Program Associate: Job Description

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ("Foundation") believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and we believe that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom to be found there.  Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.  It makes grants in four core program areas (Higher Learning, Arts and Culture, Public Knowledge, and Humanities in Place) and through a small number of cross-cutting Presidential Initiatives.  The Foundation seeks a Program Associate in the Office of the President to support the work of the Foundation's Monuments Project.

Position Description

In 2020, the Mellon Foundation launched The Monuments Project, a five-year, $250 million initiative to reshape the United States' commemorative landscape by supporting public projects that more completely and accurately represent the multiplicity and complexity of American stories.  The Monuments Project builds on the Foundation's efforts to express, elevate, and preserve the stories of those who have often been denied historical recognition, and explores how we might foster a more complete telling of who we are as a nation.

Reporting to the Program Advisor & Chief of Staff (PACOS) and partnering closely with the President's Office team and the Program Officer for Humanities in Place, the Program Associate will participate in all aspects of the Monuments Project grantmaking and strategy.  Among other responsibilities, the Program Associate will screen and evaluate grant inquiries and concept notes, develop relationships with potential grantees and engage with them in meetings and in written correspondence, help to develop proposal documents, draft internal grant memoranda and other documents, and function as grantees' primary points of contact for post-award management.  The Program Associate will also work closely with other Monuments Project staff to ensure the strategic alignment of all work within the Project, track Project spending, and assess progress against strategic goals as the Project proceeds.

The successful candidate will bring direct experience from the fields of commemoration, public history, public art and design, or similar humanities-based, publicly oriented, justice-focused work.  The candidate will be curious, thoughtful, highly motivated, energetic, collaborative, and congenial, with well-developed written and oral communication skills, top-notch organizational capacity, an ability to work independently and exercise careful discretion.  This position includes independent work on on-going grantmaking activities, episodic or long-term research projects, collaborative work with colleagues around the Foundation, and administrative work in support of grantmaking out of the President's Office.

The position requires continuous orientation to programmatic and budgetary detail, flexibility, cool-headedness, effective time-management, precision, patience, efficiency, good humor, and discretion; and the ability to conceptualize and strategize at the programmatic level.  We expect the successful candidate will be a collegial, understanding, and generous person in all grantee relations so that stakeholders can feel like partners in a common enterprise.


Responsibilities may include, but will not be limited to the following:

  • Assist in the development, implementation, and tracking of strategic goals for the Project
  • Provide research support for the Project
  • Review grant inquiries to the Monuments Project; help triage and make initial assessments of  them
  • Conduct outreach to develop inquiries of interest
  • Actively participate in the formulation of new proposals for funding, including advising grantees in preparation and revision of the narrative and financial components of proposals
  • Anticipate challenges and problem-solve in collaboration with other Foundation staff and in conversation with the PACOS and Program Officer for Humanities in Place, including around questions of grant structure, legal and financial risk, etc.
  • Assist with the preparation of materials for grants to be recommended to the Foundation's Board of Trustees
  • Serve as a resource for grantees and the primary point person for post-award management
  • Review grant reports and requests for modifications, extensions, and transfers
  • Travel for site visits with potential or current grantees
  • Represent the Foundation in external settings, including conferences, public meetings, and other engagements as assigned
  • Partner with Communications on public-facing materials about the Monuments Project and its grantees
  • Assist with planning and coordination of relevant meetings (including collecting background or briefing materials) as directed
  • Collaborate with staff in other program areas and departments as required


The ideal candidate would hold a bachelor's degree; an advanced degree in a humanities discipline,
social science, law, or related fields or equivalent field experience is preferred.  Applicants should also

  • A strong record of program administration/management from a Monuments Project-related field
  • Demonstrated knowledge of issues relating to public history/memory, commemoration and commemorative justice, memory work
  • An orientation toward and commitment to social justice and cultural equity
  • Familiarity with practicalities relating to public capital projects
  • Outstanding interpersonal, written, and oral communication skills
  • Ability to anticipate and solve problems proactively; willingness to learn from mistakes.
  • Strong administrative, organizational, time, and work-flow management skills
  • Ability to work with minimal direct supervision and manage multiple projects, while being a committed team player
  • Strong ability to work both collaboratively and independently
  • Ability to read and understand organizational budgets
  • Willingness to travel for the program as needed
  • Flexibility, adaptability, and curiosity
  • A high degree of competency in the MS Office suite, particularly Excel, PowerPoint, and Word
  • Commitment to a collegial work environment and to collaboration with colleagues in all the Foundation's program areas
  • Deep and longstanding connection to communities whose stories are undertold in the US commemorative landscape and whose histories the Monuments Project seeks to make more visible

The Foundation is an equal opportunity employer that offers a competitive salary, outstanding benefits, and excellent working conditions.

Contact Information

Candidates should apply by submitting a thoughtful cover letter describing fit for the position together with a resume to:  Program Associate.  We will consider each response carefully, but will only contact those individuals whose candidacies we seek to pursue.