Program Officer

Date Posted: 
Thu, April 04, 2019
Job Type: 
Job Category: 
St. Paul, MN
Company Name: 
Otto Bremer Trust
Company Information: 

On behalf of our client, the Otto Bremer Trust, CohenTaylor Executive Search Services is conducting a retained search for its Program Officer.
The Otto Bremer Trust
The Otto Bremer Trust has been investing in people, places, and opportunities in the Upper Midwest for more than 70 years.

One of the nation’s largest charitable trusts, OBT is a unique organization spanning banking, investments, and philanthropy. Each serves a specific purpose, working together to deliver positive impact in the communities it serves. Making investments in nonprofits and other community organizations working to improve lives in the Upper Midwest is a primary part of OBT’s work. In 2018, OBT made grants and program-related investments totaling $50.5 million to 591 organizations throughout the region.

OBT seeks to respond to needs and opportunities that are identified by the communities where it operates and are in alignment with the Trust’s purposes. The philanthropy team carefully reviews applications leading to recommended investments that make a positive difference in communities.

The Otto Bremer Trust has a current staff of 22, all based in its Saint Paul, MN office. The work environment is collegial across program, operations, and leadership, encouraging information sharing and critical thought. While cooperation is a core value, much of program staff’s work is done independently, calling for balancing responsibilities to OBT, program work, and other team members.

Job Description: 

The Program Officer
the Otto Bremer Trust is seeking a Program Officer with a fundamental belief in communities’ ability to respond and address their challenges and opportunities. A Program Officer has an opportunity to engage with and learn from communities through relationship building, understanding the individuality of the communities the Trust funds, and analyzing and assessing investment opportunities. This position will have primary responsibility for covering the Trust’s Greater Bremer Region—communities located outside of the Twin Cities.
The Program Officer role brings grant applications to life through presence in the Trust’s Greater Bremer Region communities. By conducting due diligence and making recommendations to the Co-CEOs & Trustees regarding grant requests, this position helps the Trust understand community opportunities and challenges as well as a specific nonprofit’s capacity. Through discovery, the Program Officer will gain relevant information and knowledge and communicate clear, reasoned recommendations to the Trustees for grant consideration.
The Program Officer is part of a regional program team and will report directly to a Regional Director. The Program Officer must be willing and able to travel an average of two to four trips throughout the region per quarter to carry out program activities, learning sessions, grantee site visits, and other responsibilities that require in-person attendance.
It is estimated that 80 percent of the Program Officer’s role will be spent on the grant application process, and 20 percent will be spent on work supportive of the grant application process. Essential functions include:
Grant Application Process
• Inquiries. Respond to inquiries from prospective grantees and assist nonprofit organizations in their interactions with the Trust in order to maximize their understanding of the Trust and the grant making process.
• Assess proposals and conduct due diligence. Analyze a program or organization’s potential for accomplishing its goals and its potential for meeting needs and/or building on opportunities in the region.
• Make recommendations. In clear, concise, written memoranda, make timely recommendations to the Co-CEOs & Trustees about appropriate responses to proposals.
• Provide data as requested. Work with grants administration team to provide timely information and updates regarding requested data such as prospective grantees’ project costs, amounts requested, nonprofit status, grant purpose, and other needed information.
• Regional engagement. Develop relationships with community stakeholders including nonprofits, philanthropic peers and public sector. Work with the regional team to develop community engagement opportunities that foster meaningful dialogue and provide learning opportunities.
Work Supportive of the Grant Application Process
• Contributions to knowledge management and special projects. Review literature and reports and pursue opportunities to learn and stay current in specific assigned topic areas.
• Relationship management. Foster and maintain positive relationships with grantees and represent that Trust with community stakeholders.
• Professional development. Work with Regional Director to design and implement plans to advance professional growth and to keep current with relevant issues in philanthropy and in the communities served by the Trust.


The Ideal Candidate
Program Officers excel by using strong communication skills, relationship building, critical thinking, problem solving, and culturally competent approaches to engage communities and nonprofits on behalf of the Trust. Candidates should have a minimum of ten years of professional work experience.
Criteria for Success
The ideal Program Officer will increase the capacity of the Otto Bremer Trust. While no one candidate will have all the criteria enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
• Strong record of achievement, career progression, and personal experience that ensures a deep understanding of a nonprofit’s role within a community context and environment.
• Experience working with geographically diverse communities, including low-income and multi-ethnic communities with a commitment to cultural competency.
• Ability to thrive when working under deadlines; strong project and time management skills; and the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously without sacrificing attention to detail.
• Experience using data for ongoing learning and improvement; excellent quantitative and qualitative analytical skills; comfort analyzing disparate and even contradictory information.
• Excellent written and oral communications skills, and ability to successfully navigate and translate information for technical and non-technical audiences. This includes the ability to adjust communication style for internal and external audiences.
• Demonstrated financial analysis skills, including the ability to analyze audited financials, balance sheets, and business plans of nonprofit organizations. Proficiency with complex financial instruments is desirable.
• Intellectual agility and the ability to analyze, think critically and understand emerging issues that are directly relevant to the communities the Trust serves and the populations it supports.
• Outstanding written and oral communication skills, with the presence and credibility to develop and sustain a broad range of relationships; and highly developed listening skills.
• Exceptional reasoning and problem-solving abilities; proven track record in solving complex and dynamic problems.
• A commitment to personal learning and development and openness to feedback.
• Adaptability and flexibility with ability to thrive in results-oriented culture with limited guidance.
• The ability to foster collaboration and contribute to a strong sense of community among staff and Trustees.
• Excellent interpersonal skills, including experience building relationships; demonstrated success in working with a diverse group of peers, community stakeholders, and grantees with differing backgrounds and experiences.
• Skilled at thinking, working, and confidently making sound decisions and recommendations independently while also engaging, respecting, and remaining open to others’ contributions; listening well and collaborating to land on a mutually agreed upon approach.
• Insightful and creative in problem-solving, with a demonstrated ability to leverage diverse resources and opportunities.
• The willingness to travel up to 25% of the time to carry out program activities, learning sessions, grantee site visits, and other responsibilities that require in-person attendance.

How to apply: 

To apply, please submit your resume and cover letter to Beau Bye, Executive Recruiter and Vice President at CohenTaylor, at Applications will be accepted until Friday, April 26th.
All inquiries will remain confidential.

St. Paul