization. A dedication to and deep understanding of trust-based philanthropy is necessary and important. A bachelor’s degree is required, and an advanced degree, such as an MBA, MPH, or MD would be an asset. Knowledge of grantmaking and philanthropy is required, and knowledge of financial matters such as asset allocation and portfolio management is preferred. Experience with rural and Tribal communities and/or in the health industry, health policy, and/or social justice is highly desired.


Headwaters’ next leader will be passionate about and dedicated to serving the people of Western Montana and contributing to the continued growth of trust-based philanthropy. The CEO will also possess personal leadership skills consistent with the organization’s values of humility, transparency, inclusivity, and collaboration. While no one candidate will be expected to embody all of the characteristics enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following characteristics, experiences, and perspectives:

  • A relational leader who is committed to building a strong culture – A decisive and effective leader who centers humility, transparency, and authenticity in their approach to building internal culture. They must be able to engage a high-functioning internal team and develop strong relationships that reinforce a healthy culture. This includes being self-aware and open to giving and receiving feedback with a growth mindset, as well as the ability to leverage these qualities in their engagement with the team and the board.
  • Intentional in cultivating the board-staff partnership – Experience modeling the ideal partnership between a board and an executive. From the CEO, this requires honesty, transparency, humility, and a deep-seated appreciation for the generative potential of a strong and collaborative partnership between the board and the staff.
  • Intellectually curious and a strategic, big-picture thinker – A creative strategic thinker who can see the range of opportunities for innovation and impact within the bounds of a set strategic plan. The ideal candidate will be able to pivot and adapt as new challenges arise and will know the strengths and abilities of their staff and board well enough to leverage them to meet these challenges.
  • Inspirational, collaborative, and principled – An outstanding relationship builder with a track record of successfully collaborating with a broad and diverse range of communities and individuals. Able to engage with an array of external stakeholders by modeling a trusting, transparent, and values-driven approach to building partnerships.  They will be a savvy coalition builder who understands how to craft a strong narrative around Headwaters’ impact.
  • A public-facing thought leader who can balance contributions to the field with the organizational mandate – Seasoned thought leader in the philanthropic field, preferably around trust-based philanthropy, or demonstrated ability to engage as a thought leader in other fields or sectors. Brings a nuanced understanding of how to leverage a national profile to benefit and amplify their organization’s mission.
  • A strategic and disciplined financial leader - Demonstrated understanding of organizational financial management, with a demonstrated track record of managing large budgets and building a financially stable and sustainable organization.
  • Deeply committed to diversity, inclusion, and equity and overall values alignment with Headwaters - Demonstrated personal commitment to building a diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization and supporting these values externally with their partners. Demonstrated alignment with the organization’s cultural values of transparency, communication, humility, and respect. An understanding of and demonstrated respect for Tribal sovereignty is strongly preferred.

Industry/Service Area

Community/Capacity Building, Foundation/Grantmaking, Healthcare/Public Health




The hiring range for this position is $257,000 - $352,000. A robust benefits and wellness package is also included. This is a full-time position in Missoula, Montana except for required travel. We have an office available to staff. Relocation support is available as part of a comprehensive benefits package.

Application Instructions

For more information about the Headwaters Foundation, please visit: www.headwatersmt.org

This search is being led by Ellen LaPointe and Andres Marcuse-Gonzalez of NPAG. Candidates may submit their cover letter, outlining their interest and qualifications, along with their resume via NPAG’s website.

Apply Now