Program Associate, Programs and Strategic Initiatives

The Surdna Foundation, a New York City-based family foundation, seeks a Program Associate to join its Program and Strategic initiatives team. Founded by John E. Andrus in 1917, the Surdna Foundation has endowment assets of over $1 billion and an overall annual grantmaking/operations budget of $46 million. Surdna focuses in three grantmaking areas: Sustainable Environments, Strong Local Economies, and Thriving Cultures. The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States - communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies and thriving cultures. We seek to dismantle the structural barriers that limit opportunity for many, helping to create communities that are prosperous, culturally enriching, and sustainable. The work environment at Surdna is team-oriented, collegial, and one in which diversity is valued.

Overview and Responsibilities:

The Program Associate (PA) plays a critical role in managing the day-to-day priorities of a three-person team, joining the Vice President (VP) of Programs and Strategic Initiatives and an Associate Program Officer, and will also lend additional support to the Office of Communications and the Office of Grants Management and Learning, which report to the VP of Programs and Strategic Initiatives. S/he will be a critical liaison between the Vice President and the President, members of the Board of Directors, staff across all three of the Foundation’s programs and the Andrus Family Fund, and the Vice President of Finance and the Administrative team. The Program Associate will also be a part of a cohort of strong Program Associates and will work with his/her peers to increase collaboration and effectiveness across the Foundation. This is a new position and the Program Associate will be a key partner on the team, serving as the critical glue role across many parts of the organization.

In service of the foundation’s mission, the Program Associate’s primary responsibilities will be both administrative and content support to the Vice President for Programs and Strategic Initiatives in all of the Vice President’s responsibilities, including leading implementation of the Foundation’s strategic plan, including activities related to strategy development and implementation, learning, collaboration, communications, internal systems, mission- and program-related investing, and philanthropic practice,. The Vice President works closely with the President and the Board to support all board learning and engagement to fulfill their governance objectives.

The ideal candidate will have great interest in the philanthropic sector as an agent for social change and in learning how a nearly 100-year old family foundation, with a deep commitment to sustainable communities and social justice, evolves and builds on a strong track record of success. S/he will also be interested in the role that communications, learning, and knowledge management play in advancing the Foundation’s impact. S/he will be a skilled project manager with the ability to manage several tasks simultaneously, proactively gather information, draw conclusions, and make recommendations regarding complex problems and issues. S/he will be an excellent communicator – interpersonally and in writing -- and will have experience with traditional forms and social media. S/he will manage a high volume of email traffic and scheduling requests and will do so with the utmost care, respect, and trust for the persons involved. The candidate should be a strong team player and place a high value on building relationships and collaborating with colleagues, grantees and other partners.

Job duties related to programs and strategic initiatives include the following:

  • Working closely with the Vice President to support the implementation of Surdna’s strategic plan, tracking all foundation-wide projects and initiatives.
  • Supporting all aspects of convenings for the Board of Directors, including conferences calls and meetings.
  • Supporting the Vice President’s engagement with the philanthropic field and the Foundation’s understanding and contribution to philanthropic practice.
  • Working with the Director of Communications and program staff to amplify key messages and grantees’ voices.
  • Supporting grantmaking on particular cross-program and institutional priorities and to support nonprofit sector infrastructure.
  • Supporting efforts to deploy the foundation’s program-related investing fund and, in the long term, consider other mission-related investing activities.
  • Working with the Vice President and the Office of Grants Management to improve the Foundation’s learning culture.
  • Staying current on major issues and current events relevant to the foundation.
  • Supporting the Vice President on projects and speaking engagements that relate to the foundation’s mission and programs.
  • Providing resources to support professional development, and team building for program staff.

On the administrative side, about 60% of the role, the Program Associate's core functions include the following activities: scheduling and managing a high volume of meetings, calls, and travel with grantees, partners, and members of the Board of Directors, compiling expense reports; actively tracking and managing grant requests, assembling and proofing written materials; providing technical support and counseling to grantees; managing contractors and consultants; organizing meetings and special events that support the Foundation’s goals; contributing to agendas and taking notes during team meetings; managing systems to enhance workflow, including project timelines; facilitating payment of invoices and other matters related to accounts payable; answering office phones for one hour per week; light facilities maintenance; and supporting communication activities that range from story generation to content editing.

The Program Associate will also have opportunities to engage in substantive programmatic and grantmaking support to the Vice President through the following: review and response to letters of inquiry submitted by grant seekers; some due diligence tasks for potential grants; monitor the progress of existing grantees. The Program Associate helps to ensure strong connections with Surdna’s other programs, departments, foundation-wide initiatives, and outside partners. The position also provides occasional opportunities for travel to attend site visits and various conferences. Overall, this position offers exceptional access to the practice of philanthropy.


  • BA/BS degree required. A degree in a relevant field, interest in the nonprofit sector, and experience that intersects with any of the fields the Foundation supports is highly preferred
  • Minimum of 2 years work experience, with previous office/administrative experience required, executive level support is preferred
  • Previous nonprofit, government, or foundation experience is preferred
  • Detail oriented logical thinker
  • Experience planning events is preferred
  • Possess a high level of initiative, and be comfortable working independently, as well as with peers and colleagues.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook
  • Excellent analytical thinking, writing, speaking and editing skills
  • A strong team-player, with a respectful, diplomatic, professional manner, and a sense of humor
  • Commitment to applying skills broadly within Surdna in support of the foundation’s mission

Compensation & Benefits:

  • Salary commensurate with experience
  • Excellent comprehensive employee benefits package

How to Apply:

Please submit a cover letter and current resume via e-mail to:

Theresa Kon

Corporate Support Senior Account Manager

Infinity Consulting Solutions, Inc.


Surdna Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer.