Regional Director - China

Ford Foundation
  • Location
    Beijing, China
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Mar 06

Position description

The Ford Foundation, created in 1936, is a US-based philanthropic organization and private international donor focusing on combating inequality in all its forms. It has eleven offices across the world in the US, Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Regional Director for China oversees the Foundation’s activities in that country – providing overall leadership for the Foundation’s strategy and grant making programs, representing the Foundation to government, business, nonprofit leaders, the media and the donor community, and managing the office and team in Beijing. The Director reports to the Office of the Vice President for International Programs.

Strategy and Grantmaking: 

The China office strategy aims to increase understanding regarding  China’s growth and global influence, and how they can be leveraged to reduce inequality in accordance with international standards rooted in values of transparency, accountability, expression and participation. The strategy is implemented through grantmaking focused on accountable overseas finance and investment, building analytical capacity about China in the Global South, and supporting evidence-based research to inform and advance US-China relations through the creation of global governance systems that address inequality and promote human dignity. The China office also focuses on strengthening domestic philanthropy and impact investing ecosystems in China in order  to mobilize more private capital for the public good at a time of increasing wealth creation in China.

The Director’s role is to lead the team to assess local social, cultural and economic developments, identify priorities and shape the Foundation’s strategy in the country. The Director facilitates development of an integrated office vision and innovative grant-making strategy and synthesizes learning that enhances the quality and impact of programming. 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 the Foundation’s programmatic goals. Priority is placed on promoting a collaborative working environment that maximizes the diverse backgrounds, perspectives and skills of staff to accomplish Foundation goals. Given China’s global impact, the Director also plays a role in identifying and enabling cross-team and cross-office programmatic alignment, learning, and collaboration as it relates to China. 

The office annual grant making budget is approximately $15.5 million.

Representational Role:

The Ford Foundation’s engagement with China has spanned more than 50 years. Throughout this time, we have built a relationship based on trust and mutually agreed upon goals. We have supported people-to-people exchanges, worked to promote social, economic and legal development in China, and supported open channels of communication between the United States and China as well as among Chinese and global stakeholders. The Director is the Foundation’s ambassador in China to many important constituencies and maintains effective ties and promotes strategic partnerships with local leaders, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations, and other donors to leverage new resources, scale impact, and advance the goals of the office. Specifically, the Director maintains key relationships related to oversight under the Overseas NGO Management Law. The Director also oversees a robust strategic communications strategy that aims to elevate the Foundation to key stakeholders in China and to strengthen the Foundation’s overall positioning. This includes overseeing an active WeChat presence, strategic media placements, media monitoring, and supporting the program team to engage in strategic thought leadership through writing and speaking. 

Managing the Office and Team:

Currently, the China office has eleven staff, including the Director. The Director directly manages eight of those staff and plays a role in building and leading a cohesive team that works together to achieve shared goals and objectives. The Director 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, and maintains constructive working relations with government. Additionally, the Director manages 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 Foundation-wide initiatives 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 China office strategy, and in communicating progress to them.
  • Assess local social, cultural and economic developments and help shape the Foundation’s strategy in China and guide its programming and grant-making priorities in alignment with the Foundation’s mission, values and goals.
  • Oversee all local law compliance requirements, including annual Work Plan and Work Report submissions, annual auditing and business license inspection processes, in coordination with the Foundation’s Office of Legal Services.
  • Participate actively in Foundation-wide risk assessment related to China, including advising other teams on grant making related to China.
  • 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.
  • Uphold social justice values and incorporate a gender focus in the China office 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 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 China office annual grant and administrative budget.
  • Establish learning goals for the China office 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, enabling them to be strategic and achieve impact.


  • Proven record of leadership, strategic design, planning, and management success.
  • Exceptional leadership presence – internally and externally.
  • 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 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 the social development sector.
  • Substantive expertise in and experience with applying gender analysis to work.
  • Substantial China-related experience, including at least two years spent living in China.
  • Experience working on issues related to China’s impact outside of China and related to global governance issues and challenges.
  • Understanding of the geopolitical context of China both domestically and internationally.
  • 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 (People & Culture, Finance, Legal Services).
  • Demonstrated ability to motivate and build teams, constructively lead, coach, mentor, develop and evaluate a staff.
  • 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.
  • Proven abilities to diplomatically manage complex relationships with regional stakeholders.
  • An action-oriented, entrepreneurial person who is a self-starter than can work independently, as well as in teams.
  • Strong facilitation skills – the ability to listen and learn from diverse perspectives.
  • Exemplary communications skills – strong active listening skills and public presentation skills.
  • 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 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.
  • Oral (speaking and listening) fluency in Mandarin Chinese a must; strong reading skills highly desirable.
  • Written and oral fluency in English.

LOCATION: Beijing, China


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.

Application instructions

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