Senior Program Officer, Healthy Communities

Senior Program Officer, Healthy Communities

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Princeton, NJ   |   February 24, 2020

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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

For more information on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, please visit

The Opportunity

RWJF currently has four senior program officer openings in three of our four focus areas: Healthy Children and Families (two positions available), Healthy Communities, and Leadership for Better Health. Senior program officers are professional staff responsible for developing, implementing, and managing RWJF’s initiatives to improve health and health care. Their primary responsibilities include providing intellectual and organizational leadership in designing and implementing new initiatives, evaluating proposals, monitoring programs and grants, learning from program investments and activities, providing mentorship in the development of junior staff, and creating impact through dissemination of knowledge.

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

Candidate Profile

All senior program officers at RWJF are expected to have the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:

Commitment to Equity

You have a history of fostering inclusive environments, engaging diverse voices, and are able to consider underlying structural inequities, privilege, and power dynamics in your work.

Connective Thinking

You excel at creatively exploring problems, issues, and opportunities. You are a lateral thinker who is able to translate ideas from different spaces, make connections between seemingly disparate ideas, and see how they fit within a broader whole.

Curiosity and a Rapid Learning Curve

You are intellectually curious and able to dive into and understand new spaces and new networks. You like to explore different, disparate ideas and can swiftly make sense of complex issues.

Systems Thinking

You are able to identify leverage points and assess how new ideas have the potential to influence or change a system. You are comfortable with experimentation and risk-taking and are able to find and refine the truly transformative “nugget” in an idea—even if others don’t see it yet.

Excellent Networking Skills

You are a relational person and are able to build robust networks that allow you to cast a wide net, make connections, and see opportunities and challenges from diverse perspectives.

Open-Mindedness, Additive Thinking, and Humility

You are open-minded and willing to explore ideas, whether they are yours or not. You are an additive and generative thinker who builds on the ideas of others. And you are self-aware and recognize a grantmaker’s role in supporting the work of their grantees.

Well-Honed Research and Analytical Skills

You can apply rigor and an objective lens when researching and evaluating. You make sound decisions and are responsive, clear, and persuasive in your recommendations.

Able to Drive and Communicate

You are able to work both independently and collaboratively and to manage multiple priorities effectively. You spend your time generously and judiciously. You consistently deliver on project goals and outcomes.

Collaborative Approach

People enjoy working with you and you enjoy working with others. You are able to work effectively with others and work with efficiency, enthusiasm, and diplomacy—both individually and as part of a team. You build productive and reciprocal relationships with a diverse group of colleagues, grantees, consultants, and others.

In addition, strong candidates will offer:

  • 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.
  • Familiarity with, but not necessarily a professional background in, philanthropy and philanthropic processes.
  • Ability to travel, including site visits and representing RWJF at outside meetings.
  • Ability to provide mentorship/guidance to encourage the development of staff.
  • Six (6) or more years of extensive experience and proven leadership and recognized in the field for specific knowledge in one or more of RWJF’s interest areas.
Senior Program Officer, Healthy Communities

The SPO, Healthy Communities, will be part of a team focused on systems change efforts to create the conditions in communities that allow all residents to reach their best possible health and well-being in the following ways:

  • Shifting mindsets and expectations to create demand for and motivate action to create and support the conditions in communities that promote health equity;
  • Identifying, developing, testing, and spreading policies, practices, and financing approaches; and
  • Supporting regional capacity for equitable, healthy development in small and midsize cities and their surrounding regions.

 Specific qualifications include:

  • Demonstrated understanding of the social determinants of health; the history and impact of place and race on health, wellbeing, and equity; the role of community development and housing, economic development, and health care in changing community conditions; and the ability and comfort in working to bridge different sectors.
  • Experience in local policy or practice change efforts in the realms of community development and housing, economic development, or social determinants of health and national initiatives or networks to influence broader policy or systems change.

Koya Leadership Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role, please visit this link. All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

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.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners, a member of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit