Program Officer

Ford Foundation, Mexico City, Mexico

Skill Required:, Project/ Programme Management
Preferred Experience: 
7 to 10 Year
Closing Date for Applications: 
28th April, 2021

Job Description


The Ford Foundation, Mexico and Central America, seeks a dynamic, innovative Program Officer to help drive and shape the foundation’s social justice work in the region. The Program Officer should have proven experience and knowledge in human rights, institutional and democratic governance, civic space and will bring this perspective to grantmaking and the team as they implement the office strategy. The Program Officer will support the Civic Engagement and Government strategy of the Mexico and Central America Office and the broader social justice goals of the Foundation globally.


Addressing inequality is a key focus of the Ford Foundation globally and in the region. Unequal access to, and engagement with, government is a fundamental driver of inequality, leading to the adoption and implementation of policies that privilege the already powerful. The result of this equation is simple: governments are more accountable to private interests than to the people. We believe that meaningful civic engagement is an antidote to inequality. It empowers marginalized sectors and underrepresented groups to raise their voice, claim space, influence decisions that affect them, and hold governments to account.

The Mexico and Central America office seeks to engage diverse audiences and stakeholders, establish broad alliances, and develop innovative approaches to inform, engage, and mobilize different people in order to illustrate the value of a vibrant, well connected civil society. Within this logic, the office focuses on curbing impunity for corruption and grave human rights violations, by putting affected communities and a fair application of the rule of law at the center of the debate. The office’s grantmaking will support efforts to:

  • Push back against restrictions to civic space, increase the political cost of attacks against social justice leaders, and/or expand the enabling conditions for their work.
  • Empower movements and marginalized sectors of society to raise their voice and build more diverse, non-elite coalitions that demand accountability and rule of law.
  • Strengthen institutions and policies to combat impunity for grave human rights violations and corruption and increase accountability. 
  • Create the emergence of new narratives that gain traction and build the case for the value of civic space and the need for accountability for systematic impunity. 
  • The Ford Foundation Mexico and Central America Office works to address these priorities, while also bearing in mind the importance of linking local challenges and interventions to global trends and strategies. The Program Officer will work under the direct supervision of the Regional Director, and be part of a team based in Mexico City.


Program Officers are responsible for the development of grant portfolios and ensuring all related activities are carried out to deliver on the Mexico and Central America office goals and strategies.  The Program Officer assesses and analyzes the fields on which the office is focused; and identifies key ecosystems and opportunities to work with various actors to shape and influence agendas to promote social justice (or address diagnosed problems and opportunities).  Program Officers are networking agents and partnership builders--striving to share substantive knowledge with Foundation colleagues; they collaborate broadly with Ford’s team in Mexico and Central America and globally; and serve as ‘connectors’ of grantees. The Program Officer works with practitioners, government officials, scholars, CSOs, other donors and corporate sector leaders on issues of common concern to leverage positive impact toward common goals.  More specifically as part of a multi-disciplinary team, the Mexico and Central America Program Officer will: 

  • Contribute to the ongoing definition, development and adaptation of grantmaking strategies, working toward the regional office goals.
  • Develop grantmaking activities in a team-oriented way, aligned with global and regional strategy goals, and designed to achieve significant and scalable impact.
  • Manage and monitor a grants portfolio, including: annual grant planning; identifying and working with prospective grantees to develop proposals for grant recommendations; undertaking periodic reviews of progress with grantees; and reviewing financial and narrative reports from grantees.
  • Develop and implement grant-making approaches that support the use of broad coalitions and strategic communications as part of the program strategy.
  • Develop and implement grantee convenings and reflections to strategize and review opportunities, challenges and advances.
  • Recommend and participate in learning and evaluation activities to guide the evolution of programmatic work, promote exchange and strategic partnership. Learn from and collaborate with key stakeholders inside and outside the Foundation.
  • Represent the Foundation and its work with government, academic, business, philanthropic, and civic leaders through meetings, updates, speeches, briefings and interviews, with guidance from the Regional Director—serving as a substantive and reputational ambassador for the Foundation.


  • A proven record of experience and knowledge on policy, institutional and legal analysis on human rights issues.
  • A minimum of 8 years leading social justice strategies, subject-matter expertise, and/or cross-cutting work in civil society and civic space in Mexico and Central America, including issues of impunity and rule of law.
  • A master’s degree in relevant fields of study, such as human rights, corruption, transitional justice, civic space and civil society or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Deep understanding of the context of Mexico and Central America, including the development of political culture, geopolitical landscape, and civil society ecosystem, with a perspective informed by the global context.
  • Recognition and legitimacy within the civil society ecosystem in the region.
  • Ability to engage in a multicultural scenario and knowledge of social networks, organizations and stakeholders in the region, including networks of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants.
  • Understanding of the issues faced by civil society working to defend the rights and visions of indigenous and Afro-descendent people defending their natural and cultural resources.
  • Strong gender and feminist perspective and ability to apply an intersectionality lens to portfolio and strategy.
  • Ability to develop strong relationships and partnerships with diverse individuals remotely and in-person.
  • Exceptional and transformative leadership skills and commitment to personal learning and development and openness to feedback.
  • Superb analytical skills and ability to strategize, plan, prioritize and identify/assess opportunities, challenges and institutions with which to engage.
  • Exceptional communications skills in Spanish and English – strong active listening skills, constructive verbal and written skills, strong public presentation skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to be a productive member of a team and a community of people at work, respecting differences while working toward shared goals. Comfort with periods of change and constructive participation in ongoing organizational development.


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