Program Assistant, Thriving Cultures (SF)

About Us

The Surdna Foundation, a New York City-based family foundation, seeks a Program Assistant for its Thriving Cultures Program. Founded by John E. Andrus in 1917, the Surdna Foundation has endowment assets of over $1 billion and an annual grantmaking budget of over $40 million. Surdna focuses on three grantmaking areas: Inclusive Economies, Sustainable Environments, and Thriving Cultures. The Foundation aims to foster just and sustainable communities in the United States. The work environment at Surdna is team oriented, collegial, and one in which diversity and inclusion are valued.


Overview and Responsibilities

The Thriving Cultures Program Assistant plays a key role in managing the day-to-day administration and related activities of a three-person team composed of the Program Director, a Program Officer, and the Program Assistant. The position combines administrative and operational responsibilities that help the program meet its goal of investing in artists, designers, media makers, and culture bearers of color who work with their communities to radically imagine, practice, and amplify a racially just future with equitable outcomes for all. This position offers exceptional access to the field of arts and culture and to the practice of philanthropy. It provides a great experience for a candidate interested in the role of arts in the building of sustainable and equitable communities.


Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

Administrative Support (75 percent). Core functions include the following activities:

  • Scheduling and managing a high volume of meetings, calls, and travel for grantees, partners, and members of the Board of Directors;
  • Compiling expense reports through the Foundation’s expense management system (SAP Concur);
  • Actively tracking and managing grant requests, contracts, and reports;
  • Assembling and proofing written materials;
  • Providing technical support and counseling to prospective and confirmed grantee organizations;
  • Managing contractors and consultants;
  • Organizing and producing meetings and special events;
  • Crafting agendas and taking notes during team and Foundation-wide meetings;
  • Managing and designing systems to enhance workflow, including project timelines;
  • Facilitating payment of invoices and other matters related to accounts payable;
  • Answering office phones as needed.

Programmatic Support (25 percent). Key functions include:

  • Editing and proofing grantmaking dockets and program budget in advance of board meetings;
  • Reviewing and responding to letters of inquiry from grant seekers;
  • Supporting due diligence for potential grantee organizations;
  • Reviewing progress and final reports for existing grantees;
  • Keeping the program up-to-date on relevant news developments; monitoring grantee progress; and supporting communication activities such as assembling visual materials, story generation, and content editing.

Cross-Programmatic Work:

In addition, the Program Assistant helps to ensure strong connections with Surdna’s other programs (Inclusive Economies and Sustainable Environments), Foundation-wide initiatives, and outside partners. Related tasks include:

  • Supporting the Program Director and Program Officer in preparing for cross-program meetings, internal foundation meetings, board meetings, etc.;
  • Tracking joint grantmaking between and among program areas;
  • Coordinating activities and initiatives related to funder affinity groups, program-led convenings, etc.;
  • Providing support on Foundation-wide projects and adding to staff capacity during peak periods; and
  • Other duties as assigned.


The ideal candidate has a demonstrated commitment to social and racial justice and equity. The ideal candidate is a systems thinker, and executes with a high attention to detail and in a timely manner. The candidate should be an excellent collaborative worker, an agile problem solver, and possess the ability to handle several administrative tasks simultaneously with patience and composure in a productive and demanding work environment.



  • Bachelor’s degree preferred , not required. A degree in an arts/policy/immersive technology is strongly preferred.
  • An understanding and commitment to supporting social justice and building inclusive practices to affect structural change.
  • Minimum of 1-2 years’ work experience, with previous office/administrative experience.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook is required.
  • Previous nonprofit or foundation experience is a plus.
  • Excellent analytical thinking, narrative writing, speaking, research, scheduling, and editing skills.
  • A strong team-player, detail- and task-oriented, with a diplomatic, professional manner
  • Humility and an eagerness to learn and proactively identify solutions.


Compensation & Benefits: This position has a minimum starting annual salary of $60,000 and offers an excellent comprehensive employee benefits package


To Apply

Please apply via this link: No phone calls, please.


Surdna Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQI+ applicants.

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