Program Officer

Posted by
The Ford Foundation
New York, NY

The Ford Foundation

Published 7 days ago


The Ford Foundation (“Foundation”) BUILD program supports and develops robust, effective and sustainable organizations addressing inequality in the US and around the world. In the next six years, the Foundation will invest approximately $1Bn in a limited number of organizations, providing them with flexible operational and organizational strengthening support.

By strengthening organizations that are core to social justice, the Foundation aims to ensure BUILD organizations have the stability it takes to drive change over the long term and in turn achieve greater impact. The Foundation also aims to shift power in the philanthropic sector by forging relationships with grantee partners that are characterized by trust, mutual candor, and deep partnership. BUILD grants support groundbreaking organizations in seven thematic areas: Cities and States; Civic Engagement and Government; Creativity and Free Expression; Future of Workers; Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice; Natural Resources and Climate Change; and Technology and Society.

BUILD currently supports 350 visionary organizations and networks in the US and around the world. These organizations report that they are better able to plan and execute on their missions than before they received BUILD support. They can more easily innovate and respond to opportunities and threats. They are more financially stable, and more successful in leveraging support from other donors. Although it is too early to assess the long-term impact of these grants, an independent evaluation of the program reports that BUILD has contributed to numerous “wins,” including “successes in decarceration and police accountability, increases in local minimum wage levels, formal recognition of indigenous people’s land rights, and increases in public awareness about the impunity of governing elites.”

The BUILD team is actively planning for a second phase of the program, which will build upon current successes while striving for even more impact on inequality. At a time when the world is facing multiple intersecting crises—political, economic, social, and environmental—we are committed ensuring that our grantee partners have the financial and human resources they need to enact transformational systems change.  The BUILD Program Officer will help shape the future of social justice organizations, networks and movements, as well as that of philanthropy itself, by developing new models and approaches to strengthening institutions that advance a more just and equitable vision for the world.   


The BUILD team serves as a resource to Foundation program officers and grantee partners alike, and provides thought leadership on organizational and network development both within and outside the Foundation, with an emphasis on supporting and strengthening organizations led by women and people of color. This is an entrepreneurial opportunity, and the Program Officer will join a program at the frontier of knowledge, contributing to learning among Ford Foundation grantees while advancing the state of philanthropic practice. The Program Officer will have the opportunity to shape the next phase of a groundbreaking philanthropic model that is hugely influential in the field, including explorations about how to use BUILD to more effectively support networks and movements. Most importantly, they will have the opportunity to partner with and learn from visionary social justice leaders all over the world.

The Program Officer will act as a key leader on the BUILD team, working primarily with US programs, but also collaborating with other BUILD program officers to support BUILD in the Global South. The Program Officer will be working in partnership with teams and grantee organizations that center racial justice and apply an intersectional lens throughout their work.

The Program Officer will use problem-solving and coaching skills to support foundation staff as well as grantee partners on issues related to institutional strengthening. The Program Officer also will focus on building community, connection, and peer support among BUILD grantee partners. Finally, the Program Officer will contribute to developing tools, resources, and learning to advance institutional strengthening for BUILD grantees as well as the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors more generally.

The Program Officer will join a 10-person BUILD team, which is a group of highly collaborative professionals. The team supports Foundation staff, grantee partners, and each other with a commitment to excellence and equity. Members strive to create a team culture of inclusion, shared power, and mutual respect and caring, with a healthy dose of joy and fun.  This position will report to the BUILD Director.


  • Virtual and in-person coaching of Ford staff and grantee partners, to help grantee partners create and implement institutional strengthening plans that will increase their resilience and effectiveness. Assessing challenges facing US BUILD grantee organizations and networks, and ensuring that BUILD helps to meet those needs in areas such as financial sustainability, leadership and governance, racial/gender/disability justice practice, and cybersecurity.
  • Providing thought leadership and guidance both within and outside the Ford Foundation regarding effective institutional strengthening for NGOs, networks, and movements especially in the U.S., including writing and public speaking. Creating and revising resources and tools that can be used by nonprofits to assess organizational and network performance, develop and implement organizational strengthening plans, and evaluate their progress.
  • Designing and implementing community-building experiences and platforms that advance the skills, inter-connection, and collaboration of BUILD grantees, Ford staff, and potentially other stakeholders (i.e., convenings, video conferences, webinars, direct peer-to-peer connections, etc.). Developing a small grants portfolio and managing consultants in support of these goals.
  • Engaging with other social justice philanthropies in the US on how best to support and strengthen grantee partners.


  • Demonstrated commitment to the Ford Foundation’s mission and the goals of the BUILD initiative.
  • Minimum 8 years full time work experience, including several years of experience successfully managing people and projects.
  • Prior experience working in nonprofit organizational and network development as senior management of a nonprofit, or as senior staff in a capacity-building intermediary or consultancy.
  • Prior experience either working directly in US social justice organizations, and/or providing organizational development consulting to them. Direct work experience in one or more of the fields supported by Foundation US programs strongly preferred. 
  • Prior experience in building community and connection across disparate organizations and individuals. Experience with network theory and network-building a plus.
  • Prior experience in grantmaking or philanthropy preferred.
  • Experience working in one of the Foundation’s regions a plus. 

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Unyielding commitment to advancing racial equity, gender justice, disability justice, and economic justice, both through work and through interactions with colleagues and teammates. Familiarity and experience working with social justice concepts and frameworks such as racial equity, economic justice, intersectionality, and structural bias. Lived experience in one or more of these areas a plus.
  • Deep understanding of the needs of NGOs and their leaders in the U.S. in key areas of organizational effectiveness, including strategic and business planning, financial sustainability, leadership development, and strengthening networks and movements.  
  • Familiarity and experience with organizational and network development concepts, frameworks, and tools, and willingness to adapt capacity building approaches to each unique grantee partner; not wedded to any single model or approach.
  • Exceptional reasoning and strategic thinking abilities, and proven track record of success in solving complex and dynamic problems.
  • Strong skill in coaching and developing others, including peers, without having a direct management relationship.
  • Experience and expertise in developing high quality adult learning experiences and knowledge resources.
  • Adaptability and flexibility, with ability to thrive in an entrepreneurial, fast-paced, results-oriented culture with limited guidance.
  • Demonstrated ability to develop effective working relationships across all types of difference, both remotely and in person.
  • High degree of emotional intelligence; excellent listening and communications skills.
  • Curiosity, humility, openness to feedback, willingness to collaborate, and a sense of humor.


This position is primarily a sedentary role. However, the person in this position may need to occasionally move about inside the office to liaise with internal staff, access files, office machinery and a copy machine/printer. Additionally, domestic/international travel will be expected when it is safe to travel, approximately 25%; some travel is directly related to grantmaking, but also to attend team conferences, retreats and meetings. Given that we work across different time zones, some non-traditional hours for early or late calls are an expectation of this role.

The Ford Foundation is committed to providing access, equal opportunity and reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities in employment, its programs, and operations. As part of this commitment, the Foundation will ensure that persons with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodations. If a reasonable accommodation is needed to participate in the job application process, please contact, or call (212) 573-4627.

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


  • Medical and dental benefits for employee and immediate family on first day of work
  • Retirement savings account with matching company contributions of up to 13%
  • Three weeks’ paid vacation in first year of work; four weeks in subsequent years 
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Office closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day
  • Professional development initiatives for growth
  • Generous parental leave (maternal and paternal) during new child’s first year (born into family or adopted)

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

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.  


The Ford Foundation (“Foundation”) BUILD program supports and develops robust, effective and sustainable organizations addressing inequality in the US and around the world. In the next six years, the Foundation will invest…

Details at a glance

  • On-site Location
  • Full Time Schedule


New York, NY

How to Apply

Join Idealist

Sign up today to save your favorite jobs and get email alerts when new ones are posted.