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Senior Program Associate, Food Initiative

The Rockefeller Foundation is seeking a dynamic Senior Program Associate to join our Food Initiative.


Position Summary:

The Foundation is seeking a Senior Program Associate (PA) to join the Foundation’s Food team. The Senior PA will contribute to the development and execution of a multi-year initiative to advance a more nourishing and sustainable food system. In particular, the role will support the development of a strategy to influence the global protein economy and provide equitable access to high-quality, nutrient dense foods. Candidates for the position should be excited about exploring a range of solutions to sustainably meet projected increases in the demand for protein and micronutrient-rich foods. This will require working with the Food team and other Foundation staff—as well as a broader community of grantees, experts, and partners—to design the strategy and launch new work. These partnerships could take a variety of forms, ranging from traditional grant structures to strategic partnerships to innovative financing mechanisms.

In addition to supporting the Food Strategy Lead to develop the strategy, the Senior PA will be responsible for helping to manage the Food team’s portfolio of grants, supporting external partnership development, and conducting targeted analysis on key topics as needed. This role will be critical in enabling the Foundation to achieve our next phase of impact in the food and agriculture space. A successful candidate will bring experience working in the global food system and a foundational knowledge of key issues, trends and actors. To be effective in this role, the candidate must be able to advance work independently. He/she should bring a passion and energy for discovering food and agriculture solutions that can create lasting impact.

Supervision Received:

The Senior PA is based in New York, NY and will report to the Senior Associate Director & Food Strategy Lead.

Supervision Exercised:

None at this time. Possible future supervision of interns, analysts and/or contractors for the Food Initiative.

Duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

Internal Project Management & Strategy Development

Surfaces new developments, innovations and trends in the global food system by reading key reports, regularly engaging experts and attending key conferences and events

Advances internal integration and alignment with other relevant areas of work (e.g. Asia and Africa regional teams), supporting coordination with key internal stakeholders

Supports engagement with outside experts and advisors, including preparing communications and materials, facilitating discussions and managing relationships for the team

Applies strategic insight to synthesize these insights into specific inputs and actionable recommendations for the Food team’s strategy and priorities

Enables effective team-level knowledge management, which includes documenting the evolution of RF’s strategy and helping to surface and frame strategic choices

Supports the Senior Associate Director, Food in internal processes such as budget management, business plan reporting, and communications as needed

Grantmaking & Opportunity Assessment

  • Helps the Food Team assess incoming project opportunities, which includes shaping criteria to inform decision-making and evaluating incoming pipeline of individual ideas, grant proposals and opportunities
  • Supports the management of a portfolio of grants within the Food initiative, which includes understanding the capacity and effectiveness of potential grantees, designing and writing grant memos and other key documents, managing grantee relationships, and conducting site visits and other monitoring activities
  • Collaborates with grantees to maximize impact from their work; ensures methodological rigor

Research and analysis for strategy development

  • Analyzes key metrics and outcomes for initiative programs, advances a structured and quantitative approach to estimating potential impact on nutrition and sustainability, and understands and plans for risks
  • Contributes to the Foundation’s funder landscape analysis, generating insights to advance partnership development in the protein space
  • Provides technical advice on research methodologies and research outputs to team members as needed, to ensure optimal engagement with grantees and individual experts
  • Serves as a programmatic focal point for key geographies (e.g. South and Southeast Asia), ensuring that strategy development reflects the existing, context-specific evidence base and that the Foundation leverages emerging opportunities 

Required Competencies:

Communication: Excellent interpersonal abilities; excellent listening skills; writing and verbal skills; assertiveness in presenting ideas; able to present ideas to a range of stakeholders in a clear and compelling way

Decision-Making: Ability to evaluate risks and opportunities; uses analytical and problem-solving skills; takes initiative and drives for results; able to prioritize

Execution: Strong project management skills; meets deadlines; sense of urgency and responsibility; ability to multi-task and work under pressure; detail oriented

Partnership and Relationship Building: Strong professional representation of the Foundation, intercultural knowledge and appreciation, strategic partnership building

Leadership: Thinks innovatively and creatively; displays negotiation skills; demonstrates accountability

Strategic Ability: Anticipates future opportunities and consequences, demonstrates innovative approach to work, ability to organize chaos into coherent plan

Integration: Accesses functional and substantive expertise organizationally; demonstrates inclusiveness, collaboration

Education, Training and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s Degree required, Master’s Degree in relevant discipline (Food & Agriculture, Environmental Science, International Affairs / Development, Nutrition) preferred
  • 5+ years relevant work experience on issues of food, agriculture, nutrition and/or the environment, preferably with project experience in both for-profit and non-profit environments
  •  Experience working in a range of teams and managing complex stakeholder environments in a dynamic context
  • Demonstrated ability to build strategic partnerships in the food and agriculture sector, including through grant making, thought partnership, and programmatic collaboration
  •  Experience delivering high-quality work in a fast-paced environment
  • Experience working in global organizations, with direct field experience in the food, agriculture, and/or sustainable development field
  • Knowledge of common sustainability frameworks; food science and/or food and agriculture tech and innovation are a plus
  • Experience working with a diverse set of experts and leaders across various disciplines (e.g., business, science, policy)
  • Proficiency in basic office software (MS Office, etc.); experience preparing detailed presentations, whilst adhering to strict deadlines
  • High proficiency to work, communicate, and write in English is required, with fluency in other languages an asset
  • Ability to travel to represent the Foundation at conferences, conduct site visits, and organize field consultations

The Rockefeller Foundation is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunity and to compliance with all federal, state, and local laws concerning employment discrimination, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. To this end, the Foundation ensures equal opportunity to all employees and applicants regardless of race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, national origin or ancestry, citizenship, lawful alien status, physical, mental, and medical disability, veteran status or liability for service in the United States Armed Forces.


The Rockefeller Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer

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