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Philanthropy: Do Journalists Make Good Program Officers?

BancheroThis piece from Inside Philanthropy asks and tries to answer the very good question: Why the Joyce Foundation Chose a Wall Street Journal Reporter to Lead Its Education Program.  

At Joyce, Banchero will be Senior Program Officer and report directly to Joyce President Ellen Alberding. She'll be using her reporters' skills to dig into programs and make decisions about who gets funded or re-funded.  

This is in contrast to other ed journalists who have gone to work in writing or communications capacities for the USDE (Hoff, Turner), or a nonprofit (Chenoweth, Aarons, Sipchen) or a communications firm (Zuckerbrod, etc.).  

Banchero isn't the only reporter to have a grantmaking or programmatic role.  EdWeek's Lynn Olsen at Gates is deeply involved in programmatic decisions, and just the other week Michele McNeil announced she was going to work for the College Board -- in a policy position. Three makes a trend, right? 

Of course, being a good reporter doesn't mean you'll be a good program officer.  Journalists are typically quick studies and great at boiling things down but not too many have studied education policy or know much about evaluation or philanthropy, or know when it's their turn to buy the next round, or how to manage larger long-term projects or how to suck up to board members.

Previous posts here, here, and here.


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