Program Director (CWF)

The California Wellness Foundation is seeking an experienced, innovative grantmaker to serve as its newest program director. The program director is responsible for managing one or more grant portfolios and will recommend approximately $5 million to $6 million in grants annually. Reporting to the vice president of programs, the program director will play a key role in shaping the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy in collaboration with the Foundation’s other program directors, Executive Management Committee, president and CEO and the Board of Directors. The program director will be a member of a 14-person Programs team and have the support of a program assistant.  The position is based at Foundation headquarters in Los Angeles, CA. 

The Foundation

The California Wellness Foundation is a private, independent foundation established in 1992 with a mission to improve the health of the people of California. One of the largest health-focused foundations in California, Cal Wellness is a nationally recognized leader for its strategic core operating support for grantees, public policy grantmaking and focus on violence as a public health issue. It is Cal Wellness’ desire to promote equity and level the playing field so that everyone has access to good-paying jobs, healthy and safe neighborhoods, and quality health care services. The Foundation’s current Advancing Wellness grantmaking strategy includes three interrelated portfolios: Bridging the Gaps in Access and Quality Care, Promoting Healthy and Safe Neighborhoods and Expanding Education and Employment Pathways. Since its founding, Cal Wellness has awarded nearly 9,000 grants totaling more than $991 million.

In 2017, Cal Wellness celebrated its 25th anniversary. As the Foundation opens the chapter on its next 25 years, it is pursuing new and innovative strategies to advance its mission, including exploring program-related investments. Cal Wellness is a statewide and responsive grantmaker, and staff travel throughout California to connect with leaders and communities.

Cal Wellness has a diverse staff and Board, and continues to enhance its deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The Foundation’s commitment is both internal and external. The Foundation’s work underscores a belief that wellness requires social justice, a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and sustained efforts to eliminate systemic barriers that prevent access to health care, education, employment and safety.

Key Responsibilities

Grantmaking and Strategic Planning

  • Develop, implement and track grantmaking strategies to support the Foundation’s mission and goals.
  • Review and respond to letters of interest and grant proposals and make grant recommendations.
  • Produce and present written summaries, analyses and recommendations for proposed grants.
  • Monitor grant progress and portfolios, including participating in discussions and resolving issues with grantees.
  • Conduct grantee site visits.
  • Contribute to the team’s development of criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of the grantmaking portfolios; review reports and interpret grantmaking results; reach annual grants targets.
  • Recommend and participate in learning and evaluation activities to guide the evolution of programmatic work.
  • In partnership with Finance and Program colleagues, evaluate the feasibility of alternative forms of capital support for nonprofit organizations and contribute to the Foundation’s embrace of program-related investment strategies.

Community Engagement

  • Serve as a liaison between the Foundation and grantees, grantseekers, other foundations, evaluators and policymakers.
  • Represent the Foundation and its work in a variety of venues and to a range of audiences, including philanthropic, governmental, academic and nonprofit groups.
  • Participate in networks, affinity groups and other external efforts to learn about relevant issues and trends and to advance the Foundation’s strategies.
  • Facilitate and participate in outreach activities and public speaking opportunities.

Internal Responsibilities

  • Prepare analyses and reports of grants, as well as strategy papers and other written materials, for the Executive Management Committee and the Board of Directors.
  • Stay informed on trends, activities and effective strategies in the health care, public health and social justice fields.
  • Obtain, maintain and share a high level of knowledge of effective grantmaking strategies and current thinking in the field of philanthropy. 
  • Manage a budget that ensures good stewardship and efficient use of Foundation funds.
  • Partner with Public Affairs staff to disseminate highlights and lessons learned from grantmaking portfolios.
  • Participate constructively in ongoing organizational development as a senior leader within the Foundation.


Cal Wellness is a statewide and responsive grantmaker. Staff travel throughout California to connect with leaders and communities. Frequent travel for site visits, conferences, meetings and events is required. 

The above job description is intended to describe the general nature and level of work performed and is not intended to limit the scope of potential work assignments. This is only a summary of the typical functions of the job, and duties may differ from those as outlined above.

Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will be a seasoned professional with deep knowledge of public health, public policy and social justice issues. He or she will have relationships and experience relevant to one or more of the Advancing Wellness grantmaking portfolios. This person’s background and experience will result in an authentic perspective on the work of the Foundation’s grantees and the communities it serves. Internally as a thought partner and externally as an ambassador, the new program director will bring a fresh perspective to the work, building upon the knowledge and experience of the existing team and the 25-year legacy of Cal Wellness as a courageous leader in philanthropy. 

The ideal candidate will be familiar with, or able to quickly learn, the operations of a private grantmaking foundation. This individual will demonstrate strong project management skills, a high level of flexibility and superb written and oral communications skills. Ideal attributes will include the ability to thrive in a fast-paced, collaborative environment and be comfortable interacting with diverse audiences. Intellectual curiosity will lead our new program director to continually learn and develop new skills and knowledge. He or she will be driven to sustain the mission, culture and best interests of Cal Wellness and to live its core values; drive toward innovation; make a difference; contribute to one team and show courage.


  • A minimum of seven years in a senior-level program or policy position within the philanthropic, private, public and/or nonprofit sectors.
  • A bachelor’s degree, or equivalent, is required; an advanced degree in public health, public policy, social work, business administration, law, urban planning, medicine or a related field is a plus.
  • Solid understanding of public health and the philanthropic, public and/or nonprofit sectors; knowledge in one or more of the Foundation’s grantmaking areas.
  • Solid organizational and time-management skills; ability to consistently deliver on established schedules, guidelines, protocols and deadlines.
  • Excellent analytical, reasoning, problem-solving and decision-making abilities.
  • Superb written and oral communication skills, including solid presentation and facilitation abilities.
  • Effective leadership and interpersonal skills that lead to productive relationships with a diverse population of colleagues and associates.
  • Ability to use discretion and act ethically with respect to sensitive materials and issues; strong sense of integrity.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office and ability to use technology in a productive and efficient way.        

Compensation and Culture
Salary is competitive and commensurate with background and experience. The benefits package includes a variety of health plans, a generous 401(k) retirement savings plan, paid time off, professional development and educational opportunities, matching gifts, and the opportunity to work at a mission- and values-driven organization.    

To Apply

Martha Montag Brown & Associates, LLC has been retained for this search. Interested and qualified candidates are encouraged to apply by sending a cover letter and resume by email to: [email protected].


The California Wellness Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.


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