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Director of Science, Food Initiative, Rockefeller Foundation (a Science Philanthropy Alliance member)

The Rockefeller Foundation is seeking a Director of Science to join the Food team. The Director will contribute to the development and execution of a multi-year initiative to advance a more nourishing and sustainable food system. The Director will work under the direction of a Managing Director to identify and understand key scientific issues, global trends, challenges and opportunities in the global food system. This will require working with the Food team and other staff—as well as a broader community of grantees, experts, and partners—to develop the strategy and ensure our work reflects the latest scientific knowledge. These partnerships could take a variety of forms, ranging from traditional grant structures to strategic partnerships to innovative financing mechanisms.

In addition to supporting the development of the food strategy, the Director will be responsible for helping to develop and manage the Food team’s portfolio of grants, supporting external partnership development, and conducting targeted analysis on key scientific topics as needed. A successful candidate will bring demonstrated science experience, sophisticated understanding of the global food system, a track record of innovation and foundational knowledge of key issues, trends and actors. To be effective in this role, the candidate must be able to advance work independently. They should bring a passion and energy for discovering food, nutrition and agriculture solutions that can create lasting impact.

Location: New York, NY

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

The Director will be responsible for:

  • Helping the Food Team assess science based opportunities, which includes shaping criteria to inform decision-making and evaluating incoming pipeline of individual ideas, grant proposals and opportunities. This will require a deep understanding of nutrition science, food systems and agricultural science.
  • Supporting the management of a portfolio of grants within the Food initiative, which includes understanding the capacity and effectiveness of potential grantees, designing and writing grant memos and other key documents, managing grantee relationships, and conducting site visits and other monitoring activities.
  • Collaborating with grantees to maximize impact from their work; ensures methodological rigor.
  • Bringing intellectual leadership and creative thinking to the design and development of new areas within Food; identifying high-impact opportunities and flexibly and effectively responding to those opportunities.
  • Initiating and executing an implementation strategy, working as a member of a team.
  • Working with staff, grantees and partners to facilitate monitoring, evaluation and learning.
  • Cultivating and building relationships with external experts, funders, and partners that expand The Rockefeller Foundation’s ability to deliver maximum impact.
  • Representing the Foundation in diverse communities, including speaking engagements, attending conferences and participating in other key internal and external meetings.
  • Partnering with other Food team members and colleagues across the Foundation’s initiatives to ensure cross fertilization of ideas.

Education, Experience and Skills

  • PhD in any of the following related areas: nutrition, food systems, ecology or environmental science.
  • A minimum of 8-10 years’ related working experience.
  • Proven science expertise and experience across the disciplines of nutrition and food systems with depth in areas such as metabolomics, genomics, proteomics, etc.
  • Experience developing, managing and implementing multi-party projects with defined objectives, deliverables, monitoring and evaluation of results preferred.
  • Demonstrated ability to identify and develop innovations.
  • Experience across academic, research, private and public sectors preferred.
  • Experience with evaluative research methods and system thinking needed.
  • Work experience in emerging markets, with nuanced understanding of international development helpful.

Qualifications and Competencies

  • Data and Analytics: Experience with latest big data tools and methodologies.
  • Leadership: Vision, innovation, thought leadership, collaboration, integrity, accountability and emotional intelligence.
  • People Management: Skills in team building, coaching, mentoring, delegating, inspiring and motivating.
  • Strategic Ability: Ability to see opportunities, design innovative approaches backed by strong analysis and planning. Experience in system thinking and practice preferred.
  • Execution: Strong project management skills, deadline management, sense of responsibility and accountability and the ability to effectively multi-task.
  • Partnership and Relationship Building: Strong professional representation of the Foundation, interpersonal relationship abilities, intercultural knowledge and appreciation, strategic partnership building.
  • Integration: Ability to demonstrate inclusiveness, collaboration, respect and broad organizational interests.
  • Communication: Strong interpersonal and communication abilities; exceptional listening written and verbal skills.

Supervision Received

This position is supervised by and reports to the Managing Director, Food Initiative.

Supervision Exercised

This position may involve supervisory responsibilities of Program Associates, consultants and interns.


The Rockefeller Foundation is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunity and to compliance with all federal, state, and local laws concerning employment discrimination, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. To this end, the Foundation ensures equal opportunity to all employees and applicants regardless of race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, national origin or ancestry, citizenship, lawful alien status, physical, mental, and medical disability, veteran status or liability for service in the United States Armed Forces.

The Rockefeller Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer.