Regional Director at Ford Foundation

Ford Foundation

  • Location: Lagos, Nigeria
  • Sector: Non Profit
  • Experience: Mid Career / Advanced

Position description

The Ford Foundation seeks a dynamic, creative and innovative leader to serve as its Regional Director for West 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 West Africa.

Summary Description

The Director oversees the Foundation’s activities in West Africa – providing overall leadership to the Foundation’s strategy and grant making programs, managing the office and team in Lagos, and representing the Foundation to government, business, nonprofit leaders, the media and the donor community. The Director reports to 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 West 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 West 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 West 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 West 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 headquarters 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 $10 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.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

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 West 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;
  • 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 West Africa office annual grant and administrative budget;
  • Incorporate a rights-based and gender focus in the work and advance initiatives focused on youth and people with disabilities;
  • Establish learning goals for the West 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.


  • 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 West 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 West 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.

Required Qualifications

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

  • A graduate level degree in a relevant field of study or BA and equivalent 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.—Lagos/Regional-Director_R763