Portland, OR

Program Officer, Higher Education and U.S. Incubation Portfolio, The Lemelson Foundation

The Organization

The Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives.

Established by prolific US inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife Dorothy in the early 1990s, and guided today by the Lemelson family, we believe invention can solve many of the biggest economic and social challenges of our time. That’s why we work to strengthen the ecosystems where inventions can take shape, grow, and flourish. For more than two decades we have inspired young people from diverse backgrounds to tackle the world’s most daunting problems, advanced the field of invention education with a goal of reaching all children, and equipped entrepreneurs with the skills they need to start successful invention-based businesses. A private philanthropy, The Lemelson Foundation has an endowment of around $370 million and an annual budget of approximately $18 million. All told, we have provided over $200 million in grants and other investments to hundreds of organizations around the world.

We aspire to strenthen the invention ecosystem and empower inventors to solve the biggest global challenges and opportunities of our time, whether it’s ensuring equal access to a healthy life, providing clean water and sanitation, developing clean energy alternatives, rethinking how the world grows, shares and consumes its food, or building a strong and stable economy. We approach our work using a three-part framework we call impact inventing:

  • Inventions should have positive social impact;
  • Inventions should be environmentally responsible from the materials and processes used through final products that go to market; and,
  • Business models should become financially self-sustaining.

The Lemelson Foundation has created a culture of collaboration, continuous learning, and innovation. An entrepreneurial environment with huge flexibility and opportunities for growth has allowed the small team of 10 staff to create a large footprint and outsized presence for the Foundation. Commitment to diversity is one of the Lemelson Foundation’s core values as we work to foster an inclusive work environment. We cannot do our work without collaboration between people with diverse skillsets and backgrounds.

Position Overview

The Program Officer (PO) will be an integral part of our close-knit team, providing support on issues that cut across the Foundation’s priorities and are of high importance to the overall strategy. The portfolio for this position focuses on projects and programs that inspire students in higher education to become inventor-entrepreneurs and promotes invention education in the post-secondary realm in both our US and Developing Country programs. It also supports educational opportunities to equip students with technical knowledge and skill, and to cultivate critical mindsets such as empathy, perseverance, and a willingness to fail. Current priorities for the role include creating programs to ensure invention education reaches students from under-resourced communities, leveraging the work of existing partners such as VentureWell, integrating sustainable design and other environmentally responsible approaches to invention into higher education, and advocating for changes in higher education that will foster a pipeline of impact inventors.

A critical purpose of the portfolio is to enable young US based inventors-entrepreneurs to translate their ideas to products and businesses that solve important social challenges. Priorities include: expanding the incubation of youth-led companies; ensuring invetors from all backgrounds are given opportunities to have impact with their inventions; and, advocating for support of invention-based, social impact enterprises launched by inventors.

The primary role of the program officer is to develop, monitor and manage a portfolio of investments (grants, contracts) and other non-grant activities in direct support of the Foundation’s strategy. The PO will be expected to apply technical expertise in the evaluation of opportunities as well as solicit expert input from others. She or he will serves as a thought leader and spokesperson on Foundation priorities, and as an advocate for invention education and incubation of enterprises focused on social impact.

The PO reports directly to the Executive Director and will work closely with colleagues from across the Foundation. She or he will participate in and provide support to internal working groups and critical team projects.

A full position description can be found here: http://waldronhr.com/searches/lemelson-foundation-1.

How To Apply

Cover letteres expressing your passion for the mission and fit for the role should be addressed to Sarah Meyer at https://waldron.secure.force.com/CandidatePortal.

Sign up