Christensen Fund Fellowship

The Christensen Fund is a private foundation founded in 1957 and based in San Francisco, California. We are a non-profit, non-governmental organization governed by an independent Board of Trustees.

The Christensen Fund believes in the power of biological and cultural diversity to sustain and enrich a world faced with great change and uncertainty. Since 2003, our grantmaking has centered on the “biocultural”—the rich, adaptive interweave of people and place, culture and ecology. Under this approach, we seek to support the resilience of biological and cultural diversity in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities and their allies. Our grantmaking programs are focused around six geographic regions of the world and selected global biocultural initiatives. These regions currently include: the African Rift Valley, Central Asia, Melanesia, the US Southwest, Northwest Mexico and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Throughout our programs and relationships, we give special attention to realizing the aspirations and enhancing the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). UNDRIP is central to both our work as a foundation and to our grantmaking processes.

As an institution, we deeply value diversity, passion, creativity and excellence—all of which are reflected in our highly skilled staff that is based in San Francisco as well as in our grantmaking regions. Our staff comes from many parts of the world and speaks more than 40 languages. 

Position Summary

 The Christensen Fund Fellow, a pilot at the Christensen Fund, will offer an early- to mid-career professional with strong Indigenous connections a unique opportunity to 1). deeply learn about philanthropy thru extensive hands-on grantmaking experience and to 2). positively contribute toward advancing the field of biocultural diversity in the Bay Area. The Fellowship is designed to support a Fellow’s holistic development as a leader and advocate for transformative social change (including within philanthropy) and to strengthen their work with and service to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. We acknowledge that the skills needed for paradigm shifting leadership are broad and multifaceted. And, that rooted leadership requires opportunities to be engaged and active in community and culture. The Fellowship will include dedicated time for personal cultural study/practice (such as language learning, art, music or dance)—to be defined by the Fellow.

The Christensen Fund Fellow will work with our international Grantmaking teams, manage the Bay Area Portfolio and contribute to several projects across the Fund.

The Christensen Fund Fellow will be responsible for:

  • Managing an annual grant budget of approximately $750,000 for the San Francisco Bay Area Portfolio ($500,000) and a Global Travel and Exchange Program ($250,000)
  • Reviewing, analyzing and tracking grant proposals throughout the grantmaking process including evaluating and reporting on individual grantee/portfolio-wide progress to Senior Management and Board of Trustees through oral presentations and written reports
  • Working collaboratively with Grants Management to resolve legal, financial and technical issues with grants when necessary
  • Designing, implementing and refining grantmaking strategies to achieve defined programmatic goals and to advance substantive change on a variety of scales and arenas (ex: legal, policy, social and community norms)
  • Supporting grant partners to thoughtfully deepen their program impacts through connection and collaboration and to strategically link across networks and movements and with other Christensen grantees, as appropriate
  • Developing and implementing an explicit plan for enhancing grantee communications capacity and contributions to building the field of biocultural diversity
  • Representing the Fund at a broad range of meetings and events
  • The Christensen Fund Fellow reports to the Director of Grantmaking and works in Grantmaking teams with Grants Manager(s) and consultants as appropriate.

The Christensen Fund Fellow will have access to:

  • Individual coaching and mentorship, including with Christensen Fund Trustees, Senior Management and International Program Staff
  • A diverse cohort of emerging leaders in philanthropy from a variety of local foundations
  • Build a strong professional network including access to local, national and international sector leaders from within philanthropy and beyond
  • Dedicated time for personal cultural study/practice
  • Travel support to attend local and national conferences and events

Traits and Desired Qualifications

  • Deep commitment to Christensen’s core values of deep diversity, self-determination, cultural expression, critical thinking and, learning and a delight in thinking in integrated ways
  • Understanding of the relationships between biological and cultural diversity
  • Familiarity with the history, complexities and experiences of Indigenous Peoples in United States including the impact and legacy of Federal Termination and Relocation policies
  • Experience working with Indigenous Peoples
  • Ability to think innovatively about strategic partnerships, alliances and engagement with different types of actors – foundation, nonprofit, public and private individuals.
  • Ability to articulate a vision that motivates internal and external stakeholders from multiple communities and in diverse settings
  • Well-organized and self-sufficient, IT-savvy, and able to manage time and work under pressure
  • High integrity and a commitment to personal and professional excellence
  • A demonstrated ability and inclination to work as part of a team
  • An ability to travel around the Bay Area and to seek out, listen to, understand and respect applicants, grantees and other stakeholders and work in support of their passions and dreams

Applicants should possess:

  • A graduate degree or 5-7 years of experience in an environmental or social science field, along with knowledge of biocultural diversity, environmental socio-ecological resilience and/or the issues facing Indigenous Peoples in the United States
  • Demonstrated commitment to the visions and struggles of Indigenous Peoples to secure their development, cultural integrity and environmental heritage
  • Superior written and oral communication skills.

Terms of Employment  

  • Two-year full-time Fellowship based in San Francisco, California; this is a local hire with no relocation support.
  • $50,500 per year plus medical and dental benefits
  • Interviews will begin in August/September 2016. It is expected that the Fellowship will begin October 1, 2016.

To Apply

Please submit an application packet to by Monday, August 8, 2016 at 5pm PST. A complete application packet consists of the following four items:

  1. Cover letter outlining your relevant experience and why you are interested in the Fellowship
  2. Résumé (CV)
  3. Responses to essay questions
  4. Three references

All documents should be submitted together in one PDF that includes your name and the Fellowship title (ie: LastName_ChristensenFundFellow.pdf).

Review of credentials will begin immediately. Principals only. No phone calls please.

Essay Questions

  1. Much of our Bay Area work centers on supporting local Indigenous groups to reconnect and restore their relationships with their historic and ancestral territories and cultural/sacred sites as well as to sustain and revitalize their cultural identities and traditions across generations. How would you explain the relationship between culture and environmental stewardship? How might these processes look in action? How might they be different in an urban context? Please share specific examples. (500 words max)
  1. Additionally, please select one of the following questions (500 words max):
  1. Please tell us about an Indigenous or local movement that has inspired you, and share with us how you’ve seen this movement evolve over time.
  1. What do you see as philanthropy’s role to affect the stewardship of wealth and the sharing of power and privilege? How do you see your role in this process? What aspect is most interesting? What is most challenging?

The Christensen Fund is an equal opportunity employer that embraces a diverse, multicultural work environment. People of all ethnic backgrounds, Indigenous Peoples, people with disabilities, and people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities are encouraged to apply.