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Program Director

Job Location

San Francisco Bay Area


Type of Job



$225,000 to $250,000

Published By

Publisher Name

Published Date

Aug 4, 2023

About the job

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The Goldman Environmental Foundation (the Foundation) bestows the Goldman Environmental Prize (the Prize)—known as the “Nobel Prize for the Environment”—the world’s foremost award honoring grassroots environmental leadership. For more than 30 years, the Prize has honored the achievements of grassroots environmental activists around the world, inspiring all of us to take action to protect our planet. The Prize was founded in 1989 by Rhoda and Richard Goldman.

Each year, the Prize recognizes individuals for significant achievements in protecting and conserving the natural environment in the world’s six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands & Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America. The Prize views "grassroots" leaders as those involved in collective action at the community level to affect local, regional, national, or international change. By celebrating these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.


Prize recipients are selected by a distinguished international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a global group of environmental organizations and individuals. Prize winners are announced every April to coincide with Earth Day. Prize recipients participate in a 10-day tour of San Francisco and Washington, D.C.—highlighted by award ceremonies in those cities—including media interviews, funder briefings, and meetings with political and environmental leaders.


Prize recipients focus on a wide range of initiatives, including protecting endangered ecosystems and species, combating destructive development projects, promoting sustainable use of natural resources, influencing environmental and energy policies, and striving for environmental justice.


The Foundation also provides ongoing support for past and current Prize recipients in several ways:

  • Defense of Prize Winners: The Foundation is committed to supporting Prize winners whose safety and security are at risk. Assistance may include public relations support, security risk assessments, emergency grants, and access to legal aid.
  • Networking: To help Prize winners build broader networks, connect with each other, share learnings, and expand their leadership capacity, the Foundation provides support for Prize winners to meet and participate in networking opportunities such as conferences, meetings, and other events.
  • Grant support: The Foundation offers past Prize winners a limited number of grants to advance their organizations’ environmental campaigns and inspire community members to engage in grassroots environmental activism.
  • Communications: The Foundation publicizes the ongoing campaigns and achievements of the Prize winners through earned and social media.

The Goldman Environmental Foundation is based in San Francisco, California. For more information on the Foundation, please visit the website.



Reporting to the Executive Director and serving as a member of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), the Program Director will serve as a thought partner and culture leader to a committed and talented group of staff. This is an opportunity to lead change within a highly respected, 34-year-old family foundation.


The Program Director will oversee the Foundation’s programs and build the trust and conditions needed for the program team to work successfully. The Program Director will be a credible leader who will serve as an ambassador representing the organization recognizing and highlighting the work of global changemakers. As a member of a small team, they must be willing to roll up their sleeves and work alongside staff to achieve the mission and goals set forth by the Board and Executive Director.


Working with staff, consultants, and contractors, the Program Director will:



  • Supervise and mentor the Foundation’s Program staff, including three Program Officers and two Program Managers; prepare annual performance reviews.
  • Oversee, supervise, and support the Program staff to accomplish:
    • The annual Prize nominations process, including recruiting and vetting new nominators, and soliciting and reviewing nominations.
    • The selection of semi-finalists and finalists for the Prize.
    • Production of the preliminary and final Prize Jury dockets, and preparation for the November Prize Jury meeting.
    • The Foundation’s three Initiatives to support alumni Prize winners: Networking, Grantmaking, and Defense of Prize Winners.
    • The annual solicitation and review of grant proposals and awarding of grants to alumni Prize winners, within limits prescribed by the annual budget.
    • Individual and regional group networking opportunities for alumni Prize winners each year in conjunction with key external events, such as international treaty conferences and partner organization meetings.
    • Efforts to enhance the safety and security of Prize winners, including quick and effective response in the event of emergencies involving Prize winners at risk.
  • Work with Program staff and the SLT to plan and monitor the annual Program budget.


  • Serve as a thought-partner for the Executive Director and support the SLT in the governance, operations, and culture of the Foundation.
  • Represent the Foundation at public meetings, conferences, film festivals, and other functions as needed to promote the Prize and the work of Prize winners.
  • Serve as primary liaison with other environmental prizes and awards, nominating Goldman Prize winners and other candidates as appropriate.
  • Maintain familiarity with the broader environmental issues addressed by Prize winners, and ensure that both Program staff and Prize winners are connected to the larger environmental community working on those issues.
  • Assist the Executive Director in maintaining appropriate relationships with the Environmental Defenders Collaborative, Biodiversity Funders’ Group, and other foundation affinity groups.
  • Help organize and participate in the Foundation Board of Directors meetings.

Prize Tour & Events

  • Supervise and support staff involved in the planning, organizing, and management of the annual Prize tour in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., including travel, accommodations, events, logistics, scheduling, and evaluation for Prize winners, staff, and Board members.
  • Schedule strategic meetings for Prize winners during the tour with partner organizations, government officials, diplomats, politicians, potential funders, and others.
  • Assist the Director of Communications in the planning and production of the Prize ceremonies in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. as needed. Manage the participation of Prize winners and Program staff in both ceremonies.



While the Foundation will consider a broad range of backgrounds, the ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills and characteristics:


Effective Manager

  • Exceptional people and process management skills, including the ability to work cooperatively with a small staff; effectively managing both up and down the organizational structure.
  • A transparent and trust-based management style, empowering staff to work autonomously while holding the team accountable.
  • The ability to inspire a powerful sense of shared purpose in others and motivate co-workers to take advantage of opportunities and overcome challenges.
  • Well-organized, detail-oriented, and flexible with the ability to handle multiple priorities at the same time while directing toward overarching goals and objectives.
  • Experience quickly internalizing and managing existing programs and administration, including processes and procedures, scheduling, budgeting, evaluation, and reporting.

Program Leadership

  • A curious, growth-minded, and adaptable leader who can react calmly to changing circumstances and lead a dedicated team through change and evolution.
  • Experience leading a program team with an eye towards curiosity and partnering with them to set program direction with strong attention to mission, budget, process, and operations.
  • Skilled in mentoring staff and building leadership capacity among team members, empowering them to execute on organizational goals.
  • The capacity to cultivate and maintain relationships among a large network of environmentalists, partners, stakeholders, and vendors.
  • The ability to lead by example and stay true to the vision and mission of the Foundation, and an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics, and values.
  • The ability to identify and capitalize on opportunities to highlight and amplify impact.

Project Oversight

  • Strong attention to detail, including handling logistics and the ability to remain poised and effective under pressure, particularly at high-profile events.
  • Mission-aligned and data-driven decision-making abilities, including outstanding research, writing, analytical, and communications skills.
  • A strong partner to the staff in managing projects and operational tasks.
  • Basic technological literacy, with reasonable proficiency in Google programs, Microsoft Outlook, PDFs, and calendar scheduling across time zones; experience with Salesforce is a plus; willingness and aptitude to learn more is essential.

Strong Cultural Competency

  • Demonstrated international, cross-cultural understanding and sensitivity with a high level of comfort communicating with people of varying levels of professional capacity.
  • Ability to support staff and partners working in remote areas of the globe.
  • Competency in a language other than English is preferred, but not required.

Passion for the Mission

  • A commitment to and passion for the mission and vision of the Foundation.
  • General understanding of major global environmental issues, including grassroots activism.
  • Ability to develop and maintain relationships among a large network of environmentalists, partners, government officials, and the philanthropic community.
  • An authentic, accessible, mission-driven presence and the ability to articulate and convey Goldman Foundation's mission and priorities to a range of external stakeholders to inspire action.


  • 10+ years of recent management experience required.
  • Bachelor’s degree and/or Master’s degree highly preferred. In addition to education/degree requirements, a successful candidate will:
    • Understand how to collaborate with a variety of different people and roles.
    • Show a strong growth mindset and the ability to learn from setbacks.
    • Be comfortable with ambiguity and working as part of a cross-functional team.
    • Be willing to confront complex problems head on and use good judgment in decision making.
    • Be curious, relationship-driven, partnership driven, and adaptable.
    • Value diversity and take pride in cultivating an atmosphere of inclusion of various thoughts, perspectives, identities, and expressions.


The annual salary range for the position starts between $225,000 and $250,000 commensurate with experience. Relocation assistance provided.


Goldman Environmental Foundation offers a generous and comprehensive benefits package, including vacation and sick leave, employer-subsidized (85%) medical, dental, and vision insurance for employees and dependents, employer-provided long-term disability and life insurance, flexible spending accounts for medical and childcare expenses, a 403(b)-retirement plan (with generous employer contribution after one year of service), commuting assistance, and professional development. A sabbatical is also offered to employees after at least seven years of service. The Foundation closes the week between Christmas and New Years Day.


The Foundation requires that all employees be fully vaccinated against COVID 19. The Foundation employs a flexible hybrid work structure and requires all staff to spend a minimum of two days per week—usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays—in the San Francisco office. It’s estimated the Program Director will spend 15% or less time on international travel.



Calibrated Search, who specializes in partnering with mission-driven nonprofits and conscious companies, has been retained by Goldman Environmental Foundation to assist in this confidential hiring process. To express interest in this role, please share your candidate materials HERE.


To nominate candidates and/or ask questions, please contact Kara Teising and Heather Ferguson directly at and Calibrated Search is aiming to present a shortlist of candidates by the week of October 16, 2023. Interviews will begin in mid to late October with the goal of making a selection before the holidays. The start date of the Program Director will depend on the selected candidate’s transition needs. Please do not delay in expressing interest.


The Foundation is committed to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion as important components of workplace culture. The Goldman Environmental Foundation is an equal opportunity employer, and we strongly encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and those with disabilities.

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