| March 26, 2024

Senior Director, Program Strategy

Guest Author


Website Pivotal Ventures

Pivotal Ventures (“Pivotal”) is an investment and incubation company created by Melinda French Gates. We partner, invest, and advocate to remove barriers that hold people back, concentrating on areas where progress and opportunity have stalled for millions of Americans. The pursuit of a more equal and equitable United States—not just for some of us, but for everyone—is what drives us forward. It’s the why behind every problem we tackle.

We approach partnership with big ambitions and open minds, embracing what’s already working and innovating beyond traditional philanthropy. Some areas we focus on: women in technology and innovation; Women in public office; women and girls of color; adolescent mental health; paid family and medical leave; and caregiving.

Inspired by our founder, we reach across communities and sectors to bring together changemakers who can scale up proven ideas and catalyze new ones. We learn from their experiences, amplify their resources, then step back so they can lead.

Our impatience with the status quo is fueled by an optimism that progress is always possible.

Reporting to the Vice President of Program Strategy, the Senior Director of Program Strategy is responsible for leading a team of individuals who have designed and are implementing Pivotal’s program strategies and tracking progress against each strategy’s goals. The Senior Director of Program Strategy is accountable for the performance of the program strategies they oversee and will serve as a people manager, coach, strategic advisor, and thought partner to each strategy and across strategies.

The Senior Director will manage 5+ direct reports, who each lead small teams. The Senior Director’s direct reports – Strategy Directors – are accountable for their individual strategies and will look to the Senior Director for problem solving, knowledge sharing, brush clearing, and connecting the dots across strategies, as well as providing guardrails and resources for the team. Since this role oversees all of our programmatic strategies, a key aspect of this role is looking across strategies to identify opportunities for synergies, learning, and collaboration, as well as cross-team integration so that our impact is more than the sum of its parts. The Senior Director will also develop and manage the operating model for the focus strategies team. This role will be a member of Pivotal’s Program Leadership team, helping shape the vision, operating model, and performance of Pivotal’s programmatic work.



  • Lead, manage, and hold oversight for the successful implementation of Pivotal program strategies
  • Leadership and management of team, including people management and coaching of strategy Directors/ teams related to the overall development and implementation of their strategies, their professional development, and cross-strategy collaboration
  • Leadership and hold oversight for existing program strategies, including executing strategies, advising on grantmaking and best uses of capital, providing oversight on funding decisions, measuring progress against strategy goals to ensure we are driving the impact we intend, problem solving with Program Directors/teams, and fostering shared learning and collaboration across strategies
  • On request and at the discretion of the VP, and in collaboration with the PLT and Directors, oversee early design of new strategies and manage new strategy teams that come online in the future
  • Coordination within and across the Program team (e.g., Advocacy and Public Affairs, Strategic Partnerships & Initiatives, Planning & Management) to support strategies in implementation of cross-cutting portions of their work
  • Coordination with other functions across the organization (e.g. Investments, Communications) to set and maintain clear operating models across teams, run point and interface to advance cross-cutting work, and identify opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing
  • Develop and maintain a positive team culture of respect, collaboration, accountability, learning, and equity where individual strengths are recognized and used effectively and everyone feels clear on how their work drives toward impact; role model strong management capabilities
  • Support team collaboration to increase impact, including by identifying opportunities for shared learning and cross-strategy investments/partnerships
  • In Collaboration with Planning & Management, provide insights and inputs to on-going Program Team learning and process improvements to maximize our impact
  • Support team on principle and executive leadership engagement, including giving input on and editing briefs, developing cross-strategy briefing materials, and running briefing sessions
  • Approve funding opportunities and support strategies through funding approval by providing strategic counsel, identifying opportunities, building on cutting edge practices of philanthropy, and helping teams with internal stakeholder management


Member of Program Strategy Leadership Team: The Program Leadership Team’s (PLT) purpose is to help advance the overall performance of the Program Strategy Team.

  • As a member, actively participate in both shaping and exhibiting the qualities that engender team success and a productive, positive team culture
  • With Leadership Team colleagues, share information within the team and across Pivotal (on cross-team intersections), provide strategic counsel on the Program Team, identify and lead on opportunities for collaboration with the Program Team and across the organization, and share accountability to topline goals of the Program Team
  • Alongside PLT colleagues, help set and advance the strategic direction and goals of the team, provide input on high priority Program Team projects, and serve as a Pivotal-wide leader ensuring the work of the Program Team is visible and understood by the organization
  • Work with the Senior Director, Planning and Management, the PLT and Program Strategy Directors to develop points of view on cross-strategy topics like sustainable exits, innovation models, partner convenings, use of intermediaries, etc. informed by philanthropy best practices and cross-team goals and learnings
  • Work with PLT, Program Strategy Directors, and internal teams across the organization to successfully implement points of view and best practices and continuously improve systems and processes
  • Apply a racial and gender equity lens to across all work, including supporting Strategy Directors in incorporating racial and gender equity into their strategies and ensuring equity is considered in process improvement efforts


To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential function satisfactorily. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skills, and/or behavior required to be successful in this role:

  • Expert people management skills, including coaching and people development, ability to successfully lead multiple and complex teams with diverse priorities and needs, and “clear brush” or remove barriers in order for the team to advance its work
  • A can-do attitude with experience conceiving, developing and executing various projects from inception to completion, especially pertaining to investments, campaigns and or programs
  • An analytical thinker with ability to parse and distill complex information, seeing a project through to its conclusion, bringing relevant stakeholders along
  • Ability to be objective when absorbing and presenting information. Able to be an honest broker of all ideas and information without bias or overinterpretation; brings a data backed point of view
  • Expertise in programmatic, philanthropic and/or private investment strategy development and grant making (end to end) with a focus on long-term planning and implementation against identified goals and building strategies that leverage a variety of innovative approaches and assets (e.g., private investment, philanthropic capital, voice, social movement, etc.) to drive impact
  • Strong writing ability with experience writing for multiple audiences; clear and coherent writing style
  • Ability to work informally as well as formally to collaborate with others to achieve results; present information coherently; ability to remain credible and objective while maintaining a personable and favorable disposition
  • An ability to conduct work with discretion and confidentiality
  • An ease with ambiguity, white space and grace under pressure
  • Learning posture and humble disposition with an ability to acknowledge own limitations and expertise with resolve
  • Sense of humor essential


  • 15+ years of experience in non-profit sector, private sector, academia, government, philanthropy or policy, including at least 5 years of experience in philanthropy
  • 8+ years of experience managing teams, including experience managing people managers
  • Success in inspiring and developing a flexible and self-directed team of colleagues; an accessible, supportive management style that inspires trust; motivates staff to work hard and well together and provides a clear sense of direction
  • Experience developing broad, multifaceted strategies with multiple components along with key stakeholders. Ability to draw connections across disparate data points and opportunities to provide leadership and ‘vision’ development and to execute multiple strategies to achieve vision
  • Expertise in grantmaking and/or direct investing, funding different types of entities (e.g., non-profit, c4) and developing and managing partnerships; carrying out work with discretion and strong commitment to integrity and follow through
  • Knowledge and direct experience with strategy development, portfolio development, grant-making and management, monitoring and evaluation, communications and relationship/partnership management
  • Deep experience working in and on social progress and familiarity with current equity initiatives in the private sector, non-profits, and philanthropy in the US
  • Experience working with and on behalf of senior leadership
  • Ability to successfully manage complex internal and external stakeholder engagement with humility and humor
  • Deep knowledge of and deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion best practices and issues and willingness to continuously learn and grow in this area
  • Track record of incorporating a gender and racial equity lens in work


  • Familiarity and network connections to leaders and organizations working to advance gender equity and adolescent mental health in the US
  • Experience working on complex problems and collaboratively crafting solutions that have the potential for transformational change in the lives of people around the world

To apply for this job please visit www.pivotalventures.org.