Los Altos, CA

Program Director, Human Rights, Heising-Simons Foundation

The Organization

The Heising-Simons Foundation is a family foundation that works to advance sustainable solutions in climate and clean energy, enable groundbreaking research in science, enhance the education of our youngest learners, and support human rights for all people. Its board consists of founders Mark Heising and Liz Simons, and their daughter Caitlin Heising.

In 2015, the Foundation awarded more than $42.8 million, through 188 grants and one program-related investment. Since its first grant in 2007, the Foundation has awarded more than $205 million.

The Foundation is based in Los Altos, CA. Discussions are underway about a potential satellite office in San Francisco.

Position Overview

The Director, Human Rights manages the Foundation’s Human Rights grantmaking, with an emphasis on criminal justice reform and undocumented communities. The Director is responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of human rights grantmaking strategies and activities. The Director manages the Human Rights team, and serves as an essential member of the Foundation’s senior leadership team.

The Human Rights program is rooted in the belief in the inherent dignity of all people. In the United States and around the world, too many people are denied full and equal rights and participation in the political, social, and economic institutions that shape their lives. In our grantmaking, we work toward achieving a more just world where people are equally valued regardless of gender, race, class, or citizenship.

The Human Rights program is a growing area within the Foundation. The Director will work with members of the Board and the Human Rights team to establish and implement a creative vision for the program’s grantmaking and activities.

The Director reports to the President and CEO.

Primary Responsibilities of the Program Director, Human Rights

Manage the Human Rights grantmaking portfolio, both from a strategic and operational perspective.

Demonstrate exceptional people and subject-matter leadership, including a passion for social justice and reducing inequities.

Lead and oversee the development, implementation, and evaluation of Human Rights grantmaking strategies and funding initiatives for the Human Rights program area.

Develop annual administrative and grants budgets for the Human Rights program area and monitor progress and use of resources.

Maintain a grantmaking portfolio, including soliciting proposals, conducting site visits, summarizing proposals for review by the Board, and reporting on progress to Foundation management and the Board.

Regularly report to the Board and the President and CEO on the overall effectiveness of funding in the Human Rights program area.

Develop and implement activities designed to amplify the effects of Foundation grantmaking (e.g., convenings, communications and dissemination of results, connecting with relevant public and private stakeholders).

Provide non-financial support to grantees, including advice concerning capacity-building, fund development, projects, and evaluation.

Forge partnerships and collaborations with partner foundations and other stakeholders.

Remain abreast of current policy discussions, grassroots activities, trends, and research in the Human Rights field.

Represent the Foundation, its Human Rights grantmaking, and Human Rights issues to external audiences through speaking, writing, and other opportunities.

Work with the Foundation’s communications team to broaden the impact of the program.

Grow, supervise, and manage members of the Human Rights team towards achievement of program area and professional goals.

Demonstrate the highest level of professional ethics and integrity.

Contribute to the overall success of the Foundation, through Foundation-wide activities.


Master’s degree in a relevant area of study or Bachelor’s degree with equivalent experience

10+ years’ relevant professional work experience leading strategies, people, and teams, with 5+ years’ professional experience in the program area

Exceptional leadership skills and presence, internally and externally, with a demonstrated ability to lead and manage a high-performing team

Creative vision with the capacity to consider multiple perspectives and find answers to complex questions

Strong critical thinking skills and solid judgment

Self-motivated, with a proven ability to think transformationally and design and implement successful, innovative, bold strategies for sustainable and scalable reform

Exceptional communications skills, including strong active listening, verbal, written, and public presentation skills

Excellent organizational, people, and project management skills

Demonstrated ability to be a productive member of a community of people at work, respecting differences while working toward shared goals, and able to constructively participate in the development of a growing organization

Flexible, adaptable, and collaborative team player with a sense of humor

Proficient in all Microsoft Office applications

Able to travel (approximately 25% of the time) locally, as well as out of the area

Grantmaking experience, in a management role, is preferred

How To Apply

To apply for this position, please send a compelling cover letter, your resume, and recent salary history to hr@heisingsimons.org, with “Program Director for Human Rights” in the subject line. Applications will be considered until the position is filled.

The Foundation is an equal opportunity employer. We welcome a diverse pool of applicants and make employment decisions on the basis of merit. Foundation policy prohibits the unlawful discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, age, marital or caregiver status, physical disability, mental disability, military service, legally protected medical condition, prior record of arrest or conviction, or any other consideration made unlawful by federal, state, or local laws. Reasonable accommodation will be made so that qualified applicants with disabilities may participate in the application process. Please advise, in writing, any special needs at the time of application.

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