Program Officer

Job Type

Full Time


Details: Salary is based on experience and on the Foundation’s commitment to internal equity. A generous benefits package is provided.



Application Deadline



New York
New York
United States



The Ford Foundation seeks a dynamic, strategic Program Officer to help implement, monitor and coordinate grant-making in its global Natural Resources and Climate Change  (NRCC) team—which strives to protect land and tropical forest rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities, limit the harms of natural resource exploitation, and shape development approaches based on resource wealth that meet local communities’ needs. This position will collaborate closely with grantees and other partners to achieve programmatic outcomes.

The ideal NRCC Program Officer will be a strategic thinker; have significant experience related to tropical forests and land rights, preferably in the tropics; and demonstrate knowledge of international forest, land, and climate change policy. They will have managed complex processes involving multiple institutions and individuals in a team arrangement; and understand how to bring evidence and communications to bear in decision-making. They will be able to demonstrate a record of success in achieving specific policy and programmatic outcomes working with a range of stakeholders, including Indigenous peoples and community-based organizations and networks, private sector, governments, and non-governmental organizations.


Addressing inequality is a key focus of the Ford Foundation globally. Natural resources are central to the economies, livelihoods, cultures and identities of peoples in many countries. Countries endowed with the most precious natural resources tend to be more politically fragile and have insufficient capacities to ensure that the gains of these resources benefit their people, particularly the rural regions, Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities who shoulder a disproportionate burden of social, environmental, and economic costs.

As such, Ford’s current global Natural Resources and Climate Change program seeks to help countries and impacted communities (particularly discriminated groups within impacted communities) to limit the harms associated with natural resource exploitation and capture the benefits for the public good. It prioritizes countries, regions, and supply chains that are central to the forest–climate nexus, and where industrial agriculture, mining and energy production occurs. Specifically, it seeks to limit harm from commodity expansion, protect land and tropical forest rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities; institute public and private climate finance that benefits indigenous, traditional, rural communities (including women within them); and empower them to defend their rights and shape development approaches based on resource wealth that meet their needs.


Additionally, to enhance impact, the Ford Foundation, together with the ClimateWorks, David & Lucile Packard, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundations, is a member of the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA). (The Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies and the Good Energies Foundation serve as aligned supporters). Like Ford, CLUA works in specific localities and globally. CLUA’s Global Initiative aims to reduce climate change by supporting international policies, programs, and finance that contribute to conserving tropical forests and lands, increasing their ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere, while securing indigenous peoples’ and rural communities’ rights and livelihoods, and protecting biodiversity and ecosystem services. The Ford NR Program Officer plays a central role in coordinating CLUA’s Global Initiative.


Broadly, the Foundation Program Officer is responsible for: developing grant portfolios and related activities in support of Ford’s Global NRCC program; taking a lead in coordinating CLUA’s Global Initiative; and serving as a thought leader on international climate change policies, program and finance. Based in the Foundation’s New York office, the Program Officer works in a team reporting to Ford’s NRCC Director, and is expected to build collaborative relationships with Regional Directors and Program Officers in Ford Foundation’s regional offices in Latin America and Indonesia, as well with CLUA partner foundations.

The Program Officer will help assess and analyze the field; identify key opportunities to work with various actors to shape and influence agendas; and play a leading role in shaping specific grant activities. They will serve as a networking agent and partnership builder—striving to share substantive knowledge with Foundation colleagues; collaborating broadly with Ford’s team globally; and serving as a ‘connector’ of grantees. The Program Officer works with practitioners, government officials, scholars, NGOs, other donors and corporate sector leaders on issues of common concern to leverage positive impact toward common goals. More specifically as part of a team, the Program Officer will: 

  • Contribute to the ongoing definition and development of team strategies, working toward NRCC goals;
  • Develop grant making activities in a team-oriented context that are aligned to the strategic goals of the NRCC and CLUA program strategy and designed to achieve significant and scalable impact;
  • Manage, monitor and coordinate a grants portfolio, including: annual grant planning; identifying and working with prospective grantees to develop proposals for recommending grants (including helping determine the goals for a grant, its activities, expected results, indicators of success and budget); conducting organizational assessments; undertaking periodic reviews of progress with grantees; and reviewing financial and narrative reporting from grantees; (solicit, review, and respond to grant proposals)
  • Communicate with partners that receive grants to review opportunities, challenges and advances and encourage collaboration, learning, exchange and strategic partnerships;
  • Recommend and participate in evaluation and learning activities to guide the evolution of programmatic work related to the role of rural climate change policies and practices, working with the program team and the foundation’s Office of Strategy and Learning and CLUA;
  • Provide intellectual leadership in the field of global climate change policies related to rural land use, collaborating broadly with scholars and practitioners, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other donors on issues of common program concern and serving as a thought leader on these topics through meetings, updates, speeches, briefings and interviews;
  • Develop and implement grant-making approaches that support the use of strategic communications as part of the program strategy;
  • Work closely with other Program Officers throughout the Foundation and in other CLUA member foundations whose work relates to the central mission of the portfolio, particularly those in the Ford Foundation’s Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and Central America, and Andean offices;
  • Incorporate a rights-based and gender focus in to the work, and be sensitive to issues around political economy.

Importantly, on behalf of the Ford Foundation, a central part of the Program Officer’s responsibilities is coordinating the Global Initiative of the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA), with specific responsibilities including convening regular CLUA Global team teleconferences, responsibility for a portion of ClimateWorks Foundation grantmaking within the CLUA Global Team participating in CLUA retreats, and active engagement in CLUA strategy development, reporting, and monitoring and evaluation. 

Finally, as part of their responsibilities, the Program Officer will play a role in influencing the international climate change policies, programs and finance of major international agencies and organizations and the global supply chains of large private companies in ways that favor disadvantaged rural communities. This includes policies that help such communities secure their rights to land and forests, earn income from climate change funds, and strengthen their local representative institutions, while providing safeguards that ensure climate change policies don't affect them adversely.


  • A post-graduate degree in a relevant field of study or equivalent experience or a baccalaureate degree and equivalent experience e.g. in natural resources, public policy, environmental science, law, social sciences
  • Recognition as a leader in work on land use, forests, environment and climate mitigation, including international experience in multiple countries and a perspective informed by the global context and demonstrated collaboration with Indigenous peoples.
  • A minimum of 8 years leading impact-driven strategies and/or subject-matter expertise in a relevant thematic area, and/or demonstration of strong cross-cutting work in a social justice arena.
  • Significant relevant experience in environmental policy, community based natural resource management, and/or rural development, with a combination of policy analysis, advocacy, communications and implementation experience.
  • Experience in coalition building including a nuanced understanding of the links between environmental issues and social justice as well as and demonstrated experience as a ‘connector’ and ‘convener’ across a range of interested parties, including grantees, practitioners, government officials, scholars, NGO and corporate sector leaders, and other donors on issues of common concern to leverage positive impact toward common goals
  • Familiarity and experience working with grassroots organizations and representing low-income rural communities, NGOs, academic, private sector and governmental institutions involved with tropical forests, land use and the way they are governed.
  • Demonstrated success in program development, evaluation and management—including ability to strategize, plan, prioritize and identify/assess opportunities, challenges and institutions with which to engage.
  • Intellectual agility and ability to analyze evidence, think critically, and understand scientific and policy studies directly relevant to programmatic funding areas.
  • Experience with grantmaking desirable but not necessary.
  • Fluency in English required; fluency in Spanish, Portuguese, and/or Bahasa Indonesian, a plus.

TRAVEL: Travel up to 30%, including international travel will be required—and may occasionally include travel to rural or remote places with difficult conditions. 

Alignment to Culture and Values

  • Commitment to the Foundation’s mission and core values of equity, openness, collaboration, trust, accountability and urgency
  • Personal qualities of humility, capacity for self-reflection, and a sense of humor
  • Discretion and ability to handle confidential issues
  • Action-orientated and entrepreneurial self-starter who can work well independently and in teams

Equal employment opportunity and having a diverse staff are fundamental principles at The Ford Foundation, where employment and promotional opportunities are based upon individual capabilities and qualifications without regard to race, color, religion, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation/affectional preference, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status or any other protected characteristic as established under law. 

Professional Level

None specified

Minimum Education Required

No requirement