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The Ford Foundation’s U.S. Program in Civic Engagement and Government (CEG) seeks a collaborative, strategic, team-oriented Program Officer to help evolve and implement the foundation’s efforts to strengthen representation, participation, and leadership in U.S. democracy nationally as well as in priority regions across the U.S. In particular, the foundation seeks a dynamic, credible, proven field leader who brings a strong intersectional analysis to the work with a particular emphasis on gender and racial justice. The Program Officer must have a proven track record of working closely with communities that have been historically marginalized from the systems that affect their lives so as to always keep the lived experiences of people and communities at the center of CEG’s grantmaking approach.
In order to advance foundation priorities, the Program Officer should have 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. The Program Officer should also have experience in building networks, communities of practice, and/or cultivating ecosystems needed for intersectional movement-building, both internally across funding areas and externally with the fields in which the CEG program engages. At this critical moment, the ideal candidate would be able to help anticipate how the work must evolve to realize the promise of democracy through a government-centered approach to civic engagement.
The foundation’s core mission is to help reduce inequality in all its forms: political, economic, and cultural. At the heart of the CEG program strategy is the notion that everyday people can and should directly shape and influence the issues, policies, and systems that affect their lives. We support efforts to tackle the longstanding problem of unequal access to government decision-making and allocation of public resources, particularly for communities of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and young people.
Our theory of change posits that strong civic organizations and community organizing groups are required in order to engage everyday people in civic life and solve public problems that address the material conditions of people’s everyday lives, especially for those who have been historically excluded from decision-making. Paired with efforts to reform formal approaches to representation (e.g. voting rights and census), and facilitating engagement between policymakers and community-led priorities, government will be more representative of a changing American demographic, decision-making will be a more inclusive enterprise, and public institutions will be more responsive.
The Foundation strives to achieve this by working with critical stakeholders and partners in government, civil society, academia, the private sector, and across the philanthropic sector to expand participation, promote equitable public decision-making, and to build power in communities so they can effectively engage with the public institutions that affect their lives.
The Program Officer will support partners to develop, test and demonstrate models of powerful civic engagement with government that build strategic civic capability, achieve structural change and policy outcomes that prioritize improving the material conditions of historically excluded communities, help make government more responsive, and over time contribute to increased trust and faith in the positive and essential role of government in daily life and American democracy.
The Program Officer will particularly inform work on expanding democratic participation to ensure that communities have greater voice and power to shape the policy decisions that impact their lives. In collaboration with the Director and the full team, the Program Officer will oversee a body of work in a few domains, some of which overlap with other program officers on the team: youth and community organizing groups; groups that build capacity for civic organizations; and leadership development for civic engagement. In addition, the Program Officer will develop emerging areas of work related to participatory co-governance approaches, inclusion of people with disabilities, and/or building technological intuition into the work of civic engagement organizations. S/he will also collaboratively develop a body of work primarily focused on building the field’s ability to develop and deploy effective inside/outside strategies, where the external pressure created by social movements is connected with the cultivation of civic leaders, elite influencers, and other allies, contributing to more representative and responsive governments.
The Program Officer will work under the direct supervision of the foundation’s Director of Civic Engagement and Government, and alongside two other program officers, a department coordinator, program assistants, grants managers, and a technology fellow. The Program Officer will collaboratively assess the CEG field, identify key ecosystems, and work with relevant actors and other funders to analyze challenges and opportunities, seek rigorous evidence about program effectiveness, identify levers of change, and play a leading role in shaping specific grant activities. The Program Officer will share substantive knowledge with foundation colleagues; collaborate broadly across CEG and other thematic areas; serve as a ‘connector’ of grantees; promote thoughtful learning for continuous improvement and adaptation; and work with practitioners, government officials, scholars, NGOs, other donors and corporate sector leaders as relevant on issues of common concern for positive impact.
Reporting to the CEG Director and working with a multidisciplinary team of Program Officers, the Program Officer will:
Alignment to Culture and Values
Three weeks’ paid vacation in first year of work; four weeks in subsequent years
Office closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day
Medical and dental benefits for employee and immediate family on first day of work
Professional development initiatives for growth
Retirement savings account with matching company contributions of up to 13%
Generous parental leave (maternal and paternal) during new child’s first year (born into family or adopted)
Salary: Salary is based on experience and on the Foundation’s commitment to internal equity. A generous benefits package is provided.
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