Open Position: Democracy Program Officer

Position: Democracy Program Officer for Voter Engagement

Reports to: Democracy Program Director

Location: Chicago, IL (currently remote but will be returning to in-office)

The Joyce Foundation seeks a Program Officer to oversee its newly expanded Voter Engagement portfolio within the Democracy Program. This is an exciting opportunity for a strategic thinker to develop and implement a plan to support voter engagement programs and policies in the Great Lakes region focused on historically excluded communities including voters of color and language minorities, young voters, and voters with disabilities, as well as voter engagement that aligns with the Foundation’s program issue priorities.

About the Joyce Foundation

Established in 1948, the Joyce Foundation invests in policies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin). The Foundation anticipates a 2022 charitable distribution of $65 million on assets of $1.3 billion. Grants are made to organizations that take creative, evidence-informed action for broad, systemic change in six areas: Education & Economic Mobility, Environment, Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform, Democracy, Journalism, and Culture. The Foundation has a current staff of nearly 30 and is governed by a 13-member board of directors.

Opportunity to join a dynamic Democracy Program

The Joyce Foundation has long been a leading funder in advancing voting rights and elections policy in the Great Lakes region and nationally – supporting research and policy development, education and advocacy to drive policy adoption, support for effective implementation and evaluation, and, when needed, supporting litigation to ensure fair enforcement of voting laws. You can read the full Democracy Program strategy here.

In December 2021, the Foundation’s Board of Directors approved an expansion of the Democracy Program to grow our support for voter engagement, in recognition that policy change alone will not achieve our goals to increase voter turnout and reduce turnout disparities. As part of this expansion, the Foundation is growing the Democracy Program Team by adding a second Program Officer who will take a leadership role in shaping this expanded body of work.

This is an exciting opportunity for a strategic thinker to develop and implement a plan to support voter engagement programs and policies in the Great Lakes region focused on historically excluded communities including voters of color and language minorities, young voters, and voters with disabilities, as well as voter engagement that aligns with the Foundation’s program issue priorities.

In addition to its grantmaking activities, the Foundation is a leading convener of local, state, and national thought leaders and election experts. The new Program Officer will bring strong content knowledge of the voting rights and elections field and will leverage that expertise to work collaboratively with other funders, seeking opportunities to co-fund, with the goal of scaling up the Foundation’s work and achieving improved and more equitable voter participation.


Develop and implement a Voter Engagement strategy

  • Track and analyze the current landscape of voter participation data in the Great Lakes states, identify strengths and weaknesses in state voter engagement efforts, and identify opportunities where additional investment could have an impact, both in the short-term and long-term.
  • Synthesize this analysis into a written strategy with clear benchmarks and metrics for success.
  • Ongoing monitoring of the voter engagement field; staying abreast of local, regional, and national trends; and collaborating with grantees, peers, and allies.

Collaborate with the Democracy Program Director on strategic investments in voting policy

  • At the outset of this position, the new Program Officer will focus on the above development of the Voter Engagement portfolio. After that strategy development is complete, she/he/they will also take on a portion of the voting policy portfolio, which will be a shared area of work between the new Program Officer for Voting Engagement and the Democracy Program Director.
  • Leverage in-depth knowledge and analysis of voter participation data and barriers to full participation to identify recommendations for improving voting and elections policies and practices. Work independently and in collaboration with the program director to identify potential investments to support improved voting policy related to increasing voter participation and removing barriers.

Manage a portfolio of grantees

  • Cultivate relationships with current and prospective grantees, with an eye towards achieving a diverse portfolio of grantees and partners.
  • Review letters of inquiry and invite proposals consistent with the program strategy, reviewing and evaluating proposals, conducting further assessments through inquiries and site visits, and when appropriate attending virtual or in-person events such as funder briefings and coalition meetings.
  • Prepare written recommendations and make presentations to the Foundation’s leadership and board of directors.
  • Foster meaningful relationships with current grantees and support them in successful implementation of approved grant programs.
  • Collaborate with the Communications team to highlight the work of grantees.
  • Monitor grants for fulfillment of contract requirements and legal compliance, including review of regular grant reports.

Field leadership

  • Cultivate relationships with peer funders, associations, and other partners working on voter engagement and voting rights policies.
  • Pursue opportunities to co-fund promising work that will advance the Foundation’s mission and strategy.
  • Represent the Foundation publicly at events and in partnerships in a manner consistent with our mission and values.
  • Develop and host convenings, webinars, or other events in support of program goals and sharing learning opportunities.


  • A minimum of 5-8 years of experience working on voter engagement and voting policy. The ideal candidate has experience in policy development and familiarity with organizing, who balances creativity with evidence-informed strategy.
  • Deep understanding of the legal and practical barriers that impact access to voting, effective practices for educating and motivating focused populations to vote, and how to track and assess impact.
  • Prior experience in philanthropy or managing a re-grant program is a plus but not required.
  • Strong strategic, analytic, and communications skills, including the ability to formulate strategy, write clearly and succinctly under time pressure, and craft and deliver presentations for a variety of audiences.
  • Demonstrated effectiveness in developing networks and productive working relationships with diverse constituencies, and a demonstrated commitment to centering racial equity in your work or volunteer experience.
  • Bachelor’s degree required. An advanced degree is plus but not required.


The starting annual salary range for this position is $120,000-$130,000, depending on experience. Joyce provides a generous benefits package including health, dental and vision insurance; retirement contribution; paid vacation and sick leave; and employer matching donations. If the selected candidate needs to relocate to Chicago, the Foundation will pay for reasonable relocation expenses.

To Apply

To apply for this position, please complete and submit this application form by 11:59pm CT on March 28, 2022.

The application form will ask you to provide your contact information, upload your resume, and share a link to your LinkedIn profile if you have one (optional). Also, the application will ask you to respond briefly to the following questions in lieu of submitting a cover letter:

  1. What interests you about this position? (up to 1,000 characters, or about 150 words)
  2. What are the most formidable barriers to full voter participation? (up to 1,200 characters, or about 200 words)
  3. Please briefly describe your voting policy and strategy development experience through your professional or volunteer work. (up to 1,200 characters, or about 200 words)
  4. Please describe any experience you have with grantmaking or managing a re-grant program, or, if you don’t have prior grants management experience, what you view as key skills or experience that would help you manage a grantmaking portfolio. (up to 1,000 characters, or about 150 words)
  5. Please describe your approach to applying a racial equity lens in your work. (up to 1,000 characters, or about 150 words)

Please note that we will review your responses to these questions prior to looking at your resume.

First-round interviews for this position are anticipated to begin in April with a subsequent round in May. Ideally, the selected candidate will begin in June or July 2022.

Questions can be directed to Dr. Masum Momaya (she/her), a consultant for the Joyce Foundation’s Democracy Program, at [email protected].

The Joyce Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, sexual orientation, religion, disability, height, weight, veteran status, or marital status.