Senior Program Officer, Research-Evaluation-Learning



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.

Staff at all levels at RWJF are expected to demonstrate a passionate commitment to equity and the Foundation’s vision, values, and Guiding Principles.

The Foundation’s goals and activities are aligned around building a Culture of Health in the United States. The Research-Evaluation-Learning (REL) unit is responsible for several important components of the Foundation’s 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 for the most effective ways to create the change we’re seeking;
  3. Building on the Foundation’s long tradition of evaluation to better understand the impact of our strategies and funding; and
  4. Sharing our learning across the Foundation and external audiences.

The Foundation is seeking a senior program officer (SPO) in the Research-Evaluation-Learning (REL) unit. All REL SPOs are part of an interdisciplinary staff of applied researchers and evaluators who are responsible for creating, developing, implementing, and managing the research and evaluation aspects of the Foundation’s initiatives to improve health and health care. Their primary responsibility is to work with colleagues and executive staff across the Foundation to design, implement, and manage research and evaluation strategies that generate impact congruent with the specific objectives of their themes/teams and of the Foundation. They are also responsible for the development and management of performance measurement systems, and for collaborating with the Communications Department to disseminate findings from research, evaluation, and policy investments.

The SPO will serve as both an active contributor to REL-driven programs and initiatives, as well as a strategic partner to the Foundation’s programmatic themes (Transforming Health and Health Care Systems, Healthy Children and Families, Leadership for Better Health, and Healthy Communities). In support of this work, the SPO must bring a systems-level perspective that reflects an understanding of the public health, health care, and social services systems that are designed to address health, well-being, and equity. Researchers and evaluators from a range of disciplines and areas related to medicine, public health, public policy, political science, epidemiology, data science, human services, sociology, psychology, and related fields are encouraged to apply.

This is a full-time position reporting directly to the vice president, Research-Evaluation-Learning and chief science officer, working closely with the associate vice president, Research-Evaluation-Learning and other leaders at the Foundation.

The senior program officer will have the following responsibilities and competencies:

Program Development and Monitoring

  • Initiates and contributes to the design, implementation, and oversight of research and evaluation initiatives in a way that advances health equity. May lead committees and work groups to design and manage program areas to achieve key theme/team objectives. Serves as a partner with 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.
  • Develops recommendations for projects and develops recommendations for themes/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.
  • Engages diverse perspectives across the Foundation and with key external audiences and applies that to leading the development of the research and evaluation part of the theme’s/team’s strategic plan.
  • Leads the development and monitoring of Foundation 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 theme/team directors and theme/team members, particularly communications staff, to develop plans for and disseminate theme/team-based products, including content featured on, the RWJF website.
  • Develops plans and content for the RWJF website in collaboration with theme/team members and other REL staff related to outputs from research, evaluation, and policy grants supported by the themes/teams.
  • Uses social networking tools to monitor important fields and to communicate lessons from RWJF’s work.

Theme/Team Functioning

  • Actively participates in theme/team activities designed to improve theme/team functioning, including compliance with theme/team norms and providing support and back-up for theme/team members.
  • Collaborates with communications and program staff to set strategic priorities for the theme/team, develop and manage grant programs, and harvest lessons from previous grants.

Grantmaking Processes

  • Understands, implements, and follows the grantmaking processes and policies of RWJF.
  • Analyzes and evaluates all aspects of theme/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, the SPO works in collaboration with grants administrators and other program and financial personnel across 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 administrative management to supervise and manage the support staff with whom they work.
  • Contributes to and participates in internal Foundation groups and themes/teams and carries out other responsibilities as assigned.
  • Participates in Foundation-wide projects related to interest and program areas.
  • Initiates, develops, and participates in efforts of the Foundation to evaluate itself.
  • 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.

Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:

  • Commitment to the Foundation’s vision, values and Guiding Principles.
  • Demonstrated personal and professional commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • 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.
  • Successful experience fostering an inclusive environment working as part of a multidisciplinary team and working effectively with persons from diverse backgrounds, perspectives and/or lived experiences.
  • Strong skills in research and evaluation methods; research skills, including use of internet and databases; strong analytical skills.
  • Demonstrated strong interpersonal skills and a collaborative, energetic approach; able to develop productive relationships with a diverse group of colleagues, grantees, consultants, external funders, and others who contribute to RWJF work.
  • Demonstrated self-awareness and sound judgment; ability to make decisions, justify recommendations, and be responsive and clear.
  • Experience handling multiple priorities effectively; must be adept at organizing time efficiently; able to understand and work effectively with others in a matrixed reporting structure.
  • Strong project and people management skills as well as a proven ability to work with flexibility, efficiency, enthusiasm, and diplomacy both individually and as part of a team effort.
  • Personal and professional integrity, an independent and confident thinker, a sense of humor, and an ability to work effectively with ambiguity.
  • Able to think creatively about opportunities, to create and respond to novel and innovative approaches, and to inspire others to work toward achieving Foundation goals.
  • Able to synthesize materials, focus quickly, and identify opportunities while continuing to see the big picture.
  • 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.
  • Ability to travel; including site visits and representing the Foundation at outside meetings.
  • Education and experience equivalent to a PhD degree in medicine, public health, public policy, political science, epidemiology, data science, human services, sociology, psychology, environmental health, community development, public infrastructure, transportation, and related fields.
  • Desired skills include survey research and ability to evaluate communications efforts.

RWJF is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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.