Program Officer

About The James Irvine Foundation

The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California. The Foundation’s current focus is a California where all low-income workers have the power to advance economically. Since 1937, the Foundation has provided more than $2.09 billion in grants to organizations throughout California. The Foundation ended 2020 with more than $3 billion in assets and provided $109 million in grants. There are about 60 staff members across their San Francisco and Los Angeles offices. The Irvine Foundation is committed, internally and externally, to the values of accountability, curiosity, empathy, equity, nimbleness, partnership, and transparency.

For more information on The James Irvine Foundation, please visit their website.

The Opportunity

Committed to a future where all low-income workers have the power to advance economically in California, The James Irvine Foundation is seeking new Program Officers to help advance this singular vision. This is an exciting opportunity for a professional with strong analytical abilities, a high degree of initiative, and proven collaborative skills to work in partnership with the Foundation’s mission-driven staff on a set of initiatives and projects to ensure that every Californian has the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families.

The Program Director (“PO”) will work on one or more grantmaking initiative teams, which may be led by an Initiative Director or another senior staff member. The three major, multi-year initiatives include: Better CareersFair Work, and Priority Communities with additional initiatives on the way. The PO may also work on short-term assignments across the grantmaking portfolio to support special projects and/or capacity needs on various initiative or program development teams. In addition, the PO will have an Advisor who provides professional development coaching and performance assessments.

This is an ideal opportunity for an individual with experience in project management, execution and support, as well as strong interpersonal, writing, and communication skills to put their considerable skills, talent, and passion to work expanding opportunity for the people of California.

Principal Role and Responsibilities

Grantmaking and Project Support

  • Monitor the performance of a set of grants; coach and advise grantees, including the negotiation of performance milestones to support grantee partner success.
  • In partnership with Initiative Directors and relevant leads, identify organizations with strong potential for partnership; conduct due diligence and assess grantee partners for effective track records, internal capacity, and strategic skills.
  • Consult and coordinate with other Irvine program staff in exploring new grantmaking opportunities within initiatives.
  • Contribute to written materials that communicate the alignment of grantee activities with initiative goals and strategies, including grant recommendations and context papers.
  • Provide project management support for teams, which could include planning and facilitating internal meetings, conducting research in a discrete new area of potential grantmaking, etc.
  • As appropriate, and in partnership with other Irvine staff, convene grantees and others in the field to advance collective action, networking, and learning opportunities.

Analyzing and Evaluating

  • Remain well informed of current research, activities, and trends in the issues addressed by grantees.
  • Support staff in assessment and learning activities that inform strategy and continuous improvement.
  • Participate in the ongoing refinement of Irvine’s initiatives, through discussions with relevant initiative teams.

Collaboration with Colleagues to Execute Portfolio and Foundation-wide Efforts

  • Collaborate with other staff –– to coordinate with and contribute to projects and relationships that may connect to other foundation efforts.
  • Maintain a working knowledge of other foundation efforts.
Candidate Profile

The Program Officer of The James Irvine Foundation will possess the following attributes and competencies:

Passion for Mission

The Program Officer will have a sincere commitment to The James Irvine Foundation’s mission, and a passion for expanding opportunity for low-income workers in California. The Foundation endeavors to live their commitment to DEI in their policies and practices, continuing to find inclusive ways to elevate staff voices while acknowledging persistent, pervasive racism in our institutions and systems that must be eliminated if we are to improve outcomes for all Californians. As an active and engaged listener, this individual will demonstrate respect for diverse perspectives. The PO will have experience with and a strong commitment to applying a racial equity lens to their work.

Service Oriented & Collaborator

The Program Officer will be service oriented and able to work supportively with grantees on strategies that they inform. Possessing a strong desire to work collaboratively in a dynamic team-oriented environment, the PO will excel at working within and across multiple teams, including finance and grants administration, to advance the Foundation’s initiatives and goals. A natural relationship builder, the PO will have the personal presence needed to effectively represent the Foundation in diverse forums and relationships.

Continuous & Flexible Learner

The Program Officer will be an equity centered, high energy, and nimble individual. The Program Officer will bring a learning mindset to the role and will be a quick study when working on new content areas. Eager to engage in issues exploration, this individual will enjoy the challenge of cross-portfolio work and will be open to innovative approaches to achieving the Foundation’s goal. The PO will be flexible and adaptable when strategy requires a pivot to a new focus area in order to increase impact. This individual will possess a strong willingness to stay abreast of current research, activities, and trends relating to their initiative and/or body of work and will positively contribute to a culture of learning.

Technical Competencies & Communications Skills

The Program Officer will have the demonstrated ability to plan and think strategically, set and achieve realistic goals and objectives, and balance multiple priorities. Possessing superlative analytical skills, the PO will be able to assess the leadership, track record, and capacity of social sector organizations and collaboratives; assemble and evaluate data and research; and conduct comprehensive landscape analyses. This individual will draw on their understanding or experience working with low-income communities and their knowledge of California workforce issues to execute the Foundation’s strategies for advancing economic justice. Bringing excellent oral and written communication, as well as listening skills to the role, the PO will effectively synthesize and convey information internally and exercise excellent judgment in communicating within a variety of settings.

Compensation & Benefits

The James Irvine Foundation’s compensation philosophy is reflected in its Talent Advancement Program, which was created to assure equity in staff compensation. While every staff member is assigned a Tier based on demonstration of competencies, the Foundation looks to outcomes as criteria for advancement through the program’s Tiers. The positions are benchmarked against relative industry and occupational groups and reviewed each year, with the goal to deliver compensation equitably throughout the organization. Tier One starts at $118,000 and Tier Two at $136,000. For more information, please review Compensation Practices at Irvine.

The James Irvine Foundation offers an attractive benefits package. The Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and we encourage applicants who reflect the diversity of California. Qualified applicants with criminal histories will be considered pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance (“FCO”).


Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been retained for this engagement. Michelle Bonoan, Jennifer Smith, and Christy Farrell are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role please visit here or email [email protected]. All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

The James Irvine Foundation is an equal opportunity employer. The James Irvine Foundation seeks diversity in its community and affords equal employment and advancement opportunities to all qualified individuals without regard to race, creed, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, citizenship status, medical condition, or any other legally protected status.

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