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  • Posted: Sep 2, 2021
    Deadline: Not specified
  • The Ford Foundation is a global, grant-making philanthropy that works to disrupt inequality in all its forms. We believe in the inherent dignity of all people. But around the world, too many people are excluded from the political, economic, and social institutions that shape their lives. In addressing this reality, we are guided by a vision of social j...
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    Regional Director

    APPLICATION DEADLINE: October 1, 2021

    The Ford Foundation seeks a dynamic, creative and innovative leader to serve as its Regional Director for the Office for Southern Africa. Building on Ford’s rich legacy in and longstanding commitment to promoting social justice and reducing inequality in the region, the Director will oversee and lead the Foundation’s program development and implementation and manage the Foundation’s team, external relations and administrative operations in South Africa.


    The Ford Foundation, created in 1936, is a US-based philanthropic organization and private international donor focusing on social justice. It has ten offices across the world in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as in the US. The Director oversees the Foundation’s activities in Southern Africa – providing overall leadership to the Foundation’s strategy and grant making programs, managing the office and team in Johannesburg, and representing the Foundation to government, business, nonprofit leaders, the media and the donor community. The Director reports to the Office of the Vice President for International Programs.

    The Director is the Foundation’s ambassador in the region to many important constituencies. Specifically, the Director assesses local political, social, cultural and economic developments and helps shape the Foundation’s strategy in the region and guides its programming and grant-making priorities in alignment with the Foundation’s mission, values and goals. The Director facilitates development of an integrated office vision and innovative grant-making strategy; synthesizes learning and enhances the quality and impact of programming; and promotes a collaborative working environment in the office and across areas of expertise that maximize the diverse backgrounds, perspectives and skills of staff to accomplish Foundation goals. The Director manages, coaches, galvanizes and works closely with a small team of program staff in developing, monitoring and evaluating integrated grant programs and projects in support of regional goals

    The Foundation’s programs in South Africa strive to confront exclusion and expand justice to ensure all people are able to participate in a democracy in which underrepresented groups see their rights protected, and the advantages of progress are available to all. The work of the Southern Africa office specifically focuses on Gender Racial and Ethnic Justice (GREJ), in particular addressing gender based violence, and Natural Resources and Climate Change (NRCC) focusing on the governance of natural resources and ensuring the benefits of its extraction are extended to the poor and marginalized.  The Director will ensure the grants and activities supported under its GREJ and NRCC programs in South Africa contribute to this goal. The Director also partners with Ford’s International Program Directors for GREJ and NRCC to ensure the grant making in South Africa is aligned with the larger global vision for these two areas. 

    The Director maintains effective ties and promotes strategic partnerships with local leaders, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations, the media and other donors to leverage new resources, scale impact, and advance the goals of the office. The Director also collaborates with staff in the Foundation’s New York office to oversee all workforce needs and legal matters, ensures that the Foundation complies with all relevant local laws and statutory obligations in a timely manner, maintains constructive working relations with government.

    Additionally, the Director manages the office’s $11 million annual grant budget and an additional $4 million in funding to strengthen institutions and networks. They also prepare and manage an administrative budget and staff with responsibilities for accounting, grants administration and general services functions. The Director also works closely with senior management staff from around the world, including Regional and Program Directors from Ford’s offices in 11 countries in helping shape and integrate various aspects of the Foundation’s work regionally and globally.



    Specifically, the Director will:

    • Be accountable to Ford Foundation senior leadership and through them to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees for implementation of the Southern Africa office strategy, and in communicating progress to them.

    • Assess local political, social, cultural and economic developments and help shape the Foundation’s strategy in the region and guide its programming and grant-making priorities in alignment with the Foundation’s mission and values and the goals of the International GREJ and NRCC programs.

    • Provide intellectual leadership inside and outside the Foundation.

    • Represent the Foundation externally; and, initiate/foster strategic partnerships --collaborating broadly with international scholars and practitioners, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and other donors on issues of common program concern.

    • Lead/conduct annual reviews of strategy and propose changes to ensure greatest impact

    • Incorporate a rights-based and gender focus in the work and advance initiatives focused on people with disabilities.

    • Oversee and manage, mentor and coach a small team of professional, administrative and support staff including directing development of grantmaking plans by Program Officers; establishing annual performance delivery goals for the team and direct reports; and planning and implementing talent management strategies.

    • Prepare and manage the Southern Africa office annual grant and administrative budget.

    • Establish learning goals for the Southern Africa team, including working with Ford strategy and learning colleagues to build a monitoring framework to assess impact and synthesize learning.

    • Communicate with the team, senior Foundation leadership and external partners clearly and consistently in a transparent, timely and respectful manner, and enabling them to be strategic and achieve impact.

    • Monitor local compliance requirements in coordination with local counsel and the foundation’s Office of Legal Services.



    • Proven record of leadership, strategic design, planning, and management success;

    • Substantial previous experience in and deep knowledge of the history, culture and social justice context of South Africa – as well as the region’s broader engagement with the African continent and global developments;

    • Exceptional leadership presence – internally and externally;

    • Demonstrated exceptional people management and team management skills, including the ability to motivate and build teams, constructively lead, coach, mentor, develop and evaluate a staff;

    • Proven abilities to diplomatically manage complex relationships with private and public sector stakeholders in the region;

    • An understanding of development and social change processes and a proven track record of achieving change;

    • In-depth knowledge of the philanthropic sector and grant-making capabilities in social development sector;

    • Substantive expertise in and experience with applying gender analysis to work;

    • A proven ability to think analytically, independently and critically with agility to translate ideas and insights into action through coherent and viable program work;

    • An action-oriented, entrepreneurial person who is a self-starter than can work independently, as well as in teams;

    • Ability to effectively lead a regional office within a larger global organization with headquarters in New York and strategize/solve problems through solicitation of relevant internal expertise (Human Resources, Finance, Legal Services);

    • An understanding of the civil society landscape in South Africa;

    • Administrative skills, in particular an appreciation for the importance of strong fiscal management;

    • Strong facilitation skills – the ability to listen and learn from diverse perspectives;

    • Exemplary communications skills – strong active listening skills and public presentation skills;

    • 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 organizational development;

    • Demonstrated organizational skills, and the ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously;

    • Strong time management proficiency;

    • Sound, mature judgment and integrity;

    • Personal qualities of humility and capacity for self-reflections;

    • A passion for social justice and reducing inequality as well as commitment to Ford’s mission and core values of equity and fairness, diversity, voice and participation, knowledge and creativity, humility and respect, and honesty and integrity.



    The successful candidate will have the following minimum qualifications and experience:

    • A graduate level degree in a relevant field of study or equivalent combination of education and experience

    • 10+ years of experience leading strategies, people and teams

    • Ability to travel extensively on behalf of the Foundation

    • Creativity, energy and non-traditional thinking capacity

    • Written and oral fluency in English



    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%; some travel is directly related to grantmaking, but also to attend team conferences, retreats and meetings— and may occasionally include travel to rural or remote places with difficult conditions.


    Alignment to Culture and Values

    • Commitment to the Foundation’s mission and core values of equity, openness, collaboration, trust, accountability and urgency

    • Personal qualities of humility, capacity for self-reflection, and a sense of humor

    • Discretion and ability to handle confidential issues

    • Action-orientated and entrepreneurial self-starter who can work well independently and in teams



    • Medical and dental benefits for employee and immediate family on first day of work

    • Retirement savings account with matching company contributions of up to 13%

    • Three weeks’ paid vacation in first year of work; four weeks in subsequent years 

    • Tuition Reimbursement

    • Office closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day

    • Professional development initiatives for growth

    • Generous parental leave (maternal and paternal) during new child’s first year (born into family or adopted)


    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/affectional preference, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status or any other protected characteristic as established under law.  

    Method of Application

    Interested and qualified? Go to Ford Foundation on to apply

    Note: Never pay for any training, certificate, assessment, or testing to the recruiter.

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