Nate Brown, Senior Program Officer


Born in Connecticut and educated at Stanford, Nate Brown honed his business acumen as an investment banker in New York City. However, wanting a career that was more “socially beneficial,” Nate first took a position as a strategy and finance manager for New York’s Edison Schools and then as Director of Operations for the New York City Department of Education before joining the foundation in DC. As a Senior Program Officer for the U.S. Program, Nate helps develop and implement strategies that support the foundation’s long-term, domestic educational goals. Nate talks candidly about his passion for helping children succeed and why ego doesn’t work at the foundation.

I work closely with school districts on how they can increase effective teaching by prioritizing student’s greatest needs. I help them think about how to maximize their financial and human resources effectively to benefit the children they serve. In addition to stewardship, in a program officer role, you are immediately part of process and strategy. You strive to be a critical friend to our partners and marshal all the resources you can–financial and non-financial–to support them. In short, I get to help kids. It’s a wonderful part of what I do.

The caliber of my colleagues is humbling. Smarts and passion at every level. I am surrounded by brilliant people who want to change the world and who believe it is a privilege to leave the world a better place. I’ve never worked anywhere like this. You’d have to be a stone to not feel inspired by the mission.

You can see results here, faster. Big resources and a big brand move markets. That’s just a fact. Wielding that kind of influence for good is infinitely rewarding.

I was on a learning trip in Memphis with Bill and Melinda, traveling in a van from location to location, meeting with district leaders and others. I can tell you, those two are the real deal. They are so committed and everything they said was insightful and demonstrated their exceptional knowledge of the issues. For the first time in my career, I walked away with the impression that the organization’s leaders could actually do my job better than I could! To say the experience was moving would be an understatement. I left feeling truly privileged and honored to work for them.

Anything’s possible if you don’t care who gets the credit. It’s about the work and the people you affect, not a need for public affirmation.

Leave your ego at the door. A big ego or drive to climb a corporate ladder will not lead to success within this organization. Ultimately, partners—not mavericks—succeed here.

If you asked me five years ago what would be my dream job, I would not have said the nonprofit sector and certainly not philanthropy.

Many of us who joined are doers. The reality is that you are more of a shaper or molder. We would all love to “do” but that’s not our role here. Instead, we foster the ability of others to “do.”

We make mistakes and some investments don’t work out, but the time we spend with the people we are helping is always awe inspiring.

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