Chief Scientific Officer

Morris Animal Foundation
December 17, 2018
Denver, Colorado
Job Type
720 S Colorado Blvd


Morris Animal Foundation

Chief Scientific Officer

Position Announcement

Morris Animal Foundation is seeking an entrepreneurial, visionary servant-leader to serve as its Chief Scientific Officer (CSO). A seasoned scientific executive manager with a proven track record of fostering organizational excellence, process improvements, and positive organizational culture, the CSO will directly help, shape, and advise the policies, culture, and personnel decisions that drive the Foundation’s success. This full-time opportunity is based at the Foundation’s headquarters in Denver, Colorado.

Morris Animal Foundation has retained the services of Scion Executive Search, a national executive search firm specializing in mission-driven organization recruitment, to assist in conducting this important search. All inquiries, applications, and nominations for this opportunity should be directed to the firm as indicated at the end of this position announcement.


Morris Animal Foundation is the oldest and largest nonprofit source of funding for science that improves the lives of animals. Established in 1948 by Dr. Mark Morris Sr., the Foundation has funded over 2,600 studies and committed over $128M to research benefiting companion animals and wildlife. Based in Denver, Colorado, their staff of 40 professionals manages approximately 250 studies at any given time, including the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, the largest and most far-reaching study run to date in veterinary medicine. Each year, over $7M of new research funding is committed through working practices that ensure only the most scientifically robust and impactful studies are supported. Building on this impressive and solid history, the Foundation is entering a new era. With the increasing recognition of the vital role animals’ play in the lives of humans and health crises facing animals in the wild, extraordinary growth of their mission is not only possible, but imperative. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done, and they are focused on scalable and sustainable growth of revenues and programs to meet the need.

The primary way Morris Animal Foundation carries out its mission to advance the health of animals is by funding innovative research projects selected via competitive grant applications, conducting intramural scientific research programs (such as the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study), and by communicating the results of this work to veterinarians and the public.


The CSO brings an unwavering drive to make a significant, lasting impact on the health of all animals around the world. Under the leadership of the President/CEO, the CSO is primarily responsible for advancing the mission of the Foundation through providing oversight of the Scientific Programs Department. The CSO provides leadership for the  Foundation’s  research  programs and applies scientific acumen to maximize the impact of the Foundation’s investment in studies that advance animal health.

As a member of the executive leadership team, the CSO combines inspirational leadership and sophisticated management abilities to support and inspire the Scientific Programs Department. The CSO also implements approved creative strategies and partnerships that align with the vision of the President/CEO, Board, and mission of the Foundation.


Program Management – The primary way Morris Animal Foundation carries out its mission to advance the health of animals is by funding innovative research projects selected via competitive grant applications, conducting intramural scientific research programs (such as the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study), and by communicating the results of this work to veterinarians and the public. The CSO is responsible for two main program efforts: Scientific Grants Programs (our extramural grant program) and the Canine Lifetime Health Project (see below). The CSO—under the direction of the President/CEO, and in concert with the Foundation’s senior leadership team and Board of Trustees—is responsible for the visionary maintenance and extension of these programs in a manner that advances the Foundation’s mission.

Protecting the Integrity of the Grant Selection Process – The CSO is responsible for ensuring the Foundation’s grant review and selection processes meet the highest academic standards, are independent of outside influences, and are above reproach. The CSO is also responsible for ensuring that all Foundation policies regarding humane animal use are clearly and effectively communicated and diligently followed.

Canine Lifetime Health Project – The Canine Lifetime Health Project (CLHP) and the initial study included under this umbrella, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study (GRLS), deserves specific mention. The GRLS program is a groundbreaking study that reached full enrollment of 3,044 golden retriever dogs in 2012 and is scheduled to run through 2025. This $32+ million study is a longitudinal study that will follow the dogs for their lifetime, with the primary objective of determining the genetic, environmental, nutritional and lifestyle risk factors for the development of cancer. However, it is much more than a cancer study. It is a data- and biological-sample-rich investigation that should shed light on the potential correlation of a variety of risk factors with the development of various diseases and disorders. The CSO will work closely with the Principle Investigator, the CEO, and the CLHP Oversight Committee to execute on all facets of the study. The CSO should have knowledge or experience in the management of large research projects.

Support of Development Activities – More than 70 percent of Foundation revenues are derived through financial development activities. While fundraising is not a direct responsibility of the CSO, the successful candidate will be confident, experienced, and comfortable supporting development activities and working with our development professionals. This may include representing the Foundation to major donors and donor organizations, fueling novel approaches to development activities, and assisting the development team in gaining an understanding and appreciation of funded projects.

Manage a Team of Professionals via Servant Leadership – Currently, the scientific programs team has seven members, a number that may increase or decrease according to programmatic needs. This team also leverages over 50 of the best minds in veterinary medicine on our scientific advisory boards. People managers at the Foundation must understand the crucial nature of their role. This may vary by staff member, but generally consists of nurturing colleagues to be everything they can be, setting aspirational but attainable goals, and embracing a positive approach while not shying away from difficult conversations. Managerial skill is a key responsibility and one the Foundation takes very seriously for its senior leadership team.

Shape a Culture of Performance, Accountability and Trust – The CSO, along with the President/Chief Executive Officer, Chief Development Officer, VP of Operations, VP of Information Systems, and VP of Marketing and Brand Strategy form the leadership team. This team develops all strategies, tactics and budget decisions and works as a cohesive unit to maximize the potential of the Foundation’s personnel and resources. It is also responsible for leading and demonstrating the cultural behaviors that are key to the Foundation’s success. While described as a performance culture, based on accountability, innovation and trust, the Foundation’s culture is much more nuanced. It incorporates the ideal way employees, volunteers and trustees work together to create an atmosphere where people can thrive, enjoy their professional and personal lives, and contribute significantly to improving the lives and health of animals. A track record of working with a team of peers to make decisions in the interests of the larger organization is important.

Supports Team to Achieve Strategic Plan Initiatives – The CSO, in coordination with the President/CEO, leadership team and Board of Trustees, develops and implements goals and tactics to achieve the strategic plan. Through delegation, team support and leadership, the CSO works with team members to be self-accountable and high-achieving in these efforts.

Knowledge of Intellectual Property Development and Negotiation – The CSO is responsible for overseeing intellectual property arising from Foundation-supported research, including the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. The CSO works with the President/CEO, outside legal counsel and appropriate Board of Trustee members, to oversee development, integrity and maintenance of Foundation intellectual property. The CSO strategically explores and seeks potential partnerships that advance the mission and advance the strategic plan of the Foundation. The CSO works to recommend potential partnerships to leadership and seeks. Then negotiates terms and intellectual property rights on behalf of the foundation.

Liaison with Research Oversight Committee – The CSO serves as the liaison to the Research Oversight Committee of the Board of Trustees. The CSO works closely with this governing body to ensure continued scientific excellence, determine scientific direction, and consider innovative projects to further the Foundation’s mission.

Communication Skills – The CSO must be comfortable and skilled at presenting information to a wide range of audiences, including veterinarians (both general practitioners and specialists), researchers, the general public, and donors. They should have experience and be willing to be interviewed in a variety of media outlets, including print, radio, and television.

Budget Management – The CSO is responsible for building and managing the budgets for all scientific programs. The CSO works with the leadership team to balance annual fiscal budgets for approval by the Board of Trustees. The CSO manages the program staff’s current budget as well as leads the program department directors in anticipating needs for budget planning and actual expenditures.

Board Engagement – Alongside the President/CEO, the CSO will work closely with the Board of Trustees to foster their support by ensuring they are properly informed regarding initiatives, studies and partnerships.

The CSO will serve as a liaison to the Board of Trustees’ Canine Lifetime Health Committee, Research Oversight Committee assuring policies and procedures are followed for approval of grant funding and new project development.


  • DVM (preferred) and/or a PhD or MD related to animal science research; animal health/biotech/animal pharma industry experience or animal health investigator experience in an academic setting with increasing roles and responsibilities a plus.
  • Experience creating and refining processes, and leading complex projects that required the coordinated activities of multiple groups.
  • Experience interpreting and presenting (both in oral and written form) scientific principles for audiences of all levels of expertise.
  • Experience working as part of a successful executive leadership team.
  • Experience developing expense budgets for complex projects, conducting financial projections, and managing projects within set budget expectations.
  • Demonstrated ability to drive organizational strategy and empower high performing teams, with 7+ years’ experience building and managing effective teams.
  • Knowledge of the grantmaking process and landscape with experience writing grants and gaining funding.
  • Ability to provide excellent leadership, as well as followership, and work well in various capacities as a team member.
  • Positive, high-energy, and optimistic professional demeanor, with a sensitivity to the needs of others and high level of emotional intelligence.
  • Excellent project management skills.
  • An unbiased appreciation for the Foundation’s various scientific program areas with equal regard for each specific area of study.
  • Flexibility to travel up to 30% to make presentations at various venues, participate in partnership meetings, and represent the scientific department as needed.


This wonderful full-time, exempt opportunity offers the ability to make significant impact managing a talented Scientific Programs staff at an established Foundation committed to fighting animal diseases worldwide. This career opportunity offers a competitive base salary, an exceptional benefits package (including a 403b, paid medical/dental/vision/life insurance, sick time, paid vacation, and twelve paid holidays), and a tremendous team-oriented atmosphere that is both positive and rewarding.

How To Apply

Review of applications, nominations, and expressions of interest will begin immediately and continue on a confidential basis until an appointment is made. Nominations, applications, and inquiries should be sent in confidence to:


Isaac Schild, Managing Partner

Scion Executive Search


Electronic submission is required for formal consideration. Please submit your cover letter, CV, and salary requirements in MS Word format to the email address above with the subject line “MORRIS ANIMAL FOUNDATION CSO SEARCH”.

Morris Animal Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages diversity and equity in all facets of the Foundation’s work. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.


Scion Executive Search is a retained executive search firm connecting executive nonprofit leadership to nonprofit organizations and foundations across the country. Born out of the nonprofit sector, we provide expert search strategies and leadership for your organization. Our executive candidates are true agents for change, and we are experts at matching their talents, motivations, and passions to your organization’s mission. Scion Executive Search has led hundreds of successful executive searches. Information about our firm and successes can be found online at

Scion is an equal opportunity employer and service provider committed to not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, gender identity, national origin, citizenship status, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation or belief. We are committed to the principals of Equal Opportunity Employment and are dedicated to making employment decisions based on merit and value, for ourselves, our client companies, and for the candidates we represent.

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