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



Rio de Janeiro
State of Rio de Janeiro



The Ford Foundation, Brazil Office seeks a dynamic, innovative Program Officer to help drive and shape the foundation’s social justice work in the region. The Program Officer should have proven experience and knowledge of human rights, democratic governance, and civil society with a racial justice and gender perspective. The Program Officer will bring their perspective to grantmaking and the team as they implement the office strategy.  The Program Officer will support the strategy of the Brazil Office and the broader social justice goals of the Foundation globally.


Addressing inequality is a key focus of the Ford Foundation globally. Unequal access to, and engagement with, government is a fundamental driver of inequality, leading to the adoption and implementation of policies that privilege the already powerful.  In Brazil, racism is one of the key drivers for the persistent social, political, and economic inequality present throughout the society. The result of this equation is simple: governments are more accountable to private interests than to the people, particularly those historically affected by structural racism and inequalities.  We believe that meaningful civic engagement is an antidote to inequality. The Foundation strives to achieve this by working with critical stakeholders and partners in government, civil society, private sector and the donor community including local philanthropies in the region.  The office’s grantmaking will support efforts to:

  • Support new rules, institutions and practices to enable civil society organizations and movements to protect, shape, use, and benefit from public policies.
  • Work to ensure more effective protection mechanisms and protocols lead to a reduction of key negative trends, such as the harassment, intimidation and violence towards activists, journalist and human rights defenders.
  • Strengthen racial justice centered initiatives led by youth and women, particularly blacks from favelas and peripheries, to develop an effective policy agenda which conveys collective demands and needs.
  • Foster dialogue and strategic alliances among new social actors from favelas and peripheries with government officials, members of rule of law institutions, media and culture organizations, and established civil society organizations and increase their participation in the development and implementation of public policies to reduce inequalities and promote racial justice.
  • Support initiatives aimed at promoting collaboration among civil society actors and progressive leaders and public influencers – such as journalists, celebrities and religious leaders – committed to fighting against fundamentalism and racism.
  • Engage actors in civil society, the private sector, and philanthropy to incorporate racial justice into their work, and tackle violence and criminalization against leaders, organizations and movements from peripheries, particularly Afro-Brazilians and women.

The Program Officer will be based in Ford Foundation’s Rio office, report to Ford Foundation’s Regional Director and will build relationships with colleagues in Brazil and in Ford Foundation’s regional offices and New York headquarters.


Program Officers are responsible for the development of grant portfolios and ensuring all related activities are designed to deliver on the Brazil office goals and strategies.  The Program Officer assesses and analyzes the fields in which the office is focused; identifies key ecosystems and opportunities to work with various actors to shape and influence agendas to promote social justice; and plays a leading role in shaping specific grant activities.  Program Officers are networking agents and partnership builders--striving to share substantive knowledge with Foundation colleagues; collaborate broadly with Ford’s Brazil office team; and serve as a ‘connector’ of grantees. The Program Officer works with practitioners, government officials, scholars, NGOs, other donors and corporate sector leaders on issue of common concern to leverage positive impact toward common goals.  More specifically as part of a multi-disciplinary team, the Brazil Program Officer will: 

  • Contribute to the ongoing definition, development and adaptation of team strategies, working toward Brazil Office goals
  • Develop grant making activities in a team-oriented way, that are aligned with global and local strategy goals, and designed to achieve significant and scalable impact
  • Manage, monitor and coordinate a grants portfolio, including:  annual grant planning, identifying and working with the Foundation’s grantees to develop proposals for grant recommendations; undertaking periodic reviews of progress with grantees, performing grantee site visits, reviewing financial and narrative reporting from grantees
  • Develop and implement grant-making approaches that support the use of broad coalitions and strategic communications as part of the program strategy
  • Develop and implement grantee convenings and reflections to strategize and review opportunities, challenges and advances
  • Recommend and participate in learning and evaluation activities to guide the evolution of programmatic work, promote exchange and strategic partnership.  Learn from and collaborate with key stakeholders inside and outside the Foundation
  • Represent the Foundation and its work to the government, media, academic, business, philanthropic, and civic leaders through meetings, updates, speeches, briefings and interviews, with guidance from the Regional Director
  • Play a leadership role on team, working toward and influencing team collaboration, team building and team effectiveness, modeling these skills for the team. Serve as a mentor and coach to Program Associates and Program Assistants.


  • A minimum of 8 years leading social justice strategies and/or subject-matter expertise in human rights, democratic governance or civil society, and/or demonstration of strong cross-cutting work in social justice arena
  • Experience and knowledge on issues regarding inequality, racial justice and gender
  • A master’s degree in relevant field of study or a baccalaureate degree and equivalent experience
  • Deep understanding of the regional context and cultures, including geopolitical and civil society landscape, in Brazil and the country’s role in the global context
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in Portuguese and English
  • Exceptional leadership presence – internally and externally
  • Superb analytical skills and ability to strategize, plan, prioritize and identify/assess opportunities, challenges and institutions with which to engage
  • Exceptional communications skills – strong active listening skills, constructive verbal and written skills, strong public presentation skills
  • Demonstrated ability to be a productive member of a community of people at work, respecting differences while working toward shared goals, comfort with periods of change, constructive participation in ongoing organizational development
  • Willingness to work to a flexible schedule, including occasional travel within the U.S. and abroad

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


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

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