The Program Officer will manage the Higher Education in Prison (HEP) program which currently consists of 26 grantees. The HEP program centers around the goal of increasing access to and improving the delivery of credit-bearing college courses in prison as well as supporting students in successfully transitioning from college in prison to continuing their education. LGF’s intention is to affirm the humanity, capacity, and potential of currently incarcerated people while playing a role in reversing the trend of mass incarceration. Geographically, the HEP program focuses across the South.
The Program Officer will engage current grantees, identify new grantees, and support the learning and networking of higher education programs and connected stakeholders in the South. They will also play a critical role in working with other funders, both in the South and nationally, to increase support for higher education in prison programs in the South.
Currently a staff of four, LGF plans to grow to six staff members in the next two years. The Program Officer will be supervised by the Executive Director and will preferably work out of LGF’s office in Durham.
Grantee Management and Engagement:
The Program Officer will build robust relationships with current and potential grantee partners, and promote trust-based engagement. Collaborating and learning with grantees, the Program Officer will review opportunities, challenges and advances as well as encourage mutual learning and strategic partnerships. Specifically, the Program Officer will manage and coordinate the Higher Education in Prison (HEP) grants portfolio, including: planning for long-term grants; identifying and working with prospective grantees to develop proposals for grant recommendations; undertaking periodic reviews of grantee progress; and conducting site visits. The Program Officer will keep the LGF staff and board up to date on critical information regarding current grantees.
Philanthropic Networking and Organizing:
Consistent with LGF’s strategy of growing progressive philanthropy in the South, the Program Officer will engage and build upon LGF’s network of philanthropic peers interested in higher education in prison issues in the South. The Program Officer will provide leadership wherever appropriate to support initiatives and networks that increase philanthropic support of higher education in prison in the South.
The Program Officer will be LGF’s in-house expert on higher education in prison and be expected to continually scan the field and keep abreast of the changing political climate related to criminal justice reform and higher education in prison, specifically in the South. The Program Officer will share key findings, updates and learnings both internally and externally, in alignment with LGF’s communications strategy.
Organizational Learning and Development:
The Program Officer will contribute to the thinking and work of the foundation overall and engage in team building and team effectiveness. LGF strives to be a learning organization, and the Program Officer will in engage learning and evaluation activities to guide the evolution of the foundation’s work. The Program Officer will help contribute to and build a learning, inspiring, fun and thriving organizational culture with LGF.
Ideal Candidate Qualifications
At least three years of experience in the philanthropic sector and/or grant making (volunteer or professional)
At least five years of successful employment within a social change oriented nonprofit and/or a higher education in prison program at a programmatic or management level
Lived experience with those who have been impacted by the criminal justice system and ideally an understanding of the needs and complexities of students who are incarcerated in the South
Ability and willingness to travel 40-50% of the time, primarily in the Southeast, and also nationally for site visits and conferences
Availability for limited weekend work at relevant conferences and local board meetings
Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree
Preferably works from LGF’s office in Durham
Commitment to Social Justice
Deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and a sophisticated understanding of the systemic, structural, and historical challenges that impact those who have been or are involved in the criminal justice system
Experience applying a racial equity and social justice lens to addressing complex problems
Familiarity and experience working with social justice concepts and frameworks such as racial equity, gender analyses, economic justice, intersectionality, and implicit and structural bias
Understanding of systems of oppression, and of the power dynamics inherent in the philanthropic and non-profit sectors, and commitment to addressing those
Cultural Fit and Work Style
Ability to internalize the vision and values of LGF and to express and represent these values in carrying forward the foundation’s mission
Experience and comfort working in a small organization where the board is actively involved and connected with the staff
Ability to be a productive member of a community of people at work, respecting differences while working toward shared goals, being comfortable with periods of ambiguity, and constructively participating in organizational learning and development
Openness to discovery, feedback, and continuous learning
Qualities of humility, capacity for self-reflection, and a sense of humor
Ability to work well independently and in teams
Action-oriented and self-starter who can take initiative to enact the vision and priorities articulated by the board
Collaborative Relationship Builder
Excellent cross-cultural relationship-building skills; comfort moving between higher education institutions, departments of corrections, local organizations and communities, board rooms, professional conferences, and grassroots events
A track record of working collaboratively with a variety of stakeholders, including those with lived experience, to align in pursuit of common goals
Comfort taking the lead and possessing the maturity to create room for others
Ability to form positive, authentic relationships with potential and current grantees
Strong analytic skills, and the ability to synthesize and frame information to support dialogue on complex issues
Exceptional communications skills: active listening, cogent and polished writing, constructive yet humble speaking, and comfort with public speaking and presentation to diverse audiences and in diverse contexts
About Laughing Gull Foundation (LGF)
The Laughing Gull Foundation (LGF) is a progressive family foundation rooted in the US South. The foundation envisions healthy and sustainable communities where everyone can be their whole selves and live in balance with the earth. LGF works to create a world in which everyone is supported, included, embraced, and protected, especially those who have been pushed to the margins of our human family. LGF’s mission is to honor our family’s evolving identity while proactively addressing broken systems that have created inequality and harmed our planet. The foundation leverages its resources to transform systems, institutions and relationships for the benefit of people and the environment. LGF works towards its mission through grant making, funder organizing and impact investing, in support of three priorities: LGBTQ equality, higher education in prison, and environmental justice. In the service of its commitment to the redistribution of wealth, LGF plans to spend out its assets over the next 17 years. LGF’s strategic goals for its tenure include progress on the priority issues it supports, growth of progressive philanthropy in the US South, and sustenance of a vibrant learning community.