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Program Officer, Criminal Justice

The MacArthur Foundation
Illinois, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Closing date
Feb 18, 2022

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Position Type
Administrative, Public Relations and Communications
Community Foundations, International, Legal Services, Philanthropic Advisors
Employment Type
Full Time
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The Criminal Justice team is responsible for working to address over-incarceration and advance racial equity by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails. Through the Safety and Justice Challenge, MacArthur is engaging in a long-term strategy of investment in local equity-based reforms, research, experimentation, and communications that seek to create national demand for local justice reform as a means to reduce over-incarceration and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in America.

The Program Officer, Criminal Justice, works with the team’s Director and colleagues on all aspects of the strategy’s grantmaking to ensure its success. The Program Officer will apply his/her expertise in relevant field(s) to the development and implementation of grantmaking strategies. In this role, the Program Officer will be called upon to deliver under pressure, and consistently produce high-quality work; build effective peer relationships throughout the Foundation; work with other departments proactively; anticipate potential issues and propose solutions; offer assistance and service to team members; present ideas for improvement and be able to create a project plan to execute these improvements.

 Job Description

 Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Participate in the design, implementation, refinement and adaptation of grantmaking strategies and in planning future program strategies

  • Assist in the design of new initiatives

  • Identify prospective grant recipients and work with prospective grantees to develop proposals that advance grantmaking strategies

  • Review and evaluate proposals

  • Conduct background research and due diligence, prepare grant recommendations for administrative and Board consideration, and respond to unsuccessful proposals

  • Monitor the performance of grants and the implementation of grant strategies

  • Manage a caseload of active grants, review periodic reports and maintain accurate records and constructive contact with grantees

  • Organize meetings of prospective grantees, program advisors, and others in relevant fields

  • Keep abreast of current events, developments and issues in the field to maintain a balanced and objective perspective and approach to grantmaking

  • Write extensively for internal purposes

  • Conduct research projects and monitor the performance of research grants

  • Build and sustain relationships with colleagues across the Foundation, and with leaders, actors and organizations in relevant fields, including the public and commercial sectors

  • Represent the Foundation at conferences and other public events, including as speaker or panel participant

  • Familiarity with justice systems and change improvement is highly desired

  • Support and maintain relationships with county and municipal grantees involved in local criminal justice reform and coordinate and provide oversight of national grantees that serve as a resource network for all jurisdictions and participants in national criminal justice policy and system reform efforts

  • Build and sustain relationships with individual leaders and leadership organizations in the criminal justice and related fields

Other Duties and Responsibilities

  • Serve on internal Foundation committees as appropriate

  • Perform other duties as assigned


  • Advanced graduate training is required

  • At least five years of experience working in justice policy or related public policy areas (e.g. criminal justice systems, public administration, or systems reform)

  • Experience as a policy professional is beneficial

  • Deep knowledge and appreciation of the substance and dynamics of public policy relevant to criminal justice reform, including other public service institutions and systems

  • Demonstrate a commitment to racial equity and justice, including knowledge and experiential expertise of racial justice and/or civil rights policy

  • Able to make effective connections among state and local officials, the courts, and practitioners is essential

  • Strong interpersonal skills and proven ability to function as part of a team and excellent oral and written communications, including the ability to write for publication, and make speeches and other public presentations

  • Well-organized and efficient at managing multiple tasks, self-confidant, diplomatic and collegial, and have high professional standards and good judgment

Physical Requirements and Work Environment:

The work environment is an office setting. Intermittent physical activities will include bending, reaching, sitting, and walking during working hours. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable a person with physical disabilities to perform the job.

Regular travel is required.

The position is based in Chicago, Illinois.

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