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General Counsel - The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Hybrid - Los Altos, CA

About The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation work with people and communities to create enduring solutions for just societies and a healthy, resilient natural world. Over their nearly 60-year history, they have worked with thousands of organizations and leaders in the U.S. and worldwide to advance progress in the critical areas of science, ocean and land conservation, climate change, women’s reproductive health and rights, and the well-being of children, families, and communities. At a time of multiple, intertwined crises globally and here in the U.S., the Packard Foundation began in 2021 a long-planned review of our grantmaking strategies. The first step of their process was to rearticulate their vision and mission, reexamine their organizational values, and create a strategic framework that builds on and honors the Packard Foundation’s past while advancing justice and equity in all that they do.

Their Vision

A just and equitable world where both people and nature flourish.  

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s new vision embraces a future where both people and nature flourish in a more just and equitable world. They explicitly acknowledge that the fate of people and the natural environment are inextricably linked. Solutions to the complex challenges they face must account for this interconnectedness.

Their Mission

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation work with people and communities to create enduring solutions for just societies and a healthy, resilient natural world.

Their new mission takes on the critical work of addressing root causes of the challenges they face and mobilizing people for collective action. In addition to building on approaches that have guided their philanthropy for decades — working in partnership, committing to issues over the long-term, and grounding their work in science, knowledge, and data – they focus on understanding the systems that either accelerate or impede progress. It is only through just and equitable systems that they can find and sustain solutions to some of the biggest challenges they face today.

Their Values

Equity, Integrity, Belief in Individual Leadership, Thinking Big, Respect, and Effectiveness.

In addition to clarifying their long-held values, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation added equity. They will champion equity by treating people with dignity, honoring a range of ideas and perspectives from those closest to the issues, creating inclusive processes, and funding people who have been historically excluded to spur progress for all.  For more information, including their definitions of key concepts, please visit our website (https://www.packard.org/).

About the Department

The purpose of the Office of General Counsel is to oversee all legal work for the Foundation, advise the Board and management, support grantmaking and other activities, and ensure compliance with tax laws governing private foundations.  The General Counsel will manage a team of legal professionals including three attorneys and one operations coordinator.  

About the Role

Reporting to the President and Chief Executive Officer, the General Counsel will oversee the Foundation’s legal affairs and provide guidance for strategy development, grant making, contracting, governance, and other areas.  The General Counsel will partner closely with senior leaders, operations, grants administration, and program staff to provide timely and comprehensive advice and training on Foundation related risk management and legal issues.  This person must have deep knowledge about how foundations operate and the legal requirements that private foundations must follow.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

  • Provide strategic legal advice to the President and CEO, the Board, executive leadership team and the entire staff of 200 employees as an integral member of the Executive Team.
  • Advise the Board, draft board resolutions and take minutes of Board and Committee meetings for accurate recordkeeping and legal compliance.
  • Oversee and handle legal issues including grantmaking, operations, contracts, investments, tax, risk management, employment, corporate governance, compliance, regulatory, international, litigation, government relations, and intellectual property.
  • Identify, review, and prioritize legal issues that affect the Foundation at the local, state, federal and international levels. Support management and staff on these issues.
  • Prepare written analysis with conclusions, recommendations, policy suggestions, and proposed implementation plans to meet the Foundation’s standards of integrity and effectiveness and goal of creating staff friendly policies and internal systems.
  • Build, manages and develop legal team to ensure work activities are completed in a professional, accurate, and timely manner. Assist the team in handling special projects in an effective and efficient manner.
  • Oversee the continuing education of staff on legal issues and keeps abreast of the field
  • Manage relationship with outside counsel as well as manage legal budget and outside counsel spend.
  • Works closely with Grants & Data Operations to ensure the compliance of grants.
  • Oversees legislative and regulatory developments that impact Foundations and keeps others informed regarding key legal issues.
  • Provides oversight to ERISA funds as a member of the ERISA Committee.
  • Represents the Foundation to outside groups and provides leadership to the fields of work.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • 15 years legal experience and admission to the California bar.
  • J.D. from an accredited institution and prior employment at a major law firm, in-house corporation, or work at a private foundation or large nonprofit is preferred.
  • Specific experience advising private foundation clients is a plus.
  • Experience advising governing boards and senior management of complex, international organizations.
  • Passionate supporter of The Foundation’s missions including the critical areas of science, ocean and land conservation, climate change, democracy, racial justice and equity, women’s reproductive rights and the well-being of children, families, and communities.
  • Demonstrated working knowledge of laws applicable to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations and laws applicable to private foundations, including in certain foreign jurisdictions.
  • Excellent judgment as reflected in a robust career of providing counsel to clients as well as a commitment to and practice of the Foundation values.
  • Strong analytical skills and ability to understand complex and nuanced legal as well as explain those to non-lawyers.
  • Discretion in handing sensitive and confidential information, excellent attention to detail and ability to interface in a professional, courteous, culturally sensitive and tactful manner.
  • Effective collaboration and coaching skills as well as excellent verbal, written, and presentation skills.

The position is full-time, exempt. The salary for this position starts at $450,000 annually. Offers are based on the candidate’s years of experience and our practice of upholding salary equity within the foundation.

Hybrid Work Policy

The Packard Foundation’s current Hybrid Work Policy is that staff are expected to be in the office in Los Altos on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week.


The David and Lucile Packard Foundation requires that all staff be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, except as required by law. Any employment offer will be contingent upon satisfactory proof that you are fully vaccinated from COVID-19, subject to reasonable accommodations for medical or religious reasons, and/or as otherwise required by applicable law.

The David Lucile and Packard Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ applicants. The David Lucile and Packard Foundation lives the values it supports. Our green headquarters is net zero energy and LEED® Platinum. Our bathrooms are gender neutral. Employees get a full week of paid time each year to volunteer with a non-profit of their choice. The Foundation also has a generous donation matching program for staff.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has exclusively engaged Kerwin to conduct this search.  Any resumes sent directly to The David and Lucile Packard Foundation will be forwarded to Kerwin.  If you are interested in speaking about or applying for this role, please contact Anne Kerwin Payne (anne@kerwin.com) at Kerwin or Maddie Murray (maddie@kerwin.com).

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