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Chief Financial Officer

West Central Initiative
Fergus Falls, Minnesota - Hybrid
Salary Range
Posting Date
February 6, 2024
Application Deadline
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Job Description

Ballinger | Leafblad is pleased to conduct the search for a Chief Financial Officer at West Central Initiative in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

ORGANIZATIONAL OVERVIEW West Central Initiative, (WCI) is both a community foundation and a regional development organization, also known as Economic Development District 4. Both entities occupy the same geography. The region is made up of nine counties in the middle west part of Minnesota. A portion of White Earth Nation lies within the borders of one of the nine counties, Becker County, on the northern boundary of the region.

West Central Initiative has served as the Regional Development Organization (RDO) for Economic Development District Four since 1995. As both a local economic development agency and a place-based foundation, WCI leverages a combination of public and private resources to assist communities with a mixture of planning services, lending, grants, and programming. Significant benefits accrue to the region because of its relationship with federal and state governments.

Because state and federal guidance and funds complement traditional foundation activities, a strong and valuable relationship has developed with local government in the region. WCI functions as the regional development agency with nominal cost to constituents. WCI asks counties and cities to make voluntary contributions to support the work, but the annual flow of revenue is about one-third of what the other nine regional development commissions in rural Minnesota receive through tax levying authority. Ultimately having the two responsibilities within one organization allows for all planning work to inform the organization's philanthropic priorities.

WCI operates on a budget of $5.8M.

MISSION Serving to improve West Central Minnesota through funding, programs, and technical assistance.

VISION A vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable world starts here in West Central Minnesota.

VALUES WCI seeks to embody its values in all it does.

  • Neighborliness arises out of a strong belief that interconnectedness is crucial to long-term viability. Town to town, county to county, organization to organization, and certainly person to person, the fabric of our region depends on cooperation, appreciation, openness, and generosity.
  • Generosity is a dimension of neighborliness, but it flies higher over the region because it speaks to a willingness to embrace a common good that can only be achieved through collective action, through everyone giving of their time, talent, and treasure.
  • Empowerment in its current context is directed both internally and externally. WCI staff and fellow citizens are encouraged to be a part of bold action in the region, and to develop and use power to a good end.
  • Trend-testing is a dimension of that bold action. WCI and the community learn from one another while working together to solve problems. Together they embrace risk and learn from mistakes, always.

IMPACT AREAS REGION WCI serves the West Central Minnesota counties of Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse, and Wilkin and White Earth Nation.

The majority of the region’s 82 incorporated cities have populations under 1,000. Some towns fight to keep, or have lost, their grocery stores, cafes, or schools while others are passing school bonds or opening child care centers and welcoming new entrepreneurs. Competition for workers is fierce, especially in manufacturing and healthcare.

The area includes prairies, miles of fertile farmland, rolling hills and valleys, and lakes. WCI is both stewards of, and beneficiaries of, this stunning natural bounty and beauty. Century-old farms stand alongside newer, larger industrial farms. Vibrant cities grow upward and expand outward around the edges. Quintessential small towns embrace their history and heritage while being open and welcoming to newcomers.

STRATEGIC PRIORITIES Strategic Priorities of people, planet, and prosperity. WCI strives for equity for all people, sustain our planet, and strengthen regional economic prosperity. Regional Community and Economic Development Cornerstones are four pillars the region. Communities need to be strong, resilient, and prosperous for generations. Tied to these pillars is the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, a blueprint for cross-sector collaboration, outlining specific needs, goals, and strategies for the region’s community and economic development work over a five-year period. Global Sustainable Development Goals are based on the premise that a healthy, sustainable planet is one where all people belong and can live together in peace and prosperity. The interrelated goals are an urgent call to action by all countries—with an upcoming deadline of 2030. An important principle of the goals is to ensure “no one will be left behind.”

PROGRAMS AND SERVICES LOANS The WCI loan program helps families, communities, and businesses in the region thrive.

For decades, WCI has been a source of capital for borrowers throughout the region. In recent years, the eligibility criteria for the loan programs have been broadened to encompass restaurants, bars, newspapers, and nonprofit organizations. Additionally, WCI introduced innovative loan programs aimed at addressing specific community needs, including low-interest child care loans and financial support to both new and established small-scale farmers in our communities.

Small Enterprise Loan Fund The Small Enterprise Loan Fund primarily provides loans from $1,000 to $50,000 to businesses in the manufacturing or service sectors. Retail businesses are eligible for loans if it is determined they don’t compete with others in their immediate trade area, and bank financing or a lead lender is not required. Typically, these loans are to retail, service, manufacturing, or startup businesses. Borrowers can use loan funds for fixed assets and working capital.

Access to Capital Loan Fund Through the Access to Capital Loan program, WCI will match bank loan amounts up to $75,000. They offer a fixed rate, 5-year balloon, and amortization to match the bank.

Business and Industry Loan Fund The Business and Industry Loan Fund offers loans from $20,000 to $300,000. These loans target several key industries, including manufacturing, technology, local foods, agriculture, and healthcare. WCI works in partnership with local lending institutions, economic development organizations, and government agencies to help fill the gap between available and necessary financial resources. Projects require primary financing through a bank.

Child Care Loan Fund WCI offers loans of up to $3,500 for home-based child care providers. Center-based providers may be eligible for additional funds. Borrowers must use the loan to open or retain child care slots in our region. Most loans are related to improvements for property to be licensed or to expand licensed space.

The Good Food Loan Fund The Good Food Loan Fund offers lower-interest loans up to $15,000 to support new and existing small-scale farmers. Under-served segments of the farming population that do not have the availability of traditional financing are encouraged to apply. Funds can be used for inventory, supplies, working capital, and equipment/machinery and cannot be used for conventional agriculture or real estate.

GRANTS Driven by WCI’s strategic priorities and connected to the Sustainable Development Goals, grants are just one of many resources WCI offers to support the region’s families, communities, organizations, and businesses. Since 1986, WCI has distributed more than $75 million in grants in the region.

WCI helps secure or provide funding, along with staff expertise, to improve the region’s social and economic viability for the long term. Examples are:

  • Work to create a more sustainable and equitable region through Resilient Communities Grants.
  • Leverage small business growth and support entrepreneurs through assistance in securing economic development grants.
  • Offer tips for those looking for assistance in grant writing.
  • Help communities address local needs through assistance in securing community development grants.
  • Promote philanthropy by bringing residents together around local philanthropic issues.

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT Community Planning WCI partners with regional leaders to create vibrant, sustainable, and welcoming communities for all. Services include:

  • Comprehensive development planning, climate resiliency planning, pandemic response and recovery planning.
  • Resource and grant navigation and writing for community and economic development projects.
  • Small business development support.
  • Sustainable food and agricultural development and planning.
  • Housing plan development.
  • Community engagement design and facilitation.

17 Rooms Climate Action Early Childhood Initiative Initiators Fellowship Live Wide Open Local Foods and Sustainable Agriculture Maps and Measures Rural Belonging Rural Democracy Transportation Planning

POSITION PROFILE CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) oversees West Central Initiative’s financial strategies, directs the organization’s finance function, and supervises members of the accounting team. This position works closely with the President, the board, and other senior leaders to achieve organizational mission and financial objectives. The CFO acts as a liaison to the board, finance committee, and audit committee regarding finance and financial strategy. This position leads a highly collaborative annual budgeting process. The CFO guides the accounting team during the annual audit and IRS Form 990 filing processes. The CFO provides strategy and oversight for the financial activities of multiple fund groups: Program and Operations, Grantmaking Funds, Loan Funds, Component Funds, and the Endowment Fund. The CFO is responsible for establishing and monitoring organization-wide internal controls that verify the integrity of all systems, processes, and data.

MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES The CFO reports to the President and supervises the accounting team and ensures relevant and timely financial information is disseminated across the organization.


  • Develops and implements financial strategies – in cooperation with the president, board, and other senior organization leaders – that advance the overall mission of West Central Initiative, including revenue models, expense management, capital management, forecasting, and financial analysis.
  • Leads the annual collaborative budgeting process.
  • Oversees the annual organization-wide audit process and IRS tax filings.
  • Supervises members of the accounting team as they fulfill the day-to-day, month-end, quarterly, and annual finance and reporting needs of the organization.
  • Directs accounting team members, working within a culture of trust, in their work across various funds, departments, and functions of the organization.
  • Ensures that the accounting team provides accurate and timely financial information, including regular board and committee reports, other internal and external financial reports, and budgets.
  • Oversees endowment fund and investment accounting for organization, working closely with outside investment advisory services.
  • Establishes an internal control atmosphere that encourages and monitors the integrity of all systems, processes, and data.
  • Identifies opportunities for continuous improvement in the accounting team’s processes and systems and oversees the implementation of any changes in these areas.


  • Bachelor’s degree and/or graduate degree in accounting, finance, business administration, nonprofit management, or a similar field is preferred. Substantial relevant experience in these fields may substitute for formal academic credentials.
  • Five years of progressively increasing professional management and supervision experience leading the finance function or similar administrative function of an organization, preferably a nonprofit, community development organization, or community foundation.
  • The CFO must possess a valid driver’s license and occasionally work outside the normal business day (evening meetings, some travel).
  • This position has the option of a hybrid work schedule with weekly on-site work at WCI’s headquarters in Fergus Falls.

SKILLS To perform this job most successfully, the CFO should have these abilities and working knowledge:

  • Proven supervision experience leading collaborative teams.
  • Understanding of nonprofit accounting principles (GAAP).
  • Project management practices, including the ability to organize work, set priorities, assign and supervise team members, and manage teams to meet critical deadlines.
  • Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion principles and practices.

Competencies To perform the job most successfully, the CFO should demonstrate the following competencies:

  • Strong, Confident Leadership – Demonstrates the ability to lead people and motivate results.
  • Analytical – Synthesizes complex or diverse information, collects and researches data, uses intuition and experience to complement data, and designs workflows and procedures.
  • Problem-Solving – Identifies and resolves problems in a timely manner, gathers and analyzes information skillfully, develops alternative solutions, works well in group problem-solving situations, and uses reason even when dealing with emotional topics.
  • Project Management – Develops project plans, coordinates projects, communicates changes and progress, completes projects on time and budget, and manages project team activities.
  • Technical Skills – Assesses own strengths and weaknesses, and those of team members, providing training and development opportunities as necessary; strives to continuously build knowledge and skills; shares expertise with others.
  • Interpersonal Skills – Focuses on conflict resolution, maintains confidentiality, listens to others without interrupting, keeps emotions under control, remains open to others’ ideas, and tries new things.
  • Oral Communication – Speaks clearly and persuasively in positive or negative situations, listens, seeks clarification, responds well to questions, demonstrates group presentation skills, and participates in meetings.
  • Written Communication – Writes clearly and informatively, edits work for spelling and grammar, varies writing style to meet needs, presents numerical data effectively, and reads and interprets written information.
  • Alignment with WCI’s Core Values.

COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS The salary range for this position is $122,000-$144,000 plus participation in the comprehensive benefits plan.

TO APPLY Inquiries may be directed to Holly Kelsey-Henry: Applications will be accepted until March 22 or until the position has been filled, which may be earlier. There will be an immediate and ongoing review of candidates, so we encourage and appreciate early applications. All inquiries will remain highly confidential.

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