Program Officer, Pioneering Ideas for an Equitable Future



The Opportunity

Program officers are professional staff responsible for developing, implementing, and managing the Foundation’s initiatives to improve health and health care. Their primary responsibilities include providing intellectual and organizational leadership in designing and implementing new initiatives; evaluating proposals; monitoring programs and grants; learning from program investments and activities; and creating impact through dissemination of knowledge.

Reporting to the senior director, the program officer will work with the Pioneering Ideas for an Equitable Future team. We are seeking a candidate with a unique blend of skills and experience—who is able to explore new and emerging topics and trends; make intuitive connections; and understand how to influence existing structures and practices.

The Pioneering Ideas team plays a critical role in RWJF’s efforts to build a Culture of Health, where everyone has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. The team identifies and explores novel ideas and long-term social, cultural, scientific, and technological trends that may improve health equity.  This team is positioned within RWJF’s Research-Evaluation-Learning unit.

Candidate Profile

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

Connective Thinking

You excel at creatively exploring problems, issues, and opportunities. You are a lateral thinker who is able to translate ideas from different spaces, make connections between seemingly disparate ideas, and see how they fit within a broader whole.

Curiosity and a Rapid Learning Curve

You are intellectually curious and able to dive into new spaces to quickly become familiar. You like to explore different, disparate ideas and can swiftly make sense of complex issues.

Systems Thinking

You are able to understand the root causes of social problems. You are able to identify leverage points and assess how new ideas have the potential to influence or change a system.

Excellent Networking Skills

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

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 builds on the ideas of others. And you are self-aware and recognize a grantmaker’s role in supporting the work of their grantees.

Well-Honed Communications and Analytical Skills

You are able to communicate effectively in writing and verbally. You can apply rigor and an objective lens when assessing and developing programmatic work. You make sound decisions and are responsive, clear, and persuasive in your recommendations.

Commitment to Equity

You understand issues of structural racism and its health consequences. You have a history of fostering inclusive environments, engaging diverse voices, and are able to consider underlying inequities, privilege, and power dynamics in your work.

Entrepreneurial Spirit 

You are able to work both independently and collaboratively and to manage multiple priorities effectively. You spend your time generously and judiciously. You consistently deliver on project goals and outcomes. You are comfortable with experimentation and risk-taking and are able to find and refine the truly transformative “nugget” in an idea—even if others don’t see it yet.

Collaborative Approach

People enjoy working with you and you enjoy working with others. You are able to work effectively with others and 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.         

In addition, strong candidates will offer:

  • Trend-sensing. A track record of spotting future trends as they are emerging and understanding how they might create new opportunities and new challenges.
  • Future-Visioning: Experience working independently, or with groups, creating visions of an equitable country (5–10 years in the future).
  • Relevant experience: A minimum of five years of relevant experience, with seven or more years of experience preferred.

Job Responsibilities

Program Development and Monitoring

  • Identifies and manages a portfolio of explorations into global practices and approaches to understand how they might be translated to accelerate progress toward building a Culture of Health in the United States.
  • Initiates and contributes to the design and implementation of new team initiatives in a way that advances health equity and addresses structural racism. May lead and will participate in sub-team committees and workgroups to design and manage program areas to achieve key team objectives. Serves as a partner with the director and other staff in identifying strategic direction.
  • Works with others, including colleagues and external partners, who may include consultants and other funders to plan and implement projects that execute on strategy. This may include soliciting and screening proposals and working with applicants to iterate plans and project budgets.
  • Provides high-quality written and verbal summaries and recommendations about potential projects to Foundation colleagues and senior management.
  • Monitors the programmatic aspects of funded projects and programs, including providing connections between grantees to learn from each other and amplify work. Keeps director and team apprised of grant developments and occurrences in the field that are likely to affect team decision-making, group strategies, or grant decision-making.
  • Works in collaboration with Program Finance staff and the legal team throughout the evolution and monitoring of a project in compliance with RWJF policies.
  • Centers equity in all work, including identifying consultants, partners, and grantees.

Learning and Dissemination

  • Works with colleagues and consultants to assess, evaluate, synthesize, and disseminate results of and learning from programs and projects to other staff, grantees, and the field.
  • Works with other key units across the Foundation involved with communications, particularly in dissemination through the websites, social media, policy, research, evaluation, and learning.

Team and Program Department Functioning

  • Actively participates in team activities and improving team functioning, including following team norms and providing support and backup for team members.
  • Collaborates with director and team to provide insight and guidance on programmatic strategies, grantmaking and grant management.
  • Works collaboratively and effectively with members of other teams, themes, and units at the Foundation.

Foundation and Field Contributions

  • Represents the Foundation publicly regarding advancing equity, program direction, program funding, and grantmaking results. Responds to public inquiries about the application process.
  • Participates in conferences, seminars, and other professional development activities to maintain and enhance expertise and professional status.
  • Collaborates with administrative management to supervise, support, and manage the administrative staff with whom program officer works.
  • Participates in Foundation-wide projects related to focus and program areas, and as assigned by senior staff.

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

This position is located in Princeton, N.J. If you are hired, you will be required to work from our Princeton office when our facilities re-open.

Dunlevy & Associates will manage the search on behalf of the Foundation. All interested candidates should submit a resume and cover letter via the ZipRecruiter link or The cover letter should include the following elements:

  • The name of the position for which you are applying.
  • Why you are interested in the specific position and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
  • Any additional professional and/or personal experience related to the position that is not evident in your resume.
  • Your salary requirements for the position.

External Application Deadline Date: June 20, 2021


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.

How to Apply

Dunlevy & Associates will manage the search on behalf of the Foundation.  

Please submit a cover letter and resume.

Application Deadline: June 20, 2021

(Post Date: May 10, 2021)

This position is located in Princeton, N.J. If hired, you would be required to work from our Princeton office when our facilities re-open.


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