Foundations and Philanthropy, Nonprofit and Social Impact, Program Leadership

Program Officer, Human Rights Program

  • Heising-Simons Foundation
  • Remote, strong preference for San Francisco Bay Area

This position has been filled.

About Heising-Simons Foundation

The Heising-Simons Foundation is a family foundation based in Los Altos and San Francisco, California. The Foundation works with its many partners to advance sustainable solutions in climate and clean energy, enable groundbreaking research in science, enhance the education of our youngest learners, and support human rights for all people. In 2021, the Foundation awarded more than $141 million in grants. The Foundation’s grantmaking is guided by the values of humility, courage, justice, opportunity, sustainability, innovation, relationships, and integrity.

In 2022, the Heising-Simons Foundation is piloting hybrid work. During the pilot, this position may work from home and/or from one of our Foundation offices. Through the end of this year, staff are required to be on-site for a minimum of 10 days per quarter and as needed to successfully fulfill their responsibilities. This policy will be reviewed in 2023.

For more information on Heising-Simons Foundation, please visit website.

About the Human Rights Program

The Foundation’s Human Rights program envisions a society where people are free to live whole, safe, and dignified lives. At present, we are far from this vision in the United States because structural racism pervades our society and manifests through systems of punishment — mass incarceration and immigrant detention. The result is the criminalization of poor Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC), and it is visible all around us: these communities are overrepresented in our country’s jails, prisons, and detention centers, and are under-resourced in our economic, political, and social justice sectors.

To best challenge mass incarceration, immigrant detention, and the mass criminalization of BIPOC communities, the Human Rights program invests in 1) building the power and capacity of the grassroots; 2) creating healthy justice reform and immigrants’ rights ecosystems that center the grassroots in their work; and 3) advancing reimagined approaches to safety, justice, and accountability. Through these investments, the Human Rights program seeks to contribute to a country where grassroots movements have the power to lead and define change to dismantle the footprint of incarceration and immigrant detention systems and create new paradigms of safety, justice, and accountability not appended to the current punishment systems. This is described in the Foundation’s multi-year strategic plan, approved by the Board in 2020.

In 2021, the Human Rights team made 115 grants totaling approximately $25M in grant funding through the Foundation and 29 grants totaling $4.2M through the Heising-Simons Action Fund.

The Opportunity

The Program Officer (PO), Human Rights Program is a strategic and collaborative individual who has demonstrated experience in and a passion for working at the intersection of the immigration and the criminal legal systems (crim-imm) and related power building ecosystems. The PO’s portfolio will cover crim-imm nationally and in California and Texas as well as some related criminal justice grantmaking.

The PO provides leadership and strategic guidance to the Foundation’s Human Rights team, the Foundation, and the Heising-Simons Action Fund, our 501(c)(4) organization. This full-time (37.5 hours per week) exempt (salaried) position reports to the Director of Human Rights and works collaboratively with the Human Rights team composed of two Program Officers (PO) and two Program Associates (PA). The PO travels regularly, mostly within the U.S., to visit grantees and represent the Foundation at key events and convenings. The ideal candidate is based in the Bay Area.

Candidate Profile and Responsibilities

While it is understood that no single candidate will offer every desired attribute and competency, the following is a representative list of the ideal candidate profile and priority tasks and responsibilities.

Strategic Direction & Evaluation

  • Conceptualize and write strategy memos to communicate analyses, recommendations, and field updates in service of the team’s strategic plan.
  • Develop and refine strategies for emerging areas of work. 
  • Participate in ongoing implementation planning and evaluation of the strategic plan and grantmaking.

Grantmaking and Grant Monitoring

  • Manage a grants portfolio of roughly 50 grants, and an associated budget, focused on crim-imm and some related criminal justice, with a particular emphasis on national grantmaking and grantmaking in California and Texas.
  • Partner with the team’s southern PO on the identification of prospective grantees and grant monitoring for crim-imm grantees in North Carolina and Georgia.
  • Screen proposals and prospective grantees, applying breadth of expertise and a clear understanding of the Foundation’s interests.
  • Support prospective and existing grantees, with a particular focus on assisting those new to c3 grants, to develop and submit proposals, budgets, and reports.
  • Develop coherent, accurate, and complete summaries of funding and prepare to answer substantive questions about the proposals to make the case for funding proposals. If necessary, develop a complete and coherent rejection rationale for proposals that will not be funded.
  • Conduct site visits and meetings with current and potential grantees.
  • Monitor progress on approved grants and follow up as necessary on grant-related issues through the duration of a grant. This includes scheduling and setting standards for interim and final reports. Review interim and final progress reports.
  • Provide non-financial support to grantees, including advice concerning capacity building, fund development, project activities, and evaluation.
  • Develop and execute responsive grantmaking strategies as needed.

Field-Building & Partnership Development

  • Develop and maintain trusted relationships with grantees, impacted communities, advocates, key system and policy influencers, and key field players in service of being true partners in the work.
  • Know the funding landscape, including other funders who support similar projects, and participate in joint efforts with other foundations and affinity groups of foundations.
  • Leverage relationships to increase funding for grantees via funder briefings, one-to-one relationship development, and conference panels.
  • Lead emerging conversations, learning, and grantmaking strategies around funding crim-imm, grassroots organizing, and cross-movement building.
  • Internally collaborate with Human Rights team to share and exchange learnings and collaborate with other program teams on knowledge sharing.

Management & Mentorship

  • Work collaboratively with and provide mentorship to the team’s program associates.
  • Provide regular feedback to supervisor and colleagues both informally and as a part of the annual review process.
  • Assist with the onboarding and training of new team members.
Knowledge, Skills, and Qualifications

Sector Knowledge

  • Continue to grow and maintain in-depth knowledge of the intersection of:
    • immigration and the criminal legal system nationally and federally,
    • state-specific policy and ecosystem developments in California, North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas,
    • criminal legal system issues and ecosystems, including policing and surveillance, and
    • other intersections that crim-imm and local grassroots ecosystems touch.
  • Maintain a clear understanding of how research, policy, practice, and organizing fit into the Foundation’s interests and the Human Rights program.
  • Stay abreast of policy work, grassroots movements, and the advocacy landscape on crim-imm in the c3 and c4 contexts and understand how organizations fit into the overall landscape.


  • Occasionally (annually, usually) attend Board meetings to discuss and support grant recommendations and report on the overall effectiveness of grantmaking.
  • Provide program information to, and interact with, the Board as requested throughout the year. 
  • In partnership with the Program Director (PD), support specific requests for information about political and policy developments for Board and leadership.
  • Keep the PD and Foundation management informed on developments in crim-imm.

Learning & Networking

  • Attend workshops and conferences to learn more about relevant topics and trends.
  • Join and/or network with relevant affinity groups or individuals to increase access to knowledge and thought partnership.
  • Organize and lead panel discussions at conferences, staff meetings, and via affinity groups around key areas of grantmaking practice. 
  • Informally read and synthesize published literature and web-based resources to increase knowledge of the program strategy, including states and/or grantmaking techniques.

Foundation-wide Responsibilities

  • Participate in Foundation-wide committees; diversity, equity, and inclusion work; and internal culture-building.
  • Participate in Foundation-wide training sessions.
  • Help the Foundation promote and maintain environmentally friendly office practices.
  • Understand the philanthropic sector as well as the structure and stakeholders unique to a family foundation.   


  • Prior experience working in philanthropy or working in proximity to philanthropy via nonprofit fundraising, understanding how foundations function and of the grantmaking process.
  • Multidimensional perspective on criminalization and strong understanding and commitment to racial justice.
  • Commitment and interest in cross-movement building including immigration, racial justice, gender justice, economic justice, youth justice, MASA, and LGBTQ. 
  • Experience in allocating resources and managing budgets, whether through a role in government, nonprofits, philanthropy, or business.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills, ability to translate content for a variety of audiences.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, with an ability to develop and sustain productive and collaborative relationships with colleagues, grantees, stakeholders, and others in an ongoing and multifaceted partnerships.      
  • Demonstrated success in managing multiple priorities at once.
  • Excellent organization and time management with an ability to develop, communicate, and execute work plans for multiple projects simultaneously under tight deadlines.
  • Ability to absorb new information quickly and assess its relevance to Human Rights program strategy.
  • A proactive approach to work, eagerness to learn, and motivation to stay at the forefront of developments in the field.
  • Integrity, humility, solid judgment, commitment to teamwork, and a sense of humor.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office applications and ability and willingness to quickly learn and use new technology systems, such as Salesforce, Zoom, and Box.
  • Ability and willingness to travel.
Compensation & Benefits

The target starting salary for candidates living on the West Coast is $125,000 – $165,000 per year, depending on location and experience.

Heising-Simons offers a comprehensive employee benefits package that includes employer-paid medical, dental, and vision insurance for employees and dependents, long term disability, business travel and life insurance, flexible spending accounts for medical and child care expenses, a 401(k) plan (with a matching contribution of up to 16%), commuting assistance, an employee assistance program (EAP), mental health counseling, tuition reimbursement and a generous professional development budget, matching gifts, fitness reimbursements, fertility & adoption assistance, and identity theft protection. In addition, we allow flexible schedules and some telecommuting with the manager’s approval.

Paid time off includes:

  • Vacation: 3 weeks/year, with increases based on tenure
  • Wellness/Sick: 15 days/year
  • Personal Days: 2 days/year
  • Family Medical Leave: 10 days/year
  • Parental Leave: 6-16 weeks/year, depending on tenure
  • Holidays include: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; President’s Day; Memorial Day; Juneteenth; Independence Day; Labor Day; Veterans Day; Thanksgiving Day (and the day after); Year-End Break (Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day)

Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Molly Brennan and Sarah Avendaño of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Koya Partners is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals living with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual living with a disability and need assistance expressing interest online, please email If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.

Heising-Simons is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes a diverse pool of applicants. Foundation policy prohibits unlawful discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, age, marital status, physical disability, mental disability, military service, legally protected medical condition, or any other consideration made unlawful by federal, state, or local laws. Reasonable accommodation will be made so that qualified applicants with disabilities may participate in the application process. Please advise in writing of special needs at the time of application.

Our success is dependent on our ability to build teams that include people with different experiences and expertise and who can challenge each other’s assumptions with new viewpoints and bring different perspectives to the team. We encourage women, people of color, formerly incarcerated individuals, immigrants, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and others with diverse perspectives and experiences to apply.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part of 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

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