Houston, TX

Program Officer, The Powell Foundation

The Organization


The Powell Foundation is a private, family foundation that strives to be a catalyst for impactful initiatives that enhance the quality of life in the communities it serves.  The Foundation prioritizes funding organizations that serve residents in Harris, Travis, and Walker Counties, principally in the fields of public education, the arts, conservation, and human services. A primary focus of the Foundation is ensuring that all children have access to a robust, first-class public education and the support needed to develop to their full potential. The Foundation is incorporated in Texas and governed by a board of eleven directors comprised of two generations of the Powell family and three independent directors. It is served by a small staff located in Houston.



The Powell Foundation (PF) seeks an experienced educational and community leader that has a passion for education, teaching and learning to join our team as a Program Officer.  The Foundation seeks to recruit individuals with superior interpersonal skills, a respectful and analytical approach to the work of grantees and partners, and a proven ability to work effectively as part of a team.  The successful candidate will have a keen understanding of education systems and practices, a strong commitment to public education, exceptional skills in working and communicating effectively with others, and a deep commitment to addressing issues of equity and diversity in education.   Together, the team of program officers, community partners and a hands-on, multi-generational family and its independent directors pursue quality grantmaking that enables communities to thrive through distribution of more than $15 million in grants per year.  This position reports to the Executive Director. The position is Houston-based; however, the Foundation will also consider candidates residing in Austin.


The Program Officer’s role includes the following:

Grant Portfolio Management

  • Actively work to advance the Foundation’s mission; develop, monitor, and evaluate a portfolio of grants designed to address key issues in education, the arts, human services, and conservation
  • Maintain information about current and prospective grantees in the Foundation’s grant management system to enable knowledge-sharing.
  • Proactively cultivate opportunities that have the potential to foster positive change in the community and advance the Foundation’s goals; conduct extensive outreach and rigorous due diligence to identify and support impactful grantees
  • Consider the needs of grantee organizations and intentionally build and maintain relationships with existing and prospective grantees; act as a trusted advisor to both new and existing grantees
  • Prepare grant recommendations and materials to support the Grant Committee’s review and subsequently the  Board’s grantmaking decisions; prioritize grant requests in coordination with the Foundation’s strategic priorities

Evaluation, Impact and Strategy

  • Develop criteria and structures for measuring the quality and potential impact of grant requests; triangulate programmatic and organizational data from multiple sources to assess the strength of grant requests against the criteria
  • Monitor the progress and results of the Foundation’s grantmaking initiatives; identify key learnings, take action, and make adjustments to improve results and amplify the Foundation’s impact within its three geographies and four giving areas
  • Test key assumptions about the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy and approach; incorporate lessons into future decision making, and share key findings within the Foundation and the broader public.
  • Contribute to various strategic projects, especially as it pertains to grantmaking strategies.

Learning and Leadership

  • Engage with key leaders in the Foundation’s fields of interest in order to develop and add depth to programming ideas and initiatives.
  • Connect and convene grantees, organizations, and colleagues in the sector to amplify knowledge sharing and impact.
  • Provide thought leadership in the field, including sharing promising practices related to impact, sustainability, and scalability within the Foundation’s giving areas; initiate Foundation-led convenings and collaboration opportunities.
  • Maintain strong, positive working relationships with the Board and family, including 4th generation family members; be responsive to questions and provide assistance as needed.
  • Lead other projects at the request of the Executive Director; participate in and execute other Foundation duties as assigned to support the team and organization


The ideal candidate for the position will have at least 8 – 10 years of professional experience, including a background of working collaboratively within a team and a demonstrated commitment to improving communities.  The successful candidate must demonstrate humility, strong communication skills and strong cultural competence.

Specifically, the successful candidate will demonstrate:

  • Strong commitment to the mission of the Powell Foundation and passion for the work of our grantees
  • Familiarity with the nonprofit, philanthropic and/or foundation sectors within Houston and/or Austin, preferred
  • Knowledge of various aspects of the education landscape including early childhood, PK-12 public education and/or college access
  • Driven to support a positive organizational culture conducive to learning, growth, and continuous performance improvement
  • Exceptional written and oral communication skills; communicates in a clear, concise, logical, accurate and grammatical manner (written and verbal) at all times
  • Demonstrated track record of independently preparing quality materials for meetings
  • Roll-up-one’s sleeves attitude
  • Strong project and time management skills; ability to think independently and initiate action; must thrive working under deadlines and handling multiple tasks without sacrificing attention to details
  • Strong quantitative and/or qualitative analytical skills used to connect to big picture, drive strategic thinking, and judge soundness of grant requests
  • Demonstrates cultural competence and respect for the communities in which the Foundation impacts.
  • Understands community context and key issues important to stakeholders with a particular focus on diversity, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic issues that play an especially acute role in the education sector and consequently our work
  • Impeccable reputation for integrity and judgment; strong ethics and trustworthiness; ability to maintain confidentiality and use discretion.
  • An orientation toward servant-leadership, including strong active-listening skills and ability to tailor communications to diverse audiences
  • Proven background as a team player who strives to understand and deliver excellent customer service to internal and external customers
  • Self-awareness and growth mindset; commitment to being a lifelong learner and giving and receiving professional feedback in the spirit of growth and improved performance
  • Consistently goes above and beyond to achieve at high levels and inspires others to do the same
  • Comfortable working in a small office environment
  • Proficient computer skills and familiarity with database systems.
  • Bachelor’s degree with at least 8-10 years of related work experience


Interested candidates should apply here. Letters of interest will be received until May 28, 2021.

Salary will be set in accordance with the successful candidate’s experience.  A comprehensive benefits package, including health, dental and vision benefits, generous paid-time off (PTO), paid parental leave, a retirement savings plan, and an annual professional development stipend is offered to all full-time employees.  The position is Houston-based; however, the Foundation will also consider candidates residing in Austin.

We will contact those candidates who most closely match the requirements.  We thank you in advance for your interest.

The Powell Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Applicants and employees are treated without regard to such factors as race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other reason prohibited by law.

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