Program Officer: 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.  We make grants in four core program areas (Higher Learning, Arts and Culture, Public Knowledge, and Humanities in Place).  The Foundation seeks an inaugural Program Officer for Humanities in Place.


Reporting directly to the Vice President for Programs and Research (VP) the Program Officer shapes and directs the Foundation's grantmaking in a variety of histories and voices into public, media, and memorial spaces, widening the range of complex public storytelling.  The Program Officer will work with historic and memorial spaces, with institutions such as didactic museums, and with conveners of public experiences that may be digital or ephemeral.  As a new program area, the Program Officer will develop a staffing plan for Humanities in Place, and serve on a team of program leaders who advise the VP and the president on broader strategic concerns.  The Program Officer will also contribute actively to various collective activities and special initiatives of the Foundation.

Position Details

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

  • Develop program specific strategies to advance the Foundation's overall strategic framework.
  • Know, research, and strengthen the tenets and actions that encourage how and where stories of our histories are communities are told.
  • Serve as an informed thought partner and problem solver with peers, reports, Foundation leadership, and grantees to shape and improve Mellon's programmatic impact.
  • Foster and strengthen personal and professional networks that enable Mellon to leverage its and its partners' best efforts to realize results.
  • Represent the Foundation in meetings with current and prospective grantee organizations, Foundation partners, and professional organizations in the field of arts and cultural heritage.
  • Track from a position of informed passion issues, needs, and opportunities in the arts overall.
  • Manage and monitor all program activity, grantmaking budgets, related special initiatives, and the grants portfolio. 
  • Invite and evaluate proposals and prepare docket recommendations. 
  • Oversee the review and reconciliation of grant narratives and financial reports.
  • Consider and treat Mellon grantees as equals, partners, and fellow agents.
  • Recruit, cultivate, mentor, and supervise a collaborative program staff that endeavors and excels together. 
  • Proactively engage with other program officers to advance aspects of the Foundation's mission, such as the enhancement of diversity in arts organizations and the effective use of digital technology in art history and cultural heritage scholarship and practice. 
  • Identify, develop, and design opportunities for leveraging efforts through effective internal and external collaboration.
  • Attend quarterly meetings of the Board of Trustees and succinctly present grant recommendations.
  • Seek to undermine through effort, teamwork, and example the perception of detached entitlement many ascribe to those working within foundations.
  • Perform additional duties as the HP program may require.

Required Skills and Experience

  • Minimum of seven to 10 years of experience in arts, humanities, and/or other relevant field.
  • Intellectual agility and an open inquiring mind supported by an advanced degree in a relevant field.
  • Understanding of processes, policy issues, and trends in the public art, commemorative or memorial spaces, with a fluency in the intersection of art, culture, humanities, and social justice.
  • Understanding of the role of philanthropy in the public, media, and memorial sector.
  • Knowledge of and active concern with major challenges to historic and memorial spaces.
  • Demonstrated ability to build a substantial program/portfolio/project from inception to maturity and able to work with ambiguity.
  • Experience in managing large and complex projects, facility with data collection and analysis, and working knowledge of and interest in applied research.
  • An experienced multitasker who requires minimal supervision and can perform within quarterly deadlines yet sustain long-term goals.
  • Outstanding interpersonal communication, team building, mentoring, and leadership skills.
  • Demonstrated fluency in public speaking and written communication. 
  • Advanced computer and office skills, and ability and willingness to use the Foundation's communication and data management systems.
  • Willingness to travel domestically and internationally.
  • Commitment to a collegial work environment and working flexibly with cool headedness and good humor in collaboration with colleagues in all of the Foundation's program areas.

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

Contact Information

Kindly reply, in confidence with your resume and cover letter via email to:  It may be possible to reply only to those who most closely match the Foundation's needs.