Professional Development

Career Pathways

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Website Council on Foundations’

Career Pathways is the Council on Foundations’ flagship leadership development program. Its goal is to increase the number of candidates from diverse backgrounds in the leadership pipeline who are considered, appointed, and retained in senior and executive philanthropic leadership positions.


Career Pathways is a year-long leadership preparation program that advances excellence and inclusion in talent acquisition, management, and retention strategies. The program prepares participants to successfully compete for leadership positions by expanding their capacity to become more effective philanthropic leaders.

Career Pathways was developed in response to the field’s growing commitment to advancing inclusive practices and diversity in philanthropic decision making. The Council’s research, Career Pathways to Philanthropic Leadership: Baseline Report (2009), highlighted and confirmed no obvious—but, in some cases, inscrutable—route to executive roles in philanthropy for most individuals, especially for those already working in the field.

As an investment in the field of philanthropy, Career Pathways is designed to assist a more diverse leadership pool of individuals in reaching their own, and the field’s, potential. Participants in the Career Pathways program will leave better prepared to judge and enhance their philanthropic leadership profile.

While Career Pathways cannot guarantee participants will be appointed to leadership positions, it will empower individuals to become the best candidates they can be by cultivating philanthropic acumen, confidence, and networks. Participation in Career Pathways will build an individuals’ capacity to become even more effective in their current roles and more deliberate in their contributions to the field of philanthropy, more broadly.

Unlike traditional training or advocacy programs, Career Pathways focuses more intentionally on assisting mid-career professionals from diverse backgrounds in the development of networks and leadership capacity and in taking the reins of their own candidacies for high-level, decision-making roles in philanthropy and strengthening the capacity of the field.

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