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The Walton Family Foundation
Initiative Lead/Senior Program Officer, Ocean Initiative

Explore Company PosterThe Walton Family Foundation is seeking a skilled, highly motivated and entrepreneurial individual to join the foundation as an Initiative Lead/Senior Program Officer (IL/SPO) to lead the Ocean Initiative, within the Environment Program. There is a preference for this person to be located in the Foundation’s Washington, DC office; however, they will consider candidates who wish to work out of the Denver, CO office.

About the Walton Family Foundation

Sam and Helen Walton had an unshakeable belief in the power of people to transform their own lives. As Sam said, there is no limit to what individuals can accomplish if “given the opportunity, the encouragement and the incentive to do their best.” Today that “no limits” philosophy is carried forward by their descendants through the Walton Family Foundation (Foundation).

Since 2000, the Foundation’s grantmaking has grown from $50 million to an anticipated more than $450 million in 2017. With grantmaking projected to exceed $2 billion over the next five years, the Foundation continues to move forward with increasing intensity, focus and commitment to sustaining the Walton’s timeless entrepreneurial values and their deep dedication to making life better for individuals and communities alike. By working with grantee partners and collaborating with other philanthropic organizations, the Foundation is focused on making a positive difference in three primary program areas of collective interest to the Walton Family:

  • K-12 education

  • Freshwater and ocean conservation

  • Quality of life initiatives in Arkansas and the Mississippi River Delta Region

In addition to these program areas, the Foundation also supports grantmaking interests of individual and groups of Walton family members, as well as independent foundations created by family members. These individualized giving areas represent a high growth area of the foundation.

Headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, with offices in Washington, D.C., Jersey City, New Jersey and Denver, Colorado, a staff/consultant base of approximately 100 professionals conducts the day-to-day operations of the Foundation.

About the Environment Program

Among the largest environment programs in the U.S., WFF’s Environment Program will make approximately $90 million in grants in 2017 to dozens of organizations across multiple continents, investing in two of the most important conservation issues of our time: restoring the health of the oceans and preserving the quality and availability of fresh water in the Colorado River basin and the Mississippi River basin.

The work of the Environment Program is organized under four initiatives:

Ocean. To significantly reduce overfishing, improve ocean health, and preserve fishing jobs in the Americas (the U.S., Mexico, Peru and Chile) and Indonesia.

Colorado River basin. To increase market incentives for agricultural and urban water efficiency in the Upper Basin; advance binational and multistate water agreements in the Lower Basin; and preserve the Colorado Delta system, including riparian habitat and flow restoration.

Mississippi River basin. To align policy and market incentives to encourage farmers to adopt practices that improve water quality, build soil health and reduce pollution.

Coastal. To ensure that the restoration dollars from the 2010 Gulf oil spill settlement flow to science-based, large scale restoration projects in the Mississippi River Delta.

Initiative Lead/Senior Program Officer

Based on the recent strategic planning process, the Walton Family Foundation’s Ocean Initiative will use a systems approach – working on both the supply and demand side to secure healthy, sustainable fisheries. This includes:

  • Empowering fishermen and local communities through rights-based management approaches that provide secure tenure rights.

  • Making science-based decisions about annual catch limits, habitat protection and timelines for rebuilding fish stocks.

  • Harnessing the market for sustainable seafood to build demand for healthy fisheries practices.

  • Building capacity for fishermen, governments and civil society.

  • Reforming public policies to create positive incentives that encourage responsible fishing.

The goal of implementing these strategies concurrently is to build a legal and economic framework that creates strong incentives to develop and maintain healthy fisheries. The end result will be resilient ocean ecosystems to support healthy fish populations, making fishing communities and industry more economically and socially secure.

The Ocean Initiative portfolio focuses on two distinct regions - the Americas and Indonesia – which have some of the world’s most important ocean systems, and some of the highest numbers of small-scale, artisanal fishers with the most to gain through fisheries reform. The ocean initiative, currently consists of the following portfolios: U.S., Mexico, Chile, Peru, Indonesia, Markets, and Global Tools. The new IL/SPO will manage one of the portfolios within the initiative and collaboratively lead a four-person team of Program Officers (POs) working with a diverse portfolio of national and international grantees. The new IL/SPO will report directly to Barry Gold, Environment Program Director and form part of the Environment Program’s Leadership Team.

The broad goals and responsibilities for the IL/SPO, include:

  • Refine, implement, and adaptively manage strategy – The IL/SPO is the owner of the initiative strategy and works with initiative staff to update and refine it as wells as to determine which grants will advance the strategy. The IL/SPO will also manage the U.S. portfolio.

  • Manage and Develop Staff – The IL/SPO manages initiative staff, transmitting information, establishing performance goals, and coaching for performance.

  • Develop, execute and mange grants – The IL/SPO has an important role in grantmaking, both in vetting grants brought forward by initiative staff before they go to the Environment Team for review and in developing and managing grants under their own portfolio.

  • Annual Planning – The IL/SPO works with initiative staff to develop and refine annual framing memos and quarterly updates of the annual framing memos and through that process to identify and monitor gaps and risks associated with strategy. The IL/SPO provides feedback on all grants through the one-page summaries, annual framing memos, quarterly updates, and write-ups for all grants at Environment Team meetings.

  • Develop materials to represent the program – The IL/SPO works with WFF communications staff (and in some cases outside experts or presenters) to develop materials for the Environment Committee and other audiences.

  • Manage Initiative workflow and workload– The IL/SPO monitors overall grantmaking and other tasks for the initiative to assure that there is a balance of workloads among the program officers within the initiative.

  • Lead in working with evaluation to develop metrics – In partnership with the evaluation team and with POs, the IL/SPO works to identify key metrics and helps develop the approach to measuring them.

  • Develop and manage relationships with other partners – The IL/SPO identifies and develops relationships with key partners in other foundations, corporations, academic institutions, or government agencies.

  • Hold and participate in convenings – The IL/SPO identifies opportunities to convene grantees, funding partners, foundation staff or others to advance the initiative.

  • Represent the foundation externally – The IL/SPO represents the foundation externally at conferences and events and through the Foundation’s blog and other communication channels.

  • Work with Environment Committee Members and other Walton family members – The IL/SPO is responsible for representing their initiative at Environment Committee meetings and advise individual Committee members and other family members, as needed, with charitable programs related to the Ocean Initiative, as requested by the Foundation’s Board, Executive Director, or Director of the Environment Program.

  • Serve on Leadership Team – The IL/SPO serves on the Leadership Team for the Environment Program and is responsible for tasks such as leading retreat development and trouble-shooting problems in grantmaking systems.

  • Performs additional duties as assigned.

Professional Qualifications and Personal Attributes

The Initiative Lead/Senior Program Officer should ideally embody the following professional qualifications and personal attributes:

Professional Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated knowledge of market-based mechanisms for fisheries reform and international experience is critical.

  • Ten years of demonstrated leadership experience in ocean resource management, policy or advocacy. Experience working in both the domestic (U.S.) and international arenas is preferred. Advanced degree in a related field preferable.

  • Demonstrated experience in program development including, strategic planning, development of logic models and implementation plans built around outcome oriented performance measures. Knowledge of strategic, evidence-based philanthropy.

  • Management experience and ability to motivate and mobilize interdisciplinary teams.

  • Intellectual agility and the ability to analyze, think critically, and understand emerging issues that are directly relevant to ocean conservation and the Environment Program more broadly.

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills and the ability to work effectively with many different leaders (private sector, nonprofit, government, academic and community). • Strong grasp of the full suite of Microsoft Office tools, including word, excel, powerpoint and outlook; ability to quickly learn the foundation’s internal IT systems.

Personal Attributes:

  • Creativity and strategic vision, coupled with an ability to listen deeply to others and learn from their best ideas – a sense of inquisitiveness and intellectual curiosity.

  • Ability to inspire trust, to organize people into teams and to motivate team members to work well together.

  • Unquestionable ethics and personal integrity.

  • Comfortable serving in a family foundation and acting in accordance with values and mission of the Walton Family Foundation.

  • Willingness to undertake substantial travel.

Physical Demands

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

While performing the duties of this job, the associate is regularly required to stand, reach with hands and arms, and use hands to finger, handle or feel objects and/or controls. The employee is required to sit, walk, talk and hear; and move/carry files. The associate must occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 lbs.

Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, color, and the ability to adjust focus in order to handle extensive data collection, analysis and summary reporting. Computer work will be a part of the daily workflow and process.

Work Environment

The work environment characteristics for this job are typical for this type of job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. The noise level in the work environment is reflective of a mid-sized office.

Compensation and Benefits

The Walton Family Foundation offers an excellent benefits package and a competitive salary that is commensurate with experience.

To Apply

Interested candidates should e-mail a cover letter explaining how your skills and background fit this position and a resume to Daniel Sherman, President, Explore Company, resumes@explorecompany.com. Please refer to WFF/ILSPOOI in the subject line. No phone inquiries please.

The Walton Family Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

All correspondence will remain confidential.


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