Program Officer

Hiring Organization: 
Ford Foundation
City and State: 
Cairo, Egypt


The Ford Foundation’s office based in Cairo seeks a Program Officer (PO) for Arts, Culture and Media. The PO works with the foundation’s Regional Director in Cairo to design, implement, and monitor a portfolio of grants in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). Our grants help empower arts, culture and media individuals and organizations to produce independent stories that have the potential to unseat narratives of fear, hatred and discrimination. The grants aim to support independent narratives and story telling that advance social justice and support efforts to reduce inequality.

The MENA office strategy focuses on one driver of inequality, namely informality and the ensuing lack of social protection. The strategy aims to strengthen civil society and civic space to better address social protection and make visible the invisible lives of informal and self-employed workers - be they youth, women, refugees or people with disabilities. The PO will work with the Regional Director and the program team to implement the MENA office strategy, to learn with grantees and adjust strategy for impact. The PO is also part of the Ford Foundation’s global team on enhancing the openness of civic space, the sustainability and legitimacy of civil society and partnerships with governments. The global team supports a broad infrastructure of civil society organizations- including producers of socioeconomic evidence, legal litigation and narratives in the arts and independent media.


The main features of the MENA Office grant making for Arts, Culture and Media are:

  • Arts for Social Justice Partnerships: We focus on emerging leaders in arts and independent media across the MENA region and on emerging and established cultural institutions in few countries in the region. Recognized as powerful forces within their communities, those individuals and institutions nurture creativity, catalyze civic participation, give voice to the voiceless, and share knowledge.

  • Institutional Building: The Foundation supports the institutional strengthening of regional intermediary organizations that sustain and expand programs of production, capacity building, and audience building as well as programs of collaboration between cultural and social justice leaders. Our grants support new leadership grounded in the communities and modelling artistic collaboration for social justice.

  • Moving Images: Our grants help expand the impact of social justice documentary films that inspire imagination and encourage civic dialogue and engagement. We seek to (i) expand the community of independent documentary filmmakers who represent new and innovative voices that motivate positive change in people’s lives; (ii) help filmmakers craft partnerships with others working on social justice; and (iii) develop strategies for joint funding and building audiences.

  • Media: We support the role of independent investigative journalism as a powerful force for accountability and alternative narratives. The preponderance of work focuses on strengthening media standards and building capacity and professionalism on the regional level.


Program Officers are responsible for the development of grant portfolios and ensuring all related activities are designed to deliver on the MENA 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 partnership builders-- striving to share substantive knowledge with Foundation colleagues; collaborate broadly with Ford’s MENA 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, reporting to the MENA Regional Director and as part of a multi-disciplinary team, the MENA Program Officer will:

  • Contribute to the ongoing definition, development and adaptation of team strategies, working toward MENA Office goals—particularly on civic space and civil society strengthening with a focus on social protection in highly informal economies.

  • 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.

  • Seek opportunities to cooperate programmatically with other MENA office grantees working on social protection, collaborate with colleagues in other foundation offices in Africa, Asia, South America, and with international programs, especially Moving Image Exploration, Africa No Filter Collaborative, The People with Disabilities Initiative, Civic Engagement and Government International, Technology and Society, and Future of Work(ers).

  • Play a thought leadership role in the foundation and within the ecosystem of other funders of arts, culture and media.

  • Develop and implement grantee convenings and reflections to strategize and review opportunities, challenges and advances.

  • 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.


  • An accomplished leader who has a minimum of eight years of deep experience with the arts and culture as well as media discourse and landscape in the MENA region. They should have substantive experience in the political economy of arts and media in MENA as well as extensive familiarity with the international and regional landscape of stakeholders.

  • An advanced degree in the social sciences or equivalent combination of education and experience.

  • A track record in working with civil society, with an ability to conceptualize and communicate program ideas and strategies.

  • Excellent analytical written and oral communication skills, excellent organizational skills, strong interpersonal skills in teams of diverse backgrounds.

  • Fluency in Arabic and English is required; French is a plus.


  • Ability to program strategically, assess impact, and demonstrate sound and independent judgment.

  • An innovative thinker who is willing to experiment with new approaches and strategies.

  • Provide leadership, be results-sensitive, respect foundation values and enable others.

  • Take initiative, work simultaneously on several projects/issues and complete work on time.

  • Recognize and respect cultural and individual differences.

  • Provide candid, respectful feedback and create/sustain a hospitable working environment.

  • Demonstrate and encourage teamwork, facilitate ideas and collaborative venture.

  • A good listener who communicates clearly and effectively with people of diverse.


This position is primarily a sedentary role. However, domestic/international travel will be expected (approximately 50%) when it is safe to visit grantees and attend discussions, convening, workshops, retreats and conferences. The position also requires behind the desk administrative work related to grant making. 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.

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.

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

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)

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. 

Application Deadline: 
April 5, 2021
Job Category: 
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