Program Officers, Healthy Communities 


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF; the Foundation), located in Princeton, N.J., is the largest philanthropy in America dedicated solely to health. Since 1972, we have focused on developing and promoting innovations in health and healthcare to improve the lives of millions. In partnership with others, we are working toward a nation that is rooted in equity, compassion, and respect. A nation that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. This requires addressing many harmful obstacles to well-being, including poverty, powerlessness, and discrimination.

We take seriously our responsibilities, and we pledge to work in ways that reflect our Guiding Principles. These are rooted in equity and influence everything we do at RWJF. Equity, diversity, inclusion, and collaboration allow our staff’s wide range of experiences, passions, and perspectives to enrich our work and strengthen our ability to address our nation’s most pressing health issues. The Foundation offers a collaborative, collegial, and creative work environment. With a career at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, you will make a difference.

The Opportunity

The Foundation is seeking two program officers (POs) for its Healthy Communities (HC) program theme. HC’s goal is to create the conditions in communities that allow all residents to reach their best possible health and well-being. We do this by taking a policy and systems approach to address the structural barriers that have created unequal conditions across communities and regions including structural racism and segregation from opportunity. The HC theme has a focus on both 1) community development and (2) the laws and government processes that either enable or inhibit communities to advance policies that advance equity, such as pre-emption and public health authority.

Health Communities program officers are professional staff who report to the HC managing director and who are responsible for co-designing, implementing, managing, and monitoring programming in support of HC’s strategies as part of RWJF’s vision for a Culture of Health and health equity for all. The two program officers hired through this opportunity will focus on co-designing, implementing, and managing programming that aims to promote the design, adoption, and implementation of policies that support health and racial equity.

In addition to helping design and manage specific programming portfolios, program officers also collaborate with other themes and teams. This may include (1) working with RWJF’s Research-Evaluation-Learning unit to evaluate programs and initiatives and to learn from our investments and activities; (2) collaborating with other themes on projects and programs that cut across theme strategies; and (3) providing input into RWJF’s broader strategy development. Program officers frequently work on a wide range of issues, and the issues they focus on may change as their theme’s and RWJF’s strategies evolve.   

Essential Job Responsibilities

  • Commitment to advancing a fair and just opportunity for all communities to thrive, applying an explicit focus on structural racism and intersectional forms of oppression.
  • Written, verbal and analytical skills; demonstrated persuasive and respectful presentation skills for communications to be used with internal leadership, external partners, and people from the communities we are working to reach on a range of complex issues.
  • Comfort with using social networking tools to further RWJF’s work.
  • Desire to understand and integrate the tools of philanthropy.
  • Ability to travel, including site visits and representing RWJF at outside meetings.
  • Education and experience equivalent to an advanced degree (masters) and three (3) or more years of relevant experience.
  • Practical experience with the systems, structures, policies, and practices that impact health and racial equity in communities.
  • Program officers do not need expertise in all of the following areas, as assignments can vary based on expertise.

    o   Knowledge of housing policy as it relates to stability, affordability, and anti-discrimination.

    o   Experience with community development policy, practice, and financing.

    o   Understanding of the ways in which community and economic development actors do/do not center health and racial equity in the planning and financing of communities.

    o   Understanding of how structural racism is entrenched in the policies, practices, and processes that determine how state and local laws are created, adopted, interpreted, implemented, and enforced.

    o   Understanding of how state and local government processes can facilitate or impede the ability of communities of color, and other communities that have historically been disenfranchised, from advancing their policy priorities (whether with respect to policy adoption, implementation, or enforcement).

    o   Knowledge of how allocation of authority across different levels and branches of government can affect the ability of communities of color, and other communities that have historically been disenfranchised, to develop, advance, and support adoption, implementation, and enforcement of policies that promote racial and health equity.

  • All program officers at RWJF are expected to have the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics

    o   Commitment to Equity. You have a history of fostering inclusive environments, engaging diverse voices, and can consider underlying inequities, structural drivers, privilege, and power dynamics in your work.

    o   Connective Thinking. You excel at creatively exploring problems, issues, and opportunities. You have some experience in lateral thinking and can translate ideas from different spaces, make connections between seemingly disparate ideas, and see how they fit within a broader whole.

    o   Curiosity and a Rapid Learning Curve. You are intellectually curious and willing to dive into and understand new spaces and new networks. You have an interest and drive to explore different, disparate ideas and can work to make sense of complex issues.

    o   Systems Thinking. You can identify leverage points in a system and assess how new ideas could potentially influence or change a system. You are comfortable with experimentation and risk-taking and can look for and suggest where the truly transformative “nugget” is in an idea even if others don’t see it yet.

    o   Excellent Networking Skills. You are a relational person and able to build robust networks that cast a wide net, make connections, and see opportunities and challenges from diverse perspectives.

    o   Open-Mindedness, Additive Thinking, and Humility. You are open-minded and willing to explore ideas, whether they are yours or not. You are an additive and generative thinker who adds value to the ideas of others. You are self-aware and recognize a grantmaker’s role in supporting the work of their grantees.

    o   Well-Honed Research and Analytical Skills. You have experience with applying rigor and an objective lens when researching and evaluating. You make sound decisions and are responsive, clear, and persuasive in your recommendations.

    o   Able to Drive and Communicate. You can work both independently and collaboratively and manage multiple priorities effectively. You allocate your time generously and judiciously to consistently deliver on project goals and outcomes.

    o   Collaborative Approach. You enjoy working with others and others value working with you. You can work effectively with others and can work with efficiency, enthusiasm, and diplomacy—both individually and as part of a team. You build productive and reciprocal relationships with a diverse group of colleagues, grantees, consultants, and others.

Physical Requirements/Working Conditions

The program officer will perform job duties in a typical business office environment. Specific physical abilities required by this job include operating basic office equipment. Will be required to attend meetings, potentially both on-site and off-site, via phone or videoconference.

How to Apply

Submit your resume and letter of interest.

Application deadline date: May 22, 2022


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented applicants.

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