Program Officer – Mississippi & New Orleans Programs

  • Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group
  • Remote (New Orleans, LA, USA)
  • Sep 11, 2019
Full time Management Sustainability

Job Description

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), a leading national philanthropy helping communities create the conditions children need to thrive, is seeking nominations and applications for a Program Officer for its U.S. Southern Programs, serving communities in Mississippi & New Orleans. In recent years the foundation has sharpened its focus on improving conditions for vulnerable children, concentrating on three key factors of success and their intersections: education and learning; food, health and well-being; and family economic security. WKKF partners closely with community stakeholders and policy makers to co-create a network of organizations working together to advance economic stability, racial equity, and community and civic engagement, while increasing access to quality education, healthy food, and medical care for children and families in need.

Working in partnership across the two team offices for U.S. Southern Programs led by Director Rhea Williams-Bishop and with WKKF national staff, the Program Officer will provide leadership and oversight for on-the-ground execution of program efforts that nurture opportunities for achieving positive systemic change for better education, health, and economic outcomes for children and their families throughout Mississippi and in New Orleans. The Mississippi & New Orleans team works from base offices in Jackson and New Orleans and is a critical place-based team at the foundation for the region. Particular areas of interest for this role include economic development along the Gulf Coast; food systems, food access, and food entrepreneurship in rural and urban communities; and how these focus areas intersect with local industries (e.g., shipping, chemicals, energy, tourism, and seafood), environmental concerns, local entrepreneurship, and employment equity. The new Program Officer will leverage deep expertise in food systems and economic equity to screen and recommend grants for funding, conduct site visits, manage and monitor a portfolio of grant programs aligned with the foundation’s strategic framework, and collaborate within the programs team and across the foundation to develop a more interdisciplinary approach to grantmaking. The Program Officer will maintain strong, authentic relationships with grant seekers and grantees and act as a spokesperson for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, effectively communicating the foundation’s goal of partnering with communities to improve the well-being of children and their families.

The ideal candidate will be committed to the values and mission of the foundation and have expertise and leadership experience in food systems, policy, and/or economic development. She/He/They will be knowledgeable about the intersections between food systems and food-based entrepreneurship, labor markets, and workforce development. The Program Officer will also have an understanding of and appreciation for the impact of the private sector and the role of the public sector in alleviating racial and economic disparities in urban and rural economies. Familiarity and experience with grantmaking is a plus, but is not required. She/He/They will have a deep and comprehensive understanding of program execution and development. The Program Officer will have both cultural fluency and networks in the Deep South, the Gulf Coast, the Delta region, and on the national level. The Program Officer will curate a portfolio that is reflective of, and responsive to, the needs of communities and grassroots leaders along the Gulf Coast, including Biloxi and New Orleans, and in rural areas in Mississippi and Louisiana as well. She/He/They will possess a strong team orientation, a high tolerance for ambiguity, the ability to adapt quickly to change, and a record of success in working effectively with persons from diverse cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds. 

This search is being conducted by NPAG. Application instructions can be found at the end of this document.

HISTORY AND MISSION

In 1930, breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg donated $66 million in Kellogg Company stock and other investments “to help people help themselves,” launching the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The foundation began its work in Michigan, but by the 1940s had expanded its work internationally and was breaking ground in areas such as rural children’s health, “mainstreaming” children with disabilities, and the development of the healthcare profession. By its 50th anniversary, the foundation was among the world’s largest private philanthropic organizations.  Its mission reflects the foundation’s core priorities of thriving children, working families, and equitable communities, and the dynamic connection between the three.

“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports children, families, and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society.”

To advance this mission, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation created a framework supported by an innovative matrixed organizational design to prioritize investment decisions and maximize effectiveness toward achieving the desired ends and improvements for children and their families.  This new framework supports disciplined choices toward targeted outcomes and stronger alignment across programs. It is a focused and networked approach to strategic programming that relies on close cross-foundation collaboration and agile teams to leverage human capital and knowledge resources to positively impact vulnerable children, families, and communities. Across bodies of work, the foundation implements an array of change-making tools – grantmaking, impact investing, contracting, networking and convenings – to ensure progress.  A commitment to racial equity, community engagement, and leadership development are woven into each endeavor as essential to the creation of a social context in which all children can thrive, particularly the most vulnerable.

W.K. KELLOGG FOUNDATION: MISSISSIPPI & NEW ORLEANS

The foundation’s relationship with grantees in Mississippi and New Orleans dates back to 1942, and is rooted in eliminating educational disparities, poor health outcomes, pockets of poverty, and the enduring racial inequities that impede children’s healthy development and limit opportunities for their parents. Grants in Mississippi are concentrated in the East Biloxi region, the city of Jackson, and Sunflower County. The foundation’s work in New Orleans intensified in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as it joined other stakeholders in rebuilding the city. Grants are made New Orleans-wide through a racial equity lens; focusing investments on creating a child-centered city with high quality early education and childcare, engaged parents and communities, healthy and safe environments, and economically secure families.

The new Program Officer will join a multidisciplinary team and will work collaboratively to support a grantmaking strategy that improves conditions for children, families, and communities, particularly in the Gulf Region. 

Grantee Highlights Relative to this Position Include:

Refill Café

Refill Café is a workforce-training program designed to support Jackson’s most vulnerable young adults, particularly opportunity youth aged 18-24 years, who are disconnected from the workforce and education systems. Refill Café creates opportunities and links graduates of each cohort to career pathways, mostly in the restaurant and hospitality industries through active employer engagement. Refill Café also promotes healthy food access and community resiliency through an array of services, ranging from social services, connections to educational opportunities, and mentoring.

Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC)

ROC works around the nation to raise public awareness and knowledge about working conditions and sub-par, exploitative wages in the restaurant industry. ROC works with advocacy, faith-based, and community-based organizations, as well as employer partners to increase mobility in the industry and to be supportive of workers and their families. Their ultimate goal is to build a high road to better working conditions for restaurant workers in Mississippi.

National Center for Appropriate Technology, Inc. (NCAT)

NCAT focuses on improving health outcomes for vulnerable children and their families by increasing access to healthy food and integrating efforts to transform local food systems in Mississippi.  The ultimate goal is to achieve greater strategic, collective impact, and catalyze systemic change through collaborative work. NCAT provides training and technical assistance to community-based organizations and grassroots, community-led efforts.

MS Farm to School Network

The MS Farm to School Network is a statewide organization with a focus on Jackson, Sunflower County, and Biloxi. MSF2SN provides technical assistance and capacity building options for partners in these communities to build farm to school/early childhood education programs, including support to minority farmers looking for new markets through enterprise development and small business entrepreneurship.

Hope Enterprise Corporation

Hope’s mission is to strengthen communities, build assets and improve lives in economically distressed areas of the Mid-South by providing access to high-quality financial products and related services. In Mississippi, Hope explores innovative models of sustainable operations that will increase access to fresh, healthy foods for the city of Drew, Mississippi by conducting site visits to other rural grocery stores in the South.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Inc

This foundation seeks to enhance employment equity, quality early childhood education, and health outcomes for children and families in East Biloxi, Mississippi. WKKF’s funding enabled the foundation to complete an updated community needs assessment and then implement the recommended actions from this assessment.

Liberty’s Kitchen, Inc

WKKF provides general operating support to enable this organization in achieving its mission to provide youth in New Orleans with a path to self-sufficiency through food service-based training and leadership and work-readiness programs.

For more information on the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, please visit: wkkf.org.

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FACING THE PROGRAM OFFICER

The Southern Pod for WKKF consists of an extraordinary team of individuals that is passionate about eradicating social disparities and improving well-being for all children. The new Program Officer will not only be a critical member of the Southern Pod team, but will also be part of a closely connected cross-disciplinary transnational team executing the foundation’s work across the country and internationally by sharing best practices and aligning resources, approaches, and assessments of grantmaking to drive solutions for systemic social change.

The new Program Officer for Mississippi & New Orleans will engage in the following challenges and opportunities:

Lead programmatic strategy and serve as a thought partner to senior leadership of the foundation to address significant questions that affect children and their families. WKKF’s team, in partnership with policy makers, business leaders, nonprofit stakeholders, and citizen communities, is exploring significant questions such as: How can we develop an understanding of the disparities in access to government support and private capital between affluent and less affluent farmers and business owners in the Gulf Coast and the Delta in Mississippi? What can be done to address this disparity? How do we assess and address food insecurity? How can local underrepresented farmers and food suppliers contribute to the solution? How do we develop expertise in the relationships between food quality and access, agricultural and industrial economies, climate change realities, and systemic inequities? How might we better connect people of color living in the Gulf Coast and in the Delta to viable and equitable food procurement options? Who are the current and emerging leaders in New Orleans and Mississippi who can contribute to this solution?

Leverage the existing influence and expertise of the foundation to address inequities in food availability, quality, and security, and how those inequities interlock with economic inequity. The new Program Officer will be a co-strategist in partnership with Director Rhea Williams-Bishop, members of the Mississippi and New Orleans team, and colleagues across the foundation in assessing the needs of the region and developing strategies to promote food security and reducing economic inequity. Collaborating throughout the foundation’s matrixed structure, he/she/they will expand and deepen the foundation’s work in food systems and its intersection with economic inequity. This work will likely include a robust learning phase with the grantees, policy makers, and community stakeholders in the Gulf Coast, the Delta, and throughout Mississippi and Louisiana.

Provide leadership and oversight for on-the-ground execution of program efforts that are aligned and integrated with the unified mission and vision of the foundation. The new Program Officer will develop a strong network of key stakeholders, policy makers, community and business leaders, and grantees that support the foundation’s mission and inform and advance its work in Mississippi and New Orleans, with a particular focus on the Gulf Coast. The Program Officer will further shape the Mississippi and New Orleans team’s work in these areas as it relates to enhancing the well-being of children and families in the region.

Collaborate with and support prospective and existing grantees in developing funding strategies, requests, and plans towards systems change in policy making and advocacy for food and economic security. The Program Officer will provide robust technical assistance to grantees through conducting site visits, consulting on model development, partnership negotiations, leadership capacity building, and coaching. She/He/They will use culturally-sound public and interpersonal communication strategies in both formal and informal engagements with grantees. The Program Officer will identify and recommend grantmaking opportunities that leverage WKKF investments for maximum impact in creating systemic change and maintaining strong, authentic relationships with grant seekers and grantees, thus ensuring the mutual understanding of direction, goals, and expectations.

Build public goodwill and awareness of issues affecting vulnerable children and families. The Program Officer will serve as a credible, articulate representative and spokesperson for WKKF in communicating the foundation’s strategic direction and funding interests. She/He/They will recognize that learning is a multi-directional process and will approach internal and external relationships with a learning posture. The Program Officer will collaborate across the foundation to cultivate and share the foundation’s knowledge and learning among peers, grantees, and other key audiences.

Identify and nurture opportunities for affecting positive systemic change. The Program Officer will join a team responsible for grantmaking locally and nationally, specifically to advance key campaigns for health equity. These campaigns will include increased access to healthy, affordable food and equity for farmers and other food entrepreneurs of color. She/He/They will build and sustain relationships with and convene both established and emergent leaders doing food systems work in Mississippi and New Orleans.

Create learning communities and collaborative networks amongst grantees and partners; develop and manage learning and evaluation components for grants; and cultivate a wide breadth and depth of knowledge about trends and innovative best practices in food systems work. The Program Officer will work closely with WKKF’s Learning and Impact team to incorporate assessment components into program efforts to measure progress and impact. She/He/They will document and circulate lessons learned from grant investments, networking meetings, and other foundation-related activities. The Program Officer will work collaboratively across the foundation to identify and prioritize the highest value knowledge and learnings, especially around how food systems work is relevant to early childhood education, economic development, racial equity, maternal and child health, and employment equity.

QUALIFICATIONS OF THE IDEAL CANDIDATE

While no one person will embody all the qualities enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes and experiences:

  • A minimum of eight years of significant work experience, ideally in food systems or a similar field as it relates to economic equity and access for children and families. Experience with agricultural and industrial workers and businesses and rural economic development as they relate to food access is a plus. A Master’s degree in a field relevant to the foundation’s priorities in Mississippi and New Orleans is preferred;
  • Demonstrated flexible, multidisciplinary thinking required to address key issues facing children and families in the region, particularly food insecurity, disparities in access to government programs, unemployment/underemployment, and racial discrimination; the drive to shape and inform the work based on the immediate issues and opportunities found in communities; an understanding of the broad social and economic forces that affect communities and families and shape programming efforts; a holistic and multi-dimensional approach to leadership development, organizational change, and community transformation;
  • Sophisticated understanding of the educational and economic disparities in the region, especially the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi Delta, and the related policy landscapes and the enduring legacy of racism; the ability to successfully navigate the various legal, social, and political forces at play within the federal, state, and local governance systems;
  • Expertise in philanthropy’s role in developing policies to sustain program success and identifying the current trends, movements, best practices, and emerging opportunities to advance and magnify philanthropic investments;
  • Extensive and nuanced cultural fluency with deep, trust-filled relationships in relevant communities across the region served by the foundation’s U.S. Southern Programs; experience collaborating with grassroots leaders and a clear understanding of the needs of local constituencies;
  • Capacity to develop and implement impactful programs and to effectively communicate conceptual program frameworks to grant-seekers and grantees; a deep and comprehensive understanding of program design and development, systems, networking, and community change;
  • Demonstrated success in forging and stewarding partnerships with the private sector, government agencies, foundations, policy makers, community organizations, and other stakeholders in economic development, education, and health outcomes for children and families;
  • The knowledge and sensitivity to effectively work with and support vulnerable communities, including the appreciation for historical context, discernment of relationship nuances and power dynamics, and understanding of social, racial, and ethnic realities;
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and implement programs that have sustainable impact; ability to think globally while working locally; and the potential to represent WKKF to a variety of stakeholders and intermediaries in a credible and influential way and with a selfless manner focusing on values and the greater good;
  • Successful experience working as part of a multidisciplinary team and working effectively with persons from diverse cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds; willingness to set aside a personal agenda in favor of organizational and community goals and objectives;
  • Strong relationship building and communication skills; the ability to have authentic dialogue around sensitive issues including funding priorities, WKKF expectations, and community concerns; highly developed emotional intelligence and active listening skills; the ability to use interpersonal and political skills in collaborative, diplomatic ways;
  • Excellent writing, editing, analytical, and oral communication skills including the ability to collect, review, synthesize, and present information and findings;
  • A strong record of multitasking and meeting deadlines within designated timeframes, as well as demonstrated resourcefulness in setting priorities; strong organizational skills and exceptional attention to detail with the ability to work independently, take initiative, and contribute ideas for enhancing performance;
  • An optimistic outlook and the humor, integrity, and patience necessary to work within a transformative environment; and
  • The ability to travel approximately 50 percent of the time in the Gulf Region is required; presence in the New Orleans or Jackson offices as needed; monthly attendance on-site at the Battle Creek headquarters to facilitate interaction and synthesis of the grantmaking programs is also required.

APPLICATIONS AND NOMINATIONS

This search is being assisted by Katherine Jacobs, Erica Nicole Richardson, and Courtney Thomas of NPAG. Due to the pace of the search, candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applications including a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, your resume (in Word or PDF format) and where you learned of the position should be sent to: WKKF-POFS@nonprofitprofessionals.com. In order to expedite the internal sorting and reviewing process, please type your name (Last, First) as the only contents in the subject line of your e-mail.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and proudly values diversity. Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Job Level

Mid-level  

Sector

Nonprofit- NGO