Background 

Established in 2006 by Wendy and Eric Schmidt, The Schmidt Family Foundation (TSFF) works to restore a balanced relationship between people and planet. TSFF pursues its mission through three innovative and thoughtful strategies:  1) The 11th Hour Project; 2) the Impact Investment Program; and 3) Schmidt Marine Technology Partners (SMTP). The Schmidt Family Foundation is a private foundation with growing assets of over $1B and an impact investment portfolio of approximately $160M of AUM.

For more information on The Schmidt Family Foundation please visit: www.tsffoundation.org.

Position Description 

The Schmidt Family Foundation is dedicated to supporting the world’s small-holder farmers, who produce most of our food supply. These farmers tend to be the best stewards of the land and are committed to agroecology practices that nurture the health of our soil, our food, and our communities. We aim to collaborate with these farmers, among others, in developing, adapting and uptake of the tools and technologies that can help them thrive. To enable this work, we have created a grant-making program for “Agricultural Technologies” and are seeking its first Director to lead the program.

The Director of AgTech will have a unique opportunity to create our newest program within The 11th Hour Project. In close coordination with other program teams, the Director will create a strategic plan that provides early-stage grant funding as well as develop a framework for evaluating technologies’ alignment with the values of agroecology. Our analysis to date has found that the burgeoning ag tech sector has little focus on low-cost solutions for small-holder farmers, and virtually no emphasis on BIPOC farmers. The values of racial and economic justice will be important aspects of our funding priorities. 

At the Foundation we learn best by doing, so we hope to begin grant-making of up to $4 million in year one, and adapt as we move forward. The ideal candidate will be comfortable with a dynamic process that multi-tracks planning, grant-making, learning, and refinement. 

Key Responsibilities 

  • Create the strategic plan to enable grant-making for the AgTech program, based on a landscape assessment and other relevant information sources.
  • Develop a technology evaluation framework.
  • Annual presentation of funding plan to the Grants Committee, with follow-up meetings to track progress and report on key milestones as needed.
  • Deploy up to $4 million in grant-making in Year 1.
  • Develop and maintain the evaluation and impact assessment for grant-making, in close coordination with the cross-foundation evaluation design efforts of The 11th Hour Project’s Emerging Strategies team.
  • Build a network of like-minded funders for knowledge sharing and co-funding opportunities.
  • Develop a robust advisory board of farmers, academic researchers and technologists.
  • Represent the Foundation at convenings, affinity groups and other related conferences.
  • Facilitate meetings and consultations with the internal cross-programmatic team of experts from our Food & Ag, Human Rights, SMTP and Impact Investing areas.
  • Coordinate all administrative tasks necessary to run the program including budget tracking and grants administration. 
  • Plan the grant-making and staffing needs for subsequent years.

Qualifications and Experience 

  • At least 5 years of experience in agriculture desired, either directly farming or closely adjacent (e.g. providing technical assistance to farmers; government agency support; etc.)
  • High level of familiarity with and optimism for a range of technologies.
  • Demonstrated expertise in a role that prizes relationship-building, collaboration and participatory approaches. Prior experience managing direct reports is helpful.
  • Travel for site visits encouraged as much as needed and able.
  • Ability to work across time zones, including with partners in Africa. 
  • Comfort and clarity working within philanthropy and an appreciation of the unique dynamics present around power, privilege, class and wealth.
  • Demonstrated commitment to gender, racial, economic, environmental, and global justice.

Compensation and Location 

  • This position is located within reasonable commuting distance of one of our hubs (San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York or Washington D.C.), with a hybrid remote/in-person arrangement possible. Regardless of location, quarterly visits to our headquarters in California are expected.
  • This position will report to the Vice President of Programs & Emerging Strategies.
  • Compensation is competitive and commensurate with experience and will be shared upon first round of screening interviews. We also offer a best-in-class benefits package that will be shared during the process.

To Apply 

To apply, email a cover letter that expresses both your passion for the mission and fit for the role; resume; and list of three references (candidates will be notified in advance of any outreach to your references) to tsffoundation@walkeraac.com by 5:00 pm PT on Friday, September  30, 2022. Use the subject line: AgTech Director. Submit Microsoft Word or PDF files only (one combined PDF file is preferred). Resume review begins immediately. 

Questions? Contact our recruiting partner for the position: Jeannine N. Walker, Walker and Associates Consulting, at jwalker@walkeraac.com.

The Schmidt Family Foundation is an equal opportunity employer who values and supports diverse identities, experiences, and backgrounds. We encourage people from all backgrounds and industries to apply.

Furthermore, we believe that diversity fosters greater social, operational, and programmatic sustainability. Through our grant-making and related investments, we’re committed to expanding and deepening our relationships with organizations led by BIPOC leaders in our community.