Socialize With Us

Senior Program Officer, Policy and Innovation

Senior Program Officer, Policy and Innovation
Application Deadline: 
Friday, December 25, 2020
Job Description: 

With more than $1.5 billion in assets, the San Francisco Foundation is one of the largest community foundations in the country. The foundation is committed to expanding opportunity and ensuring a more equitable future for all in the Bay Area. Together with its donors, the foundation distributed $154 million to nonprofit organizations last fiscal year. The San Francisco Foundation serves Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties.

The San Francisco Foundation is uniquely positioned to address the Bay Area’s most pressing needs, particularly in the areas of affordable housing in the region. The Foundation aims for greater community impact and moving toward population-level results for low-income families and communities of color left out of the region’s robust economy. Five years into the San Francisco Foundation’s implementation of the racial equity and economic inclusion agenda, the organization is at an exciting juncture and next crossroads – poised to further leverage its impact across the Bay Area through deepened strategies for policy and systems change at the local, regional, and state levels, as well as innovative, proactive, and strategically aligned approaches.

Reports To: Vice President of Policy and Innovation

Position Overview:

At the San Francisco Foundation, we have a bold vision that all people living in the San Francisco Bay Area are economically secure, living in vibrant communities, and engaged in civic life. As such, we have been building an exciting new Policy & Innovation Division within the Community Impact Department, to focus on ways philanthropy can invest in and work with multi-sector partners to ensure equitable and inclusive policy and systems change that benefit low-income families and communities of color across our nine-county region.

Under the direction of the Vice President of Policy and Innovation (VPPI), the Senior Program Officer will contribute subject-matter expertise that advances affordable housing policy and systems change efforts for tenant protections, affordable housing preservation, and production. Our region has been experiencing a housing crisis over the past decade, and we can use our diverse roles as policy advocate, grantmaker, convenor, capacity builder, data provider, investor, and systems engineers to ensure that there is an equitable recovery for all throughout our region. The Senior Program Officer aligns with these roles and manages a grantmaking portfolio that develops and maintains meaningful grantee-centered relationships with community partners.

This position is part of a small, high-performing 11-person Division within the Community Impact Department and will be required to collaborate across diverse teams, including cross-departmental working groups. This is an individual contributor role on a start-up team, and the ideal professional is open, flexible, and comfortable contributing content-expertise and knowledge as a thought partner on strategy and managing a grantee portfolio, while also managing the details of our internal grantmaking process, and his/her own schedule and administration. This position is term-limited for the next two years and may be extended to four years pending grant support from a large institutional funder.

Results in Role

Under the direction of the Vice President of Policy and Innovation, the Senior Program Officer is responsible for strategy development and planning, portfolio management, and grantmaking. Determined by the cross-departmental Housing Work Group for the Foundation’s local, regional, and state-level housing work, the Foundation envisions a 20-year line of sight where our Bay Area communities have:

  • Significant increase in affordable housing production in alignment with various income spectrum (120% and below of Area Medium Income);
  • A policy environment that stabilizes the housing situation for tenants at the lower end of the economic ladder;
  • An ongoing housing and transportation system that maintains a balance between job growth and housing supported by regulatory oversight, implementation, and watchdog advocacy, dedicated, reliable funding stream, and stronger, more sophisticated political voice; and
  • Communities that welcome affordable housing creation in their neighborhoods, and low-income families, so that progress can be made at the jurisdictional level.

This work is grounded in a tenant protection, affordable housing preservation, and production framework; and addresses five big levers: 1) increased capital and financial resources for affordable housing; 2) legislative victories for tenant protections; 3) equitable regional governance; 4) increased public will to support local, regional, and state civic action; and 5) increased political will for policy change. As part of the internal Housing Work Group, the Senior Program Officer will ensure strategic coordination, integration, and alignment across grantmaking portfolios, particularly between the Policy and Innovation Division, Programs Division, and Philanthropy and Gift Planning Department.

External Focus

  • Meaningful Contributions. Deepen the equitable housing strategies to achieve population-level results, including the management of key components of strategy development and implementation. Use qualitative and quantitative data, community engagement, and research to inform strategy development.
  • Demonstrated civic leadership.  Develop and implement a plan to advance critical elements of the Foundation’s equity agenda in affordable housing through our civic leadership role, building and maintaining grant partner relationships, connections to the staff at similar foundations, and participation in relevant affinity groups. 
  • Partnership Design, Development, and Implementation. Lead proactive efforts for change, including partnership development efforts with other funders, private and public sector leaders, and grantees. Partner with the Officer of Corporate and Institutional Partnerships to fundraise from other foundations in order to leverage additional grantmaking resources for community impact.
  • High-Impact Convenings and Events. Identify, facilitate, and manage opportunities to bring various stakeholders together to further the equitable housing agenda. Working with the SFF Marketing and Communications Department so that convenings position SFF as a resource for those interested in addressing critical issues affecting individuals and communities, gather input on a specific strategy or body of work, garner support for a cause or activity, and/or educate and learn.
  • SFF Ambassador. Represent SFF on related panels, key speaking engagements, articles, blogs, media interviews, and other social media opportunities.
  • Capacity-building in the Sector. Provide resource, referral advice, and technical assistance to grantee partners, agencies and/or collaboratives.

Internal Focus

  • Housing Expertise. Deepen in-house equitable housing knowledge, skill, and expertise at SFF through your subject-matter expertise, research, network, and thought leadership.  
  • Strategic Grantmaking. Conduct strategic grantmaking related to housing impacts, and investment in policy change and systems change efforts at the local, regional, and state levels. Manage a robust grantmaking portfolio, including developing a grantmaking strategy in collaboration with internal colleagues and external partners. Evaluate merits of written grant proposals, conduct due diligence, lead site visits, review research, and present grant recommendations to the Board of Trustees, as appropriate.
  • Learning and Evaluation. Meaningful contributions to strategic learning and evaluation. Determine benchmarks, indicators of success, and methodology to track and assess the progress toward outcomes associated with the Policy and Innovation Division strategies, as well as the effectiveness of grants and progress reports. Use qualitative and quantitative data to inform recommendations and decision-making
  • Leveraging Impact. In partnership with the Philanthropy and Gift Planning Department, the Senior Program Officer meets with donors and prospective donors as assigned, providing them with information about Policy and Innovation efforts or other specific issues, and best practices and grantmaking opportunities in the Bay Area. Provide background information for direct funding requests to donors. 

Additional job duties as assigned.



Bachelor’s degree, in one or more of the Foundation’s programmatic areas or related discipline required. A master’s degree in housing and community development, city and regional planning, capital finance, law, public policy, or public administration strongly preferred. 


A minimum of 8-10 years of increasingly responsible experience in a leadership role in the public, non-profit, or philanthropic sector. In-depth professional background in housing policy, policy advocacy, and/or systems change efforts. Has successfully managed projects to achieve specified results and performance measures. Ideally, the Senior Program Officer has multi-sector knowledge and/or experience coupled with a good understanding of Bay Area nonprofit, public, and philanthropic communities. This person must deeply value racial equity and economic inclusion. Proven record of successfully working collaboratively and in dynamic, fast-paced teams.

Knowledge, Skills, & Competencies

  • Ability to lead collaboratives of multiple funders and leaders, provide cross-sector learning opportunities for funders and grantees, and serve as staff lead for special projects or committees.
  • Has maintained successful relationships with community leaders and organizations and engage people from diverse backgrounds in a variety of settings.
  • Facilitates effective meetings, synthesizes ideas, and provide constructive feedback.
  • Grantmaking or grant seeking knowledge and experience, with strong understanding of organizational development and operations of small and large nonprofits to manage portfolio of grant partners. 
  • Finance and budget management experience to understand financial due diligence in grantmaking and what makes strong sustainable nonprofits.
  • Strong active listening, oral, and written communication skills.
  • Demonstrable computer and technology literacy in MS Office Suite (word processing, email, spreadsheets), constituency relationship management (Salesforce), and knowledge management applications.


Commensurate with background and experience in addition to a competitive benefits package.

The San Francisco Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and encourages people of diverse backgrounds to apply.