The Universities of Wisconsin are a premier system of public higher education serving more than 162,000 students. Awarding nearly 37,000 degrees annually, the universities are Wisconsin’s talent pipeline, putting graduates in position to increase their earning power, contribute to their communities, and make Wisconsin a better place to live. Through a constellation of 13 universities statewide, the Universities of Wisconsin are a tremendous academic, cultural, and economic resource for Wisconsin, the nation, and the world.

Through consulting, education and data analysis, the Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship (IBE) serves Wisconsin’s aspiring, new and established small businesses to improve performance and increase capabilities for success. IBE program units include Small Business Development Center, Center for Technology Commercialization, Food Finance Institute, and Business Dynamics Research Consortium.

The Food Finance Institute’s (FFI) mission is to make sophisticated financial technical assistance available to every growing food and farm business. We equip entrepreneurs to get profitable and raise money through high quality training, meaningful industry connections/partnerships and on-demand digital resources.


The Food Business Program Manager will be responsible for designing, updating, and managing FFI’s suite of training, coaching, consulting, data/research, speaking engagements, projects, and content for our growing and scaling food brand customer base. All work will support the Food Finance Institute and their mission to both make sophisticated financial technical assistance available to every growing food, beverage, and value-added farm enterprise, all while centering justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in all work. This individual will bring a unique skill set and background in scaling food businesses, financing food business growth, financial management, education and outreach.

The position will report directly to the Director of the Food Finance Institute. This position requires extensive contact with people outside of the University, including bankers, investors, food entrepreneurs, managers and professionals; elected officials; economic development organization leaders and staff; media; and the general public. Occasional travel within and outside the state and occasional evenings are required.  Providing or performing other related services or duties as needed will also be expected.

Program Strategy, Innovation and Fundraising (15% – 20%)

  • Develop annual program plan, outreach strategy, and budget
  • Co-develop strategy for FFI with FFI Director and other program leads
  • Identify and recruit sponsors into our programs who contribute cash and inkind support for our ongoing work
  • Identify opportunities for new products or content development
  • Generate revenue through new contracted work or programming ideas

Food Business Related Program Management (10% – 15%)

  • Manage FFI’s suite of growing and scaling (food brand-related) products including: Training (e.g. Food Brand Boot Camp, Raising Equity, Scenario Planning), Coaching (e.g. cohorts/packages), Consulting (e.g. financial packaging, one-on-one hourly consulting), Research (e.g. feasibility studies), speaking, and projects
    • Annually and intermittently review suite of products to evaluate effectiveness and revise or adapt as needed
  • Manage independent contractors and program staff as needed to support program management and delivery
  • Maintain records and track business impacts as needed to ensure client and partner data, project timelines and deliverables, and impacts are tracked both for internal reporting and external reporting to stakeholders
  • Understand, leverage, and make strategic decisions for data purchases (e.g. market research, category data)  to support growing and scaling food businesses

Deliver Food Business-Specific Training and Consulting (40% – 65%)

  • Provide group coaching and one-on-one consulting to food businesses across Wisconsin and the broader United States, in particular around being prepared to raise money and
  • Effectively deliver training to a wide array of growing and scaling food businesses across categories (snacks, beverage, pizza, ice cream, sauces, frozen, etc.) and industries (processing, emerging technology, food and beverage)
  • Leverage food brand experience to develop content to support food business related products

Food Business Program Outreach and Development (20% – 30%)

  • Build and maintain partnerships with organizations like the FaB Wisconsin, Naturally Network, New Hope Media (Expo West), and economic development groups
  • Work with Small Business Development Centers, UW Division of Extension, regional universities, technical colleges, and local governments to serve appropriate business clients and obtain qualified client referrals and contracts for service
  • Generate awareness and referrals for FFI and IBE among food business service providers including, finance professionals like commercial lenders, alternative capital providers, accounting and legal professionals, packaging providers, etc.
  • Procure new leads and contracts for food business-related services and trainings
  • Participate in IBE workgroups and committees as needed


  • Demonstrated food business management experience and/or ownership experience is necessary, along with comfort writing and reviewing business plans
  • Experience coaching, training or consulting with other food businesses / entrepreneurs
  • Highly customer service oriented, possessing effective oral and written communication skills to proactively work with food business owners to identify challenges and opportunities, and help craft solutions
  • The selected candidate must demonstrate the ability and means to meet the travel requirements (in and out of the State of Wisconsin)


  • A Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) with emphasis on business, marketing or finance is preferred
  • Natural food business category experience
  • Experience working with impact investment
  • Market research or data analysis experience


  • A proven track record of achieving results working with/in a food business to grow and scale its reach and finance that growth
  • Knowledge of food related financial management (budgeting, accounting) principles, and experience preparing financial projections for a food-focused business, interpreting and analyzing financial statements, creating financial plans and advising on financial restructuring and business growth.
  • Understanding of how to align sources and uses of funding to finance food business needs and growth including financing mechanisms such as traditional loans, equity, impact investing, etc.
  • A demonstrated understanding of different growth trajectories and business models available to food-focused businesses including developing local, regional, national growth strategies and business models for consumer packaged good brands, small scale processing, processing and emerging tech business models.
  • Active listening, clear communication and the ability to put yourself in the clients¿ (food businesses or food business consultants) shoes



Inclusive Excellence is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation for Universities of Wisconsin. We value the contributions of each person and respect the profound ways their identity, culture, background, experience, status, abilities, and opinion enrich the Universities of Wisconsin community. We commit ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning, research, scholarship, creative activity, community service, and diversity as inextricably linked goals. Universities of Wisconsin fulfills its public mission by creating a welcoming and inclusive community for people from every background – people who serve the State of Wisconsin and the public good.
Universities of Wisconsin is required to conduct a criminal background and sexual harassment check for the selected finalist prior to employment.

Please note that successful applicants are responsible for ensuring their eligibility to work in the United States (i.e., a citizen or national of the United States, a lawful permanent resident, a foreign national authorized to work in the United States without the need of employer sponsorship) on or before the effective date of appointment.

Telecommuting or hybrid work options may be available.  Preference will be given to candidates that reside within the state of Wisconsin or are willing to relocate. Occasional travel within Wisconsin and outside the state and occasional evenings are required. The office is located at 780 Regent Street in Madison WI. Telecommuting agreements are subject to change at any time.

The Food Business Program Manager (official title: Project Program Manager) is considered a part- or full-time (80% – 100% position. 0.8 FTE – 1.0 FTE), Academic Staff position that is salaried and FLSA exempt. Well-qualified candidates can expect a starting annual salary within the range of $75,000 – $105,000 (pro-rated if less than 100%), commensurate with the candidate’s education, related experience, and qualifications

Universities of Wisconsin employees receive an excellent benefits package. To learn more about the benefits package, review the Faculty, Academic Staff & Limited Appointees. Please see this link for total compensation information: UW System Health & Retirement Contributions Estimator.

To ensure full consideration, please submit application materials as soon as possible. Applicant screening will begin immediately and be ongoing through 11:59 pm, Monday June 3rd 2024. However, applications may be accepted until the position has been filled.

  1. Go to the UWSA Applicant Portal to submit your materials online and select the appropriate applicant portal, either External Applicants or Internal Applicants  and click on the position title that you want to apply for.
  2. To receive full consideration, interested applicants are required to apply online and provide:
  • Resume (PDF Format)
  • Cover letter addressing your experience and education as it applies to all minimum and preferred qualifications (PDF Format)

Failing to submit the required application documents may disqualify your application.

3. Submit your application.

If you need to request an accommodation because of a disability, you can find information about how to make a request by contacting Sarah Wilson, HR Business Partner, at

The Universities of Wisconsin will not reveal the identities of applicants who request confidentiality in writing, except that the identity of the successful candidate will be released. See Wis. Stat. §. 19.36(7).

Qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to, including but not limited to, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, pregnancy, disability, or status as a protected veteran, and other bases as defined by federal regulations and UW System policies.  We promote excellent through diversity and encourage all qualified individuals to apply.

Questions may be addressed to: Sarah Wilson, HR Business Partner, at