Chief Development Officer

Van Andel Institute in Michigan

Deadline Open until filled
Date Posted February 7, 2017
Type Administrative
Salary Commensurate with experience
Employment Type Full-time

The Aspen Leadership Group is proud to partner with the Van Andel Institute in the search for a Chief Development Officer (CDO).

Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996, the Van Andel Institute (VAI) is committed to improving the health and changing the lives of future generations through biomedical research and science education. In the twenty years since its founding, VAI has grown into a premiere research and educational institution that supports the work of more than 360 scientists, educators, and staff. Van Andel Institute consists of three primary divisions.

The CDO and Development Department will coordinate with faculty and leadership of these institutes to secure corporate, foundation, and individual gifts that support the Institute’s mission and priorities. The CDO will directly report to the Chief Operations Officer and manage a staff of eight. The Institute envisions the CDO as externally, nationally focused with demonstrated skill in foundation relations and major gifts ($100,000 and above). The Van Andel Institute enjoys “co-fundraising” relationships with organizations such as Stand Up To Cancer, local hospitals, Cure Parkinson’s Trust, and other major national cancer centers. The CDO will play a key role in managing these highly collaborative relationships.

The CDO will be expected to advance Van Andel Institute’s fundraising capacity by building a foundation relations program that regularly secures grants from national foundations; by exposing Van Andel Institute and its work to a broader national audience; by building a more robust major gifts program; and by preparing Van Andel Institute for a potential major capital campaign.

The right professional will recognize and work with the talent assembled within the nascent Development team plus the Institute more broadly, and add to it. The successful candidate will introduce the Institute onto the national stage through foundation relations and major gifts and will be able to see that this small organization has huge potential—and help it realize that potential. The incoming CDO will bring the creativity needed to understand basic science and how to leverage collaborative relationships to advance Development. The successful candidate will be externally focused and actively manage a portfolio of major and principal gift prospects.

The Development team is poised at an exciting inflection point supporting the Institute’s new strategic plan and helping fulfill the legacy and vision of the Van Andel family. This small basic science institute aspires to go from $3 million of philanthropy funding per year to $20 million per year to free up resources to move faster and more significantly impact human health. In order to build upon its current success, Van Andel Institute’s fundraising will focus on three initiatives over the next three years: VARI-developed and sponsored clinical trials placed at major national cancer centers; a Research Innovation Fund to advance basic science; and a distinctive web-based science investigation tool designed to teach science teachers how to teach science most effectively.

The Van Andel Institute is known for breaking down barriers that hold innovation captive. Collaborating with academia, industry, and philanthropy, the Institute orchestrates cutting edge clinical trials to improve human health. Its 31 research laboratories and 360 employees are in close alignment to advance its mission of impacting human health. Additionally, the Institute is leading a national revolution in science education by uniquely empowering teachers to engage students to think and act like scientists.

At least ten to fifteen years of fundraising experience with seven to ten years of major gift/foundation relations experience is required for this position as is a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree and Certified Fundraising Executive Credential are preferred.

To apply for this position, visit:

How To Apply

You can apply for this position online at