The Surdna Foundation, a New York City-based family foundation, seeks a Program Officer for its Strong Local Economies Program.
The Surdna Foundation
Created by John E. Andrus in 1917, the Surdna Foundation has assets exceeding $1 billion and an annual grantmaking budget of more than $32 million. The Foundation has a staff of 25, based in its Midtown Manhattan offices. Governed by a Board of Directors that includes fourth and fifth generation family members, the longstanding values of the Andrus family – practicality, modesty, excellence, and an appreciation for serving those in need – underlie all of the Surdna Foundation's work. The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster just and sustainable communities in the United States—communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy and sustainable environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.
The Surdna Foundation has three grantmaking areas: Strong Local Economies, Sustainable Environments and Thriving Cultures. The Foundation provides grant support for efforts at the national, state, regional, and local levels throughout the United States. Surdna invests in the exchange of ideas across networks of people, institutions, and places with the intent of seeding innovative projects, programs, and policies and bringing them to scale across the country. The Foundation seeks grantmaking opportunities that include balanced efforts to: demonstrate the effectiveness of specific, targeted projects, practices, and models; advocate for and implement federal, state, and local public policies; and empower, mobilize, and develop leadership in communities and agencies to encourage civic participation. Surdna recognizes its programmatic interests as interrelated and is committed to working cross-programmatically. At the same time, program staff have considerable autonomy and are expected to balance responsibilities to the Foundation, to their program, and to each other.
The Strong Local Economies Program
The Strong Local Economies Program aims to create robust and sustainable economies that include a diversity of vibrant businesses and sectors, improved access to quality jobs for low to moderate income individuals, people of color, women, and immigrants (the Program’s priority populations), economic development practices that produce equitable outcomes and ultimately, opportunities for economic stability and upward mobility. Surdna works to ensure that people of color and members of lower income communities are a part of the decision-making process and have the ability to participate in the renewed economic promise of their regions and cities.
The Strong Local Economies Program has an annual budget of $9.2 million and we anticipate making between 30-45 project specific and general operating support grants each year. Our resources also support research, communications, leadership development and capacity building efforts across the portfolio. In addition, we manage a $10 million Program Related Investment fund primarily focused on addressing access to capital (debt and equity) challenges for minority owned businesses.
The Program Officer Role
The Program Officer is a part of a three-person team that includes a Program Director and a Senior Program Associate. The Program Officer is expected to work closely with the team on all aspects of the program, including day-to-day operations, broader program strategy development, and work with members of our Board committee to advance their understanding and engagement with the program.
Program Officers contribute to the development and execution of the program’s strategy and participate actively in grantmaking by identifying, cultivating, and recommending new partnerships for funding consideration. Surdna expects Program Officers to have expertise and knowledge in one or more of the substantive elements of the grantmaking strategy. Program Officers are also expected to leverage foundation resources to establish collaboration amongst funders, raise awareness about important grantee initiatives or projects and develop innovative approaches to addressing systems change.
A successful candidate will demonstrate an eagerness to engage in an ongoing assessment of the Strong Local Economies Program’s priorities under the leadership of the Program Director, and to work across issue areas with the Foundation’s Sustainable Environments and Thriving Cultures program teams.
First Year’s Priorities
During the first year of employment, the Program Officer for Strong Local Economies will be expected to:
- Thoroughly immerse herself/himself in the Surdna Foundation – its mission, philosophy, programs, staff, grantees, structure and operations, constituencies, organizational culture and values.
- Become knowledgeable about the Foundation’s grantmaking strategies, grant guidelines and theories of change.
- Contribute and apply field expertise to an ongoing analysis of the Strong Local Economies Program’s lines of work.
- Develop the ability to communicate the program’s strategy at a very high level and in an effective fashion.
- Develop and leverage relationships with key internal and external colleagues in order to bring forth the best ideas and efforts to inform the work of the Strong Local Economies Program.
The Program Officer for Strong Local Economies will be expected to:
- Maintain a breadth of knowledge, including research about current trends, emerging issues, policy interventions, and innovations in the program’s areas of focus.
- Monitor and track ongoing grants and initiatives, including evaluating and reporting to staff, Board, and external colleagues on program and/or grant performance.
- Work closely with other programs at the Foundation and facilitate cross-program collaboration.
- Recommend grants for funding by soliciting internal feedback on organizations and projects and providing critical analyses of projects strengths, weaknesses, and risks.
- Review, assess, and proactively cultivate grantmaking opportunities and assist grantees in improving proposal submissions.
- Conduct site visits of pending and active projects.
- Develop relationships with public and private sector stakeholders to meet program and mission objectives.
- Help to plan and implement learning opportunities for grantees, staff, and Board.
- Regularly share lessons learned from the field with colleagues and Board members.
- Work with and manage external consultants.
- Assist in external communications: develop web site content, newsletters, public presentations, and articles as appropriate.
- Develop partnerships with other institutions to extend the impact of the Foundation’s grantmaking.
- Track and contribute to the development of best practices among funders.
- Participate in external working groups and funders’ collaboratives as a thought partner.
Ideal Experience and Qualities
The Program Officer for Strong Local Economies should have the following experience and qualifications:
- Strong record of achievement and relevant experience in the nonprofit, public, or private sector.
- A minimum of 8 years in the field and interdisciplinary experiences are preferred.
- Advanced degree in a related field is preferred.
- Substantive knowledge of the field and issues including, but not limited to: finance, economics, economic development, urban planning, business development, job quality issues, and public policy/administration.
- An outstanding relationship builder with the interpersonal skill necessary to gain the trust and confidence of the Foundation’s staff, grantees, and Board.
- A strong track record as a strategic and systems-oriented thinker.
- A demonstrated grasp of core principles of social justice, sustainability and equity, with a proven track record in these arenas.
- Outstanding written and oral communication skills, with the presence and credibility to develop and sustain a broad range of relationships; and highly developed listening skills.
- Experience with social media and new communications technology is desirable.
- Willingness to work across programs to develop complementary strategies, grantmaking priorities and learning opportunities.
- A track record as an energetic, flexible, self-starting team player. A direct, honest, and respectful approach to problem solving, with the ability to foster collaboration and contribute to a strong sense of community among staff and Board.
- Ability to thrive when working under deadlines; strong project, time, and budget management skills; and the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously without sacrificing attention to detail.
- Familiarity with a fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment and a willingness to share in both “big picture” thinking and administrative tasks.
- Experience working with diverse communities across race, class, ethnic, political and geographic boundaries.
- Willingness and ability to travel.
To learn more about the Surdna Foundation, please visit:
The Surdna Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and considers all applications without regard to race, color, religion, creed, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, disability, socio-economic status, marital or veteran status, pregnancy status, or sexual orientation.