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Director of Human Resources

The Search

The John Templeton Foundation – one of the leading private grantmaking foundations in the country – seeks an accomplished and strategic leader to serve as its next Director of Human Resources.

Established in 1987, The John Templeton Foundation (the Foundation) serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the deepest and most perplexing questions facing humankind, questions such as, “Do we inhabit a multiverse? Do we have free will? Is evolution directional? What is love?” The Foundation’s work is dedicated to accelerating discovery, inspiring dialogue, and fostering intellectual humility through academic research and public engagement. Since its founding, the Foundation has awarded around $1.5 billion dollars to research projects and causes that help motivate people to become curious about the universe and to help them pursue lives of meaning and purpose. With an endowment valued at approximately $3.2 billion dollars, the Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.

Reporting to the Chief Financial and Operations Officer (CFOO), the Director will have an opportunity to help shape the Foundation’s dynamic intellectual community through progressive and innovative policies, services, and programs. The Director will assist the Foundation’s leadership in the return from remote operation in 2021 and be a thought partner creating the systems and structures needed to support staff after the prolonged interruption caused by Covid-19. In addition, the Director will create a comprehensive strategy and system for staff recruitment, further build and refine opportunities for professional development, and serve as the chief advocate and strategist for issues related to people.

The Templeton Foundation has retained Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to assist in this important recruitment. All applications, inquiries, and nominations, which will remain confidential, should be directed to the search firm as indicated at the end of this document.


The John Templeton Foundation is a non-profit family foundation that reflects the values and beliefs of its founder, Sir John Templeton. After a highly successful career in financial investment, Sir John sought opportunities to have a meaningful impact on the world around him, guided by his quest for spiritual prosperity. Sir John established the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion (the Templeton Prize) in 1972. Sir John wanted to celebrate individuals who had devoted their talents to expanding our vision of human purpose and religious belief and practice. The Templeton Prize is a monetary award given to a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. The prize celebrates no particular faith or tradition or notion of God. Rather, the Templeton Prize recognizes the quest for progress in humanity’s efforts to comprehend the many and diverse manifestations of the Divine. This prize has been awarded to 48 people, including Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Lama.

Sir John believed in celebrating individuals who were addressing what he believed were life’s most important questions. In keeping with his mission to achieve spiritual prosperity, in 1987 Sir John created the John Templeton Foundation and over time he allocated a sizeable portion of his assets to the work of the Foundation. Shortly thereafter, Sir John was created a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II, in recognition of his philanthropic accomplishments.

The Foundation still reflects this belief, as recently stated by current President, Sir John’s granddaughter Heather Templeton Dill, “the mission of the Foundation is to fund academic research and civil dialogue about the biggest, most perplexing questions to humankind.” The Foundation does not seek to answer these questions itself, but rather supports grantees and project leaders who are asking these questions and interested in this exploration. Some of the recent grantees of the John Templeton Foundation include: the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard University, the Positive Neuroscience Project led by Dr. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Greater Good Science Center Purpose Challenge Toolkit at the University of California, Berkeley.

Grantees of the John Templeton Foundation span a variety of academic disciplines across the natural sciences, philosophy, theology, and the human sciences. Currently, the Foundation has six core funding areas:

Science and the Big Questions is the largest funding area (at least 60% of annual payout must be allocated in this funding area). Science and the Big Questions supports academic research and public engagement efforts in the natural sciences, human sciences, and philosophy and theology. Grants in this funding area explore the fundamental laws and structures of nature, the philosophical and theological implications of scientific work, the nature of the divine, and the impact of spiritual beliefs, experiences, and practices on human flourishing.

Character Virtue Development advances the science and practice of character, with a focus on moral, performance, civic, and intellectual virtues such as humility, gratitude, curiosity, diligence, and honesty. These funding opportunities seek greater insight into the developmental science of virtues and the promotion of character development through innovative programs.

Individual Freedom and Free Markets supports education, research, and grassroots efforts to promote individual freedom, free markets, free competition, and entrepreneurship. Grounded in the ideas of a classical liberal political economy, this funding area seeks and develops projects that focus on individuals and their place in a free society. Whether by academic research, instruction, public outreach, or supporting debate on public policy, the Foundation aims to contribute toward making the nation and the world more just, more prosperous, and more conducive to human flourishing.

Exceptional Cognitive Talent and Genius supports programs that aim to recognize and nurture exceptional cognitive talent, especially for those at an early stage of life. This funding area also supports research concerning the nature of cognitive genius, including extraordinary creativity, curiosity, and imagination.

Genetics seeks to advance genetics research by supporting novel approaches and contrarian projects, especially research that is undervalued by traditional funding sources. In addition to basic and translational research, this funding area supports educational programs that increase public awareness concerning the ways in which genetics-related research and its applications can advance human flourishing at the individual, familial, and societal levels.

Voluntary Family Planning supports research, programs, and policy development efforts around the world that seek to better understand what factors influence family planning decisions, provide information on and access to family planning methods, and strengthen policy related to effective family planning. This funding area is particularly interested in partnering with faith-based organizations to support this work in local communities. The Foundation only funds research and programs that affirm the value of human life from conception until natural death.

In addition to funding academic research through these six funding areas, the Foundation supports efforts that bring relevant findings to non-specialist audiences through the department of Public Engagement. Forms of outreach that the Foundation supports include media projects, podcasts, public events, museum exhibits, and informal education. From On Being and Aeon to the National Speech & Debate Association, grantees represent a range of influential organizations.

The Role

The Director of HR will report to the Chief Financial and Operations Officer (CFOO) and work collaboratively with the Foundation leadership team to cultivate a culture committed to open-minded inquiry and excellence in all aspects of the Foundation’s work. Led by President Heather Templeton Dill, the Foundation has approximately 60 full-time staff organized across teams in grantmaking, operations, and outreach. It is large enough to be meaningful while also small enough to be intimate and require the Director to be involved on multiple levels. This individual will have responsibility for understanding the mission and the strategic priorities of the Foundation and providing proactive and responsive HR support around talent acquisition, professional development, staff retention, and the employee experience in this mission-driven environment. The successful candidate will know every employee’s name and story while also having the ability to identify larger employment trends and present solutions based on industry knowledge. The Director will lead the HR team and address the following specific opportunities and challenges:
Lead reopening of office space. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Foundation closed its office in March and moved to remote operation, which will remain in place through at least January 3, 2021. The Foundation intends to return to in-office operations when possible and, depending on the timing, the HR Director will play a critical role in creating a comprehensive and responsible plan for reopening. With senior Foundation leadership, the HR Director will address and update policies and procedures to ensure they reflect an evolving workplace culture while aligning with Foundation priorities and values. Finally, the Foundation staff will return to a newly renovated space and the HR Director will oversee related ongoing office utilization projects.

Create strategy and system for staff recruitment. The Foundation recently identified its 2019-2023 Strategic Priorities and a plan to devote a significant portion of the funding in Science & the Big Questions — approximately $325 million over the next five years — to twelve priorities. As a result, the Foundation expects to increase its staff by approximately 20%, and the HR Director will be charged with designing and implementing a multi-year strategic plan for the recruitment, onboarding, and retention of these important additions. More broadly, the HR Director will also bring experience advancing equity and diversity in recruitment and hiring processes.

Further build and refine opportunities for professional development. The Foundation is committed to investing in its people, and the HR Director will build out specific training, support, and other tools to facilitate professional development and organizational effectiveness. The HR Director will assess and refine the current performance evaluation systems and make sure skills and competencies needed for professional growth and internal mobility are clearly identified. This will include a renewed focus on providing staff access to the right development opportunities at the Foundation and elsewhere.

Oversee the personnel and benefits budget for the Foundation. The HR Director will be responsible for the budget of the HR department as well as for monitoring the Foundation’s spending on personnel and benefits. The HR Director will ensure that recommended team member compensation is aligned with the Foundation’s compensation philosophy, governing documents, regulatory requirements, and best practices.

Serve as chief advocate and strategist for issues related to people. The HR Director will be a knowledgeable generalist with a demonstrated understanding of the various areas within the field, providing advice and counsel on all human resources matters to the President and the CFOO, as well as other key leaders. With respect to HR matters, the HR Director will ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations and manage and mitigate risks (promptly identifying potential legal issues and risks and working with the General Counsel to address these issues and risks), while offering leadership that integrates human capital considerations into strategic planning and other Foundation activities. To that end, the HR Director will stay apprised of industry trends and best practices, and proactively promote opportunities for enhancement to existing policies, practices, and programs, including employee orientation and ongoing training.


While no one person will embody them all, the successful candidate will possess many of the following experiences, skills, and attributes:

  • A deep intellectual curiosity and appreciation for the unique mission, vision, and impact of the John Templeton Foundation.
  • Thorough understanding of federal, state, and local employment law, and experience working with employment law counsel.
  • Experience evaluating and implementing new tools and familiarity with HRIS to support the organization and optimize the employee experience; comfort and aptitude with technology.
  • Advanced communication skills to navigate internal stakeholder management, cross-functional team interactions, inter-team dynamics, and external vendor management.
  • Ability to work effectively with Foundation leadership to manage personnel and foster a healthy culture and institute change.
  • Record of effective and entrepreneurial management; the ability to build, lead, mentor, and motivate staff. A strong commitment to personal and professional development, and the ability to manage a robust, autonomous, and collaborative team.
  • A collaborative and collegial orientation, as well as the eagerness and ability to engage a diverse client base and build strong professional relationships. A convener who is able to synthesize many ideas and produce work products that address a wide variety of goals and objectives.
  • Strong personal integrity and work ethic and good judgment, as well as a sense of humor and perspective.
  • Bachelor’s degree required; an advanced degree in human resource management, business administration, or other related field preferred.


West Conshohocken, PA. Some travel may be required.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the role will be a remote position through at least January 3, 2021. The Foundation plans to resume in-office operations when it is safe to do so. Advanced notice will be provided for the resumption of in-office operations.

West Conshohocken, PA is a short drive (~15 miles) from Philadelphia and within walking distance of a commuter train station into downtown Philadelphia. The offices are close to residential and commercial districts with multiple restaurants, as well as Philadelphia’s Main Line suburbs where Villanova University, Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College are located. The surrounding area has many walkable communities with an affordable cost of living and a robust variety of cultural and entertainment opportunities, including a vibrant food scene, five professional sports teams, world-class museums, galleries, gardens, and a broad array of music venues and other performing arts institutions. The offices are in close proximity to major highways, with New York City, the Jersey shore, the Pocono Mountains, and the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country all within a two-hour drive. The offices also provide easy access to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (making New York City or Washington, D.C. an easy day trip) and to Philadelphia International Airport, an American Airlines hub serving destinations throughout the U.S. (more than a hundred routes), Caribbean (a dozen routes), and Europe/MENA (more than twenty routes).


We are committed to caring for our employees and their families through exceptional benefits. We pay for 100% of employee medical, dental and vision premiums, and generously contribute to family premiums. We provide life insurance, short-term disability coverage and long-term disability coverage at no cost to employees. We offer a 401(k) retirement savings plan with an employer match and additional discretionary contributions. Paid time off includes generous vacation, sick, and personal days. The Foundation offers a unique donation program, enabling employees the ability to direct a $5,000 donation to a mission aligned organization of their choice, with no employee donation required.


Compensation for this role is highly competitive and commensurate with experience.

Applications and Nominations

Please send all nominations, inquiries and expressions of interest in confidence and electronically to:

Andy Lee or Katherine Stellato
Isaacson, Miller
1300 19th St., NW
Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036

The John Templeton Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer.