Program Officer / Senior Program Officer, Research Evaluation and Learning Job in Princeton, N.J.


Area of Focus: Healthy Children, Healthy Weight 

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health. In recent years, the Foundation has launched an effort to align its goals and activities around building a Culture of Health in the United States. In connection with their focus areas, the Foundation funds a range of types of research to expand their understanding of what most shapes health, and which types of interventions may have the greatest potential for impact.

The program officers/senior program officers (PO/SPO) in the Research-Evaluation-Learning (REL) unit are professional staff responsible for creating, developing, implementing, and managing the research and evaluation aspects of the Foundation’s initiatives. Their primary responsibility is to work with colleagues in REL, program staff across the Foundation, and the executive staff to design and implement research and evaluation strategies that generate impact congruent with the specific objectives of the teams and the Foundation. They are also responsible for the development and management of performance measurement systems, and the maintenance of the publications and research portion of the RWJF website to disseminate findings from research, evaluation and policy investments. They may be responsible for the design and management of research and evaluation efforts to accomplish Foundation-wide goals. As with staff at all levels of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, program officers/senior program officers in REL are expected to demonstrate a passionate commitment to the Foundation’s mission of improving health and health care for all Americans and to the guiding principles and promise that undergird that mission.

The REL unit is responsible for several important components of the Foundation’s new strategy including (1) developing and overseeing a measurement system to track the country’s progress toward a Culture of Health, (2) creating a research agenda to continue to generate an evidence base about the most effective ways to create the change they are seeking, (3) building on the Foundation’s long tradition of evaluations to better understand the impact of their strategies and funding, and (4) sharing acquired learning across the Foundation and external audience.

The REL unit is comprised of an interdisciplinary staff of applied researchers and evaluators. They are looking to bolster the range of expertise among their staff by adding a new officer with specific training and experience in evaluation. The PO/SPO will serve as both an active contributor to REL-driven programs and initiatives, as well as a strategic partner to the Foundation’s Healthy Children, Healthy Weight theme, which aims to take a broad, social determinants of health approach to reducing health disparities in children and families across the country. In support of this work, the PO/SPO must bring a systems-level perspective as it relates to addressing health inequities in the United States. The ability to think and work beyond specific program evaluation will be critical to the success of the role. While evaluators from a range of disciplines and areas related to public health and well-being including public policy, economics, community transformation, psychology, and related fields are encouraged to apply, individuals with experience in child and family policy are of particular interest.

Essential Duties

Program Development and Monitoring

  • Initiates and contributes to the design, implementation, and oversight of research and evaluation initiatives. May lead committees and work groups to design and manage program areas to achieve key team objectives. Serves as a partner with team director and other staff in identifying strategic objectives and direction.
  • Works with internal staff, consultants, other funders and external organizations to plan, develop and respond to requests for funding. Screens and assesses prospective research and evaluation project proposals, works with applicants to refine plans and project budgets.
  • Drafts preliminary summaries of the project and develops recommendations for teams, program staff, Foundation management and Board approval. Assures the quality of documents for projects being recommended for approval.
  • Participates in meetings, conducts site visits, and reviews grantee submissions as part of overall responsibility for developing and managing existing grants and programs.
  • Prepares oral and written summaries of grant activities.
  • Monitors programmatic aspects of funded projects and programs. Works with program financial analysts in assessing financial status of funded programs over time.
  • Leads the development of the research and evaluation part of the team’s strategic plan.
  • Leads the development and monitoring of team’s performance indicators.

Learning and Dissemination

  • Works with staff and consultants to assess, evaluate, and disseminate results of programs and projects. Works with staff to develop measures of impact for major programs and activities.
  • Works with staff and consultants to harvest lessons from previous and current grantmaking, and to actively disseminate results and lessons to other staff, grantees and the field.
  • Collaborates with team directors and team members, particularly Communications staff, to develop plans for and disseminate team-based products, including content featured on
  • Develops plans and content for the RWJF website in collaboration with team members and other REL staff related to outputs from research, evaluation, and policy grants supported by the teams.
  • Uses social networking tools to monitor important fields and to communicate lessons from RWJF’s work.

Team Functioning

  • Responsible for actively participating in team activities and improving team functioning, including compliance with team norms and providing support and back-up for team members.
  • Plays a collaborative role with communications and program staff to set strategic priorities for the team, develop and manage grant programs, and harvest lessons from previous grants.

Grantmaking Processes

Is responsible for understanding, implementing and following the grant making processes and policies of RWJF.

  • Analyzes and evaluates all aspects of team-wide and project-specific proposals including strength of the activity, value for dollars requested and the organization's health and stability. In supporting recommendations and in monitoring financial status, PO/SPO works in collaboration with grants administrators and other program and financial personnel in the Foundation.

Foundation and Field Contributions

  • Represents the Foundation publicly regarding program direction, program funding, and grantmaking results. Responds to public inquiries about the program directions and application process.
  • Participates in conferences, seminars, and other professional development activities to maintain and enhance expertise and professional status. May conduct individual research related to the Foundation’s priorities. Keeps up with the latest developments in their fields.
  • Collaborates with program service center manager to supervise and manages the support staff with whom they work.
  • Contributes to and participates in internal Foundation groups and teams and carries out other responsibilities assigned by executive staff.
  • Participates in Foundation-wide projects related to interest and focus areas.
  • Initiates, develops and participates in efforts of the Foundation to evaluate itself through the scorecard and related efforts.
  • May conduct individual research related to Foundation priorities.
  • Supports the vice president, REL, in accomplishing annual unit-wide goals and priorities.
  • Performs other projects and responsibilities, as assigned.

Experience and Qualifications

  • Completion of PhD or experience equivalent to a PhD degree in public health, public policy, economics, psychology or related fields or experience equivalent to an advanced degree and three (3) or more years of relevant experience.
  • Experience and leadership potential in at least one of Foundation’s interest areas.
  • Demonstrated systems-level experience as it relates to addressing health disparities in the United States.
  • SPO requires seven (7) or more years of extensive experience plus proven leadership and recognition in the field for specific area of knowledge and one or more of Foundation’s interest areas.
  • Experience handling multiple priorities effectively; must be adept at organizing time efficiently; high tolerance for ambiguity; ability to understand and work effectively with team members in the Foundation’s organizational structure.
  • Strong skills in research and evaluation methods; research skills, including use of Internet and databases; strong analytic skills.
  • Survey research skills desired.
  • Good presentation skills; must be persuasive and respectful.
  • Ability to evaluate communications efforts desired.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills are essential to success in this position; able to synthesize material and focus quickly on the essence of an issue; to identify major opportunities in a specific area; to see the big picture. Willingness to use social networking tools to further RWJF’s work.
  • Strong project and people management skills including demonstrated ability to think independently and with limited supervision, to be flexible, to juggle multiple priorities, and to be tolerant of ambiguity.
  • Personally motivated to support the Foundation’s mission and goals; creative, flexible; able to work independently and in teams to think imaginatively about opportunities; to create and respond to novel and innovative approaches to addressing an issue; to inspire others to work toward achieving team goals.
  • Demonstrated strong interpersonal skills; collegial, energetic, able to develop productive relationships with colleagues, grantees, consultants, external funders, and others who contribute to program development and management.
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a complex team matrix.
  • Demonstrated maturity and sound judgment; ability to make decisions, justify recommendations, and be responsive and clear.
  • Demonstrated enthusiasm and strong commitment to fulfill the Foundation’s mission and guiding principles.
  • Ability to travel; including site visits and representing the Foundation at outside meetings.


RWJF is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Post Date

July 17, 2017

How To Apply

RWJF has retained Talent Citizen to assist in this recruitment. President Tracy D. Welsh, Senior Associate Maeve Clifford and Associate Connor Daley are leading this search.

Please submit your resume and a cover letter outlining your interest, as well as the reasons why you are best suited for the position and would be a valuable addition to the R-E-L unit. Applications, along with how you learned of the position, should be submitted to:

Due Date