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Program Officer, Education
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, California
Date Posted 03/23/2021
Nonprofit-Senior/Executive Management
Employment Type Fulltime
Application Deadline Open until filled

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (“Hewlett Foundation” or the “foundation”) seeks two collaborative, creative, equity-focused, outcomes-oriented leaders to serve as Program Officers in its Education Program (the “program”). As key members of the foundation’s Education team, these new Program Officers will engage in grantmaking within the K-12 Teaching and Learning and Open Education portfolios; will partner effectively and build and maintain strong relationships with grantees; and will monitor the progress of the program’s two strategies. They will also be deeply engaged in national conversations regarding educational equity and improvement and will prioritize the sharing of best practices related to impact, sustainability, and scalability with the field writ large.

Reporting to the Education Program’s Director, Kent McGuire, the Program Officers will work closely with a dedicated and dynamic team of colleagues to advance the Program’s overarching goal of ensuring that every student–no matter where they live or what they look like–has access to high quality teaching and learning opportunities that empower and equip them to become an engaged and thriving participant in society. The team is committed to listening carefully to what students are telling us, regarding both their current school environment, and the types of experiences they believe are most likely to prepare them to be engaged citizens. Beyond mastery of core content, students’ ability to work from primary sources in grappling with current issues, listen empathetically to others, engage in debate with those holding opposing views, and work collaboratively to solve problems exemplify Hewlett’s commitment to deeper learning. The program pursues this commitment by working within the education system, supporting teachers and administrators in their efforts to create transformative learning opportunities for their students, and by working with and in communities to give expression to what they want their children to know and be able to do.

Successful candidates will exhibit a passion for the team’s vision of teaching and learning. They will provide thought leadership around this vision and bring a strong desire to enact this vision through grantmaking and associated grants management efforts. They will also bring a keen understanding of education systems and best practices for their improvement, a strong commitment to public education, exceptional skills in working and communicating effectively with others, and a deep commitment to addressing issues of equity and diversity in education today.

The executive search firm Isaacson, Miller is assisting the Hewlett Foundation with this important search. All inquiries, nominations, and applications should be directed in confidence to the search consultants as indicated at the end of this document.

About the Foundation

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions that promote a better world. For more than 50 years, the foundation has supported efforts to advance education for all, preserve the environment, improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries, promote the health and economic well-being of women, support vibrant performing arts, strengthen Bay Area communities, and make the philanthropy sector more effective. Our newest program focuses on strengthening U.S. democracy. In addition, we also make grants for special projects and address other timely problems, such as challenges related to cybersecurity and economic inequality. The foundation is one of the largest philanthropic institutions in the United States, awarding more than $450 million in grants in 2019 to organizations across the globe to help people build better lives. Established through the personal generosity of the Hewlett family, the foundation is wholly independent of the Hewlett Packard Company and the Hewlett Packard Company Foundation.

The foundation is located in the San Francisco Bay area, and has approximately 120 employees in programmatic, operational, and investment roles. In all these positions, our employees are challenged with meaningful work, are provided resources for ongoing professional development and learning, and contribute to a collegial and engaging environment where they and their colleagues can thrive. We are committed to fostering a culture that promotes the values and practices of diversity, equity, and inclusion as one of our guiding principles, and we encourage individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences to apply. The Foundation offers excellent benefits and competitive salaries.

About the Education Program

Program Strategies

There are complementary strategies in the Education Program: Teaching and Learning and Open Education. The Teaching and Learning strategy incorporates three lines of work. The first seeks to learn how our education system can create deep learning opportunities for all students, especially those furthest from opportunity. The team believes it will achieve racial equity in education only if we transform the current system in a manner that eliminates bias in curriculum and assessment, increases the cultural competence and diversity of the education workforce, and centers the lives of our students in decisions about teaching, student work, and the definition of “learning.” A second line of work focuses on building the capacity of educators as leaders in transforming our education system, while developing their knowledge and ability to teach in an education system that centers competency instead of proficiency and attends consciously to the whole child. A third line of work explores how we develop student agency as learners. Students learn deeply when they see the connections between their assignments and what matters in their lives. Among other things, this work seeks to leverage student voice to inform the work they are asked to do. To the extent that agency is fostered by engagement in projects and issues that shape the lives they lead, this line of work examines civic reasoning and participation.

The program’s Open Education strategy shares this desire for a more racially just education system that educates students deeply. The focus of this portfolio is the creation, curation, access, and effective use of openly licensed educational resources (OER). The Content, Tools, and Services line of work supports the development of high-quality instructional resources, and supports educators need to use these resources effectively. Among other priorities, this is the line of work where the program seeks to promote the development of anti-racist educational content. A second line of work explores what it might take to expand and sustain the use of OER in both K-12 and postsecondary contexts. Here, we examine which institutional practices and system-level policies enable, encourage, and support teachers and faculty in the creation and use of OER. The program also seeks to study what occurs as states, districts, and higher education institutions use OER. A third line of work seeks to expand and support the community of actors in the open education arena. Part of this strategy involves supporting existing research networks and efforts to strengthen cultural, legal, and technical infrastructure. The diversity and inclusivity of this community is also a key focus in our work.

The Opportunity

The program has just launched a series of partnerships with six school districts around the country, the goal of which is to set in motion efforts to rethink the policies governing teaching and learning, and test a range of strategies for enacting new ones that bring about greater equity and foster robust learning outcomes for students. Success in this work depends as much or more on the quality of the relationships built with these partners as it does on the resources offered to support their efforts. This is an opportunity to get to know and work closely with a community of policy leaders and practitioners engaged in efforts to make their education systems racially just and demonstrably effective. The program’s strategies include engagement with districts in Akron and Cleveland, Ohio; Baltimore, Maryland; Jackson, Mississippi; and Hemet and Contra Costa county, California.

These partnerships are unusual in philanthropy. By codeveloping approaches to pursue deep learning opportunities for students, these partnerships create ways for Hewlett to produce knowledge and insights about what is required to create truly equitable education systems. The program is looking for individuals who can support these efforts with grace and humility, especially given the power dynamics that are inherent to modern organized philanthropy.

The program also seeks candidates interested in identifying and supporting activities adjacent to these partnerships. For instance, Hewlett’s district and community partners stand to benefit from national initiatives that dig deeply into the details of curriculum and instruction, or the social-emotional scaffolding required to support their students. They will also need help developing alternative approaches to measuring student learning because they realize that traditional approaches undermine their ability to innovate. These district and community partners are engaged now and expect to exert more energy identifying transformative projects with the promise of accelerating the pace of change in our education system. These projects may focus on new approaches to teacher education, new strategies in professional learning, or promising approaches for developing civic learning and engagement. It is within this latter focus that the Education Program seeks to explore ways to build and cultivate student agency in their own learning.

Another aspect of this opportunity involves working effectively with the broader education community to ensure that Hewlett’s work does not exist in a vacuum. The program operates with many actors in an ecosystem of policymakers, school administrators, teachers, researchers, community leaders, program developers, reform support organizations, civil rights groups, activists, and organizers. As mentioned, the program especially values its connection to students and their parents/caregivers. To this end, the Education Team works consistently to improve how it communicates, engages, and interacts with external actors and audiences. The new team members will embrace these learning and engagement efforts. They will play key roles in representing the program and the foundation to grantees, the broader education community, and the public.

As exciting as this opportunity is, the Program Officers must appreciate that there are real challenges nested within the team’s work. These new Program Officers will be signing up to confront these challenges with the team. The program’s work unfolds in a moment of racial awakening, and in a moment of renewed urgency regarding the role of schools in developing engaged citizens. Their work comes to life in the midst of unprecedented division and polarization across the country. Additionally, the team continues to learn the impacts of the pandemic on students and educators, and how best to support them. These realities add complexity to the work, but also underscore the opportunity for philanthropy to make a significant difference in people’s lives.

Role of the Program Officer

Reporting to the Education Program Director, and working in partnership with two other program officers, the new Program Officers will design, implement, monitor, and evaluate a portfolio of grants addressing issues related to educational improvement and equity in public education. As the Education Team intensifies its work around the theme of practice, these Officers will bring their experience and professional networks to bear on the program’s goals. Successful candidates will bring content expertise related to teaching and learning, intellectual curiosity, cultural sensitivity, and both breadth and depth of knowledge in the program area in order to be an effective team member, and to provide thought leadership in the field. The Program Officers will participate fully in Hewlett Foundation life, including sharing best practices with colleagues, and initiating and engaging in foundation-wide activities. Specifically, the Program Officers will work to address the following challenges and opportunities in the role:

How the Education Program Team Works

The Education Program has organized and adopted a collaborative and communicative style. Team members have organized themselves around each of the six lines of work across the two portfolios. Program Officers are responsible for grantmaking, but they are in the habit of sharing their plans with one another to encourage feedback and advice, and to deepen the team’s overall understanding of how the program’s strategies are being pursued. Within this frame, the Program Officers will establish and maintain effective relationships with current and prospective grantees. As a trusted partner, the Program Officers will manage active grants, assess their progress, respond to financial and programmatic reports, and ensure that sound financial controls are in place for each grant and that funds are spent wisely and according to grant agreements.

The Program Officers will also work to oversee and develop effective and responsive guidelines for measuring the success of programs and grants. Specifically, and in consultation with the Program Director, the Program Officers will commission and manage relevant third-party evaluation of grantmaking strategy to test key assumptions about the strategy’s approach, to incorporate lessons into future decision making, and to share key findings within the foundation, grantee partners, and the broader public.

As key representatives of the foundation, the Program Officers will organize and coordinate foundation-sponsored meetings of grantees and key field experts, and also represent the foundation externally at appropriate meetings, conferences, and site visits

Communicating with the Field

In partnership with the Education team, the Program Officers will implement a strategy that is aspirational and continually tested against carefully articulated outcomes, defined goals, and clear programmatic objectives. The Program Officers will work closely with grantees to develop and modify approaches that effectively use available resources while fulfilling program goals. Additionally, the Program Officers will develop briefing papers, topical reports, blog posts, as well as present and participate in regional and national events that broadly contribute to the foundation’s understanding of new approaches, best practices, and issues in education reform.

Qualifications and Experience

The Program Officer should be a nimble, outcomes-driven thinker, as well as a leader with a collaborative spirit and the willingness to take smart risks in order to advance knowledge of effective educational practice. They should bring a deep personal commitment to, and experience with, education practice and policy, and an appreciation for the challenges that practitioners face in the field with an eye towards equity. The successful candidates will be energized by helping educators improve, and could have a background in a variety of settings–philanthropy, school or system leadership, nonprofit support organizations, community and state organizing, government–and may bring professional experience across different parts of the education sector. Successful candidates may also bring prior classroom or system-level leadership experiences. The Hewlett Foundation is distinguished by its highly collaborative approach to its work and culture. The Program Officers should bring a growth mindset, be comfortable operating within a relatively flat organizational structure, and be able to work both autonomously and cooperatively with team members. The Program Officers must be teaching-oriented, and provide guidance to, and supervision of, program associates and a fellow. Additionally, successful Program Officers will also proactively collaborate with embedded team members (grants officer, senior legal counsel, and communications officer). The Program Officers must be based out of the Hewlett Foundation office in Menlo Park, Calif, and are eligible to serve a term of eight years. The foundation is currently working remotely and expects to return to the office in September 2021.

For this role, the foundation seeks candidates with the following qualifications and experience. While no one candidate will embody every quality, the successful candidate will bring many of the following:

  • Deep experience working with education organizations and leaders, and an appreciation for the levers needed to facilitate systemic change in our country’s public school education system.
  • Intimate knowledge of various units of change (e.g. classroom, schools, systems) and an understanding of how to meaningfully and simultaneously influence multiple macro and micro levers affecting student learning.
  • Breadth and depth of knowledge in leading-edge best practices and pedagogical trends, familiarity with contemporary research in the area of teaching and learning, and an inquisitive disposition that seeks to build on an existing knowledge base.
  • Experience leading and managing research in areas related to the program’s grantmaking, and an ability to implement work with limited staff support.
  • A nuanced understanding of issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in education, and experience working on these issues in practice.
  • Demonstrated commitment to learning and collaboration, and to working in authentic partnership with colleagues, grantees, and other key partners; an unwavering commitment to Hewlett’s Guiding Principles.
  • Proven ability to define program objectives, evaluate progress, and independently manage projects.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Interest in and willingness to travel (approximately 25% of the time nationally).
  • Independent initiative and a collegial spirit in sharing ideas and receiving feedback.
  • Adaptable, flexible nature; warmth, humor, and energy; integrity and humility.
  • Management style that centers professional and personal growth and creates opportunities for development.
  • Prior foundation grantmaking experience, in a relevant field, is a plus.
  • A graduate level academic degree in a related field?is highly desirable.

Applications, Inquiries, and Nominations

Screening of complete applications will begin immediately and continue until the completion of the search process. All inquiries, nominations, referrals, and applications should be sent in confidence via the Isaacson, Miller website: www.imsearch.com/7870:

Ericka Miller, Partner

Martens Roc, Senior Associate

Isaacson, Miller www.imsearch.com/7870

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation embraces the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion both internally, in our hiring process and organizational culture, and externally, in our grantmaking and related practices. We are an equal opportunity employer and welcome applications from people of all backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.

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