Senior Program Officer, Healthy Children and Families



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 been providing funding, assistance, and research for projects and programs to help people, their families, and their communities be as healthy as possible. RWJF is committed to working alongside others to build a Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being.

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. 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. With a career at RWJF you will make a difference.

The Senior Program Officer (SPO), Healthy Children and Families, will work to ensure that all children and their families have an equitable opportunity to achieve their optimal health and well-being. RWJF’s strategic approach through this body of work aims to improve the conditions that affect child and family well-being, particularly during the earliest years of a child’s life, through policy, systems, and environmental changes. Core to the Foundation’s mission, these initiatives and programs focus on how individuals and organizations can shift mindsets and tackle systemic barriers to health and well-being for children and families.

Reporting directly to the managing director for Healthy Children and Families, this SPO will play a critical role in advancing the Foundation’s priorities by co-designing, managing, and monitoring strategies and initiatives that will shift mindsets, and changing the current narrative so decision-makers focus their efforts on supporting children and families.

Senior program officers are professional staff responsible for developing, implementing, and managing RWJF’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, providing mentorship in the development of junior staff, and creating impact through dissemination of knowledge.

Candidate Profile

The SPO, Healthy Children and Families will draw from their experience in developing, advancing, changing, and neutralizing narratives, generating demand and action to influence decision-makers, and campaign analysis and execution. These skills will be applied to drive progress as RWJF moves from theory to action to allocate more resources toward families. With experience working in highly collaborative environments; leading strategy development and monitoring; and designing systems-change initiatives for social change, the new SPO will lead the design and implementation of new and ongoing initiatives and programs; monitor progress at the strategy and initiative levels; and incorporate learning from our investments and activities in close collaboration with RWJF’s Research-Evaluation-Learning unit. They will also facilitate dissemination of learning, data and resources alongside our Communications department.

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

Commitment to Equity

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

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 and understand new spaces and new networks. You like to explore different, disparate ideas and can swiftly make sense of complex issues.

Systems Thinking

You are able to identify leverage points and assess how new ideas have the potential to influence or change a system. 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.

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 Research and Analytical Skills

You can apply rigor and an objective lens when researching and evaluating. You make sound decisions and are responsive, clear, and persuasive in your recommendations.

Able to Drive and Communicate

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.

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:

  • Extensive understanding of multiple approaches to policy change that include familiarity with concepts and principal networks related to:

o   Understanding the core narratives influencing improvement in child development and family economic security and opportunity;

o   Influencing public discourse, narrative change, mental models that can move resources toward improving child and family health; and

o   Advancing the fair and just opportunity all for children and families to live the healthiest life possible.

  • Strong written and verbal skills; demonstrated persuasive and respectful presentation skills for communications with internal leadership, external high-level stakeholders, 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.
  • Familiarity with, but not necessarily a professional background in, philanthropy and philanthropic processes.
  • Ability to travel, including site visits and representing RWJF at outside meetings.
  • Ability to provide mentorship/guidance to encourage the development of staff.
  • Six (6) or more years of extensive experience and proven leadership and recognized in the field for specific knowledge in one or more of RWJF’s interest areas.


RWJF is an Equal Opportunity Employer.