What Makes for an Effective Program Officer?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

What Makes for an Effective Program Officer?
By Kristen Ruff, Vice President, Member Services, Philanthropy New York

My office is plastered with flip chart papers all over the wall with words like “Curiosity,” “Dedication to Learning,” “Empathy,” “Self and Role Awareness,” “Humility,” “Good Listener” and “Critical Thinker.” While it may sound like one of those inspirational posters morphed into immersive artistic commentary on philanthropic leadership, the posters are actually the feedback from asking a single question to 25 program officers at the end of the learning series, Essential Skills and Strategies for New Grantmakers: “What Skills and Qualities Make for an Effective Program Officer?”

Essential Skills and Strategies (ESS): Tools and Techniques for Effective Practice is an intensive peer learning program we offer each January to program officers and directors newer to the philanthropic sector. The program prepares participants for the “science” of philanthropy – offering training on the tools and skills to be effective grantmakers and philanthropy professionals overall. And it offers strategies for managing the “art” of philanthropy – building participant intuitive skills that bring greater clarity regarding their role and help build self-awareness of their unique contributions within the larger sphere of social change. Through highly interactive sessions, ESS helps participants build a framework for understanding and implementing ethical and effective grantmaking. 

We’re currently accepting applications for the 2017 class of ESS, which is taking place in late January and early February. There are many more details about ESS on our program page, including full information on program eligibility and the application process.

And if you have your own ideas about the skills and qualities that make for an effective program officer, please stop by my desk or email me

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