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Director of Rural Grantmaking

Blandin Foundation
This position works primarily out of the Grand Rapids, Minnesota office with the expectation of being in the office 3 days a week.
Salary Range
Posting Date
February 12, 2024
Application Deadline
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Job Description

Ballinger | Leafblad is pleased to conduct the search for Director of Rural Grantmaking at Blandin Foundation in Grand Rapids, Minnesota

ORGANIZATIONAL OVERVIEW Blandin Foundation is a private foundation based in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The Foundation was founded by Charles K. Blandin in 1941 and is the state’s largest rural-based and rural-focused private foundation. The Foundation’s staff and Board of Trustees work diligently to ensure Charles Blandin’s intent is honored and served. Grants are provided to the home giving area (legally defined as the geographic area containing Itasca County plus Hill City, Remer, Blackduck, and Northome, Minnesota) and other areas of rural Minnesota.

A growing staff of 30 professionals, based at the Foundation's offices in Grand Rapids, facilitates the work of the Foundation.

HISTORY Charles K. Blandin founded the organization in 1941 and passed away in 1958 following distinguished careers in education, publishing and paper-making. He established the Foundation to aid and promote Grand Rapids and the surrounding area. In designing the Foundation, Blandin emphasized flexibility to ensure it could adapt to changing times with an underlying philosophy that its work should lead to the “betterment of mankind.”

Located in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the Blandin Foundation is one of only a handful of foundations in the U.S. focused exclusively on rural communities and is the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota. The mission of the Blandin Foundation is to connect, fund and advocate for ideas and people to inspire resourcefulness and move rural places forward.”


  • Relationship building without othering
  • Curiosity and calculated risk taking
  • Centered on mission and community
  • Resourcefulness, and collective thinking focused on outcomes
  • Results based team building
  • An ongoing journey of a new strategic direction

MISSION We connect, fund and advocate for ideas and people to inspire resourcefulness and move rural places forward

VISION We envision rural Minnesota places that welcome diversity, address injustice, and embrace change to create a sustainable and equitable future


We Love Rural We choose to live where the lives of people and land depend on each other. Our work and friendships bridge the distances we face. When challenges arrive, we lend a hand to get things done.

Courage Through Change We call attention to disparity. We think deeply and critically about solutions. We take wise, creative approaches confidently, to meet the future.

Lead With Compassion We know our neighbors’ lives up close, and advocate for and with people who are not often heard. They inspire us to build forward toward communities where respect, harmony and integrity flourish.

Seeds for the Future We learn from the past. We grow and sustain the resources in our care. We carry our founder’s community-minded spirit as we care for the future.

FRESH DIRECTION Our new vision invigorates our approach: Rural Minnesota places that welcome diversity, address injustice and embrace change to create a sustainable and equitable future.

We are retooling our grantmaking and developing programs to build on our experience in community leadership and broadband, and align toward this vision.

NEW FRAMES The Foundation is using two fresh frames to bring rural’s unique needs into crisper focus and to structure our work to best align with the greatest needs. We will continue to pursue two distinct but interwoven strategies, one for the Home Giving Area, and one for statewide rural work.

EQUITY OF PLACE, RACE AND CLASS Rural communities and Native Nations face systemic inequities because of place, race and class. We are refocusing our work priorities to address the ways these facets of discrimination are layered, and how their effects build on each other.

RURAL FISCAL POLICY We are bringing new research to changemaking conversations. We are raising rural voices in service to people pushed to the margins of our communities, who live the realities of these policies every day.

POSITION PROFILE DIRECTOR OF RURAL GRANTMAKING SUMMARY This position is responsible for overseeing, developing, and implementing program direction for the Grants strategy of the Foundation. The Director of Rural Grantmaking oversees the work of the Grants team as they explore and develop grantmaking opportunities that align with the strategic direction of the organization. The Director monitors the performance of the grants portfolio and guides the team on continuous improvement of the grantmaking functions.  The Director works closely with the CFO to ensure grantmaking targets are met.  Blandin Foundation is seeking a tactical, hardworking, deliberate, well-rounded leader focused on outcomes. Successful candidates must be passionate and curious about rural prosperity and possibility while maintaining a commitment to the urban and rural interconnectedness. Blandin Foundation is seeking a champion and leader with demonstrated commitment to intra-rural diversity, experience in outcome-based planning, programming integration and vision towards the future. This person should add value to the Blandin Foundation culture, and be a cooperative, mission-centered, driven team player and visionary. Candidates with knowledge of community wealth building principles, appreciation for placemaking and the complexities of rural culture and opportunity are encouraged to apply.

MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES The Director of Rural Grantmaking reports to the Chief Executive Officer. Direct reports to the Director of Rural Grantmaking are three Grants Program Officers and a Grants Management Assistant.


Grants Team

  • Direct all activities of the Grants Team.
  • Develop, implement, and monitor Grants program budget.
  • Develop, implement, and monitor the annual Grants workplan activities based on organizational goals and strategic outcomes of the organization.
  • Ensure the Grants Team achieves a high level of functioning to achieve organizational objectives.

Program Team

  • Works collaboratively with other program directors on issues of high strategic importance.
  • Works closely with other program directors to ensure full integration of programming across functional areas to advance the Foundation’s strategy.

Grant Making

  • Effectively implement grantmaking strategies adopted by the Board, including implementation of the strategic framework and management of funding allocations to comply with payout policy.
  • Support grants program staff as they explore and develop high potential grantmaking opportunities.
  • Oversee the grant review process.
  • Oversee grant monitoring and assessment function to ensure goals of programs are being met, funds are being allocated as proposed, and legal issues are addressed. 
  • Offer strategic insights to CEO regarding grantmaking priorities.


  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field
  • 7-10 years of related experience
  • Five or more years of managerial level experience
  • Demonstrated commitment to rural communities
  • Knowledge of, or experience in, the philanthropic or nonprofit sector
  • Experience in community development, complemented by economic development


  • Confident leadership skills
  • External facing, with excellent public speaking skills
  • A reputation of credibility
  • Excellent analytical, detail-oriented, and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent time management, prioritization, and organizational skills
  • Strong communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Demonstrate and embrace Blandin Foundation’s values
  • Have empathy for, and be able to see through, the lens of the people and communities Blandin Foundation serves
  • Practice continuous learning to grow personal/professional knowledge, skills, and abilities
  • Act with integrity, adaptability, accountability, confidentiality, and transparency
  • Flexible, agile and adaptable to change in the workplace
  • Ability to work with others from a wide range of cultural backgrounds
  • Ability to adhere to high standards of accuracy and to exhibit a strong attention to detail
  • Ability to work well independently and in a team environment
  • Ability to communicate effectively with a focus toward a culture of service
  • Ability to work with a high level of proficiency in Microsoft Office 365
  • Commitment to equity
  • Possess self-awareness, with a commitment to personal growth

LOCATION This position works primarily out of the Grand Rapids, Minnesota office with the expectation of being in the office 3 days a week.

COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS The targeted salary range for this position is $140,000-$160,000. Compensation includes participation in the comprehensive benefits plan.

TO APPLY Inquiries may be directed to Holly Kelsey-Henry: or Marcia Ballinger, PhD:

Applications will be accepted until March 15, 2024 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 confidential.

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