Get to Know Wade Jones, Director of Operations 

Wade: Growth is challenging. I enjoy that challenge and am excited to be a part of a mission to give more children access to heart care

Wade with his family


What does a typical day at work look like? 

I lead the finance, accounting, human resources, information technology and facility administration. As a support person, I seek every day to build strong partnerships with our internal team so that our infrastructure, processes and systems can further our mission and impact.

Tell us a little about your background and why it led you to Children’s HeartLink.

I have a varied background but came into the non-profit sector initially through my volunteering in education reform and then through a job at the Medtronic Foundation, where I led its operations during a period of significant change and growth. I also led Medtronic’s product donations strategy while working directly with US-based medical missions organizations – many in the pediatric and adult cardiac field.  While in that role, I strongly pushed for partnerships with organizations that had a capacity-building approach – helping hospitals in underserved countries strengthen their clinical skills. I often cited Children’s HeartLink in my discussions with these organizations as the model I hoped these organizations could ultimately emulate and evolve toward. When the director of operations position came up with Children’s HeartLink, it felt like a great match of mission and functional role for me.

What motivates you? 

I worked locally in Minnesota at Medtronic for several years, and Medtronic has a powerful and guiding mission statement. It has influenced my decision-making inside and outside of work, and it inspired me to write my own personal mission statement. As my career has evolved, I have used this personal mission statement that centers around two primary themes: to support others with decision-making and to have an impact on individuals and communities facing inequities. This statement has guided me to both take and not take positions in the past and was in complete alignment with my decision to join the powerful mission of Children’s HeartLink.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging? 

I really enjoy working with the leadership team both planning and thinking about how we grow and perhaps more importantly how we become “growth ready.” This includes building a planning culture and forward-looking discipline and, moreover, putting a strategic lens to all we do and pursue. The challenging part is that the future in the nonprofit world is uncertain, and events or circumstances can be out of our control. Growth is challenging and requires an appreciation for change management. I enjoy that challenge and am excited to be a part of a mission to give more children and families access to high-quality heart care.

What are the most important traits for your job? 

Of course, being good with numbers or being organized and process-oriented help one be successful in this role, but I really think listening is perhaps the most important trait. Listening to the needs of the organization and the individuals, making growth plans, is the only way I can put my partnering skills and operational support model to work. My goal is to ensure organizational success that includes program success, fundraising success and communications success.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I am active with volunteering at my church and on a few local boards while also participating in sports and outdoor activities.  As a sports fanatic, I both coach youth and even still play a little basketball and tennis. I am also an avid distance runner and participate in a couple of my favorite Twin Cities area events each year. Most of all, I am soaking up the family time with just a few more years of having such a full house.

What’s something people are surprised to learn about you? 

While working at the Medtronic Foundation, I had the opportunity to oversee, monitor grant-making and even travel to the countries where Children’s HeartLink currently operates. My first trip to India with Children’s HeartLink was in mid-April when I traveled with our medical volunteers from the Mayo Clinic to our partner hospital in Coimbatore. It was fulfilling to see the knowledge exchange between professionals and observe how the facilitation of our partnership is making real improvements in care. The positive feeling I got from witnessing the care was that dedication to these children and their families is universal.     

Tell us about your family. 

I am blessed to have a wonderful family of 5. My wife, Becky, is a physician here in the Twin Cities and my children, Cadyn (18), Lauryn (16), and Nolan (13) are all students in public schools.

Wade is responsible for the development and oversight of our administrative and financial systems, including finances, accounting, grants management, information technology, human resources, risk and legal management, internal control and physical infrastructure. Wade joined Children’s HeartLink after 17 years at Medtronic, including 5 years working for the Medtronic Foundation, most recently as operations lead. At Medtronic he also served as a senior program manager in global finance training and development, and worked in its largest business unit, CRDM (Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management). Putting his skills to use for a small nonprofit organization that has a mission that aligns with his personal mission has been a goal of Wade’s for many years. Wade has served on several local boards, and he has an MBA in Finance from the University of Kansas.

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