The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), located in Princeton, N.J., is the largest philanthropy in America dedicated solely to health. Since 1972 we have worked to help people, their families, and their communities be as healthy as possible—no matter what their physical, economic, or demographic challenges may be. We do this by providing funding, assistance, and research for projects and programs targeting some of the most pressing health issues in our nation. RWJF has committed itself to a vision of working alongside others to build a Culture of Health where everyone has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. Our goal is to help families and communities find ways to make the healthy choice the easy choice and keep well-being front and center for generations to come. Building a Culture of Health will take unprecedented collaboration—everyone has a role to play. No individual, organization, or government program can alter the course of an individual’s health alone. We must all work together.
Diversity, inclusion, and collaboration are fundamental principles at RWJF. Our staff’s wide range of experiences, passions, and perspectives enriches our work and strengthens our ability to address our nation’s most pressing health issues. We offer a collaborative, collegial, and creative work environment. With a career at RWJF you will make a difference.
Senior Policy Officer Role
Reporting directly to the senior vice president of Strategic Initiatives, the senior policy officer will help to shape the state and local policy priorities of the Foundation and coordinate related grantmaking, partnership development, and special projects with the ultimate goal of advancing health equity. This work will be done in close collaboration with Policy Unit colleagues, including another senior policy officer, and program staff who work on policy issues.
The new senior policy officer will join a team of professionals working to disseminate evidence and build partnerships to inform health, social, and economic policymaking at the state level. By partnering with key internal and external stakeholders, the senior policy officer will ensure that relevant and timely research, policy analysis, and advocacy efforts contribute to public discourse around some of the most pressing issues in health and social policy. In addition, s/he/they will help set a strategic agenda for state-level engagement and policy priorities that are reflective of the Foundation’s thematic focus areas.
The successful candidate will bring a sophisticated understanding of health equity and the social and economic determinants of health at the local and state levels and will have deep experience working with local and state community leaders, policymakers, and stakeholder organizations on health equity and related policy initiatives. In addition, s/he/they will have a demonstrated ability to work flexibly and articulate goals and paths forward in a collaborative manner, while maintaining the ability to pivot their vision and tactics to fit evolving institutional priorities. The Foundation values creative and entrepreneurial spirit, superior emotional intelligence, a healthy sense of humor and a natural collegiality that fosters a close-knit team.
As with staff at all levels of RWJF, senior policy officers are expected to demonstrate a passionate commitment to equity, to the Foundation’s mission and Guiding Principles.
Key Challenges and Opportunities
- Lead the innovative development and implementation of a strategy to align RWJF’s state policy investments across Program Themes. Develop a clear agenda for state work that focuses on cross-cutting issue areas, cross-cutting strategies, and in states where Foundation investments could be more effectively coordinated. Ensure collaboration and alignment with federal policy priorities and Foundation-wide policy initiatives. In addition, the senior policy officer will lead and manage special policy projects that advance recommendations from the Policy unit’s recent strategic planning efforts.
- Create and execute a health equity plan with a focus on state and local policy. Design a strategic plan for the Policy Unit to pursue health equity policy outcomes that includes an assessment and recommendations on a theory of change, influence strategies and tactics, and key partnerships that considers broad and contemporary approaches and experiences and incorporates rigor in analytics and measurement.
- Collaborate with internal stakeholders to carry out policy priorities and ensure alignment with the Foundation’s mission, goals, and vision. Liaise with Managing Directors and VPs; regularly partner with Research-Evaluation-Learning and Communications staff; and consult with Law department to consider and mitigate legal and reputational risks. Serve as a key connector between Policy Unit and Themes, seeking opportunities for synergy, identifying and filling gaps, and sharing best practices and lessons learned.
- Oversee a portfolio of policy-related grantees. Direct key state and local policy grants emerging from Policy Unit and Program Themes that leverage RWJF’s investments for maximum impact in creating systemic change. Maintain strong, authentic relationships with grant seekers and grantees, ensuring mutual understanding of the Foundation’s program and policy directions, goals, and expectations.
- Build deep, durable relationships at the state and local level. Develop a strong network of key stakeholders, policymakers, state and local leaders, member organizations representing state and local leaders, and the Foundation’s Strategic Partner organizations that supports the Foundation’s mission and informs and advances its health equity work.
- Conceive and facilitate new formal and informal learning opportunities for local and state leaders, policymakers, and community stakeholders. Use tools such as convenings, social media communications, tailored training and development opportunities aimed at specific populations or constituencies, and other innovative approaches to promote information sharing and collaboration. Represent the Foundation at key state and local policy meetings including relevant events in Washington, D.C. and around the country.
- Recognize and synthesize high-leverage, timely opportunities to inform state and local policymaking and help to mobilize Foundation resources to meet those needs.
The ideal candidate will have demonstrated a passionate commitment to the Foundation’s mission of improving health and healthcare for all in America and to the guiding principles and promise that undergird that mission. While no one person will embody all the qualities enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
- Demonstrated flexible, multidisciplinary thinking required to address the social and economic determinants of health and the drive to shape and inform work based on the immediate issues and longer-term opportunities found in state and local communities; understanding of the broad social and economic forces that affect the health of communities and families and shape policy efforts. Demonstrated personal and professional commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion with knowledge of and commitment to the use of policy to promote health equity.
- Deep knowledge of and fluency with major issues and trends related to health equity and the evolution of policies to advance systems change and address the social factors that influence well-being and drive inequities.
- Significant experience with the policy-making process, particularly policy advocacy work that includes research analyses, policy development, coalition and will building, policy adoption, and evaluation. Experience working in state, local, or federal government is desired but not required.
- Creativity and flexibility to think imaginatively about opportunities, to create and respond to novel and innovative approaches to addressing an issue, and to inspire others to work towards achieving team goals.
- Strong interpersonal and influencing skills and a collaborative, energetic approach. The proven ability to develop productive relationships with colleagues, policymakers, grantees, consultants, funding partners, and others who contribute to policy and program development and management.
- Impeccable writing, presentation and oral communication skills. The ability to synthesize complex, interrelated material and focus quickly on the essence of an issue while maintaining clarity around the big picture. Demonstrated persuasive and respectful presentation skills for communications with internal leadership and external high-level stakeholders.
- Maturity, good judgment, keen analytical and strategy skills, and the ability to think critically, make decisions, and justify recommendations and results based on data and analysis. An ability to drive multilayered conversations to consensus and make decisions in the face of competing priorities.
- A collegial style and demonstrated success working across internal and external teams and inspiring others to work towards shared goals. Successful experience fostering an inclusive environment working as part of a multidisciplinary team and working effectively with persons from diverse cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds.
- Commitment to the Foundation’s mission and vision and alignment with our values. Demonstrated qualities of honesty, integrity, enthusiasm, and perspective.
- Minimum of 7 years of professional experience is required. Completion of an advanced degree (e.g. MA, MPH, MPP, JD, MBA) or equivalent professional content experience is preferred, though a combination of education and experience may be substituted.
- The ability and willingness to travel, including for site visits and representing the Foundation at outside meetings.