Program Officer

Hiring Organization: 
Ford Foundation
City and State: 
New York, NY


The Ford Foundation’s Future of Work(ers) (FOW) thematic area seeks a dynamic, strategic, and collaborative Program Officer (PO) to help shape and implement its strategy focused on building greater economic security, opportunity, and power for workers in the United States. This program officer would specifically lead a major grant making portfolio that focuses on the intersection of technology and low-wage work; a more modestly-sized portfolio that focuses on shifting narratives about work, workers, and the economy; and a cross-team capacity plus some special projects focused on business partnerships/corporate engagement in improving job quality. The program officer may also manage other grants or lead special projects that are related to the team’s broader impact goals around economic opportunity and worker power but do not fall neatly into one of these three categories (e.g., a special initiative on workplace health and safety and grants to support research, organizing, and policy development, etc).

The ideal candidate will be grounded in the worker movement, economic justice, and/or future of work issues but also deeply knowledgeable about navigating the tech industry and tech policy world, as well as corporate America. We are looking for someone who is a bridge-builder and interpreter across stakeholders, highly creative, and able to be effective in a wide range of stakeholder groups, including those who may not always be aligned with our strategic approach and vision. We would welcome candidates who may have expertise in narrative change and/or strategic communications (preferred but not required). 


Addressing inequality is a key focus of the Ford Foundation. The opportunity for decent work and fair reward is an essential pillar of an inclusive economy, and expanding that opportunity is key to reducing inequality. The workplace is being transformed by globalization, technological advancement (including developments in artificial intelligence and robotics), change power dynamics, and the growing role of financial markets. While these changes mean new opportunities for some, many workers are contending with deep economic anxiety, out of step labor market policies, unpredictable work schedules, and more precarious working conditions.

Under Ford’s ‘Future of Work’ program, the Foundation is working to engage a diverse set of stakeholders (e.g., policy makers, technologists, investors, worker-led organizations, other funders) to ensure that the ‘future of work’ places workers and their well-being at the center and contribute to better economic outcomes, especially for women and people of color, migrants and people with different abilities. Specifically FoW focuses on three interrelated issues:  1) the impact of technology on work, 2) the increased precarity of jobs and work; and 3) how work is shifting across sectors and occupations. Our strategy centers on supporting efforts to: strengthen connections across stakeholders in the field; shape solutions in policy and practice around labor and social protection; and strengthen worker organization, voice and power to shape the future.  


Working under the direction of the Director of the FOW program, the Program Officer will further develop existing grantmaking strategies; identify prospective grantees; solicit, review and respond to grant proposals; and prepare recommendations for Foundation funding. The Program Officer will also be expected to collaborate internally with other Program Officers throughout the Foundation and externally to provide intellectual leadership on futures of workers issues. In addition, the Program Officer will work with practitioners, nonprofits, government officials, scholars, corporate leaders and other donors to leverage positive impact toward common goals.

Specifically, the Program Officer will:

  • Lead the FOW team’s tech portfolio, which aims to ensure workers have power to influence how technologies are designed and rolled out in the workplace (major line of work).

  • Lead the FOW team’s narrative portfolio, which aims to shift the narratives that have long held back progress on key worker and economic justice issues (minor line of work).

  • Lead several special projects and build the team’s capacity in building strategic partnerships with business and corporate America to improve job quality.

  • Engage with grantees to review opportunities, challenges and advances and encourage collaboration, learning, exchange and strategic partnerships.

  • Manage, monitor and coordinate grants portfolio of approximately $10 million annually, including: long-term grant planning; identifying new grantees and working with prospective ones to develop high impact proposals; conducting organizational assessments; undertaking periodic reviews of progress with grantees; and reviewing financial and narrative reports.

  • Work closely with other funders and with donor collaboratives.

  • Foster a culture of learning – including learning and evaluation activities to guide the evolution of programmatic work – seeking to continually ask hard questions, gather independent and rigorous data and evidence about effectiveness of the Foundation and grantees’ strategies, and help adapt practice as needed. Serve as an accessible resource for the field accordingly.

  • Represent the Foundation and its work in key venues through participation in relevant meetings, public speaking, writing, speeches, briefings, blog posts, and interviews, with guidance from the FOW Director and Ford’s Office of Communications.

  • Develop and implement grant-making approaches that support the use of strategic communications as part of the program strategy.

  • Work closely with a grantmaking team of Grants Manager and Program Assistant to manage all aspects of grants processing and compliance. Serve as mentor and coach to a shared Program Associate and directly manage a Program Assistant to ensure effective support to grantees and grantmaking processes.

  • Contribute to the thinking and work of colleagues on the FOW team, the Foundation and the field of grant seekers and philanthropic peers overall.


  • BA/BS plus at least 8 years of experience in the field of economic justice, future of work, worker’s rights, or tech or equivalent combination of education and experience. 

  • Deep understanding of the labor market, as well as familiarity with the tech industry.

  • Strategic thinker with an understanding of the various mechanisms and venues through which philanthropy and our grantees can affect change (e.g., organizing and movement building; policy change, including legislative, legal, regulatory, federal, state, and local; applied research; strategic communications and narrative strategies; business practice shift; and etc).

  • A strong understanding of how to apply racial, gender, and disability analyses to strategy.

  • Proven track record of working closely with communities that have been historically marginalized in systems that affect their lives.

  • Exceptional leadership – internally and externally — and ability to lead high level engagement with donors and engage in strategic conversations throughout the field.

  • Exceptional communications skills – strong active listening skills, excellent verbal and written skills, strong public presentation skills.

  • Superb analytical skills and ability to strategize, plan, prioritize and identify/assess opportunities, challenges and institutions with which to engage.

  • Proven ability to engage with a broad variety of stakeholders and in coalition with others; openness and curiosity about new approaches and different points of view.

  • Direct experience engaging in systemic change initiatives or campaigns, from the purview of government, non-profit advocacy organizations, public interest legal organizations, philanthropy, or the academy.

  • Openness to an integrated approach to grantmaking that mixes different approaches to social change, and a willingness to try new things.

  • Ability to navigate a large and complex institution; willingness to participate constructively on organizational priorities beyond the immediate focus of this portfolio; comfort with institutional change and periods of ambiguity.

  • Written and oral fluency in English.


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 20%; some travel is directly related to grantmaking, but also to attend team conferences, retreats and meetings.

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.

Minimum Salary: US$145,000

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: 
March 28, 2021
Job Category: 
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