Vice President of Talent
Making Waves Foundation

Our Work

Making Waves Foundation (MWF) launched in 1989 as an after-school tutoring and support program for a few dozen 5th graders in its beloved community of Richmond, California. Since then, we have evolved into a pioneering, multi-faceted driver for education equity with plans for further expansion over the next decade. Committed to advancing educational opportunities for children of color from historically underserved communities, we provide students access to opportunity, the support they need to succeed, and the agency to pursue their chosen postsecondary pathway.

MWF is a private operating foundation that supports Making Waves Academy (MWA), a 5-12 grade public charter school serving over 1,000 students in Richmond, CA, and the College & and Alumni Program (CAP), a college success program providing a critical bridge between college acceptance and graduation for over 600 college students.

We are among the first organizations to focus on both college access and success as a strategy to support underserved and underrepresented students – from 5th grade through early career. Together, MWA and CAP form a unique, holistic educational model that supports students academically, socially, emotionally, and financially on their journey to, through, and beyond college. For Making Waves, education is about helping students identify their life dream – and providing access to the learning, opportunities, and support they need to make it a reality

In 2020, Making Waves Foundation launched a new strategic plan. Over the next ten years, we are pursuing an expansion strategy. First, we will increase the effectiveness of our programming to further advance student success. By strengthening our ability to better serve current students, we will be well-positioned to expand, beginning with a pilot partnership with Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, CA. We will then extend our reach providing college access and success opportunities and support directly to more students across Contra Costa County. Our goal is to significantly increase college graduation rates for underserved and underrepresented students in Contra Costa County.

Our Vision for This Role

This is a compelling opportunity for a seasoned talent leader to assume a new, expanded “human resources” role, establish a best-in-class talent function and corresponding team, and help an ambitious, mission-driven organization truly become a best place to work by setting the vision and direction for a strong, inclusive, and people-focused culture. This leader will join MWF in the early stages of its 2020-30 strategic plan, and will therefore play a pivotal role in the next era of the Foundation’s organizational development. We see this position as an extraordinary opportunity to build on the way our entire organization thinks about and develops its people and, in turn, subsequently impacts the experience of all of the students and communities we serve and with whom we partner.

Therefore, we are seeking a strategic and dynamic leader to serve as our first Vice President of Talent (VPT). Reporting directly to our Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the VPT will set the vision and direction for attracting, engaging, rewarding, developing, and retaining MWF’s ~45 member team. The VPT will be supported by a Human Resources Manager (overseeing benefits, payroll, and compliance), but the VPT will be ultimately responsible for the strategic and tactical oversight of all aspects of talent work at the Foundation, including: performance management; compensation; professional development, employee relations, staffing; and any other talent-related initiatives, all of which are anchored in a deep commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging. Additionally, this critical leader will serve as a member of MWF’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT) in service to all aspects of the Foundation’s values, impact, and success.

Our Metrics for Success in This Role

Outcomes we hope to see as a direct result of this hire are:

  • MWF has collaboratively developed the rituals and talent systems required to develop high-performing and collaborative teams at all levels within a caring, inclusive organizational culture centering diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging.
  • In partnership with the CEO, the VPT has defined a vision and corresponding strategic plan for talent work that aligns with the Foundation’s 2020-30 strategic plan.
  • The VPT has led the organization through processes to: define our core values, refine the organization’s compensation and benefits model, enhance accountability in the performance management process; and build an organization-wide recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and promotion/professional development system. Further, the VP will have contributed to the organization’s long-term hybrid remote work plan in partnership with the Chief Finance & Strategy Officer.
  • The VPT is experienced by the MWF team as a credible talent expert, both in terms of strategic organizational practices as well as more traditional compliance-driven human resources operations, all of which optimize diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and psychological safety at the Foundation.
  • The VPT cares deeply about the external impact of our organization, as well as its internal impact on the people who work here. In fact, ideally the VPT enjoys the trust and confidence of the team as evidenced by demand for the VPT’s time for coaching and guidance on personnel (and other) matters.

Responsibilities of the Vice President of Talent

The time and focus of this new leader will primarily be divided across three areas of focus:

  1. Designing and upholding our talent strategy, specifically by:
    • Defining an organizational talent philosophy and strategy that sets MWF up to be a leader in talent and people development. Key characteristics of this plan will be that it’s: mission-driven; goal oriented; focused on learning and growth; centering transparency and trust; and embracing collaboration, change, learning, and adaptation in our culture.
    • Building, implementing, and overseeing the corresponding systems in this strategy (some of which exist but are nascent). Specific elements will be recruiting, hiring, onboarding, retention, continuous staff learning and development, manager learning and development, performance management, and compensation and benefits.
    • Fostering the knowledge, skills, and mindsets across the MWF Board, SLT, and full team that create a culture where diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and anti-racism permeate every aspect of our policies, practices, and systems.
    • Conducting analysis using both quantitative and qualitative information (including the quarterly data we receive from Culture Amp), to assess our strengths and growth areas, spot patterns, and see opportunities in order to inform our talent priorities and actions.
    • Implementing an ongoing assessment of MWF’s culture and creating action plans to strengthen results over time.
    • Serving as a thought partner to our CEO in each of the areas above, and helping to insure that the talent strategy is woven into the Foundation’s broader strategic plan.

2. Providing organizational leadership as a member of the SLT, specifically by:

    • Reinforcing MWF’s culture by: being an advocate for our mission and strategy; modeling our vision for diversity, equity, and inclusiveness; and fostering innovation and continuous operations and systems improvements.
    • Coaching, developing management capacity, and fostering deep partnerships with colleagues.
    • Helping to attract, develop, and retain a diverse and high-performing team.
    • Sit on the Culture & Equity Advisory Committee, a board committee that provides advice, guidance, and specialized expertise to the team on organizational culture and DEI strategy.

3. Overseeing (and occasionally executing) operational elements of our Talent function, specifically by:

    • Transforming HR structures and processes by leveraging technology and data analytics to drive better decision making, anticipate workforce needs, manage performance, support real learning, and to achieve strategic objectives.
    • Annually reviewing/updating the staff handbook to provide clear policies and procedures that promote fair, equal and unbiased treatment of all staff and guide how we operate.
    • Mediating employee relations and performance challenges and providing guidance and coaching to colleagues in these situations.
    • Working closely with the CEO, legal counsel, and human resources staff to ensure: sound policies and systems that promote a diverse and equitable workplace, optimal support to staff members, compliance with regulations (e.g., OSHA, EEO, ERISA, Wage & Hour), and protection to the organization from risk.
    • Collaborating closely with the Chief Finance & Strategy Officer on insurance and liability matters.

Our Requirements

First and foremost, the VPT must be firmly committed to MWF’s mission.  Additionally:

Candidates for this role will ideally possess the following types of experience: 

    • An undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university
    • 10+ years of leadership and management of high-performing teams in mission-driven organizations
    • 5+ years as a senior organizational leader with significant oversight for strategic planning and implementation in Talent and, ideally, experience with the Talent operations as well 

Candidates for this role will ideally possess the following types of skills: 

    • Establishing a clear vision and strategy for talent and people development, developing metrics/goals for measuring progress, and evolving the vision in response to opportunities, challenges or changes in the environment.
    • An existing knowledgebase of frameworks and models related to various talent operations (e.g.: hiring, DEI, performance management…) so that the VPT will arrive in the role with the capacity to leverage that knowledge, recognize team and culture patterns, and serve as a thought partner to the CEO in developing short-, medium-, and long-term talent plans for MWF
    • Understanding and developing organizational HR policies, compensation and benefits, legal compliance requirements, insurance, etc.
    • Taking an org-wide view to protect MWF from risk and liability.
    • Influencing others through the development of trust, strong relationships, and the capacity to understand diverse perspectives and draw on this understanding to inspire action.
    • Effectively envisioning and managing the design and implementation of projects across teams and the organization.
    • Strong and effective presenting and communication skills which help to tell a story that is clear to a range of audiences and express ideas clearly, compellingly, and concisely, both verbally and in writing.
    • Conveying a deep belief in people; furthering the growth and development of others through regular feedback, coaching, mentoring, and encouraging learning opportunities; ultimately shaping culture and results through team leadership.

Candidates for this role should demonstrate the following characteristics: 

    • A belief in the power of diversity and its importance to the strength and success of MWF.
    • A growth mindset, as evidenced by striving to continuously learn, develop, and improve performance through self-reflection on lessons from successes and failures, resilience after setbacks, and then action.
    • Comfort in ambiguity or (ideally) passion for innovation / design thinking.

Compensation and Benefits

The salary range for this position is $140,000-170,000, depending on the experience level of the finalist. Additionally, MWF currently offers employees a generous annual cost of living stipend, an annual bonus, and additional benefits including: retirement plan with a matching contribution; medical, dental, vision, insurance (Kaiser platinum, 100% premium covered), long-term disability plans (100% employer contribution for the employee); Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for medical/dependent care expenses; HSA (including mental health); 24 vacation days, 10 sick days, and 2 personal days per fiscal year; 15 paid holidays per fiscal year; and options for working remotely.


We are currently evaluating our remote working policy, in fact the VPT will play a critical role in the consideration of options such as a hybrid work/home office model.  We do, however, require the VPT to be located physically in the Bay Area by January 2022 and, ideally, even earlier.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Making Waves Foundation is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all qualified individuals and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, neurodiversity/mental health, learning style, physical ability, age, veteran status, pregnancy, parental/family/caregiver status, socioeconomic status, genetic information or characteristics (or those of a family member) or any other basis prohibited by applicable law. In this spirit, we are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion and encourage individuals of all backgrounds to apply for this position.

To Apply

Curious? We’re partnering with Monisha and Leslie at Promise54. Drop them a note and they’ll tell you more. If/when you are ready to apply, please prepare your resume and cover letter and follow the steps here, ideally by Friday, June 18, 2021.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

This job description reflects Making Waves Foundation’s assignment of essential functions and qualifications of the role. Nothing in this herein restricts management’s right to assign, reassign, or eliminate duties and responsibilities to this role at any time.

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