Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation

Program Officer
Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation New York, NY

The Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation is dedicated to the survival of wildlife and wildlands and to the vitality of human communities with which they are inextricably linked.

The Search

The Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation (LCAOF), a private independent grant maker based in New York, seeks its first Program Officer. The Foundation’s founders, a legendary fashion duo, created LCAOF in 1987, following a life changing safari trip to Africa where they were exposed to the plight of endangered wild animals, their habitats, and the human communities linked to them. Since then, the Foundation has invested more than $75 million to support community-based conservation in critically threatened locations throughout the world.

With the infusion of new assets following the death of Art Ortenberg in 2014, LCAOF is poised to extend its reach and pursue new opportunities. It anticipates an annual grant making budget of about $9 million by 2020 (double its 2016 budget).  


Since its founding the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation has focused on species and areas of greatest threat worldwide, with special attention to the role of communities working locally to address problems of diminishing natural resources. It has played an instrumental role in supporting tiger conservation across Asia; wildlife management in Central and East Africa, with an emphasis on elephants; wildlife conservation in Madagascar; jaguar conservation in Central and South America; and conservation of coastal and marine wildlife and ecosystems in Patagonia. The Foundation also supports wildlife and habitat conservation in the Northern Rockies. The Foundation has also organized several important conferences to explore and promote community-based conservation in the United States and East Africa.

Proposals are considered on an ‘invitation-only’ basis only. Grants are typically made on an annual basis and range from $15,000 to as much as $500,000.  Recognizing that conservation is long term work, the Foundation has a history of sustained support for certain field projects in addition to shorter term grants for promising, innovative strategies to address key threats.

To maximize its grant making impact, the Foundation has a small, nimble staff including an Executive Director, Program/Administrative Coordinator and part time bookkeeper. The Foundation’s work is overseen by two Trustees. A seven-member Advisory Board advises staff and the Trustees on grant proposals and conservation strategy. The Trustees, staff and Advisory Board meet twice annually to discuss strategic issues. Most grant decisions are made on a rolling basis between these meetings, with staff making recommendations for Trustee approval following input from the Advisory Board Chair and Members.

The hallmarks of LCAOF grant making have been to make long-term investments while holding grantees accountable; to respond quickly to unexpected community challenges or opportunities; to understand that outstanding leadership is critical to program success; and to recognize that a relationship does not end with a grant award but is the start of a continuing dialogue and partnership.

Program Officer Position

With a significantly larger grant budget, there will be major opportunities to expand into new areas and to extend the Foundation’s work. The Program Officer will be expected to become deeply knowledgeable about the Foundation’s current portfolio of grants and projects and help shape future program partners, direction and strategies.  

For this pivotal role, LCAOF seeks an individual who is deeply committed to wildlife and community-based conservation, and who is skilled at collaborating with others to forge a shared vision, set goals and manage for results. The successful candidate will have deep respect for and a sense of partnership with the grantee community, while setting high expectations for tangible outcomes and impact. A track record of success, collaboration, analytical skills, rigorous judgment and careful follow-through are all important qualities for this position.

See job description for additional candidate qualifications and application information.