Program Associate, Sustainable Environments (S)

The Surdna Foundation, a New York City-based family foundation, seeks a Program Associate for its Sustainable Environments Program. Founded by John E. Andrus in 1917, the Surdna Foundation has endowment assets of over $900 million and an overall annual grantmaking/operations budget of $45 million. Surdna works across three grantmaking areas: Sustainable Environments, Strong Local Economies, and Thriving Cultures. Across its programs, the Foundation aims to foster just and sustainable communities in the United States and to advance national action on sustainability. The work environment at Surdna is team-oriented, collegial, and one in which diversity and inclusion are valued.

Overview and Responsibilities:

The Sustainable Environments Program Associate plays a key role in managing the day-to-day grantmaking activities of a four-person team composed of the Program Director, two Program Officers, and the Program Associate. The position combines program and administrative responsibilities with active engagement in the Sustainable Environments grantmaking and “Program Related Investment” strategy and portfolio development. Additionally, the incoming Program Associate will contribute to program strategy driven by a commitment to racial equity and social justice 

In terms of substantive program pursuits, the Program Associate will have the opportunity to learn and work across the Sustainable Environment’s lines of work. These opportunities and responsibilities (depending on experience) will range from direct grantmaking to field building activities.

On the administrative side, the Program Associate's general functions include the following activities: actively tracking and managing grant proposals, reports and related materials through Surdna’s grants management database system; assembling and proofing grant dockets; supporting the management of the program budget; providing technical support and counseling to grantees related to submission processes; managing contractors and consultants; scheduling and managing meetings, calls and travel for Sustainable Environments Program staff; and supporting communication activities that range from story generation to content editing. 

In addition, the Program Associate helps to ensure strong connections with Surdna’s other programs (Strong Local Economies and Thriving Cultures), foundation-wide initiatives, and outside partners. Related tasks include: supporting the Program Director and Program Officers in preparing for cross-program meetings, internal foundation meetings, board meetings, etc.; tracking joint grantmaking between and among program areas; and, coordinating activities and initiatives related to funder affinity groups, program-led convenings, etc.  The Sustainable Environments Program Associate is also part of a cohort at Surdna whose members provide support on foundation-wide projects and occasionally have the opportunity to take the lead on grantmaking projects. Overall this position offers exceptional access to the environmental and social justice communities and to the philanthropy field as a whole. The position also provides occasional opportunities for travel. 

The ideal candidate is a systems thinker with a commitment to social justice and equity. While there is no requirement to commit to any one line of our sustainable environmental work, the most fitting candidate will have a demonstrated interest in holding social justice values at the center of an analysis on environmental and economic justice and public investment into communities most affected by inequitable systems. The ideal candidate is able to manage several tasks simultaneously, and has the ability to gather information, draw conclusions, and make recommendations regarding complex problems and issues. The candidate should also possess a high level of initiative and be comfortable working independently, as well as with peers and colleagues.


  • BA/BS degree required. A degree in a relevant field, interest in the nonprofit sector, and experience in one of the key program areas: energy; green storm water management; regional food systems or transportation and land use is highly preferred
  • An understanding and commitment to support social justice and build inclusive practices to affect structural change
  • Minimum of 3 years work experience with previous office/administrative experience required
  • Previous nonprofit or foundation and grantmaking experience is a plus
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook
  • Excellent analytical thinking, writing, speaking and editing skills
  • A strong team-player, with a diplomatic, professional manner, and a sense of humor, who also can work independently
  • 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 on our careers website


Surdna Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


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