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Program Officer

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is a statewide, private, family foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life for all North Carolinians. Rooted in a set of core values such as integrity, sustainability, dignity and equity, ZSR strives to meet its mission by: 1) making grants to state-level and community-based organizations; 2) convening and connecting people to facilitate learning and spark ideas; and 3) helping to build the capacity of North Carolina’s nonprofit sector. The Foundation is based in Winston-Salem, NC.

Program Officers play a critical role as strategists and liaisons between grant partners and ZSR leadership. They partner with the executive team and the Board of Trustees in strategic decision making to help distribute approximately $20 million each year to benefit the people of North Carolina. This is an exciting opportunity for leaders who are passionate about systems change, equity and strategy to join a growing team of an established, catalytic organization.

Job description:

The Foundation is hiring four (4) Program Officers to support its mission and strategies as set forward in the Foundation’s All for NC Framework for Grantmaking and Learning. In particular, these positions will play an active role in both the Community-Based Strategy and the State-Level Systemic Change Strategy. Program Officers report to the Director of Strategy and Learning.
The Program Officer role includes developing effective relationships, partnerships and strategies that help the Foundation facilitate positive change in communities across the state and at the state level. Program Officers are the key liaisons between grant applicants and the Foundation’s Trustees. They review grant applications, meet with applicants, and provide critical analysis of applications (and the landscape in which applicants are working) for Trustees. They also build relationships with and among grantee partners, as well as with other funders. In addition, Program Officers strengthen the Foundation’s organizational capacity and evaluate the effectiveness of its programs and strategies.

While the Foundation traditionally has had Program Officers who lead issue-based grant portfolios, ZSR is growing the team of Program Officers and may reconfigure responsibilities to diminish internal silos and better serve ZSR’s partners. As a result, the Foundation seeks candidates who have expertise in one or more of the following areas:

  • Systems change strategy development and implementation

  • Collaborative, community-based processes

  • Democracy and civic engagement

  • K-12 public education

  • Early childhood education

  • Climate and energy

  • Environmental issues, especially environmental justice

The Foundation seeks team players who are attuned to power dynamics, have experience working with/alongside community-based organizations, and are skilled at strategic analysis. Knowledge of issues facing NC and its communities is a must.
The Program Officer position also requires the development of a thorough understanding of the Foundation and its priorities, operations, structure and culture. At ZSR, all staff work together to live out the Foundation's mission and core values. We are on a continuous journey to enhance our individual and institutional understandings of how to operationalize our shared commitments to racial equity, to engaging in the Foundation’s home community of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, and to being a learning organization.

The position is full-time and is based in Winston-Salem, NC.

Systems Thinker, Analyst and Strategist
Successful candidates will be visionary, values-driven, strategic, analytical, intellectually curious, and detail- and team-oriented. They will have a robust understanding of systems-change strategies and knowledge of a variety of issues impacting the well-being of North Carolinians. Individuals selected will be comfortable collecting and using data (qualitative and quantitative) to help drive decisions. They must have the ability to assimilate information quickly, think strategically, work under pressure and meet deadlines. The ideal candidates will have an eye constantly focused on the future and how to best adapt the organization to the needs facing the state and its communities. Facilitation, convening and project management skills are a plus.
Effective Communicator and Trusted Partner
Successful candidates will be adept at listening, building relationships, and understanding power dynamics and how they influence and advance change. Must have a demonstrated ability to quickly build trust and credibility with others. Exceptional writing and verbal communication skills are required. Flexibility and adaptability in dealing with a variety of assignments, people and resources are essential. Comfort with technology, especially the Microsoft Office suite, is expected.

Values-Driven Team Player
A commitment to the Foundation’s mission and values, and experience using a racial equity lens, are vital to this role. Humility, self-awareness and a willingness to self-reflect are essential. Successful candidates will keep a constant eye on how they can best contribute to a healthy organizational culture to foster an atmosphere of collaboration and partnership across the organization. A sense of humor is helpful and needed!

Experience working in philanthropy is not required but beneficial. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college is required, and an advanced degree or equivalent experience is preferred. A minimum of ten years of related work experience is desired.
Candidates must be willing to reside in or near Forsyth County. The position is based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and requires regular, extensive statewide travel.
The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work performed by the person assigned to this job. They are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and/or skills required of personnel as classified. Other duties may be assigned as needed.

The Foundation utilizes a hybrid work policy that requires staff to be in the office a certain number of days each week depending on the role of each person and the needs of the organization that week. While there is some flexibility for hybrid work, this is not a remote position and candidates should expect to regularly work from the office in Winston-Salem. Extensive statewide travel, primarily around North Carolina, is an essential part of the job.
The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is a statewide, private, family foundation, based in Winston-Salem, NC. For more than 85 years, ZSR has strived to support the efforts of North Carolinians to make our state a better place for everyone through investments totaling more than $667 million. Our All for NC Framework for Grantmaking and Learning includes three strategies: a State-Level Systemic Change Strategy; a Community-Based Strategy; and an Exploratory, Visionary Ideas Strategy. It also includes commitments to using a racial equity lens, to being a learning organization, and to participating in the life of the Foundation’s home community of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.

Our mission: 
To improve the quality of life for all North Carolinians.

Our core values: 

  • Stewardship

  • Integrity

  • Fairness and Justice

  • Dignity and Equity

  • Civic Participation

  • Excellence

  • Sustainability

  • Collaboration

ZSR seeks to be an inclusive organization and to provide accommodations as needed, depending on how proposed accommodations relate to essential job functions. Following are physical and mental requirements of the position as typically performed. Inability to meet one or more of these physical and mental requirements will not automatically disqualify a candidate or employee from the position. Upon request for a reasonable accommodation, the Foundation may be able to adjust or excuse one or more of these requirements, depending on the requirement, the essential functions to which it relates, and the proposed accommodation.

  • Operates in a professional office environment and performs primarily sedentary work.

  • Routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, printers, copiers, and phones.

  • Sits for prolonged periods at a desk. Frequent standing and walking. Occasional stooping, reaching, bending, climbing, pushing, pulling.

  • Repetitive use of fingers and hands for typing and other tasks.

  • Frequent listening, speaking, and use of visual acuity.

  • Reading and writing at an intermediate to complex level.

  • Occasional lifting up to 35 lbs.

  • Ability to use all senses to safely drive a vehicle, and ability to drive a vehicle.

Salary range is $95,000 - $135,000, commensurate with experience. Benefits include generous paid time off (PTO) and holidays, health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, long-term disability insurance, sick leave and short-term disability, parental leave and a 403(b) retirement plan. There is no waiting period for participation in the 403(b) retirement plan. Other optional benefits include a flexible benefit plan, matching gifts program, professional development, and tuition reimbursement.

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation is committed to equality and diversity. Qualified individuals are encouraged to apply regardless of socioeconomic status, gender expression, gender and sexual identity, or cultural background. The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer and will not discriminate against applicants or employees based on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, sex, disability, political affiliation, protected veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected class.

Armstrong McGuire & Associates, based in Raleigh, NC, is conducting this search in partnership with ZSR’s leadership team. To apply, click on the link to the Program Officer position profile at You will see instructions for uploading your cover letter, resume, and three professional references. Please provide all requested information to be considered. In case of any technical problems, contact

The deadline for applications is February 7, 2024.

Winston-Salem, NC
$95,000 - $135,000

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