Program Officer (Environment)

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Menlo Park, CA, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
Experience Level: 
Senior (10+ Years)
Degree Required: 
Bachelor's (Or Equivalent)


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Program Officer, Environment

The foundation is working with a search firm to fill this position. If you are interested please apply directly to the firm through this link WaldronHR.

The Position

The Environment Program at the Hewlett Foundation develops and implements grantmaking strategies that engage multiple sectors, geographies, and philanthropic levers. While program officers on the Environment team each manage distinct grant portfolios, they also operate within a highly matrixed and collaborative structure, affording the ability to contribute to, and support the whole of, the Environment Program’s strategic approach.

For this particular program officer role, the portfolio will focus on achieving deep decarbonization by 2050 across the U.S. economy. The Program Officer is strategic, plans several years out, listens to grantee and other partners’ feedback, and deploys a creative and open mind in managing the portfolio, recognizing there is no one right approach to the work.

Reporting to the Environment Program Director, the Program Officer will manage relationships with colleagues, grantees, funders, public and private partners, and coalitions in the broader climate field. Additional key responsibilities include:

Portfolio Management

Oversee a grants portfolio with the overarching goal of decarbonizing the global economy in the next several decades. By looking at the largest emitting sectors in the United States, including electricity, transportation, the built environment, industry, agriculture, and forestry, the Program Officer will make grants that support efforts to enact policies, create public demand, and build political will to achieve rapid decarbonization. This will require attention to both the substantive elements of policy and technology and competency around the related issue of equity. The Program Officer will conduct extensive outreach and rigorous due diligence to identify and support impactful grantees, from institutional to grassroots-level organizations, and across a variety of political, economic, and policy spectrums.

External Engagement

Identify and establish the necessary partnerships within NGO, policy, corporate, and philanthropic sectors that together can inform grantmaking for a portfolio of high-impact grants. This includes staying current on emerging issues, trends, and interventions related to climate change and clean energy as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Program Officer is also responsible for convening meetings of external stakeholders when needed, including grant recipients, subject matter experts, policy stakeholders, co-funders, and others, in order to explore, compare, and coordinate strategies.

Strategic Learning

Use data and knowledge gathered in the field to advise on trends, movements, and policy developments related to climate and clean energy. This includes collaborating with Hewlett’s Communications team as well as managing external relationships with other grantmakers, advisors, and grant recipients to facilitate the exchange of information and maximize lessons learned. Additionally, the Program Officer will help plan and facilitate learning opportunities for grant recipients, as well as develop progress indicators with grant recipients to monitor and track the impact of projects funded.

Ideal Candidate

The Hewlett Foundation is seeking a Program Officer with vision, innovative thinking, and a genuine commitment to help define and manage a mission-driven portfolio of grants focused on climate solutions. Candidates must have significant expertise developing and implementing theories of change, and have expertise in the U.S. environment/climate sector at either the federal or state level. Candidates will have some supervisory responsibility, so experience in this area would be desirable. 

A broad-based ecosystem thinker is essential—someone who is comfortable operating with expansive parameters and exploring opportunities that can lead to scaled, bold, and even unconventional approaches. The foundation seeks candidates who are driven by active inquiry and learning; who possess an intellect that thrives when creatively synthesizing ideas and input from a variety of sources to address complex problems.

Candidates should bring an energetic, flexible, and collaborative disposition rooted in a direct, honest, and respectful approach to problem solving. The Program Officer must also have the ability to work seamlessly across strategic, substantive, and administrative aspects of the role. Fostering and contributing to a strong sense of community with colleagues, partners, and other stakeholders is essential.

The ideal candidate will thrive in an environment that affords a great deal of autonomy, yet is highly collaborative, communicative, and team-oriented. Success in the role requires the intellectual prowess and curiosity to debate and contribute across streams of work, an enthusiasm to share and seek learnings about grantmaking practices and grantees’ activities, and the ability to leverage the skills of people with different perspectives and styles.

Minimum Qualifications

A minimum of 10 years of relevant work experience promoting change in societies, markets, governments, or the private sector is required, with interdisciplinary experience favored. A broad understanding of current climate policies in the United States is critical, with deep knowledge about how policy is made. Knowledge of related areas of electric power, industry, transportation, and/or forests/agriculture would be a plus. This experience may come from nonprofit, philanthropic, business, or advocacy settings.

An undergraduate degree is required; an advanced degree in a related field is preferred. Organized, succinct, and precise oral and written communications skills are a must, including the capacity to write complex documents quickly. Excellent listening skills, confidence, candor, a sense of humor, humility, energy, and a commitment to the foundation’s values are all essential characteristics for the role.

About the Hewlett Foundation

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world.

For more than 50 years, we have supported efforts to advance education for all, preserve the environment, improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries, promote the health and economic well-being of women, support vibrant performing arts, strengthen Bay Area communities and make the philanthropy sector more effective. The foundation’s assets are more than $9 billion, with annual awards of grants totaling more than $400 million. A 14-member board of directors provides overall direction for the foundation.

The foundation’s culture and approach to its work are informed by a set of guiding principles that have been collectively articulated by the staff, board and the president. The foundation supports personal and professional development opportunities that reinforce active learning and intellectual rigor and encourage diverse perspectives and experimentation.

Learn more about The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

About the Environment Program

The Environment Program funds organizations working in areas of climate and energy as well as Western conservation. The vast majority of grants are to organizations that work on policy development and implementation because of the foundation’s belief that policy changes often provide the greatest opportunity to reach its strategic goals and objectives.

Climate and Energy

The Environment Program’s climate and energy grantmaking is global, although the majority of the work is focused mainly in China, Europe, India, and the United States. While a considerable portion of the Program’s investments are made through organizations which then regrant the funds, the foundation makes significant direct grants to organizations as well. The Program funds across the climate policy spectrum and includes grantmaking on energy, transport, industry, land use/forestry, finance, and carbon removals as well as on climate finance.

Western Conservation

The Environment Program’s Western Conservation grantmaking embraces the region west of the Rocky Mountains in the United States as well as the boreal forests of Canada. The foundation’s long-term goal is to preserve the biodiversity and conserve the ecological integrity of Western North America. We believe it is possible to meet this ecological goal while at the same time helping enable sustainable communities, and are working with communities west-wide toward inclusive, enduring conservation solutions.

To Be Considered

The Hewlett Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes a diverse pool of candidates for this search. To be considered, please submit your resume and cover letter expressing your interest and fit for the role via Waldron’s Candidate Web Portal.

The search for the Program Officer, Environment for the Hewlett Foundation is being assisted by a team from Waldron:

Jeff Waldron, Principal

Direct: 415.529.2150

Sonia Marroquin, Senior Associate

Direct: 415.646.4028