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Program Officer, Public Engagement

Position Summary

Reporting to the Director of Public Engagement, the Program Officer of Public Engagement plays a vital role in developing and managing grants and projects that engage religious, academic, and/or general public audiences with the findings of research relevant to the Foundation’s mission.

The Foundation engages in two major types of grantmaking. The first type involves Foundation staff proactively developing grant programs. The second involves consideration of proposals that are submitted through a competitive, open-submission process. The Program Officer of Public Engagement will be involved in managing both types of grantmaking.

With respect to the first type of grantmaking, the Program Officer of Public Engagement assists with and/or spearheads the development of internally generated grants and programs that seek to engage religious, academic, and general public audiences with the findings of research relevant to the Foundation’s mission. In addition, the Program Officer of Public Engagement may assist program departments within the Foundation in recruiting, structuring, and monitoring proposals and grants that have high potential for public engagement. With respect to the second type of grantmaking, the Program Officer of Public Engagement reviews open-submission inquires and, at the direction of the Director of Public Engagement, makes recommendations concerning the invitation of full proposals from such submissions. 

In all cases, the Program Officer of Public Engagement is closely involved in monitoring and managing active grants. The Program Officer of Public Engagement reviews reports, assesses progress, makes site visits, and maintains regular correspondence with grantees within the Department’s portfolio. The Program Officer of Public Engagement likewise assesses the progress of grants in other program departments, determining whether the activities might benefit from more intentional efforts to engage wider audiences. The Program Officer of Public Engagement is thus deeply involved in the complete life cycle of all public engagement grants, from conception, intake, and review, through management, close-out, and evaluation.

Areas of Responsibility

  • Develop new grants, projects, and funding initiatives, intended to engage opinion leaders with research results that advance the Foundation’s mission (whether funded by the Foundation or not).
  • Monitor grant results relevant to opinion leader engagement and boost visibility of relevant findings.
  • Cultivate relationships with key opinion leaders, organizations, media outlets, etc. who are positioned to assist in facilitating public engagement.
  • Assist in strategic planning with respect to the Foundation’s broader Engagement goals.

Criteria & Relevant Skills

  • At least 4 years of professional experience in an academic or foundation setting.
  • Bachelor’s degree required in theology, communications, journalism, or related areas. Graduate degree preferred.
  • Background in opinion leader engagement and academic research preferred.
  • Strong communication and analytical skills.
  • Skilled communicator able to work with individuals with diverse religious and academic/disciplinary backgrounds.   
  • Ability to work in a collaborative and fast-paced environment with a proactive and independent working style, to meet deadlines, to work under pressure, and to handle multiple priorities.
  • Adept relationship builder, able to forge and maintain extensive professional networks.

Successful candidates will demonstrate a strong personal interest in the Foundation’s mission. This position will require travel.

The John Templeton Foundation provides support for research, and the dissemination of research, in a variety of areas. Typically, projects involving research and dissemination revolve around “Science and the Big Questions,” many of which lie at the intersection of multiple disciplines. More specifically, the Foundation supports work that seeks to uncover the fundamental nature of reality, including work in physics, biology, philosophy, theology, mathematics, and the social and human sciences. In addition, the Foundation supports research and programs in areas such as Individual Freedom and Free Markets, Character and Virtue Development, Genetics, and the discovery and nurturing of Exceptional Cognitive Talent and Creativity.

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The mission of the John Templeton Foundation is to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discovery in areas engaging life's biggest questions. These questions range from explorations into the laws of nature and the universe to questions on the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness, and creativity.

Our vision is derived from Sir John Templeton's commitment to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship. The Foundation's motto "How little we know, how eager to learn" exemplifies our support for open-minded inquiry and our hope for advancing human progress through breakthrough discoveries.