Program Officer and Grants Manager (DMLF)

About the Foundation

The Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation is a private family foundation based in Walnut Creek, California whose mission is to enhance the vibrancy and quality of life for all residents of Contra Costa County.  Established in 1989, the Foundation has three priority funding areas: Education; Children and Families; and Arts & Culture.  Responsive grants are made to local nonprofits to meet existing and emerging community needs.  The Foundation also makes strategic grants to advance progress toward four key impact goals within the three focus areas:

  1. Closing the opportunity gap so more Contra Costa children are thriving through improved learning opportunities and strengthened families with an emphasis on early childhood and underserved 18-26-year old’s, over time resulting in increased educational and economic mobility, particularly for low-income children and children of color;
  2. More families have their basic needs met, particularly housing, food security and interpersonal safety;
  3. Supporting the arts to create a vibrant Contra Costa County with the Lesher Center for the Arts as the premier hub for the arts in the community, increase access to the arts for children and youth, and foster civic engagement through a foundation-sponsored speaker series;
  4. East Contra Costa County nonprofit organizations have increased capacity to meet the communities’ changing needs and address issues and systems that entrench poverty.

The Foundation distributes approximately $5 million in grants annually.

Position Overview

The Program Officer & Grants Manager position plays a critical role as part of the foundation’s small, hard-working, impact-oriented team.  The position advances the Foundation’s goals in designated issue areas, analyzes, reviews and makes recommendations on grant proposals, analyzes and conducts research on key issues related to the Foundation’s impact goals and priority grantmaking areas, provides local and field-informed landscape assessments and data analyses on key topics, is responsible for coordination of the foundation’s grants management system, and handles general office administrative functions.  This full-time position reports to the Executive Director and works closely with the Senior Program Officer/Director of Operations.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

Program Officer Duties (55%-65% of role)

  • Contributes to the development, shaping, implementation and assessment of grant making strategy in assigned issue areas to advance the Foundation’s mission and impact goals. Works with the internal team and Board and participates in cross-sector efforts with nonprofit partners, fellow funders, and community stakeholders to achieve program objectives.
  • Responsible for reviewing grant proposals, conducting site visits, evaluating, and making recommendations on assigned grants under the direction of the Executive Director, as well as reviewing grant reports.
  • Conducts program research, analysis, planning and writes strategy papers for key foundation priorities and initiatives. Develops landscape assessments and researches, identifies, understands and shares best practices, what’s effective, and emerging issues.
  • Builds, nurtures and strengthens relationships with the Foundation’s nonprofit partners, fellow funders, and other stakeholders to understand the issues, challenges, needs and opportunities in the community, for residents and clients and nonprofit organizations, from both a county-wide and community-grounded perspective. Serve as an informed thought partner and facilitator of connections to leverage efforts and opportunities in assigned issue areas.
  • Plans and conducts convenings of grantees, topical experts and key stakeholders as needed to advance strategic program initiatives.
  • Actively participates in a culture of learning within the organization to deepen the impact of the work, reflect on opportunities to improve the programmatic work and processes of the Foundation, explore new approaches and ways of advancing toward the impact goals, and set and work toward team and individual learning and professional development goals.

Grants Management Duties (25%-30% of role)

  • Coordinates the grantmaking cycle including processing grant applications, coordinating site visits, preparing grant agreements, award and payment letters, processing grant reports, managing payment schedules, and responding to applicant inquires by phone and email. Manages the overall grants management system with an emphasis on continuous improvement.
  • Utilizes electronic grants management system to maintain grant database and ensure that all grant documentation is complete, accurate and current.
  • Provides exceptional customer service to applicants and grantees to facilitate their grant application, award, and reporting and their use of the Foundation’s online system.
  • Performs routine and ad hoc reporting to track, reflect and analyze the Foundation’s grant-making portfolio and progress toward strategic impact goals. Uses grants data and other data sources, data visualization and other tools to interpret, report and present the Foundation’s grantmaking for internal and external audiences.

Organizational and Administrative Duties (5%-10% of role)

  • Develops communications content for the website and other communications mediums.
  • Participates on team that provides coordination and support for foundation-sponsored speaker series.
  • Plans and coordinates monthly foundation Board meetings, including preparing and distributing meeting agendas and materials, arranging catering, handling meeting logistics, and drafting Board minutes.
  • Provides general administrative support for the office, including answering phones, handling mail, managing office supplies, scheduling meetings and conference calls, file management, copying and other office functions as needed.


  • At least five years combined experience in grantmaking, program services delivery, grants management or nonprofit administration. Master’s degree may substitute for two years’ experience. 
  • Strong quantitative and qualitative analytical background, applied research, critical thinking and writing skills. Creative thinker who can work effectively on complex, multi-dimensional issues, deal with ambiguity, and focus simultaneously on the specifics of an issue and the larger context.
  • Expertise and experience working in at least one of the Foundation’s issue focus areas strongly preferred.
  • Excellent project management skills, including proven ability to keep organized, prioritize, manage time effectively and meet deadlines. Demonstrated capability to work independently.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, flexibility with no job being too small or too big, and a collaborative, team and customer-oriented approach.
  • Experience and desire to work within a team environment with an emphasis on learning, improvement and focus on the mission.
  • Motivated by and committed to the Foundation’s mission.
  • High integrity, honesty and commitment to high quality work, as well as discretion, sound professional judgment and tact.
  • Intellectually curious, insightful, and resourceful.
  • Comfortable working in small office environment.
  • Demonstrated capability in MS Office and strong attention to detail required. Familiarity with electronic grants management systems desired.
  • Familiarity with Contra Costa County a plus.
  • Bachelor’s Degree required. Master’s degree a plus.


To Apply

Interested candidates can email a resume and cover letter to:  Melissa Stafford Jones, Executive Director, at [email protected] with “Program Officer & Grants Manager” in the subject line.  No faxes or phone calls please.  Applications will be considered on a rolling basis through January 24, 2020.  The Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation is an equal opportunity employer. 


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