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Program Officer, Oceans

Builders Initiative/Builders Vision
Builders Initiative/Builders Vision
Job Functions:
Product, Sales & Business Development, Operations, Data Science
Employment Types:
Boston, MA, USA; Chicago, IL, USA; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Diego, CA, USA
Posted on:

About the Builders

Vision Builders Vision (BV) is an impact platform dedicated to promoting a humane and healthy planet.

Established by Lukas and Samantha Walton, Builders Vision includes a range of philanthropic and impact investing capabilities to support, seed and scale sustainable agriculture, food systems, renewable energy, ocean health, animal welfare and the arts. Today it encompasses a family foundation (Builders Initiative), a venture and growth equity group (S2G Ventures) and an asset management team (Builders Asset Management). BV is guided collectively by the belief that markets can and should benefit society and the environment and that the most successful businesses in the future will be those that are purpose-driven.


Diversity, equity, inclusion and justice are at the core of its mission to shift markets and minds for good. BV believes the change it wants to see toward a humane and healthy planet starts with BV. BV understands that diversity, equity, inclusion and justice are long-term commitments, and while BV aspires to be a catalyst for change, the journey starts from within. BV is committed to learning from others and doing the work to become a more diverse, equitable, inclusive and just organization, and will seek to promote those same values in the world.

Builders Initiative (BI) is the philanthropic arm of Builders Vision. Collectively Builders Initiative is focused on four core issue areas: •A more humane and healthy food system, with a focus on sustainable agriculture and food production, the welfare of farmed animals and equitable access to healthy food in Chicago. •Sustainably managed and healthy ocean ecosystems, with a focus on scalable innovations in fisheries management, restorative aquaculture to provide ecosystem benefits and healthy seafood and resilience strategies to protect ocean habitats against climate change. •Renewable energy for all, with a focus on accelerating the pace to 80% renewable penetration and planting seeds for the remaining 20%. •A flourishing, democratized arts sector, with a focus on enabling artists to enhance communities through visual arts and storytelling and to lead communities to connect in Chicago and the Rural Midwest.

The BI mission is to shift markets and minds for good. BI does this by applying a range of tools including grant-making, policy advocacy, strategic communications, impact investing and direct investing to play three key roles: •Demonstrating economic viability: Showing that sustainable goods and services can be profitable for producers and accessible for consumers. •Building systems: Investing in the “missing pieces” for market development. •Challenging mental models: Engaging in targeted activities that create new knowledge, change cultural norms and make the case for change. Given this variety of tools and roles, BI’s partners include non-profits, researchers, alliances, governments, peer investors and donors, companies, makers and entrepreneurs committed to a better future. In 2022, BI is on track to grant more than $140M in total, with $35M focused on Oceans. In addition, it expects to deploy substantially more resources to mission-related investments over the coming years.

About BI's Oceans Ecosystem Initiative

The Oceans Initiative at BI is focused on developing sustainably managed and resilient ocean and coastal ecosystems.

The Oceans Program at BI works across 4 thematic strategies, while also investing in system building for each of the core thematic strategies that focus its work: • Scaling innovations in fisheries management. • Restorative aquaculture to provide both a sustainable food source and ecosystem service benefits. • Climate resilience for ocean and coastal habitats and ecosystems. • Catalyzing market solutions to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans.

Core components of the work on oceans include policy initiatives, research and science and demonstration projects, as well as core strategies to shift minds and markets for good. This includes efforts to catalyze markets for oceans solutions in climate, seafood, technology innovation and ecosystem services on the markets side. On the shifting minds side of the Foundation’s work, this will include behavior change work, workforce and talent development and academic and public-facing partnerships.

An overarching model for BI’s work in Oceans is to stack interventions in key regions to promote deep, systemic change at scale that will be durable over time. Specifically, BI is focusing on the following places: Maine, San Diego, Pacific Northwest (Washington and Oregon states), Southern Baja (Mexico) and the Bahamas. 5 Program Officer, Oceans, Builders Initiative

The Opportunity

Reporting to the Senior Program Officer, Oceans, the Program Officer will drive the continued development and implementation of BI’s Oceans strategy during an exciting growth period for the program and the foundation.

This is an opportunity to work at an early-stage private foundation with a deep commitment to oceans and sustainable seafood and significant resources. The Program Officer will have the autonomy to lead strategy areas and grantmaking within a lean team spearheading impact investing work in the Oceans space.

Key Responsibilities for the Program Officer, Oceans include: • Grant-making across core strategy areas (fisheries, aquaculture, climate resilience) including soliciting grant proposals, reviewing programs, developing internal grant documents and monitoring progress of grants. • Developing and supporting place-based grant-making programs in 2-4 core geographies for the foundation that will be developed over the coming months and years. • Engage with academics, NGOs and industry partners at a regional and national level to hone strategy and solicit grant proposals. • Conduct site visits to ongoing or potential project sites, attend public meetings and represent the foundation at conferences and other events. The Program Officer will be asked to travel frequently as needed. • Identify potential new partnerships and opportunities, including identifying other funding partners to engage each geographic focus. • Provide information and assistance as needed to foundation team and board members. • Work with program staff across the office to implement and refine BI’s learning and evaluation program for Oceans. • Support internal and external communications efforts in the office to build awareness for our programs and partners. 6 Program Officer, Oceans, Builders Initiative

Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills and characteristics:

A STRATEGIC THINKER AND COLLABORATIVE LEADER This role requires self-direction and decisiveness combined with flexibility, humble leadership and a capacity to give and receive feedback graciously. The Program Officer will be an individual with superior interpersonal skills, a respectful attitude for the work of grantees and a demonstrated ability to work effectively as part of a team. A strong asset for this role will be the ability to be extremely organized and detailfocused. This leader will bring proven skills in time management, written communication skills and intellectual agility.

EXPERIENCE IN, AND PASSION FOR, MARINE CONSERVATION This position calls for an understanding of issues related to ocean conservation, fisheries management and policy, and/or marine/ climate issues and aquaculture. Ideally, this person will bring innovative thinking around the future of marine conservation. The Program Officer should bring demonstrated experience in building and sustaining relationships with diverse stakeholders in the environmental sector and ideally, a deep knowledge of key issues in ocean conservation.

GRANTMAKING AND FOUNDATION EXPERTISE The ideal leader will have conservation experience grounded in grantmaking or grant proposal development. It will be important for this Program Officer to have the ability to analyze, think critically and understand emerging issues that are directly relevant to programmatic funding areas. They should bring strong research, analytic and problem-solving skills and will seek to implement creative and strategic grantmaking to enhance the impact of BI’s tools.

Builders Initiative is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to building and maintaining a culturally diverse workplace. BI encourages women, minorities, individuals with disabilities and veterans to apply. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, veteran status, or any other status protected by the laws or regulations in the locations where they operate.


Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Alison Ranney, Corina Benitz and Alison Salisbury are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express interest in this role please email bioceans@koyapartners.com. All nominations, inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential. Koya Partners is committed to providing an accessible search process for all, including individuals living with disabilities. If you need assistance expressing interest online or any aspect of the recruitment process, please email bioceans@koyapartners.com.

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