Program Officer, Healthy Communities (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 national 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 strengthens our ability to address our nation’s most pressing health issues. With a career at RWJF you will make a difference.


Program Officers (PO) in the Research-Evaluation-Learning (REL) unit 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 communications to disseminate findings from research, evaluation and policy investments.

As with staff at all levels of RWJF, program officers in REL are expected to demonstrate a passionate commitment to equity, to the Foundation’s mission and Guiding Principles.

The Foundation goals and activities are aligned around building a Culture of Health in the United States. The 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 towards a Culture of Health;
  2. Creating a research agenda to continue to generate an evidence base about the most effective ways to create the change we’re seeking;
  3. Building on the Foundation’s long tradition of evaluations to better understand the impact of our strategies and funding; and
  4. Sharing our learning across the Foundation and external audience.

This PO will join the Healthy Communities theme of the Foundation. The goal of the Healthy Communities theme is to create the conditions in communities that allow all residents to reach their best possible health and well-being. To achieve opportunity-promoting neighborhoods that positively impact residents’ health and well-being, the Healthy Communities theme works to:

  1. Shift mindsets and expectations to create demand for and motivate action to create and support the community conditions that promote health equity;
  2. Identify, develop, test, and spread the policies, practices, and financing approaches necessary to create and support the community conditions that promote health equity; and
  3. Build the capacity of small and mid-size cities and their surrounding regions to create and support the community conditions that promote health equity.

In support of this work, the PO must bring an equity focus and systems-level perspective that reflects experience in community participatory research, community development, as well as a deep understanding of the conditions in communities that allow all residents to reach their best possible health and well-being.


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 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.
  • Drafts preliminary summaries of the project and develops recommendations for 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.
  • Engage diverse perspectives across the Foundation and apply that to leading the development of the research and evaluation part of the team’s strategic plan.
  • Leads the development and monitoring of team’s 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 team directors and team members, particularly communications staff, to develop plans for and disseminate team-based products, including content featured on
  • Develops plans and content for the RWJF website in collaboration with team members and other REL staff related to outputs from research, evaluation, and policy grants supported by the teams.
  • Use social networking tools to monitor important fields and to communicate lessons from RWJF’s work.

Team Functioning:

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

Grantmaking Processes:

  • Is responsible for understanding, implementing and following the grantmaking processes and policies of RWJF.
  • Analyzes and evaluates all aspects of 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 PO works in collaboration with grants administrators and other program and financial personnel in 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 teams and carries out other responsibilities assigned by executive staff.
  • Participates in Foundation-wide projects related to interest and program areas.
  • Initiates, develops and participates in efforts of the Foundation to evaluate itself.
  • Supports the vice president, REL, in accomplishing annual unit-wide goals and priorities.
  • Performs other projects and responsibilities, as assigned.


  • Commitment to the Foundation’s mission and vision and alignment with our values.
  • Demonstrated personal and professional commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Experience and leadership potential in at least one of the Foundation’s interest areas.
  • Experience in community participatory research and/or community development, as well as a deep understanding of the conditions in communities that allow all residents to reach their best possible health and well-being.
  • Successful experience fostering an inclusive environment working as part of a multidisciplinary team and working effectively with persons from diverse cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Strong skills in research and evaluation methods; research skills, including use of Internet and databases; strong analytic 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 as part of a team effort.
  • Personal and professional integrity, an independent and confident thinker, a sense of humor and able 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 towards achieving Foundation goals.
  • Able to synthesize material, 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 Ph.D. 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 and three (3) or more years of relevant experience.
  • Desired skills include survey research and ability to evaluate communications efforts.


The incumbent performs job duties in a traditional 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 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.


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