NEW YORK – The Ford Foundation announced today the appointments of two new program directors: Monica Aleman as its next international program director for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Justice (GREJ), and José García as its next program director for Future of Work(ers). Both will assume their new roles in July 2022, succeeding Nicolette Naylor and Sarita Gupta, respectively.
“The Ford Foundation is thrilled and fortunate to have two passionate and brilliant leaders in their fields like Monica Aleman and José García with us on our journey to reduce inequality around the world,” said Hilary Pennington, executive vice president of programs at Ford Foundation. “I look forward to seeing their leadership and impact continue to grow as they advance their visions for a more just, equal and inclusive world.”
Aleman first joined the Ford Foundation in 2011 in its East Africa office as a program officer for women’s rights. In this role, she partnered with cultural and faith-based leaders across the region and conceptualized a Women’s Political Participation Initiative, which led to a National Roadmap for the Advancement of Gender Equality to implement Kenya’s constitution at county and national levels. In 2016, Aleman was appointed senior program officer for the foundation’s flagship BUILD initiative, playing a pivotal role in its design from the start as well as its successful integration into the foundation’s overall grantmaking approach. In this role, she has helped several organizations around the world develop greater institutional strengthening. Notably, she was simultaneously a senior advisor for the GREJ-International team, working closely with her predecessor, Nicolette Naylor, to support feminist-led organizations focused on ending gender-based violence globally. She was a critical partner in leveraging resources and promoting the voice and participation of Global South leaders in global governance processes, including the Generation Equality Forum that led to Ford’s $420 million commitment to gender equality.
“It’s a true pleasure and honor to step into this new role to carry on the foundation’s work to reduce gender-based violence around the world at a time when the rights of women and gender-expansive people are under attack more than ever,” said Aleman. “We have a window of opportunity here to work more intentionally and urgently to advance a feminist perspective by listening to and supporting those on the frontlines of movements, and I see it as a mantel to get us closer to a world with substantial equality for all.”
Prior to Ford, Aleman was executive director and founder of the International Indigenous Women’s Forum and the Indigenous Women’s Fund (FIMI), one of the first-ever Indigenous women-led global funds for indigenous rights with a gender perspective. She was part of the team that fought to pass the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and establish the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples. Aleman also worked as Program Director at MADRE, expanding its geographic scope of work and priority areas to integrate their global and local work. Additionally, Aleman was one of the leaders who founded the Urgent Action Fund for Women in Latin America, along with the Global Network of Women’s Human Rights Defenders.
Aleman earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and International Relations and a Master’s in Development from the Indigenous University of Popayan, Colombia, managed and led by the Regional Indigenous Organization of el Cauca. A mother to two young men and a proud Indigenous Miskito daughter of the Coco River in Central America, she is a certified professional coach and serves on the boards of several organizations including Witness, International Funders for Indigenous Peoples and the Human Rights Funders Network.
Since 2017, García has served as a program officer and senior program officer in the Ford Foundation’s Future of Work(ers) program, leading Ford’s efforts to support worker organizations that are innovating new ways to build worker voice, power, and influence. He has also seeded and led the foundation’s programmatic work on capital strategies, which is exploring ways to leverage worker voice in capital markets to help create positive change for workers and their communities. In this capacity, García has also helped launch new initiatives such as the Southern Workers Opportunity Fund and our cross-program efforts focused on advancing the rights of gig workers.
“It’s an honor to take the lead of the Future of Work(ers) program at a moment when the stakes have never been higher for workers and their families in the U.S. and around the globe, and when movements have never been more persuasive, innovative, and impactful in their calls for a world with workers at the center,” said García. “Worker voice is an irreducible element of democracy, and I’m proud to support and steward leading efforts towards that vision.”
For over 20 years, García has served as a senior philanthropic leader, author and economic justice expert devising strategies for business accountability and engagement, and supporting worker organizing to ensure that communities and workers can live dignified lives. He has a deep history of working with many stakeholders in the worker’s rights field across policy, research, unions, worker centers, capital markets, and think tanks, all of which has positioned him to be at the forefront of dialogues and efforts to reimagine the future of work. Prior to joining Ford, García served as a program officer for Strong Local Economies at the Surdna Foundation, where he led the design and implementation of a $4 million grantmaking portfolio to spur business development and acceleration while focusing on quality jobs and wealth creation. Before Surdna, García was a policy fellow at the National Council of La Raza’s Wealth Building Policy Project, where he co-authored the book Foreclosure to Fair Lending: Advocacy, Organizing, Occupy, and the Pursuit of Equitable Credit.
Earlier in his career, García served as associate director for the Economic Opportunity Program at Demos, where he authored dozens of reports on household debt and co-authored the book, Up to Our Eyeballs: How Shady Lenders and Failed Economic Policies are Drowning Americans in Debt. Also, during his career he assisted his family’s small business in a period of transition, and was able to see firsthand how economic policies affect mom and pop shops. He holds leadership positions on the advisory board of Funders for a Just Economy, the LIFT Fund, Fund for a New Economy, and the Maria Fund.
The Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
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