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 2019, the Foundation awarded more than $113 million in grants, including over $25 million in science. Since its first grant in 2007, the Foundation has awarded more than $522 million.
The Foundation’s grantmaking is guided by the values of humility, courage, justice, opportunity, sustainability, innovation, relationships, and integrity.
The Foundation is seeking a Science Program Officer who will help manage the Foundation’s science grantmaking. This is an opportunity to learn about many fields and sub-fields within the sciences. Candidates are not expected to have experience in all areas listed in the job posting. The Program Officer will identify and work with prospective and existing grantees, monitor grantee progress, and explore new grantmaking areas. This full-time (37.5 hours per week), exempt position reports to the program director of the Science team.
The primary areas of support with the Science program are astronomy and cosmology, climate change science, fundamental physics, and women in physics and astronomy. While the successful program officer candidate might work on grants in any of these areas, the emphasis in the near term is expected to be in climate change science (both present-day climate change and paleoclimatology) and women in physics and astronomy. This position will be based in the Los Altos office. The Science team is currently staffed by one program associate, two program officers, and the program director. In 2019 the Science team made a total of 85 grants totaling $25.3M in funding.
The ideal candidate will have: 1) a Ph.D. in physical or life sciences (physical sciences preferred; see qualifications below for more details); 2) five-plus years of substantive, relevant post-PhD work in at least one physical sciences area; 3) experience with a research group or scientific research initiative in an academic, business, non-profit or government setting; 4) a strong interest in a breadth of scientific disciplines across the physical sciences domain, the ability to synthesize information and ideas across a diverse landscape of scientific issues and to “come up to speed” quickly in new areas; and 5) excellent research, project management, communications, and interpersonal skills.
Understands the Foundation’s history, values, and current funding initiatives.
Possesses or develops in-depth knowledge of physical sciences, including current research, policy, and practice issues, and key resource people and organizations.
Develops a clear understanding of how research, policy, practice, resource people, and organizations fit into the Foundation’s interests in physical sciences.
Uses expertise to review proposals for research/evaluation, policy, advocacy, or practice.
Takes the initiative to contact appropriate organizations to encourage them to submit proposals for possible funding.
Develops coherent, accurate, and complete summaries of funding requests in the physical sciences program area and prepares to answer substantive questions about the proposals. If necessary, develops a comprehensive and coherent rejection rationale for proposals that will not be funded.
Screens proposals, applying a breadth of expertise and a clear understanding of the Foundation’s interests.
Conducts site visits to current and potential grantees, and undertakes the consequent travel as an integral part of the position.
Monitors progress on approved grants, including scheduling and setting standards for interim and final reports. Reviews interim and final progress reports.
Periodically reviews and reports to executive management and the Board regarding the overall effectiveness of funding in the physical sciences program area.
Stays informed about and follows up as necessary on grant-related issues throughout the duration of a grant.
Provides non-financial support to grantees, including advice concerning capacity building, fund development, project activities, and evaluation.
Attends Board Meetings to discuss and support grant recommendations.
Provides program information to and interacts with the Board throughout the year.
Keeps the Director of Science and Foundation management informed on developments within the science program area.
Participates in joint efforts with other foundations and affinity groups of foundations. Knows the funding landscape, including other funders who support similar projects.
Represents the Foundation professionally by responding to inquiries, attending meetings and conferences, and/or publishing in appropriate venues.
Develops position papers as assigned on new subject areas and/or for new Foundation initiatives, including developing RFPs for funding within assigned areas.
Seeks professional development opportunities to broaden knowledge of physical sciences, philanthropy, and/or the non-profit sector.
Have a Ph.D. in physical or life sciences (physical sciences preferred). Possible fields of expertise might include a number of paleo-science related fields (such as paleoclimatology), geophysics, geochemistry, oceanography, climate change science, environmental science, oceanography, geochemistry, as well as physics, astronomy, and other fields.
Five plus years of substantive, relevant post-PhD work in at least one physical sciences area.
Experience with a research group or scientific research initiative in an academic, business, non-profit or government setting.
A strong interest in a breadth of scientific disciplines, the ability to synthesize information and ideas across a diverse landscape of scientific issues and to “come up to speed” quickly in new areas.
An understanding of the research enterprise in major research universities and institutions in the U.S.
Demonstrated initiative and the ability to plan and think strategically about program design and implementation, manage large projects and budgets, set realistic goals and objectives, effectively balance multiple priorities, and excellent time management skills.
Excellent project management, research, writing and communication skills, including an ability to synthesize material and to identify major opportunities in a specific area.
Demonstrated strong interpersonal skills, with an ability to develop productive relationships with colleagues, grantees, stakeholders, and others in an ongoing and multifaceted partnership.
Ability to work independently and to be self-motivated.
An understanding of how foundations function and of the grantmaking process.
The personal presence to represent the Foundation in diverse forums and establish and maintain organizational relationships.
The personal motivation to live the Foundation’s values and support the Foundation’s mission, vision, and goals.
Ability and willingness to quickly learn and use new systems of technology, such as Microsoft Office applications, Salesforce, Zoom, and Box.
Ability to travel locally and nationally (up to 15 – 20%) to achieve the goals of the Science Program and the Foundation.
A sense of humor and a commitment to teamwork.
Generates written communications using a computer.
Works at a desk for 2-3 hours at a time.
Lifts and moves documents and supplies (not to exceed 25 lbs.)
Bends to file or retrieve documents.
Travels in private vehicles and public transport.
The Foundation 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.
The Foundation’s success is dependent on its ability to build teams that include people with different experiences and expertise who can challenge each other's assumptions with new viewpoints and bring diverse perspectives on scientific excellence to the team. The Foundation encourages people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+, people from under-resourced communities, people with disabilities, and others with diverse perspectives and experiences to apply.
Interested applicants should send a resume, cover letter, and salary information by email to:
Additional Salary Information: We offer a comprehensive employee benefits package that includes employer-paid medical, dental, and vision insurance for employees and dependents, short and 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), tuition reimbursement and a generous professional development budget, matching gifts, fitness reimbursements, fertility assistance, and identity theft protection. In addition, we allow some schedule flexibility and occasional telecommuting with a manager’s approval.
Paid time off includes:
• Vacation Time – starting at 3 weeks per year
• Sick Time - 12 days per year
• Personal Time - 2 days per year
• Family Medical Leave
• Parental Leave