Program Director (TCWF)

The Opportunity

The California Wellness Foundation is launching a search for a Program Director to lead the foundation’s work confronting injustices related to race and gender that negatively impact community outcomes and health. The ideal candidate is an experienced social justice leader with deep and relevant content experience who is passionate about engaging directly, deeply and strategically with communities of color to advance equity and justice.

The Program Director will lead the “Leading for Power and Change” portfolio which aims to amplify the voices, leadership, and power of people of color, and other people who have historically been excluded from full participation in civic society. The portfolio will support systems, policy, norms/narrative and capacity-fielding building in the following areas: 1) non-profit sector equity, 2) movement and power-building, and 3) new models that address the social determinants of health and advance equity.

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, will manage a Program Officer and have the support of a Program Coordinator. The position can be based at the foundation offices in either Los Angeles or Oakland, California. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, work will initially occur remotely.

The Work

Leading for Power and Change

Leading for Power and Change is a newly crafted portfolio based on several of Cal Wellness’ long-standing program areas. The Program Director will have an opportunity to build and shape the way the strategy is implemented, along with colleagues at the foundation.

There is critical work to be done to address the deep-seated and long-standing impacts of institutional, structural and systemic racism. Philanthropy has a critical and unique role to play in better mobilizing and targeting resources to address this inequity, and to better address inequities in its own practices and approaches.

There are a variety of systemic factors at play. There is a pattern of philanthropic neglect and underinvestment in the infrastructure of organizations of color. Foundations are beginning to realize that systemic and progressive change can only be achieved with a robust and strong infrastructure for social change led by people of color. Additionally, there is the need to address longstanding challenges in the nonprofit sector and test innovative and creative new models where social justice is front and center. The COVID-19 crisis only further highlights and exacerbates this with many non-profits facing survival challenges and desperately in need of new operating and revenue models. As such, foundations are being challenged to do more to invest and scale organizations that are most proximate to needs in vulnerable communities and increase support for organizing and power-building strategies.

The overarching goal of Leading for Power and Change portfolio is to amplify the voices, leadership, and power of people of color, and other people who have historically been excluded from full participation in civic society, to improve their community outcomes and health. The portfolio will support efforts in the following areas:


  • Non-profit Sector Equity. Support for stronger and more resilient organizations that advance equity and justice, with a focus on people of color-led organization.
  • Movement and Power-building. Support for structure and supports for community mobilization of under-represented communities.
  • Social Justice Re-Imagined. Support for new models, approaches, and strategies for addressing the social determinants of health and advancing equity.

The Foundation

The California Wellness Foundation is a private, independent foundation established in 1992 with a mission to protect and improve the health and wellness of the people of California. As one of the largest health-focused foundations in California, with over $900 million in assets, Cal Wellness is a nationally recognized leader for its strategic core operating support for grantees; public policy grantmaking; and a 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 four interrelated portfolios that focus on equitable access to health care; safe and healthy neighborhoods; economic security; and community and organizational leadership. Since its founding, Cal Wellness has awarded nearly 9,000 grants totaling more than $1 billion. As the foundation looks to the future, it is pursuing new and innovative strategies beyond its core grantmaking to advance its mission, including implementation of new technology systems, development of its public affairs capacity, and establishing mission- and program-related investment portfolios.

Cal Wellness has a diverse staff of approximately 40 located in its Los Angeles and Oakland offices and a diverse 11-member Board located throughout the state of California. The foundation’s work underscores a belief that wellness requires social justice, a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and sustained efforts to eliminate systemic barriers that prevent access to health care, education, employment and safety.

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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 the other Program Directors, identify opportunities for the Foundation’s Women’s Initiatives that are strategically aligned with Leading for Power and Change.
  • 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.
  • Manage, train and develop a Program Officer.


Cal Wellness is a statewide and responsive grantmaker. Typically, staff travel throughout California to connect with leaders and communities. Frequent travel for site visits, conferences, meetings and events is required. (Travel will resume once deemed safe, according to public health guidelines and relevant policies at the Foundation.)

Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will be a seasoned professional with deep knowledge of social justice and health equity issues. 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 deep experience working with diverse communities. Intellectual curiosity will lead our new program director to continually learn and develop new skills and knowledge. The individual 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.


  • Demonstrated leadership and relevant senior-level experience in the philanthropic, private, public and/or nonprofit sectors.
  • Expertise and experience in community organizing, advocacy, public health, public policy, social work, urban planning, medicine or a related field.
  • Prior experience managing and mentoring a team.
  • Highly developed skills in program management including strategic planning, project management, financial oversight, impact and evaluation, etc.
  • Candidates with lived experience in California’s diverse communities is preferred, and candidates that bring lived and/or work experience in rural communities is a plus.
  • A deep 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 starting salary range will be $126,700 to $158,400. The full salary range for the position is $126,700 to $190,100. 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. Cal Wellness will consider a modest relocation stipend for candidates located outside of the Los Angeles area or San Francisco Bay Area.

To Apply

Martha Montag Brown & Associates, LLC has been retained for this search. Interested and qualified candidates should apply by sending a cover letter, resume and salary requirements by email to [email protected]. All correspondence will remain confidential.

Candidates selected for advancement will be asked to participate in several rounds of interviews and complete a writing/presentation assignment. The final offer will be contingent upon background check, inclusive of credit, and professional references. If you require reasonable accommodation in order to participate in our interview process, please let us know.

A Note Regarding COVID-19: Cal Wellness is proceeding with hiring in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Interviews will be conducted utilizing videoconferencing. New staff will be onboarded in a virtual environment. Cal Wellness looks forward to someday returning to it offices in downtown Los Angeles and Oakland and being able to see everyone face-to-face. The California Wellness Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes a diverse candidate pool.

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.

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