Senior Program Officer (RWJF)

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated to addressing the nation’s most complex health and health care issues. For more than 40 years RWJF has worked to address the problems that affect the health and health care of all Americans. RWJF has taken bold steps to launch a new vision to build a national Culture of Health with the goal to raise the health of everyone in our diverse society to the level that our great nation deserves, by placing well-being at the center of every aspect of life. This effort will take unprecedented collaboration and it is only through meaningful partnerships that a movement for better health will be realized to bring about the important change we all seek today and for generations to come.

Creating a society that gives every person an equal opportunity to live the healthiest life they can—whatever their ethnic, geographic, racial, socioeconomic, or physical circumstance happens to be, is at the core of RWJF’s vision to build a Culture of Health. RWJF is partnering with communities, policymakers, businesses, and others willing to find ways to identify, test and refine innovative solutions to one of the most pressing issues of our time. This requires calls for action within and across sectors—because progress in one area will advance progress in another. RWJF believes that America is at a transformational moment in health. If all the distinct issues across society that impact health can be connected through collaboration, the collective power can be harnessed to truly build a Culture of Health.

Reporting to the managing director of the Healthy Communities focus area, the senior program officer (SPO) will focus on developing and implementing the Foundation’s community development strategy with the core goal of creating the conditions that allow communities and their residents to reach their greatest health potential. The Foundation’s Healthy Communities efforts focus on how local data, financing, and policy and practice changes, coupled with multi-sector community leadershi,p can change community environments in ways that make it easier for people to get and stay healthy.

Recognizing that our health is influenced greatly by core aspects of our communities—from the quality of our housing, to access to healthy food and safe places to exercise and play, the SPO will seek to initiate and contribute to the design and implementation of new and on-going community development and impact investment programs and initiatives that help to transform local environments in ways that remove health barriers and make it easier for people to lead healthier lives.

Working in a complex, intellectually stimulating work environment that values continuous learning and open communication, the SPO will play a critically important role in the Healthy Communities team's efforts to bring together a multitude of stakeholders ranging from community development financial institutions and private sector enterprises to hospital foundations and social venture capitalists with the aim of improving community outcomes and better aligning their efforts around a common goal of better health. Drawing upon immersive experience in place-based community development initiatives, with an on-the-ground as well as systems-level perspective of the successes and challenges associated with community development and impact investing, the SPO will seek to amplify the initiatives that are making progress and explore new ways that a range of investors, including but not limited to community anchor institutions, local philanthropy, and CDFIs, might support improved population health, well-being, and equity.    

With a passion for educating program staff through coaching, mentoring, and targeted learning opportunities, the successful candidate will be results-driven and is expected to hold an advanced degree (e.g. MBA, MA, MPH, MJ, MPP, JD) and 6+ years of relevant experience; terminal degree or equivalent experience preferred. A combination of education and experience may be substituted for the education requirements.

The ideal candidate possesses a blended experience set of programmatic knowledge coupled with an understanding of private, nonprofit and public sector financing approaches related to community development and social impact investing. A strategic thinker, s/he will have excellent organizational and interpersonal skills and will take a thoughtful approach to collaboration and community and partner engagement. Impeccable verbal and written communication skills are required with the interest and competence to interact with a constituency of individuals from broad and diverse backgrounds, including internal leadership, and external partners and high-level stakeholders, on a range of complex issues.

Primary Responsibilities

Program Development and Monitoring

  • Initiates and contributes to the design and implementation of new Foundation and Healthy Communities initiatives, particularly those focused on community development to improve health. May lead sub-area committees and work groups to design and manage program areas to achieve key team objectives. 
  • Works with program staff to identify community development and impact investing opportunities that advance Healthy Communities strategies. Such opportunities might include grant support for model development, convening and/or learning communities and networks, program-related investments, or approaches that influence health care financing flows in creative ways.
  • Reports periodically on impact investments to the Program Executive Group and, as required, the Board of Trustees.
  • Brings together a cross-functional group to assess potential impact investments. Educates program staff on impact investing through coaching, mentoring, and participating in transactions and through organizing targeted learning opportunities.
  • Contributes to and participates in internal Foundation groups and teams and carries out other responsibilities assigned by executive staff. 
  • Works with staff, consultants, other funders and external organizations to plan, develop and respond to requests for funding. Screens and assesses prospective project proposals, works with applicants to refine plans and project budgets.
  • Fields opportunities that arise and presents them to program areas for further discussion or development.
  • Participates in Foundation-wide projects related to interest and program areas.
  • Performs other projects and responsibilities, as assigned.

Field Contributions, Learning and Dissemination

  • Represents the Foundation publicly regarding community development and impact investment activities, program direction, program funding and grantmaking results.
  • Stays abreast of new developments through networking and attendance at events.
  • Builds relationships with foundations and other key partners.
  • Works with colleagues and consultants to develop measures of impact for major programs and activities, including assessment, evaluation, and dissemination of results of programs and projects.
  • Works with other key units across the Foundation involved with communications, particularly dissemination through the websites, social media, research, evaluations and learning.
  • Participates in conferences, seminars, and other professional development activities to maintain and enhance expertise and professional status.

Team Functioning

  • Responsible for actively participating in Healthy Communities team activities and improving team functioning, including compliance with team norms and providing support and back-up for other team members.
  • Uses managing director and team members to provide insight and guidance on programmatic strategies, grantmaking and grant management.
  • Leads and or engages in emergent learning activities and periodic strategy reviews.
  • Serves as a link between community development and impact capital work of the Foundation.

Attributes of the Ideal Candidate

  • Completion of an advanced degree (e.g. MBA, MA, MPH, MJ, MPP, JD) and 6+ years of relevant experience; terminal degree or equivalent experience preferred. A combination of education and experience may be substituted for the education requirements.
  • Minimum of (5-7 years) plus proven leadership potential and recognized in the field for specific area of knowledge related to community change, including experience in one or more of the current areas of the Healthy Communities team’s work: shifting mindsets and expectations toward a broad definition of health; data for community action; policies and practices that promote health equity; and financing for healthier communities.
  • Minimum of 5–7 years of experience in community development (ideally combining finance and programmatic knowledge and experience with private, nonprofit and public sector financing approaches). 
  • Demonstrated strong analytical, writing and verbal skills for communicating with a broad and diverse audience, including internal leadership and external high-level stakeholders, on a range of complex issues.
  • Ability to synthesize material and focus quickly on the essence of an issue while maintaining clarity around the big picture.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead and build relationships to gain the respect and trust of others.
  • Proven ability to work with flexibility, efficiency, enthusiasm, and diplomacy both individually and as part of a team effort.
  • Demonstrated passion for the Foundation’s values with commitment to deliver results measured against the Foundation’s mission.
  • Demonstrated qualities of the highest personal and professional integrity, along with a sense of humor.
  • Strong presentation skills.
  • Strong project and management skills.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and a collaborative, energetic approach.
  • Creativity to think imaginatively about opportunities to create and respond to novel and innovative approaches to addressing an issue, and to inspire others to work toward achieving Foundation goals.
  • Ability to travel—including for site visits and representing the Foundation at outside meetings.

Salary is commensurate with experience RWJF provides its staff with a generous benefits package that is designed to attract, reward and retain talented and capable people, as well as to reflect the organization's core values.

Learn more:

To Apply

RWJF has retained Talent Citizen to assist in this recruitment.  

Please submit your resume and a cover letter outlining you interest and the reasons why you are best suited for the position and would be a great addition to the Healthy Communities team. Applications, along with where you learned of the position, should be sent to:[email protected].


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