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Program Officer, Cyber Initiative

"Never stifle a generous impulse," was a favorite saying of entrepreneur William R. Hewlett, who established the Hewlett Foundation with his wife, Flora Lamson Hewlett, and their eldest son, Walter B. Hewlett. The personal generosity of Mr. Hewlett, who passed away in 2001, made the Hewlett Foundation one of the nation's largest, with assets of more than $8.5 billion and annual grant making that is approaching $400 million.

The Foundation has ambitious goals, with programs that work on topics as varied as improving global governance, mitigating the threat of climate change, strengthening the K-12 curriculum nationally, securing better reproductive health and rights worldwide, supporting vibrant performing arts in its community, advancing the field of philanthropy, and supporting disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

The Foundation recently announced an initiative to begin building a field of neutral experts to work on public policy for cybersecurity and Internet issues. Hewlett identified three obstacles to such work at present: (1) the field is fragmented, making it difficult for relevant actors to work together; (2) there are too few independent thought leaders with the necessary political and technical knowledge to address the problem; and (3) the technical nature of the issues makes it difficult for the general public and policymakers to understand and embrace solutions.

The Cyber Initiative will seek out or create independent institutions capable of bringing together relevant actors from government, industry, academia, and other relevant sectors. It will support and nurture experts who possess a sophisticated understanding of the problem, who can and will think independently about long-term policy needs, and who are supportive of sharing information. The Initiative is agnostic about particular solutions, looking rather to generate a rich marketplace of ideas that will set the stage for a better debate. A critical element of the work will be to draw additional funding into supporting this kind of independent policy analysis.

The Hewlett Foundation take an outcome focused approach to grantmaking. This approach is includes the following expectations:

  • Grantmaking staff define program objectives, make grants, and engage in other activities with a focus on the problem or problems to be solved; this includes identifying indicators of progress and criteria for evaluating success.
  • Because solutions to serious problems can seldom be known with certainty, grantmakers must be prepared to experiment and take risks. This, too, requires setting clear goals and articulating reasonable ways to measure success as conditions and the nature of the problem permit. Willingness to acknowledge and learn from failures is important.
  • Grantees are and are treated as essential partners. We work with and learn from them. This is why such a high proportion of the Foundation's grants are in the form of general operating support.

The Foundation is seeking a Program Officer to develop and lead the Cyber Initiative.  The initial grant making budget for the program is $4 million per year for five years. The Program Officer will report to the President and is expected to develop and implement a strategy to achieve the Initiative’s goals.

Specific responsibilities include:

Initiative Strategy and Leadership

  • Lead the development, implementation, communication, evaluation, and dissemination of the Cyber Initiative’s strategy and outcomes.
  • Develop and manage the Initiative’s operations and budget.
  • Ensure robust and consistent measurement and evaluation.

Leadership in the field

  • Represent the Foundation and its work to grantees, governments, nonprofits, business, and civic leaders. Engage these actors in the work as necessary and appropriate.
  • Help develop and strengthen organizations that are central to the Initiative’s success, focusing on their goals and strategies, governance, staffing, financial health, communications and fundraising.
  • Help attract other funding to support the Initiative’s goals, whether from foundations, high net-worth individuals, government, or private industry. 

Candidate Profile

The following performance and personal competencies are required for the position:

Knowledge and Experience

The candidate must have:

  • substantive knowledge of cybersecurity and Internet policy;
  • experience working with civil society, government, and industry to build and leverage multi-stakeholder networks and working groups;
  • an understanding of the policy making process in Washington, D.C., and of innovative technology policy centers;
  • a sophisticated understanding of emerging technologies;
  • a demonstrated body of work that reflects unconventional, creative thinking;
  • a demonstrated capacity to make clear, timely decisions;
  • demonstrated expertise about how to help individuals and institutions develop comprehensive analyses of cyber problems and solutions; and
  • the ability to attract new funders and additional funds.

The candidate must be:

  • able to develop and implement a strategy in the context of rapidly evolving policy and technology;
  • a strong communicator, able to listen to and learn from key stakeholders inside and outside the Foundation and to encourage openness, innovation, and free expression;
  • able to curate new ideas, to challenge colleagues, and to reach beyond the conventional;
  • an adaptive learner who can commit to strong goals but remain flexible about tactics and course correct if and as necessary;
  • an effective collaborator, able to foster constructive and transparent dialogue among people who may, at times, be on opposing sides of sensitive issues; and
  • a strong supporter of the Foundation’s mission of achieving significant, lasting and measurable results in its areas of interest and commitment;
  • willing to pursue the Foundation’s objective in a non-ideological manner and without any separate political or philosophical agendas.



The compensation for this position has been designed to attract a person of significant accomplishment.

Physical Demands/Work Environment

The physical demands described are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

While performing the duties of this position, the employee is required to spend extended periods of time at the computer.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes a diverse pool of candidates in this search.


Jamie Hechinger
Russell Reynolds Associates
1701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC  20006-5810
Tel: +1-202-654-7800
Direct: +1-202-654-7839