Los Angeles or San Francisco

Program Officer, James Irvine Foundation

The Organization

The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California. The Foundation’s vision is a California where all low-income workers have the power to advance economically. Since 1937 the Foundation has provided more than $2.09 billion in grants to organizations throughout California. The Foundation ended 2020 with more than $3 billion in assets and provided $109 million in grants. We have about 60 staff across our San Francisco and Los Angeles offices. The Irvine Foundation is committed, internally and externally, to the values of accountability, curiosity, empathy, equity, nimbleness, partnership, and transparency.

This is an exciting time to join The James Irvine Foundation as our grantmaking has grown steadily from $67 million in 2012 to a projected $129 million in 2021 due to strong investment performance. As we increase our giving it is imperative that we build our internal capacity to collaboratively achieve the impact we seek. We are hiring four (4) passionate, nimble relationship-builders who are committed to low-income workers and can contribute to our journey to operationalize equity across all we do. These Program Officers will add needed depth and diversity to our deeply collaborative programs team. We seek generalists who bring relevant professional and lived experience across nonprofits, philanthropy, consulting, and/or the public or private sectors and in one or more of our focus areas.

Irvine’s programmatic efforts are focused on three major, multi-year initiatives: Better Careers, Fair Work, and Priority Communities with additional initiatives on the way. Since the Foundation is ever evolving, adjusting for social relevance and policy shifts in both its current initiatives as well as piloting new ones, the Program Officer role requires strong analytical and change management abilities and a high degree of initiative. Reporting to a Director of Program Development, the Program Officers will work in partnership with the Foundation’s program staff and other staff on a set of initiatives and projects to advance Irvine’s vision of a California where all low-income workers have the power to advance economically. The ideal candidates have experience in project execution and grantmaking; and exceptional interpersonal, writing, and communication skills, including a deep commitment to respecting and lifting up diverse viewpoints.

Program Officers work on one or more grantmaking initiative teams, which may be led by an Initiative Director or another senior staff member. Program Officers may also work on short-term assignments across the grantmaking portfolio to support special projects and/or capacity needs on various initiative or program development teams. In addition, Program Officers have an Advisor who provides professional development coaching and performance assessments.

Ideal candidates will be equity-centered, flexible, capable of positively pushing through ambiguity to create clarity, and view change as opportunity. Program Officers will have a minimum of three to five (3 to 5) years of experience and, although generalists with broad experience are welcome, candidates with knowledge of workforce development, public policy, and/or rural/inland communities in California should highlight relevant experience in their application. Successful candidates will demonstrate excitement to work on a dedicated, growing team managing multiple demands, shifting priorities, and ongoing change with attention to detail and a desire to achieve excellence for low-income workers. Candidates must have experience managing and facilitating projects that involve collaborative efforts and be authentic, trusting communicators who can engage directly with community in a way that helps to minimize traditional power imbalances in philanthropy and lift the voices of low-income Californians.

The Foundation endeavors to live into our commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in our policies and practices and continue to find inclusive ways to elevate staff voices while acknowledging persistent, pervasive racism in our institutions and systems that must be eliminated if we are to improve outcomes for all Californians. Experience actively contributing to an organization’s DEI journey with an explicit anti-racism focus and an understanding of how one’s own identity and lived experiences inform their work is highly desired.


1.       Grantmaking and Project Support

–        Monitor the performance of a set of grants; coach and advise grantees, including the negotiation           of performance milestones to support grantee partner success.

–        In partnership with Initiative Directors and relevant leads, identify organizations with strong                     potential for partnership; conduct due diligence and assess grantee partners for effective track               records, internal capacity, and strategic skills.

–        Consult and coordinate with other Irvine program staff in exploring new grantmaking                                opportunities within initiatives.

–        Contribute to written materials that communicate the alignment of grantee activities with initiative            goals and strategies, including grant recommendations and context papers.

–        Provide project management support for teams, which could include planning and facilitating                 internal meetings, conducting research in a discrete new area of potential grantmaking, etc.

–        As appropriate, and in partnership with other Irvine staff, convene grantees and others in the field           to advance collective action, networking, and learning opportunities.

2.       Analyzing and Evaluating

–        Remain well informed of current research, activities, and trends in the issues addressed by                     grantees.

–        Support staff in assessment and learning activities that inform strategy and continuous                           improvement.

–        Participate in the ongoing refinement of Irvine’s initiatives, through discussions with relevant                   initiative teams.

3.       Collaboration with Colleagues to Execute Portfolio and Foundation-wide Efforts

–        Collaborate with other staff –– to coordinate with and contribute to projects and relationships that            may connect to other foundation efforts.

–        Maintain a working knowledge of other foundation efforts.


·         A minimum of three to five (3 to 5) years of experience in grantmaking or project executio                        focused on benefitting target communities or populations, which could be in the public, nonprofit,            or private sectors (the totality of candidate’s academic, professional, and lived experiences will                be considered)

·         A strong desire to contribute to the mission of The James Irvine Foundation

·         An understanding of issues impacting low-income communities

·         A commitment to and track record of working with disadvantaged communities

·         Ability to learn; work on new content areas quickly; assemble and assess data and research;                  and conduct landscape analyses and the action-orientation to turn data into insight

·         Excellent written and oral communication skills, and listening skills, and judgment in                                communicating within a variety of settings

·         Personal presence to represent the foundation in diverse forums and relationships

·         Willingness to learn and grow, alongside the Foundation and team, and experience in positively              contributing to a culture of learning, overall, and as it relates specifically to DEI

·         Demonstrated ability to plan and think strategically; set and achieve realistic goals and                             objectives; and balance multiple priorities with excellent attention to detail and follow through

·         Demonstrated respect for diverse perspectives

·         Ability to assess the leadership, track record, and capacity of social sector organizations and                  collaboratives

·         A desire to work collaboratively in a dynamic team-oriented environment

·         Bachelor’s degree or equivalent lived and/or professional experience related to the role

The James Irvine Foundation’s compensation philosophy is reflected in its Talent Advancement Program, which was created to assure equity in staff compensation. While every staff member is assigned a Tier based on demonstration of competencies, the Foundation looks to outcomes as criteria for advancement through the program’s Tiers. The positions are benchmarked against relative industry and occupational groups and reviewed each year, with the goal to deliver compensation equitably throughout the organization. For more information, please review Compensation Practices at Irvine.

The James Irvine Foundation offers an attractive benefits package, including comprehensive medical and retirement options, a summary of which can be found here. While many Foundation staff continue to work remotely through COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, there will be a shift to a hybrid in-person/remote work arrangement at both the Los Angeles and San Francisco offices when it is deemed safe to do so. At this point, all Foundation staff will be required to be fully vaccinated with one of the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines.

The James Irvine Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and we encourage applicants who reflect the diversity of California. Qualified applicants with criminal histories will be considered pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance (“FCO”). The Foundation greatly appreciates all expressed interest.

How To Apply

The James Irvine Foundation is partnering with Walker and Associates Consulting, a BIPOC- and woman-owned national strategic management consulting and executive search firm, for these openings. To apply, email a cover letter, resume, and list of three references (candidates will be notified in advance of any outreach to references) to irvine@walkeraac.com on or before 5:00 p.m. PST on Friday, December 3, 2021. Use the subject line: Program Officer Search. Submission via one PDF or Microsoft Word file is preferred. Questions or Nominations? Email Jeannine N. Walker at jwalker@walkeraac.com.

Sign up