Program Officer, Environment

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Published: August 4, 2020
Menlo Park, CA
Job Type
Policy / Program Management / Project Management /

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About the Hewlett Foundation

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world.

For more than 50 years, we have 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. The foundation’s assets are more than $9 billion, with annual awards of grants totaling more than $450 million. A 13-member board of directors provides overall direction for the foundation.

The foundation’s culture and approach to its work are informed by a set of guiding principles that have been collectively articulated by the staff, board and the president. The foundation supports personal and professional development opportunities that reinforce active learning and intellectual rigor and encourages diverse perspectives and experimentation.

Learn more about The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

About the Position

The Environment Program at the Hewlett Foundation (foundation) develops and implements grantmaking strategies that engage multiple sectors, geographies, and philanthropic levers. While program officers on the Environment team each manage distinct grant portfolios, they also operate within a matrixed and collaborative structure, affording the ability to contribute to, and support the whole of, the Environment Program’s strategic approach.

This particular portfolio, with its focus on China, will contribute to the climate team’s effort to achieve deep decarbonization by 2050, making it necessary that the Program Officer is strategic, plans several years out, while addressing ongoing changes in circumstances, listens to grantee and other partners’ feedback, and manages the portfolio with a creative, open mind and an entrepreneurial spirit.

The Program Officer, Environment role will develop and maintain deep relationships with colleagues, grantees, funders, public and private partners, and coalitions in the broader climate field. The Program Officer will report to the Environment Program Director.

Key responsibilities include:

Portfolio Management

  • Oversee a program with specific focuses on:
    • Addressing emissions from China (the world’s largest GHG emitter), including activities to address both domestic sources and international contributions through trade and development relationships, such as the Belt and Road Initiative;
    • Reducing emissions from the global industrial sector, with an emphasis on cement, steel, and chemicals; and
    • Controlling corporate emissions, including working with business groups seeking to implement good practices, and developing strong emission reductions policy guidelines.
  • Contribute to a dynamic climate team grants portfolio with the overarching goal of decarbonizing the global economy in the next several decades;
  • Conduct extensive outreach and due diligence to identify and support impactful grantees, from institutional to grassroots-level organizations that support efforts to develop and enact policies, create public demand, and build capacity to achieve rapid decarbonization in the largest national emitting sectors, including industry, electricity, transportation, and the built environment.
  • Work in partnership with program associate in order to successfully execute on strategy implementation, grants administration, and budget planning and tracking.

External Engagement

  • Identify and establish the necessary partnerships within NGO, policy, corporate, and philanthropic sectors that together can inform a portfolio of high-impact grants. Particular emphasis will be placed on work with China-based partner organizations in grantmaking.
  • Convene meetings of external stakeholders when needed, including grant recipients, subject matter experts, policy stakeholders, co-funders, and others, to explore, compare, and coordinate strategies.

Strategic Learning

  • Use data and knowledge gathered in the field to advise on trends, movements, and policy developments related to climate and clean energy.
  • Collaborate with the foundation’s communications team, as well as managing external relationships with other grantmakers, advisors, and grant recipients to facilitate the exchange of information and maximize lessons learned.

About You

A broad-based, ecosystem thinker is essential for this role—someone who is comfortable operating with expansive parameters, and exploring opportunities that can lead to scaled, bold, and even unconventional approaches. The foundation seeks candidates who are driven by active inquiry and learning and possess an intellect that thrives when creatively synthesizing ideas and input from a variety of sources to address complex problems. Successful candidates will have a demonstrated record in developing and implementing theories of change and will have expertise in the environment/climate sector at the international level.

Candidates should bring an energetic, flexible disposition rooted in a direct, honest, and respectful approach to problem solving.  The ideal candidate will thrive in an environment that affords a great deal of autonomy, yet is highly collaborative, communicative, and team oriented. Success in the role requires the intellectual prowess and curiosity to debate and contribute across streams of work, an enthusiasm to share and seek learnings about grantmaking practices and grantees’ activities, and the ability to leverage the skills of people with different perspectives and styles.

The foundation welcomes candidates from a variety of professional backgrounds and experience, which provide the following minimum qualifications:

  • 10+ years of relevant work experience promoting change in societies, markets, governments, or the private sector is required, with interdisciplinary experience favored.
  • Understanding of current climate policy, with deep knowledge about how Chinese national policy is made.
  • Knowledge of related areas of industrial policy, electric power, transportation, and/or forests/agriculture would be a plus with this experience coming from nonprofit, philanthropic, business, government or advocacy settings.
  • An undergraduate degree is required; an advanced degree in a related field is preferred.
  • Organized, succinct, and precise oral and written communications skills are a must (with Chinese language skills a plus), including the capacity to write complex documents quickly.
  • Excellent listening skills, confidence, candor, a sense of humor, humility, energy.
  • Passion for, and a commitment to, Hewlett’s values are essential.

Compensation, Term, and Location

The foundation offers an excellent benefits package, and a competitive salary that is commensurate with experience. We are happy to provide more detailed information to identified top candidates.

Unique to the Hewlett Foundation, program officers serve for terms of no more than eight years, allowing both the work and the people to evolve through innovation and fresh perspective. In recognition of this term limit, significant career support is an integral and visionary part of this employment; Hewlett’s stellar reputation as one of the world’s largest funders of climate programming have afforded prior officers high-level opportunities after their terms expire.

This position will be located in Menlo Park, California; our collaborative, cross-team work environment does not allow for other locations to be considered. We are flexible and willing to discuss the logistics and financial considerations raised by relocation, if needed.  We recognize that the highly unusual circumstances caused by the novel coronavirus may create additional issues or questions we have not encountered and are willing to consider reasonable requests in terms of timing and logistics, or other concerns. As of now, we are working remotely full time, but typically allow for six work from home days per month, excluding work travel.

About the Environment Program

The Environment Program funds organizations working in areas of climate and energy, as well as Western conservation. The vast majority of grants are to organizations that work on policy development and implementation because of the foundation’s belief that policy changes often provide the greatest opportunity to reach its strategic goals and objectives.

Climate and Energy

The Environment Program’s climate and energy grantmaking is global, although the work is focused mainly in the United States, China, Europe, and India. While a considerable portion of the Program’s investments are made through organizations which then regrant the funds, the foundation makes significant direct grants to organizations as well. The Program funds across the climate policy spectrum, and includes grantmaking on energy, transport, industry, and climate finance, as well as on carbon removal.

Western Conservation

The Environment Program’s Western Conservation grantmaking embraces the region west of the Rocky Mountains in the United States, as well as the boreal forests of Canada. The foundation’s long-term goal is to preserve the biodiversity and conserve the ecological integrity of Western North America. We believe it is possible to meet this ecological goal, while at the same time, helping enable sustainable communities, and are working with communities west wide toward inclusive, enduring conservation solutions.

To Apply

  • The recruiting arm of CEA Consulting is assisting the Hewlett Foundation with this search. To be considered for this position, interested candidates must follow the link below to submit a resume, cover letter, and salary requirements through CEA’s job portal.
  • Please direct all inquiries to Eileen Ashton (

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes a diverse pool of candidates in this search.

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.

CEA Recruiting works with leading environmental nonprofits, foundations, and businesses to recruit top talent and design effective organizational staffing strategies. For more information, visit

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