Circle of Service Foundation (“COSF” or the “Foundation”) makes grants in the areas of Community Services, Education, Jewish Community, Medical Research, Violence Reduction, Climate, and Voting Rights.

COSF seeks a Senior Program Officer possessing the strategic vision to drive the Foundation’s Medical Research Program in Chicago, the US, and internationally.  Key attributes include the commitment and desire to bring new approaches to research, community, and university collaboration and to accelerate the translation of medical knowledge from research into practice.

The Senior Program Officer coordinates all aspects of the Foundation’s Medical Research Program, including review of grant applications, as well as development, implementation, and administration of existing and new programs.

The Senior Program Officer represents the Foundation among not-for-profits, professional organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies, working to find and champion networks and opportunities for partnerships that advance the goals of the Foundation’s Medical Research Program.  The Foundation funds a broad spectrum of programs that range from data-driven methods to address health inequities to breakthrough advances in biomedical research such as cancer immunotherapy.

The Senior Program Officer reports to the Foundation Vice President and works in close collaboration with the Foundation staff and under the aegis of the Foundation’s Medical Research Committee, a Foundation Board committee.


Function and Purpose of the Position:

  • Identify, evaluate, and monitor grant recommendations within the scope of the Medical Research program.
  • Develop and support strategic grant-related activities, internal and external to COSF.
  • Seek leading-edge partnerships among peer grant-making organizations, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations that focus on innovative medical research and healthcare.

Key Roles and Responsibilities (50-75%):

  • Evaluate grant proposals.  Assess applicants’ leadership, fiscal health, program design, and capacity, using qualitative and quantitative criteria.
  • Serve as the Foundation’s content-area expert, partnering with medical researchers, clinicians, community health care providers, and development staff at organizations, including volunteer organizations and government agencies.
  • Monitor emerging medical research and trends in life sciences and new technologies. Identify those that will have the biggest impact on disease, spanning research focused on new therapeutic modalities, disease mechanisms, and digital platforms that help collect and distill biological and clinical data.
  • Function as a trusted advisor and convener. Develop and maintain strong relationships with grant applicants and recipients.
  • Synthesize and adapt ideas across the Medical Research giving area.
  • Solicit and review grant proposals, conduct site visits, and collect information necessary for a thorough evaluation of grant proposals.

Program Development and Implementation, Partnership and Learning (25-30%)

  • Develop strategic guidelines for the Foundation’s Medical Research program.
  • Lead Medical Research activities, with an orientation towards organizational learning and continuous improvement.
  • Champion partnerships and collaborations which advance COSF’s Medical Research priorities.
  • Plan and lead Medical Research Committee meetings that are thought-provoking. Prepare meeting materials in a timely fashion for distribution.

Foundation-Wide Projects and Discussions (10-15%)

  • Work closely with others to coordinate and delegate work to program team members.
  • Participate in regular internal discussions to provide program-area updates with team members and others to foster Foundation collaboration and learning.

Preferred Qualifications, Characteristics and Experience:

  • Advanced degree in science, medicine, public health, or related field preferred.
  • Substantial experience in roles of significant professional responsibility in the medical research field, community non-profit healthcare, and/or the philanthropic sector.
  • Understanding of current trends in basic and clinical research.
  • Critical thinking skills, intellectual curiosity; excellent qualitative and quantitative analytical skills.
  • Demonstrated creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Attentive to detail; able to manage multiple projects simultaneously; excellent time-management skills. Self-motivated and self-directed with ability to lead projects independently.
  • Flexibility to assume additional responsibilities, as requested.
  • Software skills: Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook; aptitude for learning new software.


Additional Information:

  • Full-time position.
  • Compensation: Competitive and commensurate with experience. The salary range for the position will be discussed early in the interview process.
  • Available benefits:
    Insurance: Health, Dental, Life Insurance, Disability, Vision, Long-Term Care
    401(k) Retirement Plan
    Flexible Spending Account
    Sick/Personal time
    Matching gift program
    Tuition Assistance
    Health Saving Account
  • All Foundation coworkers are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including a “booster shot,” or to have been approved for a legally required accommodation.

Remote Work Policy:

The COSF office is in Downtown Chicago. COSF currently expects all team members to work onsite in its Downtown Chicago office two days per week. It is possible that COSF will increase in-office expectations. COSF has announced to coworkers, however, that, even if there are further increases, COSF will not increase in-office expectations to more than four days per week, so some amount of hybrid work will continue indefinitely.

When appropriate, travel to locations throughout Cook and Lake counties in Illinois. National travel for site visits, meetings, and/or conferences is also expected.

Commitment to a Diverse and Inclusive Team:

The Foundation is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and actively invites applications from individuals who identify as a member of a traditionally marginalized and/or underrepresented community.

Essential Functions and Requirements:

The information contained in this job description is intended to convey information about the essential functions and requirements of the position.  It is not an exhaustive list of the skills, efforts, duties, responsibilities, or working conditions associated with the opportunity.

Background Check and Pre-Employment Drug Test:

Please note that we will conduct a criminal background check prior to finalizing an offer, but we will use it in compliance with Illinois law – primarily to assess whether a candidate has one or more criminal convictions that would have a substantial relationship with the position.
We will also require a pre-employment drug test after a conditional offer of employment has been extended, noting that we will only test for drugs that are not legal under Illinois law.


Please apply via the site below. Please contact careers@cosfoundation.org if you have difficulty submitting your application via the provided application portal and/or have other technical concerns.  The application review process will start immediately and continue until the position is filled.


About Circle of Service Foundation

Circle of Service Foundation is a Chicago-based foundation that makes grants in the areas of Community Services, Education, Jewish Community, Medical Research, Violence Reduction, Climate, and Voting Rights.