Senior Program Officer (WF)

About the Organization

The Water Foundation is an ambitious new organization dedicated to advancing long-term, sustainable water management in the American West. Created in 2011 as an initiative within the Resources Legacy Fund in collaboration with several major funders, including the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Pisces Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Water Foundation became a fully independent nonprofit organization in January 2017.


Since it was first established as the California Water Foundation, the organization has invested over $30 million to improve the long-term availability of clean, safe water for California. It has assembled a respected team of experts in water, mobilized partner organizations, and engaged diverse constituents. The foundation functions as a strategic funder that invests in organizations and targeted regions to advance water policy reforms, a convener and builder of coalitions to improve how water is used, and an advocate for better regional and statewide policies.


The Water Foundation has achieved an early track-record of success, notably including education and analysis to support the 2014 passage of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Currently the foundation advances a broad range of priorities, from ensuring safe, reliable and affordable drinking water to balancing use of the region’s major river systems. With a talented team of staff experts and ongoing and expanding support from its funders, the foundation is poised to move to a new level of influence and impact as an independent institution.


The Water Foundation has offices in Sacramento, Oakland, and Los Angeles. More information about the Water Foundation can be found at; the foundation’s website is being overhauled as part of its launch as an independent organization.


Senior Program Officer

The Water Foundation seeks a dynamic and highly strategic Senior Program Officer to help build upon the Foundation’s early successes and galvanize stakeholders and supporters to address the complex challenges of water management in California and beyond. The Senior Program Officer will join a vibrant new institution with a compelling mission. This opportunity has all the challenge and excitement of a startup, with the distinct benefits of demonstrated organizational success and a known reputation in the world of Western water policy, as well as seed funding and initial existing infrastructure.


The Senior Program Officer will be responsible for implementing several of the foundation’s current priority programs: securing safe, reliable, and affordable drinking water for all Californians; achieving new levels of water use efficiency and conservation across the West, and transforming greater Los Angeles’s water systems to create more resilient regional water supplies. The Senior Program Officer’s program portfolio will evolve over time along with the foundation’s overall priorities.


The Senior Program Officer will lead the design and implementation of carefully designed strategies to achieve each of these priorities. The Senior Program officer will work in close partnership with the Director of Programs and Strategy and Program Officers to design these strategies.


The Senior Program Officer will report to the Director of Programs and Strategy and will directly manage two Program Officers.


Primary Duties and Responsibilities

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


Guide Strategic Investments to Achieve Concrete Change

  • Develop and manage a broad portfolio of grants to achieve several of the foundation’s priorities. These grants will represent a carefully designed, cohesive set of investments to achieve planned outcomes.
  • Design additional activities that complement grantmaking in each program area such as contracting for expert research and analysis, convening new partners and building coalitions, and directly engaging policy makers to achieve the foundation’s priorities.
  • Manage grantmaking with integrity and rigor, including soliciting and reviewing grant proposals, reviewing agreements and reports, providing feedback and guidance to grantees, and tracking outcomes consistent with the Foundation’s strategic priorities.
  • Assemble program dockets and prepare written materials for the CEO, the Director of Programs and Strategy, and the Board of Directors.
  • Work with the Director of Operations and Finance to ensure that grants and contracts under the portfolio adhere to the Foundation’s policies and procedures and all applicable laws.


Build Strong and Lasting External Partnerships

  • Develop close working relationships with key strategic partners in government, business, nonprofits, and academia to advance the foundation’s priorities.
  • Build and shape  coalitions to advance common objectives.
  • When needed engage directly with governmental decision makers and other leaders to achieve program priorities.
  • Develop close, collaborative partnerships with other foundations working in the water field to exchange information, share lessons, and leverage each other’s efforts.
  • Represent the Water Foundation at a broad range of meetings, forums, and public presentations.


Manage for Excellent Results

  • Manage Program Officers to implement planned grantmaking and other strategic activities. Constructively support these staff and guide their work toward maximum effectiveness.
  • Closely collaborate with Program Officers to develop strategies to achieve program outcomes and refine these strategies as conditions change.
  • Mentor and support Program Officers to excel in their work and empower them to achieve exceptional results. Set program and professional goals for these staff and track progress.
  • Draft funding proposals to support programs and prepare interim and final reports for funders.
  • Develop and manage annual program budgets.
    • Manage and provide direction to consultants; evaluate their performance.



The successful candidate will have the following minimum qualifications:

  • 10+ years of experience working in water policy and/or water management, demonstrating progressive growth in responsibilities and expertise
  • Demonstrated experience successfully developing and implementing a strategic vision through positions held in government, water agencies, nonprofit organizations, or private business
  • A strong network of professional contacts in the water field
  • Advanced degree or comparable knowledge in water policy or related field
  • Thorough knowledge of current water issues and trends and ability to communicate complex issues in ways that are easily accessible to different audiences
  • Strong work ethic, initiative, follow-through, and good judgment
  • Strong staff management experience and team-building skills, and a collaborative leadership style that empowers and inspires staff and encourages professional development
  • Excellent interpersonal and relationship management skills with proven ability to attract partners and funders by communicating a compelling and inspired sense of purpose
  • Exceptional organizational skills and the ability to manage extensive documentation
  • Capacity to receive and balance input from multiple colleagues
  • Patience, grace, and humor under pressure
  • Exceptional writing and editing skills including the ability to synthesize extensive information into clear, cohesive written products


Compensation and Location

The Water Foundation offers an excellent benefits package and a competitive salary that is commensurate with experience. This position will be based in either the Water Foundation’s Oakland office or Sacramento office.


To Apply

CEA Recruiting is assisting the Water Foundation with this search; all applications and inquiries should be directed to CEA. To be considered for this position, interested candidates must follow the link below to submit a resume, cover letter, and salary requirements through CEA’s job portal. 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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