New York, New York

Program Officer, Sustainable Environments, Surdna Foundation

The Organization

Created by John E. Andrus in 1917, the Surdna Foundation has assets of approximately $1.3 billion and an annual grantmaking budget of $50+ million. The Foundation has a staff of 25, based in its Midtown Manhattan offices. Governed by a Board of Directors that includes fifth-generation family members, the longstanding values of the Andrus family – practicality, modesty, excellence, and an appreciation for serving those in need – underlie all the Surdna Foundation’s work. The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster just and sustainable communities in the United States – communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy and sustainable environments, inclusive economies, and thriving cultures.

Surdna’s theory of change is based on three beliefs:

  1. Historical and structural racial inequities are at the root of the deeply embedded challenges that
    communities face across America.
  2. Advancing racial equity and addressing power imbalances is critical to solving these challenges and
    achieving a more just and sustainable society.
  3. The best way to address racial inequities and power imbalances is to honor the agency of individuals
    and communities that are most impacted by these injustices. These individuals should be regarded as experts in creating solutions to the systemic issues we aim to solve.

As such, Surdna believes that we can achieve a more just and sustainable society by directing our grantmaking resources toward the building of wealth and power in systematically disenfranchised communities and investing in the capacity of communities of color and low-wealth communities to hold policymakers and institutions accountable to ensure all community benefits are shared equitably.

The Opportunity

The Surdna Foundation is seeking nominations and applications for the role of Program Officer, Sustainable Environments. This new PO will join the Sustainable Environments (SE) team to maintain an annual $9.2 million grantmaking portfolio of partnerships that drive a nuanced investment in environmental, climate, and land justice, recognizing that these intersecting issues disproportionately impact communities of color and low- wealth communities at crisis levels.

Reporting to the Program Director and working alongside the Senior Program Associate, the new Program Officer (PO) will, first and foremost, listen to and learn from frontline and grassroots leaders who are advancing solutions that address the environmental, climate, and land crises at the intersection of racial, economic, and gender justice. The PO will nurture relationships with grantee partners in a way that builds trust and is
rooted in respect, transparency, accountability, and consent. They will also join the ongoing work of building out an ecosystem of people, movements, and organizations that the SE team can consider for funding in the future.

The Sustainable Environments team is committed to long-term partnerships, and as such, much of the work of the new Program Officer will emphasize nurturing existing grantee partner relationships. Internally, the new PO will also identify program goals and develop processes, actions, and timelines to meet those goals, as well as practices to evaluate the effectiveness of those processes. They will join the SE team to build robust, high trust, transparent relationships inside the organization to drive collaboration and mission alignment. They will also work across the philanthropic field to organize with peers to build more equitable practices that shift power and funding to frontline communities, grassroots organizations, and leaders.

The ideal candidate will have a clear alignment with the vision, goals, and values of the Sustainable Environments team. They will have at least 7 years of experience working deeply in and with communities of color and low-wealth communities, building programs, and navigating an array of movement perspectives and strategies that are sometimes in tension with each other. They will have background knowledge (lived experience, professional or academic) and a systems-level analysis of the root causes of the intersecting environmental, climate, and land crises. They will understand the connections between systemic racism and oppression, extractive economies, and how these root causes perpetuate climate change, environmental racism, gentrification, land loss, and the inequitable distribution of wealth and power. They will have experience cultivating relationships and using those relationships to drive collaboration, create critical feedback loops, and amplify the work of an organization. Additionally, they will have demonstrated the ability to articulate the vision and goals of an organization to a diverse set of stakeholders.

The ideal candidate will also be an experienced collaborator and leader with a proven commitment to the people and places most impacted by discriminatory (racist, sexist, xenophobic) responses to the environmental, climate, and land crises. They will have experience centering the expertise and voices of women, queer folk, people of color, and disabled leaders who have long been leading solutions, initiatives, and programs in community. They will bring an unwavering commitment to equity, justice, and liberation and to disrupting the impacts of white supremacy and white dominant culture – specifically on the work of leaders of color and on the way philanthropies hold power and operate. They will be an authentic and responsive interpersonal communicator who uses those skills to build relationships and collaborations across Surdna’s program areas. Moreover, they will be flexible, introspective, curious, and innovative. It is crucial that the new PO possesses an analysis about and understands the impacts of white dominant culture and join the SE team as it promotes workflow, communication styles, sector participation, and partner engagement that attempt to disrupt that culture. Black, Indigenous, Asian, other people of color, disabled people, queer leaders, and those from other marginalized communities are particularly encouraged to apply for this role.

About Sustainable Environments

The Sustainable Environments (SE) program seeks to advance racial justice and support communities of color and low-wealth communities to move the solutions they have been building, implementing, and dreaming of for decades. We trust and believe that the folks most impacted by intersecting, inequitable crises know the most about how we need to move collectively forward to address these crises. Moreover, we believe that by investing in the capacity of the environment and climate justice frontline and grassroots movements, particularly those led by people of color, and the capacity of communities to self-determine the ownership, control, and stewardship of land and infrastructure assets, these communities will begin to see more equitable environmental outcomes across racial lines that benefit and uplift all. We believe in supporting a just transition and reparations and we stand alongside our partners in advancing this work. And lastly, we support leaders and organizations who are building political, economic, and cultural power, holding people with power in private and public sectors accountable to marginalized communities, and building alternatives to our current extractive economy.

Opportunities for the Program Officer

The Program Officer (PO) works closely with the Program Director and Senior Program Associate on all aspects of the program, including day-to-day operations of the $9.2 million Sustainable Environments portfolio. More specifically, the new Program Officer will:

  • Maintain deep, trusting relationships with existing grantee partners, while relying on your expertise to build an ecosystem of people, movements, and organizations that can be considered for funding in the future (the balance of relationship work leans heavily toward nurturing existing relationships). Relationships should be held in a way that builds trust and is rooted in respect, transparency, accountability, and consent.
  • Develop a robust understanding of the Surdna Foundation, including and especially, grant guidelines and Surdna’s theory of change, the history, success, and goals of the Sustainable Environments team, and strategies to deepen more equitable practices in grantmaking.
  • Build high trust, and transparent relationships with colleagues across programs and initiate collaborations that amplify the shared goals of Surdna’s Inclusive Economies, Thriving Cultures, and Andrus Family Fund teams.
  • In partnership with the Program Director and Senior Program Associate, manage the entire lifecycle of the grantmaking process. This aspect of the work will include communicating with grantees regularly and learning from partners throughout the life of the relationship in a non-extractive way and sharing learning with colleagues across the foundation, including the board.
  • Work and organize with other funders to drive a more accountable philanthropic sector that aims to shift power and resources to people most impacted by intersecting crises.
  • Engender values alignment across the sector, as well as leveraging your position as a sector leader to foster connections between funders and SE grantee partners.
  • Use your position and relationships to connect grantee partners with other funders and help mobilize greater resources toward their work.

Ideal Attributes and Experience

The Program Officer (PO) for the Sustainable Environments team should have most of the following attributes and experience:

  • Progressive growth and achievement in the nonprofit, public, or private sector with significant experience initiating programs, leading teams, building relationships, and driving collaboration.
  • A minimum of seven years of relevant, interdisciplinary experience (lived experience and/or professional).
  • Substantive knowledge of the fields of and issues within environmental justice, climate justice, and land justice, including their relationships to racial, social, and economic justice.
  • A deep and nuanced understanding of relevant concepts like anti-racism, intersectionality, grassroots movements, climate, environmental and land issues in the deep south, gentrification, and displacement.
  • Sincere and thoughtful relationship building and interpersonal skills necessary to develop deep, trusting relationships with grantee partners, Surdna colleagues, sector peers, and the board.
  • Compelling communication skills, anchored in active listening and critical self-reflection.
  • Willingness to work across programs to develop complementary strategies, grantmaking priorities, and learning opportunities.
  • A track record as an energetic, flexible, self-starting team player. A direct, honest, and respectful approach to problem-solving, with the ability to foster collaboration and contribute to a strong sense of community among grantees, staff and board.
  • The ability to communicate what you need to thrive at Surdna and meet grantmaking goals and deadlines.
  • Familiarity with a fast-paced environment and a readiness to contribute to strategic and process- based planning.
  • Experience working with a diverse set of stakeholders, with the skills to center and amplify the voices of marginalized leaders.
  • The willingness and ability to travel up to 30% of the time (this number fluctuates and may be less depending on COVID safety and health factors).
  • Total Compensation (Salary and Benefits)
  • The Program Officer (PO) position is a full-time position, and we offer a competitive and holistic compensation package that includes salary and benefits. The annual salary budget for this position is $110,000 – $135,000 and will be commensurate with experience. All full-time staff is eligible for our generous benefits package including:
  • 100% employer-funded medical, dental, and vision coverage, life insurance, and long and short-term disability from the first day of employment.
  • Retirement plan with an overall employer contribution of 12% per annum of gross salary, regardless of employee contribution.
  • Tenure based vacation time starting at 15 days for years one and two, then increasing to 20 days through the 6th anniversary, then 25 days annually thereafter.
  • 3 personal days per year.
  • 8 wellness days per year.
  • 12 paid holidays, including four extended holiday, break with foundation-wide closure to encourage restorative time off.
  • Cell phone and internet stipend.
  • Home office equipment allowance.
  • Employer funded transit contribution of -$130/month.
  • Access to professional development opportunities (capacity and financial support) and tuition reimbursement.
  • 8 weeks of fully paid parental leave during the new child’s first year (born into the family or adopted).
  • Financial relocation support.
  • Staff Matching grants.

The Surdna Foundation staff are mostly working remotely because of COVID-19, with its Midtown Manhattan office open for those who need or prefer to work there. The Foundation expects to move into a hybrid schedule while remaining flexible and responsive to public health conditions and the needs of its staff and partners. To learn more about the Surdna Foundation, please visit:

Surdna Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQIA+ applicants.

How To Apply

Monday Morning Consultants is leading this search. For more details, please visit To apply for the position, please submit a current resume to:

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