Ford Foundation · New York, NY
Technology Fellow Summary Description
The Ford Foundation’s Technology Fellowship Program was created to support integrated learning and action at the intersection of social justice and technology throughout the work of the foundation. Fellows work both as a cohort across the foundation and as part of program teams to explore the role and impact of technology with social justice and help develop a critical technology lens throughout the foundation. The Technology Fellowship Program has three overarching goals:
1. Enrich perspectives within the Foundation by providing a perspective grounded in technological experience and expertise.
2. Assess and increase the technical capacity of the Foundation’s program areas
3. Generate novel, forward-thinking ideas and build new relationships and networks
Technology Fellows play a strategic advisory role to the Foundation as well as provide practical technical expertise to staff and grantees. Note that this role does not include IT and administration responsibilities. Technology Fellows enable the foundation to better serve the technical needs of grantees, identify emerging opportunities and threats related to technology, help develop networks and communities of social justice values-driven technology experts, and enrich the diverse perspectives of the program area teams. Technology Fellows have the potential to add a technical perspective to the way the Foundation supports leaders and organizations on the frontlines of social change around the world.
The Technology Fellow position will be embedded in the Future of Work(ers) program area of work for a two-year, competitively compensated fellowship. The Technology Fellow will report to the director of the program area and will work closely with the program officers, associates, assistants, and grantees of that area.
The cohort of Technology Fellows across the foundation will serve as a second home and provide a basis for intersectional work across the Foundation, including other program areas. The Technology Fellow will co-work regularly, enabling fellows to share experiences, collaborate on challenges, and identify foundation-wide opportunities.
The ideal candidate will possess expertise in technology-related issues and a deep interest in social change. They will exhibit characteristics reflective of Ford Foundation culture, such as humility, a capacity for self-reflection, engaging interpersonal skills, and an inquisitive and collaborative nature. Each program area also seeks specific types of expertise:
Future of Work(ers) Tech Fellow:
The Future of Work(ers) program aims to advance a more fair, equitable, and economically secure future for workers, particularly among people in low-wage work. Technological innovation, alongside other long-standing factors, is reshaping how value is generated and shared, how demand connects to supply, and how employers relate to workers. Consequently, the nature of work is changing as business models and practices evolve. The emergence of digital workplace technologies can offer improvements in the nature, safety, and quality of the work, while also delivering value and profit. Yet, for many workers, they often amplify problems such as unfair management practices, unsafe working conditions, and limited access to meaningful employment, instead of disrupting them. Additionally, workplace technology design, adoption, and financing often occurs without any workers at the table which can limit the potential benefits of these technologies. We seek to center the voices and interests of workers most impacted by these changes in developing solutions that ensure more equitable economic opportunities and outcomes.
The Future of Work(ers) technology fellow is a key member of the team who will help to expand its knowledge and networks in the technology industry, as well as sharpen its grant making and strategy. The fellow will provide strategic guidance and support around harnessing opportunities and addressing threats inherent to technology with respect to work, workers, and the economy more broadly. The fellow will serve as a critical partner helping to shape grantmaking strategy, facilitate multi-stakeholder networks and initiatives, support grantee partners and frontline organizations, and represent the team at external convenings and events, amongst other things.
Candidates for this role should have:
● Experience in any of the following areas: tech design and/or development; venture capital or investing in tech companies; adoption and rollout of technologies, perhaps as a HR leader within a company; implementation of social impact or high road business strategies within tech companies
● Deep relationships and networks within the tech industry, both within and outside of Silicon Valley
● Knowledge of technology, innovation, industrial policy, and the broader public interest technology ecosystem
● Familiarity with issues such as tech ethics, data governance, social impacts of algorithmic decision-making, high-road business practices, worker organizing, and/or platform accountability, and the role that labor and worker power plays in improving conditions for workers
● Experience in strategic thinking, program design and management, and research
● Experience working with multi-stakeholder initiatives and networks; ability to be a bridge-builder and effectively communicate and connect with people who have diverse perspectives and work across a range of fields (e.g., from organizing and social movements to finance and investing)
● Enthusiasm for, if not also familiarity with, directly supporting and strengthening the capacities of economic/worker justice organizations and networks
General Tech Fellow Responsibilities
A Technology Fellow will be charged with three key roles to serve their program area and the Foundation at large. These roles are described below along with the potential work that fellows may undertake.
1. Strategic Advisor - Strategic support is a critical priority of a Technology Fellow. Tasks may include helping the program area examine the role of technology in advancing its objectives, informing the development of technology strategies for the program area, conducting landscape research, identifying and analyzing potential threats, supporting strategic grant proposal reviews, serving as an internal technology advisor, identifying technologically proficient grantees and thought partners working in the program area, and collaborating with other technology experts at Ford on Foundation priorities.
2. Technical Expert - Building the technical capacity and perspective of the team is an integral part of the Technology Fellow’s role. Tasks may include supporting technical proposal reviews, conducting technology assessments, developing expertise to advise on emerging technologies, coaching and mentoring grantees, and working as internal technology “guides.”
3. Independent Thought Partner - This role is secondary and tasks may include conducting independent research projects, advising organizations in the field, participating in relevant civil society coalitions and networks, and writing and publishing on topics at the intersection of technology, social justice, and the program area. The level of focus on this secondary role will be determined in collaboration with the program area director.
The Technology Fellow will serve as a member of the program team and will be expected to participate actively in team wide meetings and activities. Technology Fellows will not be responsible for duties such as equipment maintenance, systems administration, website maintenance, or event logistics. Technology fellows will not replace or supplement the existing IT and administrative infrastructure of the Ford Foundation.
● Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience with minimum 4 years’ professional experience working with media, technology, advocacy, or policy organizations
● Strong ability to critically assess technologies relevant to the program area, particularly regarding usefulness, effectiveness, security risks, and potential impact
● Sophisticated knowledge about existing and emerging technologies, and their potential intersections within a fellow’s program area.
● Experienced in understanding needs of individuals, organizations, or communities and collaboratively designing technical solutions to meet them
● Strong communication skills, including the ability to collaborate with and articulate the potential impact of technology to diverse audiences - particularly those utilizing more traditional forms of engagement
● Self-motivated and disciplined with a high degree of comfort working both independently and collaboratively
● Experience working with a range of individuals in civil society, government, and/or the private sector
● Demonstrated experience working effectively as part of a team and with colleagues of diverse backgrounds and perspectives
● Excellent analytical, oral presentation, writing, and interpersonal skills;
● Personal qualities of humility, capacity for self-reflection, and an inquisitive and collaborative nature
● Ability to work effectively in a shifting environment, navigate ambiguity, and work independently.
● Commitment to the Foundation’s mission and core values of equity, fairness, and diversity
● Fluency in English
● Willingness to be based in New York City (position will be virtual until offices open in New York)
● Advanced degree in a related field of work or equivalent experience
● Professional experience working internationally or within a global context
● Specific experience working at the intersection of technology and one of the three program areas named above
This position is primarily a sedentary role. However, the person in this position may need to occasionally move about the office and access office machinery and a copy machine/printer (when staff return back to the office).
MINIMUM SALARY: US$ 120,000
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.