Program Associate, Pioneer (RWJF)

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 where everyone has 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 strengthens our ability to address our nation’s most pressing health issues. With a career at RWJF you will make a difference.

The program associate is a professional staff member responsible for supporting, developing, implementing and managing programs and projects. The associate will support the Pioneer Portfolio within the Research-Evaluation-Learning (REL) department. The Pioneer Portfolio discovers and explores novel ideas and emerging social, cultural, scientific and technological trends that can help us anticipate the future and accelerate our progress toward a Culture of Health. The associate will work closely with the director and team members to assist in program development and management, as well as team strategy and functioning. As with staff at all levels of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, program associates are expected to demonstrate a passionate commitment to the Foundation’s mission.



  • Scans publications and websites in search of pioneering perspectives, cutting edge ideas and signals of emerging trends.
  • Gathers, synthesizes, and analyzes information relevant to emerging trends, and the development of pioneering projects.
  • Reviews and offers constructive critiques of brief (2 page) proposals.
  • Solicits and synthesizes external reviews of full (10 page, official) proposals.
  • Supports and manages specific calls for proposals.
  • Assists team with network strategy, including development, tracking and engagement.


  • Assists team members in project development, monitoring, and convening as assigned by the team director.
  • Facilitates communications between grantees and staff from across the foundation to address questions or concerns.
  • Helps make connections between grantees funded through the Pioneer Portfolio and other RWJF grantees.


  • Supports internal and external efforts to learn from bodies of Pioneer Portfolio investments.
  • Works with team members to create experiential learning experiences to allow non-pioneer staff to gain insights from pioneer programming.
  • Actively networks with Foundation staff to learn how the Pioneer Portfolio might direct its explorations to address key needs of other teams and themes.


  • Presents Pioneer Portfolio’s vision and strategy to RWJF staff and external audiences.
  • Assists team members and other staff with development of web content as needed.
  • Connects non-Pioneer Portfolio RWJF staff with pioneering ideas using in person meetings and Salesforce.

Team Functioning

  • Monitors Pioneering Ideas email In-Box and answers applicant questions.
  • Creates materials for RWJF board meetings.
  • Works closely with director and team members to ensure effective communication of team work priorities.
  • Prepares presentations with communications officer for team director.
  • Works closely with team coordinator and financial officer to ensure pipeline is up to date.
  • Assists team with miscellaneous administrative and facilitation tasks, as needed.
  • Prepares for team meetings and actively participates in team discussions and facilitates team discussions as needed.
  • Takes and synthesizes notes from select discussions.
  • Helps team track progress on discovery, exploration, learning and sharing of key emerging trends and program grants
  • Attends outside meetings and conferences, at the discretion of the team director, and prepares trip reports.

Process Improvement

  • Collects and analyzes data about team performance to guide process improvement on an ongoing basis and displays data as an annual exercise.
  • Helps team director set and track progress against team goals, including equity goals.
  • Suggests ways the team director can foster engagement and progress.
  • Coordinates with Communications team to update and tweak Brief Proposal landing page to optimize quality of applications receive.


  • Master's degree or equivalent education and experience in any field; or Bachelor’s degree and two (2) years related experience and/or training.
  • Passion for health equity and interest in developing skills of foresight.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in the use of Microsoft Office Suite and general office equipment.
  • Experience with file sharing systems (Dropbox, Google Docs) and Human Resource systems (Workday, etc.) preferred. Proficiency with general systems and ability to learn new systems is required.
  • Ability to foster an inclusive environment working as part of a multidisciplinary team and working effectively with persons from diverse cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Strong project and people management skills, including demonstrated ability to think independently, to be flexible and to balance multiple priorities for multiple managers, and to be tolerant of ambiguity and differences in approaches.
  • Excellent written and oral presentation skills. Ability to effectively present material to a variety of audiences (internal and external) in various settings and formats.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills; collegial, energetic, able to develop trusted and positive relationships with colleagues, grantees, consultants, external funders, and others who contribute to program development and management.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit to working including networking and immersing oneself in brand new topics and geographies. Ability to take initiative and seek feedback.
  • Intellectual curiosity and ability to apply learnings to work.
  • Good judgment, self-aware and mature.  Able to request, receive and give feedback with radical candor.
  • Ability to work on a self-directed basis and as part of a team.
  • Personally motivated to support the Foundation’s mission and goals; creative, flexible; able to work independently and in teams to think imaginatively about opportunities; to create and respond to novel and innovative approaches to addressing an issue; to inspire others to work toward achieving goals.
  • Ability to travel as required.


The incumbent performs job duties in a normal business office environment. Tasks are generally carried out with no specific or unusual physical or environmental demands. While performing the duties of this job the incumbent is regularly required to work at a desk and work with a computer for extended periods of time. Specific physical abilities required by this job include operating basic office equipment such as personal computers, duplicating machines, fax machines and standard office telephones. The incumbent may be required to attend meetings, both on-site and off-site, via phone or videoconference.


Submit your resume and letter of interest here - Program Associate, PioneerIn addition, with your letter of interest, please include a brief (one paragraph) writing sample to share your view on what emerging trends you believe will influence the future of health.

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