Washington, DC

Program Director, Public Welfare Foundation

The Organization

For over 70 years, Public Welfare Foundation has supported efforts to advance justice and opportunity for people in need.

Today, the Foundation focuses on catalyzing a transformative approach to justice that is community-led, restorative, and racially just through investments in criminal justice and youth justice reforms. Public Welfare Foundation is the only foundation in the country that is singularly focused on youth and criminal justice reforms.

The Public Welfare Foundation (PWF or “the Foundation”) team believes that the best ideas bubble up from communities, so it works to engage deeply in and with the communities the Foundation funds. These efforts drive transformation from multiple angles, including policy advocacy, organizing, leadership development, and demonstration projects. PWF is committed to funding innovative solutions earlier in their lifecycles and investing in the leadership of those most proximate to the issues facing this nation.

With assets of over $620 million, Public Welfare Foundation makes grants nationwide and focuses its grantmaking in difficult, and often overlooked, areas where it believes it can serve as a catalyst for justice reform. The Foundation provides support to groups working to end the over-incarceration of adults and youth in the United States. It also works to reduce racial disparity in the criminal justice system. In 2020, PWF was pleased to distribute $21 million in grant support to its partners. Current jurisdictions of focus for its youth and adult criminal justice work include the states of Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, as well as the cities of Jackson, Mississippi; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Washington, D.C.

The Public Welfare Foundation team is committed to advancing a new, transformative vision of justice guided by its core values of racial equity, economic well-being, and fundamental fairness for all. A small and dedicated team of 10 people is based in Washington, D.C. and housed in the historic True Reformer Building. The staff is steeped in experience leading and building criminal justice reform, youth justice, and restorative justice programs, aligning their passion for community-driven solutions in criminal and youth justice reform. Since 2017, the Foundation has been led by President and CEO Candice C. Jones.

For more information on Public Welfare Foundation, please visit the Foundation’s website at www.publicwelfare.org.

Position Overview

The Program Director will be responsible for designing and implementing a grantmaking portfolio that: significantly reduces incarceration in the US; focuses on reducing racial and ethnic disparities; and holds directly impacted people and communities at the center of all work. This is a role for someone who is authentically aligned and has a deep personal commitment to the mission and strategy of the organization. They take a holistic view on organizational and programmatic goals. They are a natural problem solver and thrive in creating and identifying strategic solutions that deliver results and resonate with our values.

Reporting to the Vice President, Programs, the Program Director will lead and manage a diverse grant portfolio of approximately $7M.

Specific duties include the following:

·      Develops and maintains in-depth knowledge of assigned program areas, including current issues and key stakeholders and organizations, and a clear understanding of how they fit into the Foundation’s interests

·      Engages experts in the field, policymakers, and those with experience in the criminal and youth justice system at all levels to assess opportunities for improvement and change, and shapes the Foundation’s program strategy

·      Cultivates relationships with researchers and experts in the field, other grantmakers, and policymakers to help determine productive and innovative approaches that can lead to reform and improvement

·      Designs strategy via policy papers or reflection memos that determine a programmatic direction for our grantmaking strategy

·      Seeks out potential grantees, works with them to develop projects, and reviews and evaluates grant applications

·      Provides oversight to proposals and all external communications related to projects in their portfolio

·      Conducts site visits to and holds meetings with grantees and potential grantees, and the consequent travel, as an integral part of the position

·      Keeps abreast of and monitors their portfolios and any grant related issues. Reviews carefully and undertakes timely approval of grant reports

·      Considers the needs of the field and grantees, as appropriate, hosting grantee related convenings on strategic matters of relevance to the field

·      Periodically reviews and reports on the overall effectiveness of the program area, largely through the development of memos

·      Maintains a system to assess progress and undertakes periodic reviews of the portfolio by outside experts

·      Attends Board of Directors and other appropriate Foundation meetings to support recommendations, make presentations, and provide information

·      Plays a leadership role in the field of youth and adult criminal justice and philanthropy

·      Engages the larger community and participates in joint efforts and affinity groups of foundations and with provision of non-grant support to Foundation grantees

·      Seeks to engage, influence, and expand grantmaking in the program area and works closely with communications team to promote the local progress and issues in the field

Candidate Profile

The Program Director will bring experience in and a passion for effective and forward-thinking grantmaking. They will have a multi-faceted background, with experience that includes philanthropy, as well as “on the ground” work in organizing or advocacy, social services, organizational leadership, or other areas that have given first-hand professional or personal insight to the many challenges faced by communities impacted by the criminal justice system.

While no candidate will bring every qualification desired for the Program Director role, the list below encapsulates the key skills, qualities, and experiences that would best prepare someone to serve in this vital position.

Organizational Value-Add

·      Leadership style engrained with humility, patience, and keen listening skills

·      Unquestioned integrity, ethics, discretion, and values; Deeply proficient in building relationships grounded in trust and respect

·      Demonstrated experience taking risks and implementing participatory, innovative grantmaking or aligned programming models that are nimble and responsive to the needs of the community being served

·      Passionate belief that the answers come from the people closest to the problems and experience in thoughtful collaboration with impacted communities

Communications and Relationship-Building

·      Inclusive, thoughtful leadership skills, with a natural ability to engage with partners throughout communities

·      Strong ability to maintain and advance current relationships with key partners and grantees throughout the regions while simultaneously developing new partnerships

·      Excellent skills communicating in writing, verbally, and interpersonally with ability to act as an external representative of PWF

·      Proficient in communicating succinctly and effectively with diverse audiences to translate complex information

Innovative and Visionary Partner

·      Emotional intelligence necessary to know when to push and innovate, with an unwavering commitment to maximizing impact

·      Demonstrated ability to engage in strategic, analytical, and critical thinking as it relates to overall problem-solving

·      A considerate partner with a creative approach to potential solutions; ability to push the envelope and take measured risks in a thoughtful way

·      Determined commitment to and competence in building relationships, working with diverse staff and and being a positive contributor to the team culture

Additional Desirable Attributes

Candidates can come from a range of backgrounds. Experience in philanthropy with impactful grantmaking is highly desirable, although not required. Leadership elsewhere in the nonprofit, legal, government, or private sectors would also be attractive. Given the Foundation’s current staff expertise in criminal justice and youth justice, legal training and experience is helpful, although there is not a requirement that the Program Director bring that specific professional background.

In addition, strong candidates will offer:

·      Leadership of a program, team, portfolio, and/or initiative that has demonstrated an ongoing positive impact based in advocacy, policy reforms, and/or community activism

·      Experience developing and implementing a theory of change related to an issue faced by underserved communities

·      Solid judgment; critical thinking skills; a sense of teamwork and community

·      Excellent strategic thinking; interpersonal skills; demonstrated reliability, attention to detail

·      Computer skills, including word processing and some experience with spreadsheets (Excel)

·      Ability to travel as necessary to stay abreast of field developments and to steward relationships with grantees; domestic travel expected to be about 30% of time

This position description is intended to serve as a summary of the general purpose and essential functions of this position. It may change as circumstances warrant and may include other duties deemed necessary by management.

Compensation & Benefits

For this role, Public Welfare Foundation offers a competitive salary and excellent benefits that will be discussed directly with interested candidates.

How To Apply

Melissa Madzel and Turner Delano of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.


Public Welfare Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.

Diversity and equal opportunity employment reflect the core values of the Public Welfare Foundation. Employment opportunities at Public Welfare Foundation are based on individual capabilities and qualifications without regard to race, color, citizenship, religion, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, age, national origin, marital status, disability, veteran status, or any other protected characteristic as established under law.

Applicants who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system are welcome and encouraged to apply.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

For more information about Koya Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.

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