Senior Program Officer, Humanitarian Action

Programs Westlake Village, California


Position at Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Who we are:

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help individuals throughout the world living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage. The Foundation invests in 11 program areas, including providing access to safe water, supporting transition age foster youth, ending chronic homelessness, hospitality workforce development, disaster relief and recovery, helping young children affected by HIV and AIDS, and supporting the work of Catholic sisters. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.7 billion in grants, distributing $112.5 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2018. The Foundation’s current assets are approximately $2.8 billion. For more information, please visit

Our Culture:

Our employees are inspired by the Foundation’s mission and are committed to support our program areas in a thoughtful and effective way. Everyone is expected to cultivate the work environment in a way that contributes to respectful, open, and engaging dialogue and connection that support meaningful innovation, learning, progress and outcomes.  

Our Benefits:

We value the health and well-being of our employees and offer comprehensive and generous health care coverage options including fitness benefits, disability coverage, paid holidays, paid time off, paid parental leave, flexible work schedules and technology benefits. Professional learning and development are supported through educational assistance and participation in professional conferences and seminars. To encourage charitable giving, the Foundation triple-matches employee gifts to qualified non-profit organizations.

Here's what you'd get to do:

The Senior Program Officer serves as the portfolio manager for one of the Foundation’s seven main program areas and is a critical hire for the Foundation’s continued emphasis on humanitarian action as a strategic priority. This role will advance the Foundation’s work to improve the lives of individuals living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage, specifically by making a significant difference in refugees’ livelihoods through direct services and by strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus.

The Senior Program Officer will provide informed leadership to the strategic development and day-to-day management of the Humanitarian Action portfolio. The Senior Program Officer will have a broad knowledge of the issues facing refugees and displaced populations, as well as the ways in which municipal actions, local organizations, and economic development work together to maximize both immediate and long-term impact. The SPO must be a creative and analytic thinker and attentive to the ways in which Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and refugee assistance complement and enhance one another. The SPO presently manages a team of two, however, they will be expected to grow and further develop their team.

Reporting to the Vice President of Strategy and Programs, the Senior Program Officer will have the opportunity to work with various leaders across the Foundation to expand the reach and maximize impact. Recognizing and supporting humanitarian efforts has been a longstanding area of support for the Foundation as evidenced by the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, a $2 million award presented to a nonprofit organization and presently the world’s largest annual humanitarian award. The Senior Program Officer will not only have the unique opportunity to build on the Foundation’s strong reputation in this space, but to identify synergies and further develop capacity with other programs and initiatives including Catholic Sisters, Foster Youth, Homelessness, Hospitality Workforce Development, Safe Water, and Young Children Affected by HIV and AIDS.

Responsibilities and Tasks

Strategic Initiative Planning and Implementation:

  • Provides strategic leadership and develops a long-term vision for the Humanitarian Action strategic initiative
  • Contributes to development of long-term vision and strategic planning to achieve significant impact of humanitarian action, bringing in innovation, best practices and learning; especially on humanitarian action responses, he intersection of urban displacement and livelihoods, and disaster management.
  • Serves as leader for the strategic initiative at Board meetings, program and grantmaking conferences, and other stakeholder meetings
  • Works collaboratively with Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) partner to track progress toward initiative goals and provide guidance and input into MEL strategy. This includes efforts to share learnings and co-organize annual grantee convenings.
  • Supports the Vice President, Strategic Programs in advancing the mission of the Foundation through its programmatic work
  • Supports implementation of program team goals

Grantmaking and Grantee Relations:

  • Oversees the development and management of a multi-year, large-scale strategic initiative
  • Identifies potential grantees and projects
  • Investigates and evaluates grant proposals and presents recommended proposals for funding at Board meetings
  • Monitors and evaluates strategic initiatives and grantee performance
  • Conducts site visits
  • Conducts due diligence to assess grantee work
  • Provides advice/area expertise assistance to and maintains an open, ongoing relationship with grantees
  • Nurtures partnerships among grantees and other stakeholders
  • Participates in meetings with the VP, SP to review grant recommendations, provide updates on grantee progress, determine technical assistance needs of grantees, plan convening, evaluation and communications activities, and share and reflect on experiences in the field and related program activity

Issues and Trend Analysis:

  • Remains informed of current research, policy, activities, and trends in the issues related to the humanitarian and emergency response sectors
  • Directs and guides additional research and development specific to the Humanitarian Action strategic portfolio
  • Responds effectively to the broader knowledge in the filed by aligning grantmaking with emerging learning and opportunities in the field
  • Pursues and promotes learning throughout the field

Thought Leader and Coalition Building:

  • Engages and develops external relations to strengthen strategic coalition-building within the humanitarian sector
  • Convenes meetings of key government, philanthropic, and nonprofit leaders to mobilize coordinated efforts and funding in strategic initiatives
  • Develops collaborative relationships within philanthropy by serving on affinity groups, initiating philanthropic partnerships, and leading educational opportunities for other foundations on topics related to the Humanitarian Action strategic area
  • Represents the Foundation to various constituencies through verbal and written communications (annual reports, brochures, correspondence) and through participating in outside conferences and meetings
  • Works with other leaders in the field to strengthen and further build the field

Management and Program Team Relations:

  • Builds collaborative and positive working relationships and effective communication channels with team members and staff
  • Effectively manages direct reports and provides mentorship in developing professionally
  • Builds out a team structure to support the work of the new strategic initiative
  • Participates in team meetings to review grant recommendations, provide updates on grantee progress, determine technical assistance needs of grantees, plan convening, evaluation and communications activities, and share and reflect on experiences in the field and related program activity.


  • Works with communications team to develop communication strategy
  • Writes blogs/articles for the website and supervises website content and updates


Education / Training


  • Graduate degree in public policy, social welfare, or a related field.

Experience/Technical Skills


  • A minimum of ten (10) years of senior management experience in the humanitarian and development field with international organizations, including substantial experience working in developing countries.
  • Demonstrated experience leading complex emergency responses and long-term development programs and working for international NGOs or other humanitarian organizations and direct experience working at a local organization and translating
  • Demonstrated networking with major humanitarian actors and the humanitarian and development architecture, including governments, NGOs and other stakeholders.
  • Knowledgeable of humanitarian and emergency response policy at global, federal, state and local levels; leadership experience within the sector and and experience working at the nexus of humanitarian and development work
  • Experience, or relevant experience, in strategic planning and implementation and in coordinating public/private efforts for long-term, systemic social impact and experience in growing and managing a team.
  • Advanced written/oral communication, presentation and public speaking skills.
  • Ability to develop effective and professional relationships with internal and external colleagues and partners.
  • Political acumen to coordinate, facilitate and negotiate at all levels across large and complex confederation of stakeholders.
  • Policy, analysis, advocacy and representation skills.
  • Strong strategic, conceptual and critical thinking abilities; capacity to navigate through ambiguity.
  • Strong organizational, analytical, and time management skills with high attention to priority and detail.
  • Strong managerial skills and ability to professionally develop team members.
  • A practical understanding of philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.


  • Fluency in English required and a second major language skill is desired.


  • Strategic Mindset
  • Manages Ambiguity
  • Collaborates
  • Directs Work
  • Manages Complexity
  • Communicates Effectively

In addition to the role specific competencies listed above, our Core Competencies are just as important as they identify the key values and strengths shared by everyone at the Foundation, regardless of the job they perform:  

Drives Vision and Purpose, Collaborates, Instills Trust, Global Perspective and Strategic Mindset

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and we seek candidates from all backgrounds and experiences.