Program Associate, Thriving Cultures (SF)

Surdna Foundation

New York, NY

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 focuses in three grantmaking areas: Sustainable Environments, Strong Local Economies, and Thriving Cultures. 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 Thriving Cultures Program Associate plays a key role in managing the day-to-day grantmaking and related activities of a four-person team composed of the Program Director, two Program Officers, and the Program Associate. The position combines administrative and program responsibilities that help the program meet its goal of raising the perceived and real value of artists, arts and culture in communities. 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, equitable communities.

In terms of substantive program pursuits, the Program Associate will be immersed in one or more of the program’s lines of work. These responsibilities (depending on experience) will range from direct grantmaking to field building activities.

Responsibilities include, but are not limited:

Administrative Support:

70% of the role comprises of administrative support. 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 (concur);
  • Actively tracking and managing grant requests, contract agreements, and reports
  • Assembling and proofing written materials;
  • Providing technical support and counseling to prospective and confirmed grantee organizations;
  • Managing contractors and consultants;
  • Organizing meetings and special events;
  • Crafting agendas and taking notes during team and foundation-wide meetings;
  • Managing systems to enhance workflow, including project timelines;
  • Facilitating payment of invoices and other matters related to accounts payable;
  • Answering office phones as needed; and

Programmatic Support:

About 30% of the role includes programmatic support. Key functions include:

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

Cross-Programmatic Work:

In addition, the Program Associate helps to ensure strong connections with Surdna’s other programs (Strong Local Economies and Sustainable Environments), 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;
  • Coordinating activities and initiatives related to funder affinity groups, program-led convenings, etc; and
  • Providing support on foundation-wide projects and adding to staff capacity during peak periods

Other duties as assigned.

The ideal candidate has a demonstrated commitment to social justice and equity. The ideal candidate is a systems thinker, 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. 


  • BA/BS degree required.  A degree in an arts field is strongly preferred.
  • An understanding and commitment to supporting social justice and building inclusive practices to effect structural change.
  • Minimum of 1-2 years’ work experience, with previous office/administrative experience required.
  • 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 diplomatic, professional manner, and a sense of humor.
  • Commitment to applying skills broadly within Surdna in support of the foundation’s mission.
  • Salary commensurate with experience

Compensation & Benefits:

Excellent comprehensive employee benefits package

How to Apply:

Please submit a cover letter and resume through our careers website at :

No phone calls please

Surdna Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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