NEW YORK – The Ford Foundation today announced the appointment of two new program directors: Monica Aleman as the next International Program Director for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Justice (GREJ) and José García as the 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 the Ford Foundation. “I look forward to seeing their leadership and impact continue to grow as they advance their vision for a more just, equal and inclusive world.”
Aleman first joined the Ford Foundation in 2011 in its East Africa office as a program manager for women’s rights. In this role, she partnered with cultural and religious leaders in the region and conceptualized a women’s political participation initiative, which led to a national roadmap for promoting gender equality to put implement Kenya’s constitution at county and national levels. In 2016, Aleman was appointed Senior Program Manager for the foundation’s BUILD flagship 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 to develop greater institutional strengthening. Notably, she was concurrently 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 has been a key partner in mobilizing resources and promoting the voice and participation of Southern leaders in global governance processes, including the Generation Equality Forum which led to the commitment of 420 million Ford dollars for gender equality.
“It is a real pleasure and honor to step into this new role to continue the foundation’s work to reduce gender-based violence around the world at a time when the rights of women and people at large are more than never attacked,” said German. “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 front lines of the movements, and I see it as a coat to bring 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 Fund for Indigenous Women (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 have the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted and to establish the United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples. Aleman also worked as a program director at MADRE, expanding his geographic scope of work and focus 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 Human Rights Defenders.
Aleman received a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations and a master’s degree in development from the Indigenous University of Popayan, Colombia, managed and led by the Regional Indigenous Organization of El Cauca. A mother of two young men and a proud Miskito indigenous girl from the Coco River in Central America, she is a certified professional coach and sits on the boards of several organizations, including Witness, International Funders for Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Funders Network.
Since 2017, García has served as Program Officer and Senior Program Officer with the Ford Foundation’s Future of Work(ers) program, leading Ford’s efforts to support worker organizations that innovate new ways to strengthen voice, the power and influence of workers. He also initiated and led the foundation’s programmatic work on Capital Strategies, which explores ways to leverage the voice of workers 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-functional efforts focused on promoting the rights of gig workers.
“It is an honor to lead the Future of Work(ers) agenda at a time when the stakes have never been higher for workers and their families in the United States and around the world, and when movements have never been more persuasive, innovative, and impactful in their calls for a world with workers at the center,” said Garcia. “The voice of workers is an irreducible element of democracy, and I am proud to support and mentor leading efforts towards this vision.
For more than 20 years, García has been a senior philanthropic leader, author and economic justice expert, developing strategies for corporate accountability and engagement, and supporting worker organizing to ensure that communities and workers can live a dignified life. He has a long history of working with many stakeholders in the field of workers’ rights through policy, research, trade unions, worker centres, capital markets and think tanks, which has made him placed at the forefront of dialogues and efforts to reinvent the future of work. Prior to joining Ford, García served as Program Manager for Strong Local Economies at the Surdna Foundation, where he led the design and implementation of a $4 million grant portfolio to spur development. and accelerating business while focusing on quality jobs and wealth creation. Prior to Surdna, García was a policy researcher with the Wealth Creation Policy Project of the National Council of La Raza, where he co-wrote the book Fair Credit Lockdown: Advocacy, Organizing, Occupation and Finding Fair Credit.
Earlier in his career, García served as associate director of Demos’ economic opportunity program, where he authored dozens of reports on household debt and co-authored the book, Up To Our Eyeballs: How Shady Lenders And Failing Economic Policies Are Drowning Americans In Debt. Additionally, during his career, he has helped his family’s small business through a period of transition and has seen firsthand how economic policies affect family shops. He holds leadership positions on the advisory board of Funders for a Just Economy, LIFT Fund, Valiente Fund, Fund for a New Economy and Maria Fund.