Foundation CFO named to prestigious Career Pathways program

The Council on Foundations has named Kenneth Robertson, vice president and chief financial officer at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, to the 2020 Career Pathways cohort, amid a group of 24 industry leaders. Career Pathways is a development program designed to increase the number of diverse candidates in the philanthropic leadership pipeline.

“Ken’s leadership has energized the work of the Foundation, his innovative ideas helping our 105-year-old organization achieve measurable results and provide increasing benefit to the community while sustaining our fiscal health,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of the Foundation. “He is altogether deserving of this opportunity, and we are excited to share in the knowledge he will acquire through the experience.”

Year-long opportunity

The newly selected participants represent the seventh cohort of the program, which targets mid- to senior-career philanthropic professionals. Since launching in 2010, Career Pathways alumni have pushed beyond the barriers that challenge diversity in leadership, utilizing the knowledge and skills attained during the program to move into senior and executive level positions within philanthropic organizations around the world.  Recent data shows an 87 percent promotion rate among program participants. 

Over the course of a year, the cohort will delve deep into major issues facing philanthropic leaders; gain access to a vast network of CEOs, trustees, search firm executives and national thought leaders; attend virtual and in-person career trainings across the country; and be paired with an executive coach to advise and support them along their career path. 

“We continue to be inspired by the number of amazing and highly qualified applicants we received for Career Pathways, and the 2020 cohort is truly exceptional,” said Karon Moody Harden, the Council’s vice president, programs & peer engagement. “As we work to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy through the Career Pathways program, we are excited to engage with this year’s cohort and see the work they will do in applying their new knowledge to improve their communities.” 

Embodying community leadership

Robertson has held financial roles for several Fortune 1000 companies and in recent years has dedicated his efforts toward strengthening Milwaukee’s nonprofit sector. He joined the Foundation in 2015 after serving for eight years as vice president and CFO for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. In his current role, Robertson is responsible for investment administration, financial accounting, risk management, contract management, facilities and IT management, regulatory compliance and budgetary administration for the Foundation as well as its supporting organizations.

In addition to his core responsibilities of leading as CFO of one of the largest community foundations in the country, Robertson has found time to uniquely contribute to the Foundation mission as follows:

  • Ensuring the Foundation’s commitment to advancing racial equity and inclusion is embedded and operationalized throughout the organization.
  • Providing leadership to the Foundation’s impact investing portfolio, which concentrates on promoting job creation in disinvested areas, with a focus on business/property owners of color and women-owned enterprises.
  • Leading the Foundation’s efforts to diversify investment managers within its investment pool portfolio.
  • Co-leading the joint Steering Committee of a new community-based partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin, which is advancing a joint vision for a Milwaukee that is healthy, equitable and thriving for all and includes the Foundation’s relocation to a historic neighborhood that has been subject to generational disinvestment. 

The 2020 Career Pathways cohort will convene four times across the country and will be hosted by several leading philanthropic institutions. The first convening took place in January in San Antonio, Texas. The program will conclude in October 2020 in Los Angeles, Calif. 

Career Pathways is supported by Conrad Hilton Foundation, The David and Lucille Packard Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.