Part-Time Program Assistant, Sustainable Environments

The Surdna Foundation, a New York City-based family foundation, seeks a part-time Program Assistant for its Sustainable Environments Program. Founded by John E. Andrus in 1917, the Surdna Foundation has endowment assets of over $900 million and an overall annual grantmaking/operations budget of $45 million. Surdna works across three grantmaking areas: Sustainable Environments, Inclusive Economies and Thriving Cultures. Across its programs, the Foundation aims to foster just and sustainable communities in the United States.

Overview and Responsibilities:

The Sustainable Environments Program Assistant plays a key role in managing the day-to-day grantmaking activities of a four-person team composed of the Program Director, two Program Officers, and the Program Assistant. The position combines program operations and administrative responsibilities with active engagement in the Sustainable Environments grantmaking and portfolio development. Additionally, the incoming Program Assistant will contribute to program strategy driven by a commitment to racial equity and social justice.

In terms of substantive program pursuits, the Program Assistant will have the opportunity to learn and work across the Sustainable Environment’s strategy. These opportunities and responsibilities (depending on experience) will range from program operations to relationship building activities with the field.

The Program Assistant’s general functions on the operational and administrative front include the following activities: actively tracking and managing grant proposals, reports and related materials through Surdna’s grants management database system; assembling and proofing grant dockets; supporting the management of the program budget; providing technical support and counseling to grantees related to submission processes; managing contractors and consultants; scheduling and managing meetings; and calls and travel for Sustainable Environments Program staff.

In addition, the Program Assistant helps to ensure strong connections with Surdna’s other programs (Inclusive Economies and Thriving Cultures), foundation-wide initiatives, and outside partners. Related tasks include: supporting the Program Director and Program Officers in preparing for cross-program meetings, internal foundation meetings, board meetings, etc.; tracking joint grantmaking between and among program areas; and coordinating activities and initiatives related to funder affinity groups, program-led convenings, etc. The Sustainable Environments Program Assistant is also part of a cohort at Surdna whose members provide support on foundation-wide projects and occasionally have the opportunity to take the lead on program projects. Overall this position offers exceptional access to the environmental justice and social justice community and to the philanthropy field as a whole.

The ideal candidate is a systems thinker with a commitment to social justice and equity. While there is no requirement to commit to any one strategy of our environmental work, the most fitting candidate will have a demonstrated interest in holding social justice values at the center of an analysis on environmental justice and public investment into communities most affected by inequitable systems. The ideal candidate is able to manage several tasks simultaneously, and has the ability to gather information, draw conclusions, and make recommendations regarding complex problems and issues. The candidate should also possess a high level of initiative, and be comfortable working independently, as well as with peers and colleagues.


  • High school degree/equivalent required. Interest in the nonprofit sector, and experience working on issues of environmental and climate justice and/or land use is highly preferred.
  • An understanding and commitment to support social justice and build inclusive practices to effect structural change
  • Minimum of 4 years work experience, with previous office/administrative experience required
  • Previous nonprofit or foundation experience is a plus
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook
  • Strong project management, analytical thinking, writing and speaking skills
  • A strong team-player, with a diplomatic, professional manner, and a sense of humor, who also can work independently
  • Commitment to applying skills broadly within Surdna in support of the Foundation’s mission.

Click here to apply.

Surdna Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQIA+ applicants.