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Richard King Mellon Foundation
Program Associate

Explore Company PosterThe Richard King Mellon Foundation, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, seeks to recruit a Program Associate.


For 77 years the Richard King Mellon Foundation has invested in the competitive future and quality of life in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and in the protection, preservation, and restoration of America’s environmental heritage.

The Foundation was established in 1947 by Richard King Mellon (1899 – 1970), president and chairman of Mellon Bank, a conservationist and leading figure in the financial and civic life of Pennsylvania. Following his service in World War II, General Mellon had returned home to catalyze the nationally recognized Pittsburgh Renaissance, a groundbreaking public-private partnership for urban revitalization. As a banker and director of major corporations, he envisioned philanthropy as an investment and partnership to improve the city and region where he worked and lived. As a lifelong outdoorsman and sportsman, he, along with his wife, Constance Prosser Mellon, had an equally strong commitment to preserving wildlife habitat and the natural world. Mrs. Mellon served as chair of the Foundation from 1947 until her death in 1980.

With assets of approximately $3 billion and annual grants and program-related investments of $175 million, the Richard King Mellon Foundation embodies the vision of its founder – to serve primarily Southwestern Pennsylvania with a strategic interest in advancing regional economic development, conservation, economic mobility, and health and well-being, supplemented by companion programs to improve the organizational effectiveness of select nonprofit grantee partners, and a social-impact investment program, to invest in socially minded for-profit companies whose work has the potential to advance the Foundation’s philanthropic goals. The Richard King Mellon Foundation has also made a legacy commitment to the support of a broad range of strategic conservation activities nationally. Often working in partnership with government agencies and conservation organizations, the Foundation has helped to ensure the protection of more than 4.5 million acres of environmentally precious land and habitats at sites in all 50 states.

In April, the Foundation moved into new offices in the historic Auction House in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Like the adjacent Terminal building, the renovated Auction House is LEED Silver certified. It is at the center of the Strip District, which was designated a Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. By the start of the 20th Century, Pittsburgh had grown to become one of the principal auction markets for produce in the United States, and the Auction House – formally known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Fruit Auction & Sales Building – was the hub of that vibrant marketplace. It is a history that reflects Richard King Mellon’s belief in the transformative power of free enterprise, and his belief in the essential role of personal interaction in commerce. During Richard King Mellon’s time leading the former Mellon Bank, entrepreneurs frequently would come to the bank to share their business ideas with bank executives. A 1967 article in Fortune magazine relates how R.K. made himself accessible for such meetings by keeping his desk in the open, on the bank’s main floor.

The Foundation revamped its visual identity in 2023. The Foundation’s new logo, featured on a revamped website, was designed to honor the Foundation’s 75-year history, while also reflecting its contemporary philanthropic leadership. The new logo takes its inspiration from the logo of the former Mellon Bank. The new logo is accompanied by a new tagline: “Visionaries Wanted.”
In 2021, the Foundation completed a Strategic Plan to award more than $1.2 billion in grants and program-related investments from 2021-2030. It is a plan to focus the Foundation’s resources on most impactful pathways to stimulate opportunity and prosperity for the people of Southwestern Pennsylvania and to do even more to protect, steward and activate environmentally sensitive land in southwestern Pennsylvania and across the United States.

For more information about the Richard King Mellon Foundation and its strategic plan, visit their website at:  https://www.rkmf.org/.

Program Associate

The Foundation’s Conservation Program is divided into four sections: Habitat Conservation - protection and enhancement of biodiversity by conserving landscapes in the United States through the purchase of land; the use of conservation easements; and the use of other structures that ensure durable conservation outcomes; Activation - sustainable economic development in rural communities where it has made historic investments in habitat conservation; Stewardship -support the restoration and enhancement of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in high-priority landscapes; and Sustainable Communities - support improving environmental quality, sustainability and the livability of communities in Western Pennsylvania, and other geographies, where it has made historic investments.

The Program Associate will advance the Foundation’s overall conservation portfolio and continue to support the Foundation’s strategic grantmaking in ecosystems as valuable natural and capital assets. These benefits vary from place to place. But their value can be quantified — both in biophysical terms, such as how ecosystems function to support a healthy diversity of native species, how much groundwater is recharged or how clean the water is, and in economic terms, such as how trail development in both densely populated areas as well as rural environments supports ecotourism.

The Program Associate should also be an individual who is dedicated to the Foundation’s mission across its other program areas of economic development, economic mobility, health and well-being, organizational effectiveness, and social impact investments. The Program Associate will help facilitate the impact of the Foundation through interaction with public, private, and other civic leaders.

Working in a collegial manner, the Program Associate will seek to fulfill the following goals and responsibilities:

  • Work closely with the foundation staff to manage grant projects.

  • Assist in advancing new financial models for scaling conservation programs and investments through bonds, PRIs, and other innovative financial tools.

  • Conduct due diligence (i.e., review of proposals, site visits, grant reports).

  • Participate in the logistical work necessary to prepare for Board and other meetings

  • Conduct research to explore ongoing community trends.

  • Participate in local and national educational events, training, site visits, and conferences on topics relating to the Foundation’s areas of grantmaking interests.

  • Learning how the Foundation’s programs intersect with state and federal programs and policy initiatives, as well as how these intersections align with the Foundation’s grantmaking priorities.

Professional Qualifications and Personal Attributes

The Program Associate should possess the following ideal set of professional qualifications and personal attributes:

  • A deep commitment to the donor intent, mission, and values of the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

  • Personal creativity and strategic vision coupled with an ability to listen to others and learn from their best ideas – a sense of inquisitiveness and eagerness to improve.

  • A minimum of 5-7 years professional experience and a commitment to explore professional development opportunities.

  • Persuasive communicator with excellent listening, speaking, and writing skills.

  • Possessing the ability to work across the Foundation’s grant programs to support collaborative projects and shared strategic priorities.

  • Motivated to explore partnerships, convene diverse coalitions, and leverage the strategic assets of the Foundation to scale impact of the Foundation’s grantmaking.

  • Excited to work across the Foundation’s urban and rural funding geographies and to spend time in the Foundation’s offices in Pittsburgh and Ligonier.

  • Possessing a conservation ethic and a commitment to stewardship of land, water, and wildlife habitat.

  • Understanding of local, state, and federal programs that impact conservation and the environment.

  • Bachelor’s degree required or equivalent work experience with an advanced degree in a related field preferred.


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

How to Apply

Candidates should email a cover letter explaining how their background fits this position and a resume to: Daniel Sherman, President, Explore Company at resumes@explorecompany.com. Refer to Foundation/Conservation PA in the subject line. No phone inquiries please.

The Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.
All correspondence will remain confidential.


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