Chicago Program Officer – Conservation | Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

Chicago Program Officer – Conservation
Chicago, IL
Organization Name: 
Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, a 66-year-old family foundation, awards approximately
$7 million a year in grants to support land conservation, the arts, and museum collections in the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Its dynamic, multi-layered approach includes communications, convening, coaching, collaboration, and research in addition to grantmaking. In all of its work, the Foundation chooses strategies and tactics that pursue specific and measurable outcomes.

Already a recognized leader in landscape-scale conservation philanthropy, going forward the Foundation will broaden its efforts in the areas of ecosystems services and climate resilience, expand its communications and policy advocacy work, deepen its partnerships with grantees, and in other ways work for even greater impact.

The Foundation seeks a program officer to lead this work in the greater Chicago region as well as to share in someprojectworkintheLowcountry. ThepositionisbasedinChicago,requiressometravel,andreportstothe executive director.


  • With the executive director and other staff, refine current and develop new grantmaking strategies to advance
  • the Foundation’s land conservation goals; shape new and expanded strategic approaches to supporting and fostering land conservation that make full use of the Foundation’s ability to convene, influence, partner, communicate, and advocate in order to augment and amplify its conservation grantmaking.

  • Seek out and respond to opportunities for grantmaking and to foster partnerships, share information and learning, and advocate for land conservation, including proactively engaging with prospective grantees, community leaders, other foundations, and public officials. To that end, play a key role in shaping and carrying out a range of communications activities.

  • Participate in, and where appropriate, lead joint efforts and partnerships.

  • Evaluate and recommend action on funding requests; meet frequently with grantees and prospective grantees.

    Collaborate with staff on all conservation grant recommendations across both regions.

  • Work cooperatively with other staff to support all facets of the Foundation’s operations.


  • A minimum of 15 years’ experience in land conservation or a related environmental field, including planning, strategy and policy development, advocacy, and project management.

  • A successful track record of working both independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team. Experience in the not-for-profit or public sector strongly preferred.

  • Strong networking and partnership-building skills and experience. Successful experience engaging with diverse constituencies.

  • Excellent communication, evaluation, and analytic skills; proven ability to work with technical and financial information. Effectiveness as a convener and collaborator. Advanced degree in a relevant field preferred.

Personal Qualities 

The successful candidate will be entrepreneurial, team-oriented, creative, flexible, and intellectually curious, with the ability to move smoothly from big-picture thinking to practical application. He or she will have excellent judgment, a strong appreciation for the contexts in which the Foundation advances its mission, a broad set of interests and experience, and a strong sense of the urgency of the Foundation’s mission.


Those interested in this position may call for additional information or e-mail a cover letter and résumé to:, to the attention of Susan Himmelfarb. A selection will be made in April, 2019.

Further information about the Foundation is at

Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation is an equal opportunity employer with a supportive work environment. It respects and appreciates diversity in its many forms.