Program Officer ,China Office

Program Officer
China Office

The Ford Foundation China Office, based in Beijing, seeks a dynamic and innovative Program Officer to help drive and shape the foundation’s work related to ensuring that the norms and practice of Chinese development finance promote equitable and sustainable outcomes in recipient countries and communities. S/he will work with two other Program Officers on the China team and with stakeholders both inside China and in regions where the foundation has operations and where the impact of Chinese development finance is manifest.

The ideal candidate will have proven expertise in and knowledge of Chinese development finance (defined to include aid, concessional lending and commercial investment related to development outcomes), and will have experience in one or more of the following regions (in addition to China): Indonesia, southern and/or western Africa, and Peru. Given these geographic regions, an understanding of the social and community-based impact when Chinese development finance intersects with natural resource extraction is a plus.

The Program Officer will work as part of the Beijing office team to develop and implement a shared programmatic strategy while maintaining agency in terms of developing a specific strand of work related to Chinese development finance and its impact in the global south.

Promoting social equity and equality is a key focus of the Ford Foundation globally and in China. Since opening an office in China in 1988, the Ford Foundation has worked with grantees and partners to provide constructive support for the Chinese domestic reform agenda and China’s desire to engage with the world as a source of ideas and experience. The roots of this work are in the fields of economics, law, and international relations.

Today, China is a global actor with development ideas and resources to share and invest across the global south. China is now the world’s largest provider of development finance. Using a blended finance model, with a strong focus on infrastructure, the Chinese approach to development finance presents a model that is both attractive to many and challenging in terms of transparency and environmental, social, and community impact.

We seek to support work that strengthens policy related to Chinese development finance to promote transparent, accountable and equitable investment practices that lead to environmentally and socially sustainable development in the global south. We will also support research that clarifies the nature of Chinese development finance and explores how Chinese approaches to this field can shape global development norms that reduce inequality. We will work with partners in selected countries where the Ford Foundation operates to strengthen local knowledge about China and capacity for engaging constructively with Chinese actors. We will invest in the generation of knowledge about China in the global south.

Across all the areas of work, the China office seeks to highlight women’s roles and to bring a gender analysis to all its work. The Foundation strives to achieve these goals by working with government partners, social organizations, academics and policy makers, business, and other philanthropies.

The Program Officer will work under the direct supervision of the Regional Director for the China office, and be part of a multi-disciplinary team.

Program Officer’s Core Responsibilities
Program Officers are responsible for the development of grant portfolios and ensuring all related activities (grants, convenings, thought leadership) are designed to deliver on the China office goals and strategies. The Program Officer assesses and analyzes the fields in which the office is focused; identifies key organizational “ecosystems” or fields and opportunities to work with various actors to shape and influence agendas to promote strategic outcomes; and plays a leading role in shaping specific grant activities. The Program Officer shares substantive knowledge with Foundation colleagues worldwide; collaborates broadly with Ford’s China office team; and serves as a ‘connector’ of grantees. The Program Officer works with practitioners, government officials, scholars, NGOs, other donors and corporate sector leaders on issue of common concern to leverage resources toward common goals. More specifically, as part of a multi-disciplinary team, the China Program Officer will:

  • Contribute to the ongoing development and implementation of team strategies, working toward the China office goals;
  • Develop grant making activities in a team-oriented context that are aligned to the strategic goals of the office strategy and designed to achieve significant and scalable impact;
  • Manage, monitor and coordinate a grants portfolio, including: annual grant planning; reviewing grants for strategic alignment; 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 reporting from grantees;
  • Develop and implement grantee convenings to strategize and review opportunities, challenges and advances;
  • Recommend and participate in evaluation and other learning activities to guide the evolution of programmatic work, working with the office team and the foundation’s Office of Strategy and Learning (at headquarters);
  • Represent the Foundation and its work to the government, media, academic, business, philanthropic, and civic leaders through meetings, updates, speeches, briefings and interviews, with guidance from the China office Regional Director; and
  • Develop and implement grant-making approaches that support the use of strategic
    communications as part of the program strategy.


  • A minimum of 8 years working within one or more of the following: the development finance sector; international NGOs with a focus on development outcomes; multi-lateral institutions focusing on development outcomes
  • A proven record of experience and knowledge working in the development sector;
  • An advanced degree in relevant field of study such as development studies, public administration, or a related field;
  • Experience working with a range of actors: government, philanthropies, multi-lateral institutions, think tanks/universities, social organizations, and the corporate sector, desired;
  • Experience working in international organizations, desired;
  • Deep understanding of the context of China, its cultures and economies, including geopolitical landscape;
  • Fluency in English and Mandarin Chinese (both spoken and written);
  • Ability to communicate in Spanish, Portuguese or French a plus;
  • Exceptional leadership presence – internally and externally;
  • Exceptional communications skills – strong active listening skills, constructive verbal and written skills, strong public presentation skills; and,
  • Demonstrated ability to be a productive member of a community of people at work, respecting differences while working toward shared goals, comfort with periods of ambiguity, constructive participation in ongoing change processes and organizational development at the foundation.


  • Commitment to the Foundation’s mission and core values of equity, fairness and diversity;
  • Personal qualities of humility, capacity for self-reflection, and a sense of humor; and
  • Action-oriented and entrepreneurial self-starter who can work well independently and in teams.


  • This position is primarily a sedentary role. However, the person in this position may need to occasionally move about inside the office to liaise with internal staff, access files, office machinery and a copy machine/printer. Additionally, domestic/international travel will be expected, approximately 25-30%; some travel is directly related to grantmaking, but also to attend team conferences, retreats and meetings.

Location: Beijing, China

Target Start Date: January 2020

Salary: is based on experience and on the Foundation’s commitment to internal equity. A generous benefits package is provided.

To apply: Please visit by September 24, 2019.

Equal employment opportunity and having a diverse staff are fundamental principles at The Ford Foundation, where employment and promotional opportunities are based upon individual capabilities and qualifications without regard to race, color, religion, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation preference, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status or any other protected characteristic as established under law.