Program Officer, Climate & Clean Energy

  • Heising-Simons Foundation
  • Los Altos, California 94022
  • Mar 22, 2017
Full time Advocacy Climate Change/GHG Communication/Public Outreach Energy Efficiency Energy - Solar Energy - Wind Renewable Energy

Job Description

About the Heising-Simons Foundation

Established in 2007, the Heising-Simons Foundation works with its 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. The Foundation’s grantmaking is guided by the following values:

  • We believe education is the route to opportunity
  • We are committed to promoting sustainability
  • We believe in research-driven solutions
  • We are committed to engaging and uniting stakeholders

The Foundation currently has an asset base of about $400,000,000. In 2015, the Foundation awarded $42,390,000 in grants.

Position Summary

The goal of the Foundation’s Climate & Clean Energy program is to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon energy future and help avoid the most harmful impacts of climate change. The program supports policy analysis, advocacy, technical assistance, and communication to help advance policies that can meet this goal.

The Climate & Clean Energy Program Officer identifies and works with prospective and existing grantees, monitors grantee progress, and develops new strategies and grantmaking areas for the Climate & Clean Energy Program. The Program Officer also works with the Climate & Clean Energy Program Associate on grant and budget management.

This fulltime position reports to the Director of Climate & Clean Energy and is located in the Foundation’s Los Altos, CA office.

Primary Responsibilities


  • Maintain knowledge of Climate & Clean Energy policy and advocacy landscape in the U.S. and other identified geographies.
  • Maintain relationships with grantees, thought leaders, funding partners, and other experts and leaders in the field.
  • Develop a clear understanding of how organizations fit into the Foundation’s interest in advancing Climate & Clean Energy policy.
  • Use expertise to review various types of proposals, including those with implications for research, policy development, advocacy, communication, technical assistance and/or evaluation.

Program Management

  • Develop strategies and associated grantmaking plans to advance key components of the overall Climate & Clean Energy strategy, aiming to achieve large-scale system changes as fast as possible.
  • Manage a grants portfolio and budget.
  • Lead through collaboration, both inside and outside the Foundation. Plan and host meetings to inform strategy and/or enhance effectiveness of strategy execution.
  • Work with appropriate organizations to encourage them to submit proposals for possible funding.
  • Develop concise and accurate summaries of funding requests and answer substantive questions about the proposals. If necessary, develop a complete and coherent rejection rationale for proposals that will not be funded.
  • Screen proposals, applying breadth of expertise and a clear understanding of the Foundation’s strategy and interests.
  • Conduct site visits to current and potential grantees, attend meetings and conferences, and undertake the consequent travel as an integral part of the position.
  • Monitor progress on approved grants, including reviewing interim and final progress reports and setting standards for interim and final reports.
  • Periodically review and report to executive management and the Board regarding the effectiveness of individual grants and overall funding in the program area.
  • Stay informed about and follow up as necessary on grant-related issues throughout the duration of a grant.
  • Provide non-financial support to grantees, including advice concerning capacity-building, fund development, project activities, and evaluation.


  • Synthesize information on progress, setbacks, and significant milestones in the field regularly.
  • Keep the Board, CEO, program director, and other senior staff informed about developments within the program area throughout the year.
  • Produce high-quality materials (grant summaries, presentations, etc.) for a variety of audiences.

Professional Development

  • Participate in joint efforts with other foundations and affinity groups of foundations.
  • Keep abreast of the funding landscape.
  • Represent the Foundation professionally by responding to inquiries, attending meetings and conferences, and/or publishing in appropriate venues.
  • Develop position papers as assigned on new subject areas and/or for new Foundation initiatives, including developing RFPs for funding within the program area.
  • Seek professional development opportunities to broaden knowledge of the program area, philanthropy, and/or the non-profit sector.


  • Master’s degree or equivalent experience in a relevant field
  • 5+ years of relevant experience in philanthropy, advocacy, government, or another policy-oriented role. Experience in philanthropy is a plus
  • Passionate about achieving the goal of the Climate & Clean Energy program
  • In-depth knowledge of energy and climate policy (state, regional and national) in the U.S., major greenhouse gas emitting sectors, and related industry, market and regulatory structures. Similar knowledge concerning other high-emitting nations is a plus.
  • Knowledge of the landscape of organizations involved in the climate and clean energy field, as well as advocacy strategies, tactics, and key leverage points to advance policy
  • Proactive, eager to learn, and interested in staying at the forefront of developments in the field
  • Demonstrated experience developing strategies and prioritizing resources to maximize impact
  • Understanding of the grantmaking process and how foundations function
  • Exceptional research, analysis, synthesis, and written and verbal communications skills
  • Detail-oriented, with proven organizational and project management skills
  • Collegial, with excellent interpersonal skills, and a sense of humor
  • A leadership style of facilitation (not direction) and a genuine desire to collaborate
  • Integrity, solid judgment, and strong strategic thinking skills
  • Expertise in all Microsoft Office applications
  • Able to travel

Equal Employment Opportunity

The Foundation is an equal opportunity employer. We welcome a diverse pool of applicants and make employment decisions on the basis of merit. Foundation policy prohibits the unlawful discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, age, marital or caregiver status, physical disability, mental disability, military service, legally protected medical condition, prior record of arrest or conviction, 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, any special needs at the time of application.

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The Foundation offers an excellent benefits package and salaries that are commensurate with education and experience.