| May 29, 2024

Program Officer in Social Justice and Development

Guest Author


Website Ford Foundation

About the job

Summary Description

The Ford Foundation’s China Office seeks a dynamic Program Officer to help drive and shape the strategy of the China Office. The Program Officer should have proven experience and knowledge of aspects of US-China relations, China’s global engagement, including in the Global South, China’s development finance and environmental policies, and/or global governance. The ideal candidate will also be knowledgeable about topics at the intersection of China’s global engagement and social justice, and understand the roles that policy advocacy, organizing, research, narrative shifts, and philanthropy play in advancing social change.



Addressing inequality is a key focus of the Ford Foundation globally. China plays a critical role in many global issues consequential to addressing inequality, from technology and society to climate change. China has also become an important global actor and Ford therefore seeks to work with Chinese academics, policymakers, and nonprofits to ensure that China’s impact in the world is equitable and sustainable. Ford also seeks to strengthen the domestic ecosystem for philanthropy and impact investing to mobilize China’s growing wealth for social good.

For decades, the Ford Foundation has been supporting work related to China’s relationship with the United States. As US-China relations have evolved, so have the foundation’s efforts to ensure that the two countries are able to productively engage, especially on issues of global consequence. The office’s grantmaking will support efforts to ensure that China’s economic and political power in the world is better understood, is leveraged to reduce inequality and address global issues where possible and is held accountable to shared international standards roped in values of transparency, accountability, expression and participation. The Program Officer will be based in the Ford Foundation’s Beijing office, report to the Ford’s Regional Director and will build relationships with colleagues in China and the foundation’s other regional offices.



The Program Officer is responsible for the development and implementation of a grant portfolio and ensuring all related activities (grant making, convenings, thought leadership) are designed to deliver on the China office goals and strategies. They will assess and analyze the fields in which the office is focused; identify key ecosystems and opportunities to work with various actors to shape agendas that promote social justice. The Program Officer shares lessons with foundation colleagues worldwide; collaborates broadly with the China Office team; collaborates with other members of the global teams; and serves as a ‘connector’ of grantees. They work with leaders in a variety of sectors (practitioners, government officials, scholars, NGOs, other donors, and corporate sector leaders) on issues of common concern to leverage impact towards common goals.

More specifically as part of a multi-disciplinary team, the China Office Program Officer will:

  • 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, and reviewing financial and narrative reports from grantees.
  • Contribute to the ongoing definition, development, adaptation and implementation of team strategies, working to advance Foundation’s China 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.
  • Develop and implement grant-making approaches that support the use of broad coalitions, strategic communications and narrative change as part of the program strategy.
  • Develop and implement grantee convenings and reflections to strategize and review opportunities, challenges and advances.
  • Identify ways to support grantees in the portfolio to become more durable, more resilient and more effectively networked with each other.
  • Learn from and collaborate with key stakeholders inside and outside the foundation.
  • Recommend and participate in learning and evaluation activities to guide the evolution of programmatic work, promote exchange and strategic partnership.
  • Represent the Foundation and its work to the government, media, academia, business, philanthropic and civic leaders through meetings, updates, speeches, briefings and interviews, with guidance from the Regional Director.
  • Support the Regional Director and Ford’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT) to continually assess the global and regional context for risks and opportunities in advancing Ford’s goals.
  • Play a leadership role within the 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 Associate and Program Assistant.



  • A college degree plus a minimum of 8 years’ experience leading social justice strategies and/or subject-matter expertise in the areas of geopolitics and US-China relations, international development finance, climate change and the green transition, and/or demonstration of strong cross-cutting work in the social justice arena.
  • Experience in the fields of civic engagement, philanthropy, and impact investing.
  • Knowledgeable about topics at the intersection of technology and social justice, and understanding the roles that policy advocacy, organizing, research, strategic communications, narrative shifts and philanthropy play in advancing social change.
  • Deep understanding of the social, cultural and political context of the regional context and cultures, including the geopolitical and civil society landscape, in China and the country’s roles in the global context.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in Chinese 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 collaborative and productive member of a team, respecting differences while working toward shared goals, comfort with periods of ambiguity, constructive participation in ongoing organizational development.
  • Willingness to work a flexible schedule, including occasional travel within China and abroad.


Physical Requirements

This position is primarily office based. It 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. Additionally, domestic/international travel will be expected (approximately 20%) to visit grantees and attend discussions, convenings, workshops, retreats and conferences.

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 [email protected].


LOCATION: Beijing, China

TARGET START DATE: Third/Fourth Quarter 2024

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

Submit your cover letter and CV/resume to be considered for this role

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



  • Hybrid Workplace and Flexible Work Arrangement policies
  • 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. The Ford Foundation does not discriminate against formerly incarcerated individuals.



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