Program Officer, Criminal Justice Reform

The Open Philanthropy Project is looking for a founding Program Officer to lead our criminal justice reform work.

We hope to contribute to a future in which the U.S. massively reduces incarceration while maintaining or improving public safety. We’re open to doing so by supporting strong advocacy and research institutions for the long run, capitalizing on political windows of opportunity, or pursuing other high-risk high-reward approaches, such as exploring how to change prosecutors’ incentives. The Program Officer will be responsible for developing our strategy and making grants, starting in the range of $5 million per year, with significant room to grow.


About the Open Philanthropy Project

The Open Philanthropy Project is a collaboration between Good Ventures and GiveWell in which we identify outstanding giving opportunities, make grants, follow the results, and publish our findings.

Good Ventures is a philanthropic foundation whose mission is to help humanity thrive. Good Ventures was created by Dustin Moskovitz (co-founder of Facebook and Asana) and Cari Tuna, who have pledged to give the majority of their wealth to charity. GiveWell is a nonprofit that finds outstanding giving opportunities and publishes the full details of its analysis to help donors decide where to give.


Criminal Justice Reform Program

The United States incarcerates a larger proportion of its residents than almost any other country in the world and still has the highest level of criminal homicide in the developed world. We believe the negative impact of incarceration, particularly on underprivileged communities, is enormous. Our goal is to contribute to a future in which the U.S. massively reduces incarceration while maintaining or improving public safety.

We're hoping to invest around $5 million per year in this area to start, but we aim to grow our giving in this area significantly beyond that level if we continue to find great giving opportunities. Our engagement in criminal justice reform to date has been limited, but some initial areas of potential interest are:

● changing incentives and practices of prosecutors and police

● supporting research on new approaches to improving public safety while reducing incarceration

● long-term support of advocacy organizations leading the charge against excessive incarceration

● encouraging the emerging bipartisan interest in reducing incarceration.

However, these are only preliminary interests, and we are very open to to revising them or pursuing other approaches instead.


About the Program Officer Position

The Program Officer will play the key founding role in our work in criminal justice. They will be responsible for developing our grantmaking strategy and priorities, making grants, forming and maintaining relationships with grantees and others in the criminal justice space, and laying the foundation for our long- term work.

While we intend to formally incorporate the Open Philanthropy Project as an independent organization in the future, the Program Officer will start as a GiveWell employee. The Program Officer will work with other U.S. Policy colleagues under the guidance of Managing Director Holden Karnofsky.


Key Responsibilities

● Develop a strategy for the Open Philanthropy Project's work in the field that clearly describes what kinds of grants we aim to make and explains why the Program Officer believes this to be the best approach to pursue.

● Source and investigate promising grant opportunities within the purview of the strategy.

● In consultation with other staff, make grants to the most promising opportunities that arise.

● Establish and maintain relationships with current and prospective grantees and other funders in the field.

● Produce public writeups explaining the rationale for our strategy and our grants.

● Follow up with grantees periodically and produce public updates on their progress.

● Stay up to date on overall progress in the field and adjust strategic direction based on new information by building and maintaining relationships with a diverse set of players.

● Prepare briefs synthesizing knowledge on questions of key strategic importance.

● Provide input on Open Philanthropy Project grants in other U.S. policy areas.

● Represent the Open Philanthropy Project at relevant external meetings, conferences, and site visits.


Required Skills and Experience

● Minimum several years of experience as a senior staff member in the criminal justice field.

● Very well-connected in and knowledgeable about the field – the candidate should already have working relationships with key players in the field.

● Significant experience in or aptitude for developing strategies that combine different approaches, such as research and policy analysis, technical assistance, and advocacy.

● Strong analytical and quantitative skills.

● Ability to work effectively with ideologically and culturally diverse partner organizations.

● Curiosity about and ability to rapidly acquire knowledge in areas beyond current expertise.

● Excellent written and oral communication skills, especially the ability to explain one’s views clearly.

● Strong interpersonal skills.

● Ability to travel domestically.


Personal Characteristics We Look For

● Alignment with the Open Philanthropy Project’s core values of openness and impact maximization.

● Excitement about working for a relatively new organization whose processes are under development and subject to change.

● Strong self-direction coupled with eagerness for discussion and feedback.

● Directness and openness in giving and receiving feedback.

● Comfort with intense discussion and debate, including challenging one’s manager.

● Quantitative mindset and comfort thinking in terms of expected value.


What We Offer

● Immediate opportunity to lead strategy development and grantmaking in criminal justice reform for a major new funder in the field.

● Long-term opportunity to build a team. We anticipate that a successful program officer will lead initial strategy development and grantmaking with limited additional staffing, but will eventually have the opportunity to lead a larger criminal justice reform team.

● Flexible location. The majority of the Open Philanthropy Project staff is currently based in San Francisco, but location is negotiable.

● Competitive compensation, commensurate with experience.


To Apply

Please send an email with a resume and brief cover letter explaining your interest in the position to [email protected].

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