The California Wellness Foundation


Los Angeles or Oakland, California

Date Posted

January 5, 2023

Job Category

The California Wellness Foundation seeks a highly strategic, collaborative, adaptable, and action-oriented leader as Chief of Staff (CoS) to support the leadership of Lori Cox, the Vice President of Programs (VPP), in the Grants Program Department. This is an exciting time to join the team, as the VPP implements her vision entering her second year leading the department, and a new Cal Wellness long-term strategy is on the horizon. The CoS will serve as deputy to the VPP in managing the department, and support and oversee a wide range of programs related activities including strategy, grantmaking, staffing, learning, special projects, and program operations. The CoS will also support grant making from the VPP’s office and ensure the prioritization of critical issues for the VPP to help facilitate timely decision-making. The CoS may also provide leadership within one or more of the Advancing Wellness (AW) portfolios – including grantmaking, strategy, and learning – with a focus on areas outside of the main portfolios. This position will be the ultimate high-level utility player.

The CoS will serve as a senior leader and creative thought partner to the VPP bringing and building upon innovative ideas to enhance processes, systems, relationships, and outcomes. As the eyes and ears of the VPP, the CoS will leverage exceptional interpersonal and communication skills to develop and maintain strong relationships within the department and across the Foundation, breaking down silos and building bridges to conceive of and/or implement complex initiatives; build internal capacity; and step in, when needed, as a representative of the VPP, Grants Program Department, and Foundation. The ideal candidate will possess deep understanding of and direct experience in grant making programs; be passionate about the Foundation’s mission, vision and values; and enjoy hands-on leadership, coaching, and execution as part of a sizeable, passionate team. The CoS will supervisor one or more staff, and will have leadership presence, management experience, and a passion for developing teams and individuals.


Leadership & Management

  • Serve as back-up to the VPP.
  • Support the VPP with annual strategic planning, budgeting, grant allocation pipeline management, contract management for outside consultants, key performance metric analysis and tracking, and all other operational aspects of the department.
  • Serve as a creative and dependable problem solver and thought partner to the VPP.
  • Supervise a Senior Program Officer and other program staff as assigned.
  • Lead strategy and learning for grantmaking that falls outside of the AW portfolios, or for portfolios that do not have a PD assigned.
  • Participate constructively in ongoing organizational development as a senior leader within the Foundation.
  • Support professional development of team, including identifying opportunities for learning and growth.

Strategy & Learning

  • Lead, develop and implement portfolio and grantmaking strategy that falls outside of the AW portfolios, or for portfolios that do not have a PD assigned.
  • Manage grantmaking resources and allocations across the team- ensuring grantmaking benchmarks are met through planning and monitoring of pipeline.
  • In partnership with Finance and/or Program colleagues, evaluate the feasibility of alternative forms of capital support for nonprofit organizations, contributing to program-related investment strategies, or identify opportunities for joint grantmaking.
  • Prepare analyses and reports of grants, as well as strategy papers and other written materials, for the VPP, CEO, EMC and/or Board.
  • Create and present materials at Board meetings regarding portfolio strategy and grant recommendations.
  • Develop and lead portfolio-related projects (convenings, assessments, etc.).
  • Recommend and participate in learning and evaluation activities to guide the evolution of programmatic work. Contribute to the team’s development of criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of the grantmaking portfolios.
  • Maintain and share a high level of knowledge of effective grantmaking strategies and philanthropic innovations.
  • Stay informed on trends, activities and strategies in the health care, public health, and social justice fields.

Program Operations

  • Play a critical cross-functional role with Grants Management and other stakeholders to apply innovative operational management practices that create efficient program activities and effective grantmaking.
  • Assist with development and testing of tools and workflows that enhance the work and effectiveness of the Programs staff and the foundation’s grantees.
  • Develop and maintain a robust program operations policies and procedures manual.

Community Engagement & Public Affairs

  • Serve as a liaison between the foundation and grantees, grantseekers, other foundations, evaluators, and policymakers.
  • Explain foundation priorities and procedures to grantseekers and respond to goal- and priority-related inquiries from grantseekers and the general public.
  • Actively engage with partners to learn and guide strategy development and build relationships.
  • Represent the foundation and its work in a variety of venues and to a range of audiences, including philanthropic, governmental, academic, and nonprofit groups.
  • Participate in networks, affinity groups and other external efforts to learn about relevant issues and trends and to advance the foundation’s strategies.
  • Facilitate and participate in community visits, learning visits, outreach activities and public speaking opportunities.
  • Partner with Public Affairs to disseminate highlights and lessons learned from grantmaking portfolios and respond quickly to current events related to portfolios.

Grantmaking & Grantee Engagement

  • Review and respond to letters of interest (LOI), grant proposals, and make grant recommendations.
  • Produce and present written summaries, analyses, and recommendations for proposed grants to the VPP or designee.
  • Perform programmatic and financial due diligence for all grant proposals. Conduct grantee learning/site visits.
  • Meet quarterly and annual grantmaking benchmarks/targets.
  • Engage with active grantees throughout the grant life cycle, monitor progress and performance, support grantees in resolving and/or communicating any issues that arise (i.e., org closes, legal/financial issues).
  • Review grantee reports and complete closeout in the grants management system.


The ideal candidates will be aligned with our mission and values; demonstrate exceptional leadership, management, and communications skills with proven aptitude to respectfully develop genuine connections with internal team members and external constituencies; bring operational skills relating to grantmaking and program development; and embody, through lived experience, applying a commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion to our work. Key experiences, expertise, and interests that will contribute to success in this role include:

  • Deep understanding of grantmaking including direct grantmaking, philanthropic operations, and/or community-based nonprofit experience.
  • Passion for the Foundation’s mission and generalist experience that would support working flexibly across the AW portfolios.
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal, and diplomacy skills, including exceptional writing, presentation, and facilitation skills, with the ability to interact with and mobilize diverse internal and external audiences.
  • Strong staff, operational, and financial management experience and a track record of sound planning, oversight, and accountability capable of helping to develop and inspire a diverse team.
  • Demonstrated ability to coach and develop others in content and context in preparation for projects, presentations, meetings, and convenings and to step in and help guide and execute grantmaking and programmatic work when needed.
  • Excellent strategic and critical thinking skills and the ability to take a broad perspective in the analysis and evaluation of information.
  • High level of flexibility and adaptability, with demonstrated ability to lead in a dynamic environment and work effectively across teams and at all levels of an organization.
  • Exceptional relational and influencing skills to collaborate with and achieve actionable results through strong and sustainable relationships and partnership with others.
  • Commitment to DEI with proven advocacy for advancing equity initiatives.
  • Demonstrated ability to work both collaboratively and independently; prioritize duties and balance multiple competing demands; and follow through with diligence on strategies, tactics, and connections.
  • Skills and experience in managing consultant and vendor relationships.

Application Process

Click here to apply

Applicants should send a cover letter, resume, and 3 references.

Date Posted


Closing Date


About the Organization

The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness) is a private, independent foundation established in 1992 with a mission to protect and improve the health and wellness of the people of California. As one of the largest health-focused foundations in California, with over $1 billion in assets, Cal Wellness is a nationally recognized leader for its strategic core operating support for grantees; public policy grantmaking; and a focus on violence as a public health issue. It is Cal Wellness’ desire to promote equity and level the playing field so that everyone has access to good-paying jobs; healthy and safe neighborhoods; and quality health care services.

The foundation’s current Advancing Wellness grantmaking strategy includes four interrelated portfolios. Since its founding, Cal Wellness has awarded nearly 9,000 grants totaling more than $1 billion. As the foundation looks to the future, it is pursuing new and innovative strategies beyond its core grantmaking to advance its mission, including implementation of new technology systems, development of its public affairs capacity, and establishing mission- and program-related investment portfolios.

Cal Wellness has a diverse staff of approximately 45 located in its Los Angeles and Oakland offices and a diverse 13-member Board located throughout the state of California. The foundation’s work underscores a belief that wellness requires social justice, a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and sustained efforts to eliminate systemic barriers that prevent access to health care, education, employment, and safety.

Please visit for more information.


Jeannine Walker <>