Portfolio Director, Education

Palo Alto, CA /
Social Innovation/Philanthropy – Grants /
Full time


Emerson Collective deploys a wide range of tools — from impact investing to philanthropy to advocacy — in pursuit of a more equal and just America. We focus on creating systemic change in education, immigration, climate, and cancer research and treatment. Established and led by Laurene Powell Jobs, we work to create new possibilities for individuals and communities.
Emerson Collective is impatient but optimistic, and bold but pragmatic in its approach. To meet the ambitious goals of its founder, Emerson Collective is seeking colleagues with both the audacity to dream up new ways to improve the world, and the determination to make them a reality. 

The Opportunity

Among EC’s important tools for change is its portfolio of philanthropic partnerships with entrepreneurs and nonprofits. As a key member of EC’s grantmaking team, this Portfolio Director will play a lead role in supporting and building the education portfolio, which consists of nonprofit organizations working on a range of efforts, including high school re-design, teacher preparation, and the creation of tools, data, and reporting to support education decision makers. While the primary focus is on high school and college education within the United States, this Portfolio Director may at times also take on international education issues.
The Portfolio Director will help shape philanthropic investment strategy, conduct research and due diligence on potential partners and new areas of investment, and advise and support partners. They will have the opportunity to leverage the tools and offerings of other teams across EC, including convening, advocacy, communications and capacity building. They will focus primarily on education topics, but will also learn about and engage in other areas of EC’s work, including environmental justice, immigration, global health equity, and social justice. We believe that the root causes of the challenges we seek to overcome are similar, and because we believe that engagement in divergent learning leads to better outcomes for all of our teams.

Roles and Responsibilities

    • Design and execute grantmaking strategies for the Education portfolio, including identifying priority issues, gaps, and key organizations. Areas of interest might include identifying innovative models that: focus on high school redesign; promote opportunity, access, and success for underserved populations; create accessible data, reports and tools for parents, educators, policy makers, chiefs, districts and the public; and build strong teacher pipelines and teacher preparation programs
    • Lead due diligence on potential partner organizations. This entails researching organizations, leading diligence meetings and calls, analyzing financial documents, evaluating potential for success and strategic alignment, summarizing findings, making strategic recommendations, and regularly presenting investment recommendations to EC’s philanthropic decision making committee
    • Provide guidance and hands-on support to EC partners in the Education portfolio. They will also proactively identify new connections or collaboration opportunities across the EC portfolio, as well as within EC’s support system (e.g., convening, advocacy, communications, capacity building). This will require leading relationships with partners, large and small, early-stage and mature, and serving as their primary point of contact
    • Convene partners, experts, and other thought leaders, particularly those with local knowledge and first-hand experience, when there are opportunities to advance the work of EC or the field
    • Support the creation of new communications content that tells the stories of EC’s partners and the people they serve to build storytelling for the field and help a broader audience of people engage with education-related content.
    • Write or edit education content for internal and external use, as requested or as appropriate to advance the work
    • Provide thought leadership, focused on education, within and beyond EC
    • Conduct research and landscape analyses to assess and recommend potential new areas for support that reflect EC’s creative approach to funding
    • Stay abreast of developments in the education field in order to put the work of our current partners into context
    • Codify and analyze what EC is seeing and learning in the field to inform our team, our work, and our partners
    • Actively interface and leverage other cross-collaborative initiatives at EC that impact education, including XQ, investing, communications, and other teams to ensure connectivity and build a cohesive and integrated strategy. EC believes strongly that cross-pollination of ideas and solutions leads to more lasting and catalytic change
    • Perform other duties as assigned

Qualifications, Skills, and Requirements

    • At least 10 – 15 years of work experience in the education field at a nonprofit, foundation, or government entity; teaching experience a plus
    • Substantive knowledge of the education field; knowledge of the policy landscape a plus
    • Excellent oral and written communication
    • Strong analytic skills including experience conducting research, analyzing data, synthesizing information, and making strategic recommendations
    • Proven ability to manage and provide leadership in multiple external relationships with high levels of empathy and responsiveness
    • Ability to manage and prioritize multiple responsibilities within a fast-paced environment
    • Established track record of exceeding goals and objectives
    • Bachelor's Degree or equivalent experience required

Emerson Collective is a Bay Area-based organization with offices in Chicago, New York, Oakland, Palo Alto, and Washington, D.C. This position is based in Palo Alto, CA will require periodic travel but will generally not exceed 35-40% of time.     


The salary for this role is highly competitive and commensurate with experience. Emerson Collective offers excellent organizational benefits. 

Building a diverse and inclusive workforce is key to our mission and values as we strive to create systematic change and open possibilities for all of the communities we serve. To that end, we provide equal employment opportunities to all applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability or genetics.