Menlo Park, CA

Program Officer, Madison Initiative, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

The Organization

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, based in Menlo Park, California, seeks a Program Officer for the Madison Initiative on U.S. democracy who will lead the foundation’s efforts to combat digital disinformation and improve campaigns and elections in the United States.

About the 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. In addition, we address other timely problems, such as challenges related to cybersecurity and U.S. democracy. The foundation’s assets are approximately $10 billion, with annual awards of grants and gifts totaling over $400 million. We have approximately 120 employees, all located in the Bay Area, working together to advance the foundation’s mission and support our grantees. A 14-member board of directors provides overall direction for the foundation. For more information about the Hewlett Foundation, please visit

The foundation embraces the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion both internally, in our hiring process and organizational culture, and externally, in our grantmaking and related practices. We are an equal opportunity employer and welcome applications from people of all backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.

Position Overview

About the Foundation’s Madison Initiative

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation launched the Madison Initiative in 2014. The initiative is named for James Madison, who warned against and sought to alleviate “the mischiefs of faction.” The Hewlett Foundation board has authorized the initiative to fund $150 million in grants to uphold and strengthen U.S. democracy in an age of polarization. In support of this goal, we focus on five underlying objectives:

  • Revitalize key democratic values. These include pluralism, political toleration, institutional forbearance, negotiation and compromise, as well as the centrality of Congress for realizing these values in our system of government.
  • Strengthen Congress as an institution. Congress must be able to legislate solutions that address national problems, exercise its constitutional powers of the purse and oversight, and equip itself with the staffing and expertise required for these tasks.
  • Improve campaigns and elections. With different incentives, our elected representatives can become more responsive to the full range of opinion and interests in their constituencies and be less beholden to polarized agendas and special interests.
  • Combat digital disinformation. Any progress made in repairing politics will ultimately be pointless if citizens are misled or misinformed about what is happening and how they should respond to it.
  • Support the democracy field. We fund research, data, media, and collaborations to inform and improve the work of philanthropists, scholars, advocates, journalists, political reformers, and elected officials.

The Madison Initiative is nonpartisan and supports organizations across the ideological spectrum, including academic researchers, advocacy groups, think tanks, media platforms, infrastructure providers, and civic leadership organizations who share our goals and seek to uphold the democracy that Americans have inherited and – if they are diligent and fortunate – will pass on to future generations.[1]

Interested applicants can learn more about strategy of the Madison Initiative by reviewing our strategy paper here, and the approach we have taken to evaluating the initiative’s progress so far here.  

About the Position

The Program Officer will report to the Director and work collaboratively with members of the Madison Initiative team and others throughout the foundation. Specific responsibilities for the Program Officer will include:

  • Leading the ongoing development of the strategy, evaluation, and grantmaking for the initiative in the areas of combatting digital disinformation and improving campaigns and elections.
  • Continually learning about and tracking trends and evolutions in these areas.
  • Identifying and guiding potential grantees through the foundation’s proposal process, including its compliance-related procedures.
  • Overseeing active grants: tracking grantees’ progress; responding to financial and programmatic reports; and advising the director regarding grant renewals.
  • Ensuring that sound financial controls are in place for each grant and that funds are spent according to grant agreements.
  • Establishing and maintaining ongoing grantee relationships.
  • Organizing foundation-sponsored meetings of grantees and field experts.
  • Framing, commissioning, and overseeing team and field learning from evaluations in a portfolio spanning digital disinformation and campaigns and elections.
  • Helping develop briefing papers and reports that contribute to the foundation’s understanding of new approaches, best practices, and program issues.
  • Representing the foundation at appropriate meetings, conferences, and site visits as well as in all interactions with prospective and current grantees.
  • Working with the Director and other team members on strategy development, grantmaking, and evaluation plans for the initiative.

Qualifications, Skills, and Personal Attributes

·       Commitment to the guiding principles of the Hewlett Foundation.

·       Knowledge of and passion for resolving the issues that are the focus of the Madison Initiative and especially this portfolio, including (a) the substantive, technical, legal, and economic challenges connected to digital disinformation and the media platforms on which it is produced, distributed, and consumed; and (b) the problems arising from how money flows in congressional politics as well as our system of first-past-the-post, single-member district elections for Congress. (Note we are looking for some depth in at least one of these domains and a strong interest in working in both.)

·       Demonstrated track record as an effective colleague on a high-performing team; able to work collaboratively and effectively with peers in joint and shared efforts; brings flexibility, good humor, high energy, humility, and graciousness.

·       Excellent communicator; brings strong, highly persuasive oral and writing skills and an ability to write complicated documents quickly and well for multiple audiences/settings.

·       Relationship orientation: experience and comfort in working with individuals from diverse backgrounds, including political and ideological diversity; is diplomatic.

·       Strong analytic skills, with experience processing and organizing complex information and presenting ideas in a pragmatic, compelling manner; is rigorous and organized.

·       Experience working with nonprofit organizations and foundations.

·       Experience with strategy development and execution including goal setting, initiative development, resource allocation, and implementation through project management with multi-disciplinary teams.

·       Exceptional personal and professional integrity, judgment, and the highest work standards.

·       A minimum of seven years of professional experience demonstrating increased responsibility, excellent performance, and personal development.

·       Bachelor’s degree demonstrating excellence in undergraduate studies. Master’s degree preferred but not required.

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation for the Program Officer includes a competitive base salary and an excellent employee benefits package. This position is exempt and full-time.

Physical Demands/Work Environment

The physical demands described are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform these essential functions

The position is based in Menlo Park, California. While performing the duties of this position, the employee is required to spend extended periods of time at a computer. Travel will vary, but employee should expect to travel up to 25 percent of the time. Program officers of the Hewlett Foundation serve for an eight-year term.

We actively welcome applications from people of all backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.


[1] In accordance with applicable law, we do not support or oppose political candidates, parties, or ballot measures. Additionally, we do not engage in or earmark grant funds for legislative lobbying efforts.

How To Apply

Viewcrest Advisors ( is supporting with the Hewlett Foundation on this search. Please send your resume and an initial cover letter in MS Word format to: Nora Nichols, Associate and Kathleen Yazbak, President. Your cover letter should include a description of when you have successfully worked with political and ideological diversity.


Application deadline: Until filled

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes a diverse pool of candidates in this search.


Viewcrest Advisors is committed to social justice and access to opportunity, and actively cultivates relationships with individuals who have varied life experiences as well as the skillsneededto lead strong, innovative programs and organizations.


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