Inside the Searches for Filling Philanthropy’s Biggest Jobs

Critics wonder if America’s richest foundations rely too heavily on outside recruiters for finding talent

kingmakers 04012011

Two search firms recruited these six foundation chief executives. Clockwise from top left: Robert Gallucci, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Alberto Ibargüen, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Carol Larson, David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Luis Ubiñas, Ford Foundation; Rip Rapson, Kresge Foundation; Jeff Raikes, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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close kingmakers 04012011

Two search firms recruited these six foundation chief executives. Clockwise from top left: Robert Gallucci, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Alberto Ibargüen, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Carol Larson, David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Luis Ubiñas, Ford Foundation; Rip Rapson, Kresge Foundation; Jeff Raikes, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Fat grant-making budgets, sizable staffs, and prominent board members aren’t the only things the leaders of America’s wealthiest foundations have in common.

Many of them have been recruited by Russell Reynolds Associates and Spencer Stuart, two global search firms that have played a significant behind-the-scenes role in helping major-league philanthropy determine its leadership.

People tapped by the headhunters represent a “who’s who” of grant