Job opening

Posting Title:Thematic Area Director
Job Location: United States of America
Skill Required: Project/program Management, Research And Analysis,
Preferred Experience: 5 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 19th Nov, 2020

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Job Description


The Ford Foundation seeks a visionary, strategic, and innovative individual to lead and oversee its US Civic Engagement and Government (CEG) portfolio.

Based in New York, the Director will manage a team of program staff who are working toward delivering the strategic goals of the CEG portfolio, which aims to strengthen representation, participation, and leadership in U.S. democracy.

The ideal CEG Director will be a visionary, proven field leader who has at least 10 years’ experience in strengthening representation, participation, and leadership in U.S. democracy through a combination of policy analysis, advocacy, communications, and implementation experience. They will have managed complex processes involving multiple institutions and individuals in a team arrangement. They will also have a track record of successfully achieving specific policy and programmatic outcomes working with a range of stakeholders, including community-based organizations and networks, the private sector, governments, and non-governmental organizations.

In order to advance Foundation priorities, the Director should have proven experience and substantive knowledge in the formal and informal structures, practices, and processes of democracy, ranging from civic participation, constituency-building, and community organizing to formal democracy reforms, policymaking, and approaches to governance. Finally, the Director should be an exceptional people manager, with a strong track record of constructively leading and coaching a diverse and high-functioning staff and instilling teams with a sense of shared commitment and purpose.


Working as part of Ford’s program leadership team, Directors are responsible for program development and oversight of grantmaking strategies in specific lines of work implemented in the US, and aligned and coordinated (where appropriate) with global grantmaking to advance the Foundation’s vision and mission.

Reporting to the Vice President of US Programs, the CEG Director provides leadership and has overall responsibility for recommending program strategies and resource allocation and for assuring that CEG grantmaking under their purview directly links to these strategies.

The Director is responsible for the effective functioning of a grantmaking team comprised of 8-10 staff. They provide operational oversight, ensure strategic coherence, and promote a culture of trust and team-level effectiveness to advance the Foundation’s vision and mission. In addition, they also work to ensure conditions for collaboration with other grantmaking programs and regional offices around the world.

The Director has day-to-day responsibility for ensuring that Program Officers have goals and clear programmatic objectives, with a direct link between those objectives and their grantmaking. They are also responsible for fostering learning within and across program areas and strategies, and for creating conditions conducive to collaboration and communication among US-based staff and overseas offices. Directors work closely with their peers, with Program Officers, and with Foundation leadership to shape, implement, learn, and adapt the program strategies of the Foundation.


  • Specifically, the Director will
  • Programmatic Leadership
  • Use a strategic vision to guide CEG’s programming so that it aligns with the mission and values of the Foundation. Share a strategic vision, operational framework, and deep knowledge of the area of programming with team members working on the CEG team.
  • Represent the Foundation and its work to the government, media, academic, business, philanthropic, donor community, and civic leaders relevant to CEG’s programming through meetings, updates, speeches, briefings, and interviews.
  • Initiate and foster strategic partnerships with key external constituencies — including governmental, philanthropic, media, academic, civic, and business institutions and leaders — to advance CEG’s goals, and potentially, other sources of funding;
  • Program Strategy Development and Implementation
  • Collaboratively design and propose the goals for CEG, including outcomes, strategies, and approaches for achieving the social change objectives of the team, as well as, the learning and evaluation plans for the CEG strategy.
  • Work with the Strategy and Learning team to build a monitoring framework to assess the impact and synthesize learning; work with a team to determine and agree on a formal evaluation process.
  • Work with the Office of Communications to ensure that CEG’s portfolio is optimizing communications venues to ensure reverberation of work and impact.
  • Supervise the unit’s activities for timely grantmaking, and effective portfolio monitoring and management for accountability and impact.
  • Recommend biennial and yearly grantmaking budgets for approval by the Vice President of US Programs, and oversees and reports on their implementation at the unit level.
  • Collaborative Management and Team Building
  • Build and manage a team of Program Officers and support staff and hold full responsibility for performance management of the CEG team as a whole, and direct reports individually.
  • Facilitate ongoing conversations with staff about goals and progress, providing clear and constructive feedback, and coaching for success. Carry out the development and appraisal of team members – including establishing annual performance goals and professional development needs.
  • Manage and promote a collaborative working environment within and across program teams, and areas of expertise that maximizes the diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills of staff to accomplish Foundation goals.
  • As part of the program management team, contribute to the development and implementation of the organization’s mission, policies, strategies, and operations.
  • Fiscal and Administrative Leadership
  • Demonstrate a commitment to fiscal stewardship in grantmaking and administrative activities.
  • Develop and manage an annual management budget for the administrative costs of the unit for review and approval by the Vice President of US Programs. Periodically review expenditures against budget and recommends spending adjustments or budget modifications as necessary.


  • A minimum of 10 years of experience leading strategies, people, and teams.
  • Subject-matter expertise in Civic Engagement and Government-related programming, and/or demonstration of strong generalist cross-cutting work in the social justice arena.
  • A terminal degree (JD, Ph.D.) in a relevant field of study or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Demonstrated exceptional people management and team management skills, including the ability to build teams, constructively lead, and coach a diverse and high-functioning staff and instill teams with a sense of shared commitment and purpose.
  • Proven experience and substantive knowledge in the formal and informal structures, practices, and processes of democracy, ranging from civic participation and community organizing to formal democracy reforms, policymaking, and approaches to co-governance.
  • Experience working with grassroots organizations representing historically marginalized communities as well as academic, private sector, and governmental institutions.
  • Exceptional communications skills – strong active listening skills, constructive verbal and written skills, strong public presentation skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to be a productive member of a community of people at work, respecting differences while working toward shared goals, comfort with periods of ambiguity, constructive participation in on-going organizational development.
  • Experience with grantmaking desirable.


  • Exceptional leadership presence – internally and externally including recognition as a leader in work on civic engagement, democracy reform, and social justice.
  • Be extremely well-networked with relevant community-based and grassroots organizations, as well as governments, donors, and other partners.
  • Intellectual agility and ability to analyze evidence, think critically and understand policy studies that are directly relevant to programmatic funding areas.
  • Brings a strong intersectional analysis to the work with a particular emphasis on gender and racial justice.
  • Possesses an understanding of how to bring evidence and communications to bear in decision-making.
  • Demonstrates a deep understanding of, and commitment to, social justice and the approaches necessary to achieve it.
  • Possesses cultural competence and the ability to work across lines of difference, with an explicit commitment to advancing racial and gender justice, both within the institution and externally.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to creating and reinforcing a transparent, accountable, and mutually respectful work environment that foster conditions of psychological safety, the growth of staff, and instill teams with a sense of shared commitment, purpose, and trust.
  • Be a well-regarded manager with experience in philanthropy and possess a high degree of emotional intelligence, a learning orientation, and humility.


We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.

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