Director of Philanthropy

Location: Remote

The mission of the Institute of Political Innovation (IPI) is to contribute theory, scholarship and strategy that catalyzes model, modern and nonpartisan political change in America.

IPI’s vision is a restoration of healthy competition in American elections and legislation at federal and state levels, in service of real results for real people.

IPI was founded in February 2020 by business leader, entrepreneur, author and political innovator Katherine M. Gehl. IPI is a nonpartisan not-for-profit organization.

IPI represents a culmination of a multi-year period of scholarship and research, and a turning toward investment and action.

In 2013 Katherine Gehl was refining the competitive strategy for her $250 million high-tech food- manufacturing company in Wisconsin. With more than a century of innovation under its belt, Gehl Foods found itself faced with precipitously declining fortunes. Like most CEOs, Katherine utilized trusted tools for competitive analysis, like Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter’s Five Forces framework, to lead the turnaround effort.

Unlike most CEOs, Katherine was simultaneously running a parallel competitive analysis—of American politics. “It was a lightbulb moment for me,” remembers Katherine. The industry competition lens shed new light on the root causes of dysfunction in our political system, and the most powerful—and nonpartisan—solutions. From this analysis, Katherine concretized the four foundational principles of “Politics Industry Theory,” which are as follows:

  • First, although people tend to think of the American political system as a public institution based on high-minded principles and impartial structures and practices derived from the Constitution, it’s not. Politics is a private industry. It behaves according to the same kinds of forces that shape competition in any industry.
  • Second, the dysfunctions of the politics industry are perpetuated by unhealthy competition that secures the duopoly’s position.
  • Third, our political system will not correct itself. There are no countervailing forces or independent and empowered regulators to restore healthy competition.
  • Fourth, certain strategic, precise changes to the rules of the game in elections and legislating would alter incentives in ways that create healthy competition, innovation, and accountability.

After selling her company, Katherine—believing business leaders were “missing in action”—used her theory to develop the business case for nonpartisan political innovation, with a laser-focus on targeted structural changes that will change the incentives that dictate decision making in politics. In 2016 she asked Prof. Porter to join as co-author on the seminal 2017 Harvard Business School report,

Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America: A strategy for reinvigorating our democracy, which reshaped the national conversation on political reform. Katherine and Michael have broadened that work into a book, The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy, which was released in June 2020. To support action, Katherine and Michael are donating all proceeds of the book to IPI.

Katherine’s goal is to “create lightbulb moments for millions of people across the country, and in so doing catalyze a primetime movement for political innovation the likes of which we haven’t seen for 100 years.” The immediate focus of IPI is “Final-Five Voting,” the principal solution brought to light through Politics Industry Theory.

IPI is laser-focused on catalyzing a grasstops-led movement toward state-level legislative action around Final-Five Voting, a two-step innovation as follows:

  • Step one: Replace party primaries with a single nonpartisan primary in which the top five finishers, regardless of party, advance to the general election. This eliminates the “eye of the needle” conundrum, allowing legislators much more leeway to deliver results in the public interest without constant fear of getting “primaried.” It also creates dynamic competition in the general election with a broader field of candidates and space to debate a diversity of ideas instead of the same-old, binary, wedge issues.
  • Step two: Replace single-candidate voting in the general election with “Ranked-Choice Voting,” which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. This system eliminates the main barrier to new competition in politics, and, finally, injects accountability into our politics.

Final-Five Voting is a wise investment with a big return: healthy competition that delivers innovation, results and accountability—the best of what we call “free market politics.” Final- Five Voting isn’t designed to force people to abandon their ideological views, or to change who wins; it’s designed to change what the winners are incentivized to do on behalf of the American people.

IPI is a leader in national “nonpartisan democracy reform,” a community in which Katherine is deeply connected. Katherine is a board member of Unite America, Business for America, and New America. She is also co-chair of the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers and co-founder of Democracy Found, a Wisconsin organization pursuing Final-Five Voting.

The Institute for Political Innovation brings a targeted universe of powerful leaders—civic, business, philanthropic, not-for-profit—to a point of action. IPI is committed to lead a nationwide movement to further elevate Politics Industry Theory (and subsequent scholarship) and develop and support state-level and nationwide innovation campaigns

IPI deploys three tactics toward achieving our mission and vision. Each tactic is geared around action—this is not centrally about clicks and hits, likes and shares—and each tactic flows from Gehl’s academic work, and is accelerated by her work as an influencer, connector and funder. A key asset at IPI is Gehl’s access to leaders and influencers across key American institutions—business, politics, academia, technology, and beyond. In order to break political gridlock and dysfunction and achieve real results for real people, an ongoing campaign of awareness building and enrollment is required. IPI will lead this campaign and leverage Gehl’s ability, access and influence.

  1. Political Innovation Research & Publication: IPI is the home for Gehl’s academic practice, which currently revolves around Politics Industry Theory. IPI will pursue continued research and publishing opportunities to perfect and socialize this work and extend it. IPI will aspire to a long-term partnership with a university, as well.
  2. Re-engineering Electoral Machinery: IPI is the action center for actualizing the primary solution to unhealthy competition in the politics industry: Final-Five Voting (FFV). IPI will target upwards of a dozen states to engage, incubate and drive political philanthropy around locally led campaigns—primarily legislative campaigns—to pass the FFV package within the next 3 to 10 years. IPI will also support grasstops engagement in ballot-initiative campaigns for FFV.
  3. Legislative Machinery: Still in a theoretical stage, the Legislative Innovation Commission (LIC) is the second step toward injecting healthy competition in the politics industry. The Institute will create an interdisciplinary coalition of experts and leaders to create a zero-based approach to the rules and practices of lawmaking and Congress, and then work collaboratively with elected officials to make the prescribed changes, legislatively.

The Institute for Political Innovation (IPI) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization focused on research and public education on non-partisan political innovation that advances and improves the representativeness and performance of democracy for all constituencies across the United States. Its counterparts include two C4s: IPI Action Fund and Final-Five Fund.

The mission of IPI is rooted in Politics Industry Theory, the groundbreaking body of work pioneered by former corporate CEO and IPI Founder and President, Katherine Gehl. Katherine used, for the first time, an industry-competition lens (tools which were long the gold standard for analyzing for-profit industries) to shed light on the systemic failures of our political system and, importantly, to identify the most powerful and achievable solution: Final-Five Voting. She first articulated the research and theory in a 2017 report out of Harvard Business School and further developed it in a subsequent book, The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy (both with her co-author, Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter).

This role represents a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join a team, as a key leader, to drive the success of one of the most impactful and important philanthropic opportunities in America today: Final-Five Voting (FFV). Final-Five Voting is a new method proposed for elections to the U.S. House and Senate (more details below). Final-Five Voting is not designed to necessarily change who wins. It’s designed to change what the winners do—what they have the freedom and incentives to do (i.e., solve problems in a consensus, sustainable fashion) and on whose behalf they’re doing it (i.e., on behalf of a majority of general election voters). FFV achieves this by uniquely fixing a major system root cause of our dysfunctional politics by aligning the incentives of Congress with the interests and preferences of the majority of Americans. This makes FFV powerful, but, unlike other potentially powerful political innovations, FFV is also achievable (i.e., not “pie in the sky”) because Article I in the U.S. Constitution gives each state the power to make and remake the rules of the game for elections to Congress.


  • Proven experience leading significant individual fundraising initiatives defined by personal solicitations and closures of six and seven figure gifts.
  • Prior experience fundraising within complex political environments and a passion and desire to see Final-Five Voting implemented nationally.
  • Understanding and ability to speak at the highest level on important and complex political issues.
  • Proven ability to develop fundraising strategies that expand both a donor base and giving levels.
  • Record of securing large (6- and 7-figure) gifts from individuals.
  • Record of cultivating corporate and foundation support.
  • Record of working successfully with senior leaders and engaging them in a high-level fundraising process.
  • Passion for improving and strengthening our democracy, and eager to work with a team of opinionated individuals of varying political perspectives united around one non-partisan goal.
  • Balance of initiative and judgment necessary to succeed in a flexible, largely self-directed environment where quality and victory are the highest priorities.
  • Bachelor’s degree is required; advanced degree and/or record of continuing professional development is useful.

To apply, please visit

Consultant: Doug Trout – 703-718-4761; [email protected]

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