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Director, Government & Foundation Relations
Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois
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Date Posted 01/20/2018
Philanthropy-Foundation Relations
Employment Type Fulltime
Application Deadline Open until filled

The Director of Government & Foundation Relations is a staff leadership position that is responsible for securing funding from government and foundation sources. Reporting to the Chief Development Officer and overseeing the work of a Manager and a Coordinator, this position will develop and drive fundraising and relationship-building strategies to increase the scale of our funding work and to enhance and strengthen the position of Shedd Aquarium. The Director will collaborate with Shedd leadership across departments on the articulation of the aquarium's programs, in an effort to align these with funding opportunities. The Director will also work with other members of our Development, Finance and programmatic teams in the production of major grant proposals.

Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Demonstrate commitment to Shedd's vision, mission and values.
  • Lead the development strategy for cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of government and foundation funders.
  • Develop a comprehensive calendar of priority institutional initiatives in collaboration with aquarium leadership and staff, and identify funding opportunities to ensure a steady funding stream from foundations as well as government agencies to support programmatic priorities.
  • Identify and cultivate relationships with appropriate granting agencies that lead to new funding and overall increased financial support of operations and the strategic plan.
  • Conduct stewardship and cultivation activities to build, maintain, and strengthen relationships with existing government and foundation funders.
    • Ensure proper recognition of funders, stewardship and ongoing outreach.
  • Manage, facilitate and supervise activities of the foundation and government relations manager and coordinator, including oversight of all contributed revenue activities including prospecting, proposal submission, stewardship and grant compliance reporting.
  • Research and write a broad range of documents, including proposals, narrative reports, evaluations, and correspondence.
  • Monitor new government and foundation funding trends to identify emerging directions and agendas for support.
    • Research institutional entities, grant opportunities, and high-potential partnerships that will help fund program areas and advance the overall work of the aquarium.
  • Actively participate in departmental revenue and expense budget planning, balancing ambitious goals with accurate forecasting of foundation and government revenue projections.
  • Use Tessitura efficiently and in compliance with established procedures (training provided by Development Services).
  • Perform other duties as assigned.



  • Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts or Communications a plus.

Experience & Skills:

  • A minimum of 7 years' experience in securing grants, managing partnerships, and funding with private foundations. Experience with a cultural organization is preferred.
  • Experience as a grant writer with the ability to translate complex issues into fundraising goals and objectives and ability to articulate organization's mission to the funding community.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and demonstrated ability to work well in a team setting and collaborate across departments and teams, as well as the ability to work independently with clear roles and deliverables.
  • Strong active listening, excellent oral and written communication skills, with the ability to plan and facilitate meetings.
  • Ability to successfully present projects and programs to prospects, donors and aquarium leadership.
  • Knowledge of funder development prospect research methods and tools, including the ability to facilitate and synthesize ideas, observations, and research.
  • Ability to manage multiple demands and deadlines, including excellent time management and organization skills, with strong detail orientation and follow-through.
  • Strong project management skills with the ability to multi-task and prioritize.
  • Ability to handle confidential information
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