Vanderbilt University Executive Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations in Nashville, Tennessee

Executive Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations (Job Number: 1700001)


The Department of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) assists Vanderbilt University in securing the resources, both human and financial, that are required to achieve its mission and goals. The Department is responsible for the identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of individuals and organizations whose charitable objectives are consistent with those of Vanderbilt University’s teaching and research programs. In support of its purpose, and in response to existing and emerging needs of Vanderbilt University, the department is seeking an experienced and proven development professional to serve as the Executive Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations.

The Executive Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations (CFR) will have responsibility for significantly rethinking, innovating, and growing the institution's corporate and foundation strategy and support. The Executive Director will be a part of the Corporate and Foundation Relations team and will be supported by a Director, a Development Coordinator, and an assistant, along with a dedicated research and prospect management staff.

Duties & Responsibilities:

The Executive Director will be expected to meet the following challenges:

  • Thoroughly understand Vanderbilt University and how it operates; develop a comprehensive knowledge of its history, culture, tradition, program and base of financial support; and create a case for corporate and foundation support that is compelling and connected to the core priorities of the institution.

  • Establish and maintain strong and effective relationships with the university's major internal constituencies, which include: the Chancellor; Provost; Vice Chancellors; Vice Provost for Research; Deans; department chairs; research center directors; and representatives from the offices of Sponsored Research, Grants and Contracts Management, and Office of Technology Transfer and Enterprise Development.

  • Instill confidence in, and excitement about, corporate and foundation relations among all staff and internal constituent groups by fostering an atmosphere of cooperation, mutual respect, and collegiality across DAR and Vanderbilt's academic programs; serve as an interactive and synergistic partner with colleagues across the institution so that all work together for the common good.

  • Participate fully in the rebuilding and strengthening of the CFR team and its impact at

  • Vanderbilt; implement best practices within this field of fundraising that will provide significant and sustained growth in the level of support received by Vanderbilt from these constituents; and strive for the ultimate goal of meeting or exceeding the level of funding secured by the university's peer institutions.

  • The Executive Director also will be expected to take steps to strategically enhance and strengthen efforts in corporate and foundation relations including:

  • Leading identification, strategy, solicitation and stewardship activities for top 20-25 institutional-level, foundation and corporate relationships for Vanderbilt that bring significant resources (seven- figure commitments) to the university's highest priorities in teaching, research, and service.

  • Develop the appropriate internal infrastructure and multifaceted relationships with private, community, and operating foundations as well as corporations to meet the university’s future needs. Maximizes the support that Vanderbilt receives from corporations and philanthropic organizations in support of the priorities of the university’s most senior leaders.

  • Provide seamless first point of entry for corporate and foundation representatives who may have multiple interests at the university.

  • Work with Vanderbilt colleagues across campus to ensure corporate and foundation funders (national, regional, and local) have a strong working knowledge of Vanderbilt's areas of expertise.

  • Coordinate with the Offices of Research and various Directors of Development on requests for proposals at Vanderbilt for unrestricted, restricted, and limited submission opportunities.

  • Coordinate CFR’s role regarding Conflict of Interest policy and corporate giving.

  • Develop a more robust and interactive system for stewarding corporate and foundation support.

Leadership Duties

  • Commitment to working in a team environment with shared goals; sound judgment and integrity; entrepreneurial spirit to try new approaches and take appropriate risks; and a high level of energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to the mission and objectives of the institution.

  • Provide direction and leadership for a team of fundraisers responsible for securing commitments from corporations and foundations.

  • Ensure appropriate staff coverage of markets to ensure that the best CFR prospects are being seen and solicited.

  • Persuasively articulate the role of CFR to prospects and secure higher levels of support for this initiative. Create a plan to integrate this messaging priority with CFR activities.

  • Serve as an exemplary ambassador and representative for Vanderbilt University mission and values.

Job requires Bachelor's and 5 years of experience or the equivalent

Preferred Education, Skills, and Experiences:

  • Proven experience developing, implementing, and/or participating in a successful corporate and foundation relations effort for a high quality, complex academic or research-based institution; and familiarity with academic or research-based environment.

  • Experience planning and implementing the CFR portion of a significant and successful comprehensive campaign; a record of measurable results in initiating and closing corporate and foundation solicitations; the acuity to create short- and long-term plans and strategies.

  • Superior interpersonal skills and demonstrated ability to work effectively with and quickly gain the respect and support of various constituencies, including institutional leadership, faculty, staff and donors.

  • Working knowledge and understanding of the foundation and the corporate sectors, particularly those organizations that historically support academic and research-based institutions; and the ability to communicate Vanderbilt's mission and interests to this broad audience and to develop presentation materials, proposals, budgets, and other correspondence that support this effort.

  • Familiarity with the funding cycles of foundations, associations and charitable organizations and their submission processes; and the ability to ascertain and achieve the level of ongoing engagement and higher accountability now expected by these funders.

  • Commitment to working in a team environment with shared goals; sound judgment and integrity; willingness to try new approaches and take appropriate risks; and a high level of energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to the mission and objectives of the institution.

  • Superior communication skills including the ability to understand and translate Vanderbilt's academic mission and research for all audiences with clarity, crispness, and effectiveness.

  • 7 - 10 years of experience leading a team who also hold an advanced degree and strong working knowledge in the sciences, engineering, or technology, experience in corporate and foundation relations, and/or a combination of major gift fundraising, ideally in higher education, with strong preference given to candidates with a track record securing gifts at the six and seven-figure level.

  • Existing relationships with top national, regional, and/or local foundation funders of higher education that can be utilized in strengthening Vanderbilt's overall CFR efforts.


Primary Location: TN-Nashville-Loews Vanderbilt Plaza

Organization: DAR - Univ Central Dev Admin 144410

Job: Development and Alumni Relations