Program Officer (WF)

The Water Foundation is a nonprofit public foundation committed to advancing long-term

sustainable water management. We work with a wide range of partners to transform how we manage water so communities and natural places can thrive. A new, integrated, and intensified approach to the water field is necessary; one that can safeguard human health, aid the most vulnerable in our society, and protect nature in peril. This approach requires executing bold, innovative strategies and mobilizing strong, unified, and sustained action among aligned stakeholders. The Water Foundation embodies this integrated approach to addressing our most challenging water-related threats. Our foundation was created for this purpose and is singularly dedicated to advancing water solutions. Our primary activity is thoughtful, strategic grantmaking that supports our partners to advance bold and durable solutions across the western United States. We shape these grants through an in-depth, holistic assessment of what can work, and then engage in unbranded and behind-the-scenes efforts as needed to build networks of the best groups and decision makers to advance sustainable solutions. Originally called the “California Water Foundation,” the Water Foundation began as an initiative within the Resources Legacy Fund in 2011. In 2017, we transitioned to an independent, stand-alone institution. With this transition, we are growing our focus beyond California, recognizing that waterways cross political boundaries and that communities and natural places throughout the West, and beyond, share similar challenges.

More information about the Water Foundation can be found at

Program Officer

The Water Foundation seeks a highly professional, self-directed, and motivated Program Officer to work closely with partners and grantees to address the complex challenges of water management in California and beyond. Under the mentorship of the Senior Program Officer and Director of Programs and Strategy, the Program Officer will work directly with grantees to achieve the Water Foundation’s priority strategies. The Program Officer will join a dynamic institution with a compelling mission that covers the full range of water issues from drinking water to groundwater, environmental flows to green infrastructure, to stormwater, and to conservation and efficiency. The Program Officer will initially be working to protect and restore freshwater ecosystems and watersheds, and bolster sustainable water management. He or she may be asked to lead or support other priority programs as necessary. The Program Officer will report to the Senior Program Officer. 

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

The Program Officer will perform the following duties and others as assigned:

Strategy Development

  • Partner with the Senior Program Officer and Director of Programs and Strategy to identify strategic opportunities to realize the Water Foundation’s vision and to craft strategies to achieve priority outcomes.
  • Implement necessary modifications to strategies amidst changing conditions, and help adapt the Foundation’s approaches as opportunities shift.
  • Identify promising areas of research and programming that can fill in gaps that exist in the Foundation’s programs and, as needed, conduct research and analysis and develop written assessments of key topics that are strategically relevant to the Foundation’s programs.

Grantmaking and Monitoring

  • Work with the Senior Program Officer to develop a portfolio of grants and contracts to achieve strategic outcomes. 
  • Enable and support grantee work.
  • Conduct site visits and provide technical guidance to grantees, consult with grantees on how best to achieve desired impacts, and evaluate grantees based on milestone-based performance objectives.
  • Review grantee proposals and provide written recommendations for funding.
  • Manage internal processes and prepare dockets while ensuring appropriate documentation, grant and program budgeting, and reporting.

Coalition Building and Direct Engagement

  • Cultivate partners from a wide range of interests and sectors to build coalitions and convene stakeholder meetings that can advance program objectives as needed.
  • In coordination with the Senior Program Officer, engage directly with governmental decision makers and other leaders to advance programmatic work.


We are seeking individuals with the following qualifications:

  • 5+ years of substantive, relevant work experience in philanthropy, government, nonprofits, or business
  • Advanced degree or comparable knowledge in water policy, conservation science, resource management, or related environmental field
  • Strong facilitative leadership ability, proactive project management skills, and problem-solving proficiency
  • Superb writing and editing skills including the ability to synthesize extensive information into clear, cohesive written products
  • Excellent work ethic, initiative, follow-through, and good judgment
  • A collaborative style and first-rate people skills
  • High standards for quality, presentation, protocol, and confidentiality
  • Patience, grace, and humor under pressure

Compensation and Location

The Water Foundation offers an excellent benefits package and a competitive salary that is commensurate with experience. The location for this position is flexible. The Program Officer will ideally be based in the Water Foundation’s offices in either Sacramento or Oakland, CA; however, we are open to other major western cities (preferably in the Southwest or intermountain region). Regular travel required.

To Apply

CEA Recruiting is assisting the Water Foundation with this search. To be considered for this position, please follow the link below to submit a resume, cover letter, and salary requirements through CEA’s job portal. Please direct all applications and inquiries to CEA Recruiting. This position will remain open until filled. 

The Water Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.

CEA Recruiting works with leading environmental nonprofits, foundations, and businesses to recruit top talent and design effective organizational staffing strategies. For more information, visit

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