Job Announcement Program Officer for Central Asia and Turkey
The Program Officer for Central Asia and Turkey is an existing position that will become vacant at The Christensen Fund on December 31st 2007. The opportunity is to lead further development of a significant portfolio of grantees working in the mountain regions of West Central Asia around bio-cultural diversity issues.
The Christensen Fund (TCF)
The Christensen Fund (www.christensenfund.org), founded in 1957 and located in Palo Alto in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an independent private foundation that has long supported international work in the arts and conservation science fields and now works with the following mission:
The Christensen Fund believes in the power of biological and cultural diversity to sustain and enrich a world faced with great change and uncertainty. We focus on the "bio-cultural" - the rich but neglected adaptive interweave of people and place, culture and ecology. The Fund's mission is to buttress the efforts of people and institutions who believe in a biodiverse world infused with artistic expression and work to secure ways of life and landscapes that are beautiful, bountiful and resilient.
We pursue this mission through place-based work in regions chosen for their potential to withstand and
recover from the global erosion of diversity. We focus on backing the efforts of locally-recognized community custodians of this heritage, and their alliances with scholars, artists, advocates and others. We also fund international efforts to build global understanding of these issues. These are challenging goals, so we seek out imaginative, thoughtful and occasionally odd partners to learn with. The Fund works primarily through grant making, as well as through capacity and network building, knowledge generation, collaboration and mission-related investments.
TCF's overall grant making in 2008 is projected at US$14.5m and is anticipated to rise to US$25m per year over the next several years. The Central Asia and Turkey Program Officer is one of a growing team of currently 28 staff, including four other Program Officers responsible for other specific geographical regions of the
world (African Rift Valley; Melanesia; the Greater American Southwest; and Northern Australia), and two additional Program Officers developing our global programs. The Fund also has senior consultants located in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan. (For details of our background, programs and staff please consult the website www.christensenfund.org.)
Dr. Rafique Keshavjee, who served from 2003-2007, was the first Program Officer for The Christensen Fund in this position and during his tenure the Fund has made $6.6m grants for work in the region and another $450,000 for work on Central Asian issues in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Grantmaking Remit
The Christensen Fund took the decision to develop grant making in montane parts of Central Asia and Turkey in 2002 in recognition of their critical role in the history and therefore future of cultural and biological diversity in Eurasia, and the
lack of attention this region has generally received from international funders and institutions. Straddling the bio-geographic boundaries between Europe, South Asia and the Middle East, these mountains have long been central to the generation and dissemination of globally significant ideas, species, languages, land use systems and ways of life. Indeed this region is the origin of many of the world's fruits, crops and livestock species, has a history of profound religious and cultural pluralism and creativity, and has provided refugia and resilience during past periods of climate change. The Fund also considers this an important time to engage with the communities and leaders of Central Asia to assist them secure pluralism and social and environmental sustainability. In 2006 the Board of Trustees and senior staff of The Christensen Fund made a highly successful visit to Turkey, the
Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to meet government, civic, community, intellectual and cultural leaders and review progress with grantmaking in the field.
The Christensen Fund (TCF) has developed a strong strategy for assisting Central Asian and Turkish efforts to retain and revitalize the region's unique cultural and biological heritage. Geographically the program currently focuses on three places of particular montane diversity: Badakhshan, the Kyrgyz Tien Shan, the Turkish Caucasus; but grants are also made with a more regional focus and in other locations of important heritage and/or opportunity. To date the perspective has been to marry creatively external expertise and local wisdom to strengthen the resilience of communities and landscapes in the face of climate and other global and regional change and uncertainty. In a very diverse grant portfolio (with seventy eight grants to
date) particular attention has been given to the roles of sacred places; to re-connecting cultural expression, crafts and traditional knowledge; to valuing biological and cultural heritage as assets for local economies and livelihoods; and to revitalizing traditional agriculture and herding through landscape-based approaches. The new Program Officer is expected to build on current directions while developing new thematic and geographic initiatives. S/he will likely seek to strengthen the environmental and/or educational dimensions of the portfolio, and to deepen support for community institutions, especially farmer, herder and women's organizations.
Grantmaking at the Fund provides much opportunity for innovation and long term thinking to find ways to back dedicated people, creative thinkers, unusual institutions and social movements. With its focus support for the local stewards and
guardians of place, culture and environment, TCF makes grants to community-based organizations, local and international NGOs, universities, arts and cultural centers and groups, local governments, museums, and other institutions around the themes of Landscape, Livelihoods & Foodways; Culture and Land; and Education, Leadership & Networking. It supports adaptive processes that are anchored in local realities and visions of traditional custodians that can secure a future for the unique richness of lifeways, landscapes, foodways and biodiversity.
For this hire we seek a visionary with imagination and energy to support practical results on the ground. S/he will be passionate about diversity and environmental and indigenous issues, with a particular talent for understanding how to connect new ideas, traditional stewardship and funding institutions. S/he will be a networker and team player,
finding allies everywhere while listening to local people.
The grant budget for this grantmaking program will start at around US$2.0m in 2008 and is anticipated to grow over the next several years.
Reporting to the Executive Director, the Program Officer will be a responsible for: * Building on past years of grantmaking and the lessons learned, bring energy and vision to developing grant making strategies for the region and articulating them to potential grantees and other stakeholders; * Developing and recommending grant proposals for approval, and overseeing application declinations and grantee reporting, working in close collaboration with colleagues in Grants Administration staff; * Collaborating with other staff at The Christensen Fund and other partnering foundations and institutions to craft, finance and
implement grantmaking; * Maintaining close knowledge of the ideas, issues and institutions in their field of responsibility, and of the circumstances of communities, landscapes and biodiversity across regions of concern in Central Asia; * Partnering (as appropriate) with grantees to advance their institutional development and program achievement, and participating in their events; * Helping grantees and other relevant organizations network and learn from each other locally, across the region and internationally; * Working (including with outside reviewers) to evaluate the impact of grantees and grant making strategies and recommending program adjustments accordingly; * Sharing her/his expertise and imagination with other TCF staff in pursuit of the organization's overall programming and mission; and *
Presenting grant making strategies, grantmaking progress reviews, proposed grants, impact evaluations and other briefings to the TCF Board of Trustees.
We expect this position to be based in the San Francisco Bay Area (Palo Alto), but reasonable accommodations may be made for residence within the region. The job requires extensive travel across Central Asia and Turkey, as well as internationally.
Traits and Skills
The staff of The Christensen Fund comprises a diverse and lively-minded team who work with energy and humor to make a difference in a deeply troubled world.
The following are required characteristics for this position: * Deep knowledge of the landscapes and cultures of West Central Asia; * Deep understanding of the connections between biological and cultural diversity, and a delight in thinking in integrated ways; * Familiarity with the history and
complexities of Central Asia and the experiences of communities with handling change, as well as with the institutions, associations and research groups working to support their efforts; * An ability to travel around the region and to seek out, listen to, understand and respect applicants, grantees and other stakeholders and work in support of their passions and dreams; * Superior written and oral communication skills in English, an ability to work in Russian and/or other relevant Turkic and Persian languages; * Well-organized and self-sufficient, IT-savvy, and able to manage time and work under pressure; and * A demonstrated ability and inclination to work as part of a team.
Education and Background
Applicants should possess: * A graduate degree (or equivalent experience) in an environmental or social
science field, along with knowledge of bio-cultural diversity, stewardship, landscape, resilience, and the issues of tribal peoples. * Demonstrated commitment to the visions and struggles of Central Asians to secure their cultural integrity and environmental heritage.
The successful candidate is likely to have experience in: * Participatory research and advocacy combined with practical engagement in supporting local environmental and cultural initiatives; * Prior work involving putting ideas and creativity to work in support of maintaining diversity, revitalizing communities, ecologies and local economies; * Prior employment in a grantmaking foundation or non profit organization, or experience partnering with such foundations.
Compensation and Terms of Employment
Terms would be a three year renewable contract, with relocation
The position is available immediately and it is hoped that the new Program Officer can join in early 2008.
An excellent salary and benefits package commensurate with qualifications and experience will be provided.
Program Officers at TCF are encouraged to maintain active intellectual and creative engagement in the development of their fields of specialty, in particular as these advance the mission and strategies of the TCF and its grantee communities.
Please send a cover letter and CV to resumes@... or mail it to Mayumi Fujio Morrow, 394 University Avenue, Palo Alto CA 94301, USA, marked Confidential.
Applications must be received by September 27th, 2007.
The Christensen Fund is an equal opportunities employer
Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the
The Christensen Fund: backing the stewards of cultural and biological diversity
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