Program Officer - Special Initiative (IHF)

Reports to:       Senior Program Officer

Supervisees:     None

Status:              Full time

Start date:        Position to be filled as soon as possible

Location:          Chicago, Illinois 


Irving Harris Foundation

The Irving Harris Foundation (Foundation) enhances the quality of life for children, families, and communities by advancing human potential, social justice and equity, as well as creative experience and expression. The Foundation is a strategic grantmaker, investing approximately $15 million annually in the fields of early childhood development, reproductive health and justice, arts and culture, and Jewish values in the U.S. and Israel. The Foundation’s grants aim to address root causes, leverage public and private resources, provide technical assistance and foster collaboration through public-private and funder partnerships. To learn more, please visit


We are looking for a colleague who has experience building a community of practice, engaging in collaborative work, and developing a program to scale; and who is strategic, thoughtful, and committed to systems change with a lens to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The Program Officer - Special Initiative will expand the reach and expertise of the Harris Professional Development Network (PDN, Network), which is an innovative network of 19 multi-disciplinary programs from 12 states, DC and Israel, all of which are Foundation grantees. The PDN trains the infant and early childhood mental health workforce, develops, promotes, and integrates core developmental and mental health principles into systems and services, and informs public policy around young children’s social and emotional development.

Position Responsibilities

The Foundation seeks an experienced collaborator to help deepen the PDN’s current work, enhance the Network, and think strategically to forge partnerships to leverage the PDN’s expertise for broader field influence. The Program Officer will collaborate with PDN members (grantees), as well as internal and external stakeholders to develop programs and launch initiatives to advance the PDN goals. Other duties include:

  • Participate in the design, implementation, and refinement of a vision and strategies for enhancing the growth and impact of the PDN and its work.
  • Partner with the Executive Director, Senior Program Officer, Program Coordinator, other team members, and grantee partners to execute vision and strategies.
  • Collaborate with grantees to develop strategies to deepen, elevate and expand their work by learning, sharing ideas, and engaging with one another.
  • Provide tactical oversight as the primary focal for annual convening of PDN members, and other in-person meetings, including implementing meeting logistics.
  • Support the development and tracking of outcomes and metrics for the PDN, connecting them with outcomes tracking for the Foundation’s overall work in related fields.
  • Stay knowledgeable of current events, developments, and issues in the field that can shape and impact the work by conducting research as needed, attending conferences for professional development and participating in relevant workshops.
  • Support the review, evaluation, and development of PDN grant applications and annual reports.
  • Manage and produce work products to support the advancement of PDN goals and vision including, but not limited to: memos, papers, and other relevant communications.  
  • Become an active and engaged member of the Foundation staff and field committed to development, reflection, and justice.

Candidate Profile

Successful candidates will have a track record of collaboration and strong relationship building; experience running a program; and demonstrated passion for, and investment in, advancing justice and equity, particularly in systems that work with infants, children and families. Other qualities include:

  • Strong interpersonal skills, and an ability to develop and nurture successful partnerships and collaborations to galvanize a network of current and potential partners around projects and initiatives.
  • Proven project coordination and management track record with ability to participate in the development and implementation of multiple projects.
  • Collaborative leadership experience, including motivating teams to reach shared vision and goals.
  • Strong analytical, written, and verbal communication skills.
  • Able to conceptualize and implement projects from inception to completion while meeting deadlines.
  • Strong organization skills and attention to detail while retaining an ability to hold a larger vision.
  • Experience in planning and overseeing special events, large meetings, and conferences.
  • Minimum of 5-7 years of relevant experience and a bachelor’s degree in a relevant area required. Master’s degree or work toward graduate degree in a relevant area preferred.

Candidates with high levels of integrity, thoughtfulness, and a sense of humor are prioritized.


The position is based in Chicago, Illinois. The Program Officer - Special Initiative may travel up to six times per year.


A comprehensive salary and benefits package will be offered commensurate with experience.


Interested individuals should submit a cover letter, resume, and a two to three-page writing sample to [email protected] with email subject line: Application for Program Officer - Special Initiative.


The Irving Harris Foundation is committed to an inclusive, fair and equitable workplace where everyone is a respected and valued member of the team. The Foundation values and actively seeks diversity in its workplace. The Foundation’s inclusive and equitable practice is embedded in recruitment, hiring, training, promoting persons in all job classifications. The Foundation does not discriminate against any individual with respect to the terms and conditions of their employment based on that individual’s race, ethnicity, color, religion, national origin, citizenship, sex, age, disability, pregnancy, childbirth, medical condition, marital status, military service or veteran status, sexuality or status in any other group protected by federal, state, or local laws. In addition, the Foundation administers all personnel decisions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, layoffs, returns from layoffs, etc., in accordance with the principles of equal employment opportunity.

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