Program Officer

Tags: Human Rights Law English
  • Added Date: Friday, 13 May 2022
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The Ford Foundationโ€™s U.S. Technology and Society thematic area seeks a dynamic, strategic, and collaborative Program Officer to join a team working together to ensure that the internet and digital technologies are increasingly equitable; designed and governed to advance social and economic justice, particularly for those experiencing persistent discrimination. Based in New York City, the Program Officer will largely manage a grantmaking portfolio that advances meaningful free expression online, counters unjust surveillance and algorithmic harms, and challenges power asymmetries and inequities in the current structure of the data economy. The Program Officer may also manage other grants or special projects that are related to the teamโ€™s broader goals of advancing more equitable, secure, and accessible digital technologies and infrastructure.

The ideal candidate will be grounded in the broad field of technology rights and justice. They will be deeply knowledgeable about topics at the various intersections of technology and social justice, and understand the roles that policy advocacy, organizing, research, narrative shifts, and philanthropy play in advancing social change. They will be well-networked within the technology policy, rights, and justice field as well as broader civil rights and social justice fields. They will be expected to bring a strong understanding of the politics of gender, disability, and racial dynamics in the field and a familiarity with organizations in the United States - and ideally, globally - working in the field, particularly those led by and for communities of color. The ideal Program Officer will also have excellent communication skills, be adaptive and flexible in the context of organizational change, have a great sense of humor, enjoy working across program areas, and demonstrate leadership inside and outside of the organization.


Digital communications technologies have transformed how we connect and engage with the world, creating opportunities in every area of modern life. But as often as these technologies are used to foster learning and promote justice, they have also been used in ways that amplify inequality. Too many peopleโ€”particularly those who have historically been excluded or marginalizedโ€”arenโ€™t able to access, benefit from, or influence digital platforms. The foundationโ€™s core mission is to help reduce inequality in all its forms: political, economic, and cultural. The governance and use of technology are implicated in nearly all the drivers of inequality, underscoring the extent of this problem.

The Ford Foundationโ€™s Technology and Society program grant making is focused, in part, on advancing a range of strong and effective legal, policy, social, and technical protections coupled with increasingly strengthened fields of technologists and social justice organizations working together to ensure that digital technologies are not used by corporate or government actors to exploit vulnerable communities or further entrench harmful and oppressive systems (or develop new ones).

We believe in universal access to, and fair regulation of, digital communications technologies that advance equitable and universal access to knowledge, self-determination, civic participation, and creative expression. As the speed of global technological change and innovation outpaces public understanding and democratic checksโ€”and as technology continues to reshape relationships between citizens, governments, civil society organizations, and corporationsโ€”our grantmaking focuses on advancing civil and human rights and freedom of expression.

We support the growth of technically sophisticated, diverse civil society organizations dedicated to advancing more inclusive digital spaces and systems so that the internet and digital technologies are increasingly equitable; designed and governed to advance social and economic justice, particularly for those experiencing persistent discrimination. We seek to build the technological capacity of social justice organizations and support the development of a robust, diverse field of public interest technologists who bring a social justice lens to their work. We also invest in the capacity of civil society organizations working to ensure an open, secure, and trustworthy digital public sphere that can withstand disinformation and manipulation by state and non-state actors.


Working under the direction of the Director of the Technology and Society program and working within a multidisciplinary team, the Program Officer will further develop existing grantmaking strategies; identify prospective grantees; solicit, review and respond to grant proposals; and prepare recommendations for Foundation funding. The Program Officer will also be expected to collaborate internally with other Program Officers within the Technology and Society program, as well as others throughout the Foundation and externally to provide intellectual leadership on areas related to the technology rights and justice field.

Specifically, the Program Officer will:

  • Contribute in the ongoing development of the Foundationโ€™s Technology and Society strategy. The Program Officer will largely focus on a policy portfolio that aims to advance meaningful free expression online, counter unjust surveillance and algorithmic harms, and challenge power asymmetries and inequities in the current structure of the data economy.

  • Manage, monitor and coordinate a grants portfolio of approximately $7 million annually, including: long-term grant planning; identifying and working with prospective grantees to develop proposals for grant recommendations (including helping determine the goals for a grant, its activities, expected results, indicators of success and budget); conducting organizational assessments; undertaking periodic reviews of progress with grantees; and reviewing financial and narrative reports.

  • Identify ways to support grantees in the portfolio to become more resilient and more effectively networked with each other. This includes support for strategic planning, leadership, communications, management systems, financial stability, and organizational diversity, equity and inclusion.

  • Develop and implement grant-making approaches that support the use of strategic communications and narrative change as part of the program strategy.

  • Continually scan the fields related to technology and society in the US and globally, follow key developments and debates, keep abreast of the academic and popular literature, share key findings and lessons among colleagues and the field.

  • Build relationships with other donors to increase philanthropic coordination and contributions to the field.

  • Promote and participate in fostering open-mindedness and a culture of learning โ€“ including learning and evaluation activities to guide the evolution of programmatic work โ€“ seeking to continually ask hard questions, gather independent data and evidence about effectiveness of the foundation and granteesโ€™ strategies, and help adapt practice as needed.

  • Work collaboratively with Technology and Society team members to develop, define and implement program strategies to achieve meaningful and measurable impact towards team goals.

  • Represent the Foundation and its work in key venues through participation in relevant meetings, public speaking, writing, speeches, briefings, blog posts, and interviews, with guidance from the Technology and Society Director and Fordโ€™s Office of Communications.

  • Work collaboratively as a member of the Technology and Society grantmaking team to manage all aspects of grants processing and compliance. Work collaboratively with the Technology and Society Program Associate and co-manage a Program Assistant to ensure effective support to grantees.


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