Oakland, CA or Sacramento, CA or Los Angeles, CA

Director of Government Relations, The California Wellness Foundation

The Organization


The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness) is a private, independent foundation established in 1992 with a mission to protect and improve the health and wellness of the people of California. As one of the largest health-focused foundations in California, with over $1 billion in assets, Cal Wellness is a nationally recognized leader for its strategic core operating support for grantees; public policy grantmaking; and a focus on violence as a public health issue. It is Cal Wellness’ desire to promote equity and level the playing field so that everyone has access to good-paying jobs; healthy and safe neighborhoods; and quality health care services.

The foundation’s current Advancing Wellness grantmaking strategy includes four interrelated portfolios. Since its founding, Cal Wellness has awarded nearly 9,000 grants totaling more than $1 billion. As the foundation looks to the future, it is pursuing new and innovative strategies beyond its core grantmaking to advance its mission, including implementation of new technology systems, development of its public affairs capacity, and establishing mission- and program-related investment portfolios.

Cal Wellness has a diverse staff of approximately 45 located in its Los Angeles and Oakland offices and a diverse 13-member Board located throughout the state of California. The foundation’s work underscores a belief that wellness requires social justice, a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and sustained efforts to eliminate systemic barriers that prevent access to health care, education, employment, and safety.

Please visit http://www.calwellness.org for more information.


The California Wellness Foundation is seeking a highly relational and strategic connector, communicator, and thinker as Director of Government Relations to lead strategy development and external relations activities on policy issues related to the foundation’s mission and work. The Director serves as a spokesperson for the Foundation, a senior manager in the Public Affairs Department, and a strategic advisor to staff and Board on government relations and public policy activities. The Director will be a collaborative leader in setting a policy agenda for the foundation; refining policy monitoring and reporting processes; building internal capacity to understand and engage on strategic issues with government stakeholders; and mapping existing and desired relationships with government decision-makers to take government relations to a new level of impact. The Director will be an adept people and project manager, supervising one full-time staff member, as well as external consultants and vendors. The ideal candidate will possess deep understanding and direct experience in how government works; be passionate about the Foundation’s mission, vision and values; be willing to bring and leverage their existing government relationships; and have excellent networking skills and a spirit of curiosity to make new connections on behalf of the Foundation in Sacramento and across the State, including in rural areas.


The Director will join Call Wellness’ diverse and highly collaborative 6-person Public Affairs team headed by and reporting directly to the Executive Vice President, who manages the department. Public Affairs leads communications, community relations, and public policy strategies and supports organization-wide learning and innovation. The Director will bring expertise and strategic thinking to help anchor Cal Wellness’ public policy work more deeply in strong external relationships with government, working closely with one direct report (Public Policy Officer). The Director also will work in close collaboration with two other department directors (Communications and Learning & Innovation) to ensure a cohesive and compelling overarching public affairs strategy. The Director also will engage and interact regularly with the CEO, the executive management team, Program Directors, and the Board of Directors.


Government Relations:

  • Build and sustain a government relations program addressing local (e.g., city and county), regional, state, and federal issues and opportunities.
  • Develop and manage relationships with elected and appointed officials’ offices, their staff, or committee staff, serving as the Foundation’s representative across the state.
  • Coordinate foundation advocacy efforts in partnership with community partners, funding partners, and other stakeholders.
  • Serve as a senior ambassador and spokesperson, speaking and writing on behalf of the Foundation; ensure foundation presence and visibility in Sacramento, Washington, DC, and key regions of California, including Los Angeles, the Bay Area and the Central Valley.
  • Partner with Programs staff, executive management and the Board to identify and pursue opportunities to leverage Cal Wellness investments and existing relationships to further the Foundation’s mission and work with government partners.
  • Ensure compliance with IRS and state regulations for foundation advocacy, in consultation with legal counsel as needed.

Public Policy:

  • Develop and lead process for regular review of public policy issues and establish priorities for foundation engagement in consultation with staff, management, and the Board.
  • Develop strategies for influence and lead efforts to engage on established public policy priorities and vet opportunities related to emerging issues.
  • Provide strategic guidance on foundation investments to advance public policy issues, including grantmaking and mission-related investments.
  • Work with Foundation leadership and staff to articulate positions on policy issues and develop and draft policy statements on issues as needed.
  • Establish and maintain systems to monitor, analyze, and report out to staff on local, state, and national policies and their impact on California, including tracking legislation in a timely manner to support awareness, learning, and action.

Management & Supervision:

  • Supervise Public Policy Officer, providing guidance on policy monitoring and reporting responsibilities, community relations activities, professional development opportunities, and coaching support.
  • Manage consultant and vendor relationships and oversee budget for activities related to public policy and government relations activities.
  • Serve as a senior manager in the Public Affairs Department, facilitating team meetings and serving as internal point of contact in the department as needed.


The ideal candidates will be aligned with our mission and values; demonstrate exceptional networking, relationship-building, and connecting skills with proven aptitude to respectfully develop genuine connections with internal team members and government constituencies; bring analytical skills relating to policy development and reporting; and embody, through lived experience, applying a commitment to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion to our work. Key experiences, expertise, and interests that will contribute to success in this role include:

  • Work in government, business, philanthropy, and/or community-based nonprofits leading public policy and/or government relations activities.
  • Expertise in municipal, county, state and/or federal policy issues related to the Foundation’s mission and work.
  • Understanding of how municipal, county, state and/or federal government operates and how to be an effective partner within those contexts.
  • Team leadership experience in staff supervision, project management, and budgeting.
  • Skills and experience in managing vendor and consultant relationships.
  • High level of flexibility and adaptability, with demonstrated ability to lead in a dynamic environment and work effectively across teams and at all levels of an organization.
  • Excellent strategic and critical thinking skills and the ability to take a broad perspective in the analysis and evaluation of information.
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal, and diplomacy skills, including exceptional presentation and facilitation skills, with the ability to interact with and mobilize diverse audiences.
  • Demonstrated ability to coach and develop others in content and context in preparation for policy- and government-related briefings, hearings and convenings.
  • Demonstrated ability to work both collaboratively and independently; prioritize duties and balance multiple competing demands; and follow through with diligence on strategies, tactics, and connections.


The ideal candidate will embody Cal Wellness’ core competencies:

  • Live our Core Values: Respect, Integrity, Accountability, Equity, Stewardship, Excellence, Learning, and Trust.
  • Drive Towards Innovation: Be bold. Experiment and learn from both successes and failures.
  • Make a Difference: Yes, we can. Own our responsibilities and our ability to make positive change.
  • Contribute to One Team: We’re in this together. Our success is a collective effort.
  • Show Courage: Be thoughtful but act on your convictions. Be open to feedback.


Please upload a cover letter, resume, and list of three references (candidates will be notified in advance of any outreach to references) by 5:00 pm PT on Friday, June 17, 2022. The link to apply is here.

Resume review begins immediately. Those selected for advancement may be asked to participate in several rounds of interviews (virtual and/or in-person) and complete a writing assignment. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate in our application process, please let us know.

The California Wellness Foundation is partnering with Walker and Associates Consulting – a Black- and woman-owned strategic management consulting and search firm located in Oakland – for this search. Questions or Nominations? Email us at calwellness@walkeraac.com.

The California Wellness Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes a diverse candidate pool. Additionally, we are a fair chance employer and welcome candidates with living experience with the criminal justice system.

The above job description is intended to describe the general nature and level of work performed and is not intended to limit the scope of potential work assignments. This is only a summary of the typical functions of the job and duties may differ from those as outlined above

Sign up