Program Officer

Ford Foundation
  • Location
    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Nov 13

Position description

The Ford Foundation, Brazil Office seeks a dynamic, innovative Program Officer to help drive and shape the foundation’s social justice work in the region. The Program Officer should have proven experience and knowledge in policy, civil society, natural resources and territorial rights and will bring this perspective to grantmaking and the team as they implement the office strategy. The Program Officer will support the strategy of the Brazil Office and the broader social goals of the Foundation.


Addressing inequality is a key focus of the Ford Foundation globally. In Brazil, the Foundation focuses its work on supporting racial justice initiatives to combat structural inequality, and through its Natural Resource and Climate Change (NRCC) Line of Work, Ford seeks to strengthen traditional peoples’ territorial rights with a continued focus on indigenous and rural women (coconut breakers), but prioritizing work with the Quilombolas. Ford will do this by supporting grantmaking efforts that: uphold existing laws protecting traditional peoples’ rights to land and natural resources; strengthen human rights defenders and community leaders’ protection mechanisms; strengthen the capacity of Quilombola organizations; and advance work on positive narratives and storytelling that showcases the contributions of indigenous and traditional peoples in protecting the environment, building links with urban youth working on media and cultural initiatives.

The Program Officer will be based in Ford Foundation’s Rio de Janeiro office, report to the Foundation’s Regional Director and will build relationships with colleagues in Brazil and in Ford’s regional offices in Latin America, Africa and Asia as well as in New York .


Program Officers are responsible for the development of grant portfolios and ensuring all related activities are designed to deliver on the Brazil office goals and strategies. The Program Officer assesses and analyzes the fields in which the Region office is focused; identifies key ecosystems and opportunities to work with various actors to shape and influence agendas to promote social justice; and plays a leading role in shaping specific grant activities. Program Officers are networking agents and partnership builders-- striving to share substantive knowledge with Foundation colleagues; collaborate broadly with Ford’s Brazil office team; and serve as a ‘connector’ of grantees. The Program Officer works with practitioners, government officials, scholars, NGOs, other donors and corporate sector leaders on issue of common concern to leverage positive impact toward common goals. More specifically as part of a multi-disciplinary team, the Brazil Program Officer will:

  • Contribute to the ongoing definition, development and adaptation of grantmaking strategies, working toward regional office goals;
  • Develop grant making activities in a team-oriented way, aligned with global and office strategy goals, and designed to achieve significant and scalable impact;
  • Manage, monitor and coordinate a grants portfolio, including: annual grant planning; identifying working with prospective grantees to develop proposals for grant recommendations; undertaking periodic reviews of progress with grantees; and reviewing financial and narrative reports from grantees;
  • Develop and implement grant making approaches that support the use of broad coalitions and strategic communications as part of the program strategy;
  • Develop and implement grantee convenings and reflections to strategize and review opportunities, challenges and advances;
  • Recommend and participate in evaluation and learning activities to guide the evolution of programmatic work related to the role of rural climate change policies and practices;
  • Provide intellectual leadership in the field of civil society organizations, traditional peoples’ social movements, national and global climate change policies related to rural land use, collaborating broadly with scholars and practitioners, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other donors on issues of common program concern;
  • Represent the Foundation and its work through meetings, updates, speeches, briefings and interviews, with guidance from the Regional Director;
  • Work closely with other Program Officers throughout the Foundation whose work relates to the central mission of the portfolio, particularly those in the Ford’s Brazil office, but also in Indonesia, Mexico and Central America, and Andean offices;
  • Incorporate a racial justice and gender focus into the work, and be sensitive to issues around political economy;
  • Monitor the national and international climate change policies, programs and finance of major international agencies and organizations, including policies that help such communities secure their rights to land and forests, access climate change funds, and strengthen their local representative institutions, while providing safeguards that ensure climate change policies don't affect them adversely;
  • Coordinate Ford’s NRCC Brazil Office work and collaborate with staff of other CLUA foundation members of the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) in Brazil and globally.


  • A graduate level degree in a related field (or equivalent education and experience) e.g. in public policy, law, social sciences;
  • 8+ years of relevant experience in socio-environmental policy, traditional peoples’ movements, community-based natural resource management, and/or rural development, land rights, with a combination of policy analysis, advocacy, communications, and implementation experience;
  • Recognition as a leader in work on social movements, land use, environment and climate mitigation;
  • Demonstrate a record of success in achieving specific policy and programmatic outcomes working with a range of stakeholders, including community-based organizations and networks, private sector, governments, and non-governmental organizations;
  • Experience in coalition building and a nuanced understanding of the links between environmental issues and social and racial justice;
  • Familiarity and experience working with grassroots organizations representing low-income rural communities, NGO, academic, private sector, and governmental institutions involved with land rights and use, and the way they are governed;
  • Demonstrated success in program development, evaluation, and management;
  • Intellectual agility and ability to analyze evidence, think critically, and understand scientific and policy studies that are directly relevant to programmatic funding areas;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in Portuguese and English;
  • Experience with grant-making desirable but not necessary;
  • Passion for social justice;
  • Demonstrated commitment to collaboration, evidence of effective accomplishment as part of a team and a proven track record of achieving change;
  • Approachable demeanor and openness to input from all levels of staff and grantees;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, including an ability to listen to others and learn from their best ideas, share best practices and experiences, and contribute to a learning environment;
  • Ability to consistently interact with others in a professional, courteous, and tactful manner, maintain a positive attitude and good working relationships, and work effectively in a team setting across many diverse cultures and backgrounds;
  • Willingness to work to a flexible schedule, including occasional travel within the U.S. and abroad.

Application instructions

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