Blue Ridge is seeking a Portfolio Director to deepen our support of portfolio organizations and increase our operational capabilities. As a leader on a small team, the Portfolio Director will be instrumental in shaping Blue Ridge’s strategy and impact across all aspects of its work, including sourcing, selecting, and supporting the portfolio organizations; representing Blue Ridge externally; and creating and executing special foundation initiatives. The role also includes a special emphasis on driving internal processes to ensure Blue Ridge is a model of effective performance management, learning, and continuous improvement.
This is an exciting opportunity for an entrepreneurial, systems-driven person who understands how technology can help connect people in high-poverty communities to the opportunities, resources, and support they need to fulfill their full potential. This person will have the chance to make a deep impact at a pivotal moment in a well-established venture philanthropy fund.
Responsibilities include but are not limited to:
- Source and select new ventures. Help expand Blue Ridge’s pipeline of the most promising technology-based social innovations; proactively identify grant and investment opportunities; review submissions and perform due diligence; oversee the mechanics of the grantee/investment selection process; and be part of the team that makes final funding decisions.
- Directly support portfolio organizations. Serve as a trusted advisor, coach, and connector for Blue Ridge ventures; work hands-on with organizations on projects as needed; and help drive progress especially around ventures’ efforts to define metrics and outcomes, develop their products, raise/earn revenue, and attract and manage high caliber talent.
- Broaden Blue Ridge’s community. Initiate and help maintain relationships with a broad network of different kinds of people, including entrepreneurs from the technology and social sectors, donors, philanthropic leaders, investors, design thinkers, coders, and management experts; help connect Blue Ridge’s portfolio to the right people at the right time for the specific support they need; and share Blue Ridge’s approach with the broader community interested in the foundation’s work.
- Enhance Blue Ridge’s model and operations. Innovate on Blue Ridge’s model by conceiving and testing new ways to add value to the foundation’s portfolio; improve Blue Ridge’s systems for capturing and spreading best practices and managing knowledge; advance Blue Ridge’s performance management process; and help drive regular goal setting and planning.
- At least 7 years of experience in senior management; specific experience in program/product development, strategy consulting, and/or operational leadership preferred
- Exceptional verbal and written communication skills
- Knowledge about the theory and practice of venture philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, impact investing, venture capital, and/or technology start-ups preferred
- Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience required; advanced degree in an analytical discipline strongly preferred
- Ability to pass muster with Ella, Blue Ridge’s four-legged office colleague
The ideal candidate will also:
- Be an extremely tech-savvy, highly analytic, execution-oriented senior manager with a passion and skill for helping others achieve big impact
- Be comfortable working across boundaries. He/she will understand how internet companies and non-profits work and be able to bridge these worlds. He/she can talk product management and program development, APIs, and theories of change
- Know first-hand what good management and organizational practice look like and have a strength in communicating these ideas simply and effectively. Colleagues and others seek this person’s counsel on these topics often
- Be a problem solver who can draw on frameworks and respond creatively to quickly assess situations, identify trends, develop solutions, and apply learnings to the larger context; whiteboards and Gantt charts are this person’s friends
- Have demonstrated a commitment to addressing issues of poverty and economic mobility in America through prior personal and/or professional activities. This person believes that where people start out in life shouldn’t dictate where they end up
- Work with humility, build community, and have high standards for himself/herself and others. This person isn’t afraid to say “I don’t know” – often, if necessary – but then tracks down the information necessary to offer an exceptional answer
About Blue Ridge
Blue Ridge Foundation New York is a social innovation shop that funds and incubates new ventures that advance opportunity and upward mobility in America. Blue Ridge looks for start-ups with ideas that can create a meaningful impact, especially for people living in high-poverty communities. Then Blue Ridge provides seed funding, co-working space in its offices, and hands-on support to help these new organizations build, launch, and test their concepts. Blue Ridge’s work is about realizing possibilities – recognizing promising strategies and helping to bring them to fruition.
During its first ten years, Blue Ridge helped build 16 nonprofits in New York City that developed programmatic innovations in youth development, criminal justice, job training, and other fields. Collectively, they reach tens of thousands of people and have raised over $100 million in follow-on funding while in Blue Ridge’s portfolio. In 2012, Blue Ridge began to focus exclusively on ideas that have digital technology and data at the core of their models and started to invest in for-profit companies in addition to nonprofit organizations. Blue Ridge now adds between 5 to 10 start-ups to its portfolio each year.
These two evolutions – a focus on digital models and the addition of impact investing – require Blue Ridge to build new capabilities and evolve its methodology. Blue Ridge has a track record of turning ideas into institutions and a broad network of relationships. Now the foundation can draw on this experience to help build digital solutions that connect people living in poverty with the opportunity, resources, and support that they need to fulfill their full potential.