Program Officer, Policy

12 Jul, 2022


Program Officer, Policy

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Princeton, NJ


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF; the Foundation), located in Princeton, N.J., is the largest philanthropy in America dedicated solely to health. Since 1972, we have focused on developing and promoting innovations in health and healthcare to improve the lives of millions. In partnership with others, we are working toward a nation that is rooted in equity, compassion, and respect. A nation that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. This requires addressing many harmful obstacles to well-being, including poverty, powerlessness, and discrimination.

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. Equity, diversity, inclusion, and collaboration allow our staff’s wide range of experiences, passions, and perspectives to enrich our work and strengthen our ability to address our nation’s most pressing health issues. The Foundation offers a collaborative, collegial, and creative work environment. With a career at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, you will make a difference.

Department Background

The Policy department leads and coordinates the Foundation’s efforts to inform policies at the federal, state, and local levels that focus on dismantling structural racism to achieve health equity. The department holds a vision that: Federal, state, and local policymakers value and consistently pursue policies and structural reforms that give everyone—no matter their race, income, or zip code—a fair and just opportunity for health. Key activities of the Policy department include managing the Foundation’s policy engagement and influence in Washington, D.C. and state capitals; serve as internal policy consultant, connector, coordinator, and supporter of policy agendas across RWJF and strategic grantmaking that supports our direct influence and addresses upstream policy drivers, multi-issue organizations and networks, and gaps in issue and infrastructure investments.

Scope of Position

Reporting directly to the vice president for Policy, the program officer (PO) will join a highly collaborative environment and will ensure that relevant and timely nonpartisan research and analysis, advocacy, strategic communications, and field-building efforts work together to address pressing issues in health and social policy that are reflective of the Foundation’s focus areas and policy priorities. The PO plays two roles: facilitator of the department’s relationship with other RWJF departments and contributor to Policy department activities.

While the PO can be primarily based at one of the Foundation’s offices (our headquarters in Princeton, N.J. or Washington, D.C.) this is not a remote position. The PO will be required to visit the Princeton office as defined by the Foundation’s return-to-work policies still to be determined.

RWJF staff at all levels are expected to demonstrate a passionate commitment to equity and to the Foundation’s vision, values, and Guiding Principles.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Program Development and Monitoring

Facilitator of relationships with other RWJF departments:

  • Develop and maintain an understanding of the policy agendas, priorities, and activities of the Foundation’s programmatic themes (Transforming Health and Health Care Systems, Healthy Children and Families, Leadership for Better Health, and Healthy Communities), and related activities of the Communications and Research-Evaluation-Learning departments. Bring this understanding back to the Policy department to help shape our grantmaking and direct influence strategies.
  • Facilitate collaboration around, and alignment with, Foundation-wide and theme-specific priorities. Identify opportunities for synergy, to fill gaps, and to make connections with external networks.
  • Identify the need for and develop cross-theme connections and coordination opportunities, including information sharing, shared learning, gatherings, joint strategic frameworks, or co-funding.
  • Facilitate support for, and learning from, policy-focused grantee organizations that work with more than one department. Create and facilitate forums for staff from multiple RWJF themes in which Policy can share insights and lessons on common grantees and can align strategies.
  • Track and help to coordinate key areas (e.g., advocacy, public health, power-building) that cut across RWJF. Identify appropriate ways for the Policy department to engage on these issues. Work toward internal alignment across departments in the Foundation toward a shared vision but through different strategies and tactics.
  • Consult with Communications, the Law department, and other relevant resources to consider and mitigate legal and reputational risks.
  • Facilitate and coordinate institutional relationships with national, regional, state, and local funders.

Contributor to Policy department activities:

  • Participate in strategy development, execution, and monitoring of the Policy department’s work; monitor and learn from programs and grants; and create impact through dissemination of knowledge.
  • Lead the design and management of strategic grantmaking initiatives that support Foundation-wide policy priorities and the department’s direct influence efforts. This includes identifying potential policy and advocacy partners; understanding their alignment with Foundation priorities; evaluating their capacity; managing resulting grants; and learning from the work over time.
  • Assist in grantee information sharing and coalition building. Work toward external alignment of grantees working toward a shared vision but through different strategies and tactics. Maintain authentic relationships with grant seekers and grantees, ensuring mutual understanding of the Foundation’s program and policy directions, goals, and expectations.

Foundation and Field Contribution

  • Work with colleagues, including the Research-Evaluation-Learning and Communications departments, to evaluate, synthesize, and share lessons with other staff, grantees, and the field.
  • Participate in Foundation-wide strategic collaboration and learning activities.
  • Represent the Foundation publicly regarding advancing equity, policy priorities, funding, and results.
  • Engage with public and private funders in areas of focus.
  • Participate in conferences, seminars, and other professional development activities to maintain and enhance expertise and professional status.
  • Respond to public inquiries about the application process.
  • Participate in department activities and efforts to improve team functioning, including following team norms and providing support and backup for team members.

Minimum Requirements

  • Commitment to racial and health equity and the Foundation’s vision, values, and Guiding Principles.
  • A background in Federal and/or state health policy and advocacy (but not necessarily specific subject-matter expertise) with an orientation toward policy change that addresses structural racism and advances health equity, and with an awareness of changing landscapes and policy windows.
  • An understanding of health equity, racial justice, structural racism, and the social and economic determinants of health. Personal and professional commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion—including approaching these ideas with humility, continuous self-reflection, and bravery. Ability to consider underlying inequities, structural drivers, privilege, and power dynamics. Experience engaging and working effectively with persons from diverse cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds.
  • The ability to make sense of complex issues, to apply rigor, objectivity, and systems thinking in analyzing and synthesizing material, to think creatively and make connections, and to focus quickly and identify opportunities for action, while continuing to see the big picture.
  • Strong project and people management skills, including demonstrated ability to think independently and with limited supervision; comfort working in ambiguity, adaptability/flexibility, and the ability to juggle multiple priorities.
  • Ability to communicate clearly, persuasively, and strategically. The ability to synthesize complex, interrelated material and focus quickly on the essence of an issue while maintaining clarity on the big picture.
  • Personal qualities required for strong relationships with colleagues, grantees, consultants, external funders, and others include flexibility, comfort with ambiguity and risk-taking, open-mindedness, intellectual curiosity, independent thinking, humility, self-awareness, sound judgement, patience, and a sense of humor.
  • Familiarity with, but not necessarily a professional background in, philanthropy and philanthropic processes.
  • Ability to travel, including to grantee or applicant site visits and representing the Foundation at outside meetings.
  • Education and experience equivalent to an advanced degree (master’s) and three (3) or more years of relevant experience.

Physical Requirements/Working Conditions

The PO will perform job duties in a typical business office environment. Specific physical abilities required by this job include operating basic office equipment. She/he/they will be required to attend meetings, potentially both on-site and off-site, via phone or videoconference.


The starting salary range for the program officer is $125,000 to $130,000. Why Work at RWJF? Learn more about the benefits of working at RWJF.

How to Apply

RWJF has partnered with Search Light Solutions to fill this position. Please email your resume in confidence to Andrew P. Zalman, Search Light Solutions, A cover letter may be requested later in the process.

Application Deadline: Open


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented applicants.

How to Apply

RWJF has partnered with Search Light Solutions to fill this position. Please email your resume in confidence to Andrew P. Zalman, Search Light Solutions:

A cover letter may be requested later in the process.

Application Deadline: Open

Job posted: 2022-07-12