Program Director, Performing Arts

“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 the Hewletts made their foundation one of the nation’s largest, with assets of more than $9 billion and annual grantmaking averaging between $400 and $450 million.

The foundation’s long-standing programs focus on education, environment, global development and population, performing arts and effective philanthropy, as well as support for disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, they make grants for special projects and address other timely problems, such as challenges related to cybersecurity and U.S. democracy.

Philanthropy is a distinctive enterprise, with unique challenges and opportunities. The Hewletts approached it with a humanistic philosophy based on faith in the capacity of people to do good and belief in the importance of healthy institutions as a means for doing so. Accordingly, the foundation pursues their charitable goals through adherence to the following additional commitments and guiding principles:

  • Commitment to acting honestly and with integrity, in accordance with the law and the highest standards of practice, and to treating all those with whom we deal fairly and respectfully.
  • Seek to bring about meaningful, socially beneficial change in the fields in which we work.
  • Pursue change by tackling defined problems in a pragmatic, nonpartisan manner.
  • Focus on outcomes in order to maximize the effectiveness of our support.
  • Commitment to openness, transparency, and learning.
  • Commitment to working, both internally and externally, in a collaborative fashion based on mutual Grantees, co-funders, and other colleagues in their work are partners in problem-solving.
  • Seek to promote the values and practice of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workforce, our culture, and our grantmaking.
  • Approach their role in philanthropy and our responsibilities to society with humility and respect for others.


The Hewlett Foundation’s operations depend on a lean staff, which is given considerable autonomy; a commitment to simple, flexible procedures; and a cooperative working relationship between the board of directors, staff and, president.

Their effectiveness depends on attracting, recruiting, and engaging highly capable employees with outstanding skills and diverse backgrounds and perspectives who embrace the foundation’s guiding principles. Among the foundation’s core principles is a commitment to embrace and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, for the success of the organization is enhanced by bringing different and varied experiences and perspectives into all facets of our work.

The Role

Reporting to the President, the Program Director, Performing Arts will provide expertise and strategic direction, and oversee program development and implementation management, including budgeting, staff recruitment and supervision, and evaluation.

Specific responsibilities include:

Program Strategy and Leadership

  • Lead the continuing evolution, implementation, communication, evaluation and dissemination of program plans, strategies, and outcomes to demonstrable and sustainable impact;
  • Develop and manage operation and program budgets;
  • Ensure measurement and evaluation methodology is robust and consistent;
  • Ensure that the program’s strategic and operational objectives are aligned with those of the foundation overall.


  • Lead, manage, and inspire a team of seven (7) Performing Arts focused staff;
  • Participate in senior management team discussions and planning
  • Collaborate with programmatic and administrative colleagues across the foundation

Leadership in the Field

  • Represent the foundation and its Performing Arts work to a wide range of stakeholders, including grantees, thought leaders, other nonprofits, business and civic leaders through meetings, updates, speeches, briefings, and interviews. Engage these communities regarding key programmatic issues, as appropriate;
  • Help to develop and strengthen organizations that are central to the program’s strategies, focusing on their goals and strategies, governance, staffing, financial health, communications, and fundraising.

Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate has both a broad and deep background in the performing arts as well as a track record that offers significant credibility to the various stakeholders in the performing arts arena locally, regionally and nationally. The individual should have a demonstrated commitment to developing strategies and programs that enhance the vibrancy and sustainability, of all forms of performing arts in the Bay Area. Additionally, the candidate should have a sophisticated understanding of the complex issues facing the field and, ideally, considerable practical experience working in and managing a performing arts organization.

The individual should be someone who can listen to and learn from key stakeholders inside and outside the foundation. This person should be an adaptive learner who commits to strong goals, but presents flexible tactics and is able to course correct. This individual should have the capacity to foster constructive and transparent dialogue and collaboration among people, at times on opposing sides of sensitive issues.

The successful candidate should be committed to the foundation’s mission of achieving significant, lasting and measurable results in its areas of interest and commitment, and share the foundation’s implicit and core values.

In terms of the performance and personal competencies required for the position, we would highlight the following:

Knowledge and Experience

The candidate should have substantive conceptual and practical knowledge of the performing arts arena, ideally combined with experience operating an arts organization. This individual will bring an enthusiasm for all art forms regardless of previous professional or performance focus. Ideally, this candidate will be deeply immersed in the regional if not national professional arts community and is recognized as an effective advocate for the arts. This individual will be neither ideological nor view philanthropy as a means of driving messaging or research stimulated by a partisan agenda.

Setting Strategy

This individual should have the capacity to balance the need for appropriate evolution in the program’s strategies with continuity in recognition of the value and efficacy of its current strategies and focus. The candidate will have demonstrated an ability to effectively balance calls for change with an understanding of the organizational environment in which the Program operates, as well as the ability to create realistic goals and achievable implementation plans. An innovative, broad-minded thinker, this individual will possess the ability to make clear, timely decisions, and to set limits even in the face of resistance, while producing a solutions-oriented, adaptive, and self-regenerating program that is continually challenging itself and exploring for new directions.

Relationship Building and Credibility

This person will be a substantive, engaging and trusted expert with a track record of success in conceptualizing and executing relevant strategies that advance goals. The successful candidate will have the capacity and credibility to work with a wide range of stakeholders, including grantees, thought leaders, other nonprofits, business and civic leaders through meetings, updates, speeches, briefings, and interviews. This individual will possess the judgment, passion, and informed instinct to effectively and diplomatically represent the foundation’s interests in all arenas.

Interpersonal Acumen

The candidate should have the interpersonal skills and intellect to cultivate meaningful and productive relationships with current colleagues and board members. This individual will need to excel at connecting with a range of people with diverse interests. The successful candidate will have a healthy/intact ego and, as such, will be confident, but will not always need to receive credit. Further, this person will bring a demonstrated ability to work effectively with strong personalities, but not lose his/her own character while accommodating. Of equal importance, this individual will have a sense of humor and bring joy to his/her work.

Shared Values

The candidate’s body of work will demonstrate alignment with the program’s founding values and its commitment to supporting meaningful socially beneficial change.


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

Performing Arts Program

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Performing Arts Program makes grants to sustain artistic expression and encourage public engagement in the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a focus on Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma counties and limited support for Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. From 1966 to 2016, the foundation distributed a total of $335 million in grants to performing arts organizations in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. In all respects but this, the foundation’s impact on the performing arts in the region is immeasurable. Its innovations—a commitment to building organizational strength by providing sustained general operating grants renewable over multiple years, and focusing exclusively on the performing arts and its infrastructure in a defined geographical region—make it unique among foundations of any size.

In 2016 alone, the Program awarded 120 grants totaling $20 million and had 236 active grantees. The Performing Arts Program focuses on three areas of grantmaking: Continuity and Engagement; Arts Education; and Arts Infrastructure.

Continuity and Engagement

The Continuity and Engagement grantmaking embraces a wide range of disciplines, aesthetics and traditions in the areas of dance, media, music and theater that engage people across different communities to participate in the arts.

Arts Education

The foundation believes that nurturing an interest in the arts among young people brings many benefits to society ranging from cognitive growth and social bonding for individuals, to cross-cultural understanding and economic activity for communities.

Further, effective arts education can nurture a lifelong interest in the arts, build audiences for the future, and—particularly through the public education system—reach a broad segment of students at a critical time in their development. The Hewlett Foundation seeks to provide equitable access for California students to engage in the arts at every level, from introductory programs to professional training.

Arts Infrastructure

To have a healthy and vigorous performing arts ecosystem, artists and arts organizations must have the resources they need to be effective and thrive. Too often, arts organizations find themselves undercapitalized relative to their aspirations, and coordination problems make it difficult to build and maintain shared resources. Arts organizations with inadequate capital or talent tend to take a defensive, risk-averse posture. This can lead to stunted artistic ambition and lack of organizational creativity. The Hewlett Foundation invests in critical infrastructure and organizing efforts to encourage solutions to the needs of the performing arts field.

Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions

In addition, in celebration of the Hewlett Foundation’s fiftieth anniversary, the foundation has announced a new five-year, $8 million commissioning initiative that will be one of the largest of its kind in the United States: the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions. The initiative will support the creation of 50 exceptional works of performing arts and their premiere in the Bay Area through grants of $100,000 to $200,000 to Bay Area nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit organizations will receive funding to achieve their creative vision in partnership with the commissioned artists, who may be based anywhere in the world. The ultimate beneficiaries of the new program will be local audiences, who will be among the first to see important new works in the performing arts premiered in their communities.

This new program aligns with the  foundation’s longstanding commitment to providing Bay Area audiences with access to world class performing arts, and it is the hope that the works created will go on to inspire, engage and challenge audiences across the country and around the world in years to come.

For more information on the Performing Arts Program:

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.


Laurie Nash
Russell Reynolds Associates 101 California Street
Suite 4200
San Francisco, CA 94111-5867 Tel: +1-415-352-3300
Direct: +1-415-352-3311
Fax: +1-415-781-7690

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