Communications Officer

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.

We seek to strengthen the rule of law; respect for human rights, minorities, and a diversity of opinions; democratically elected governments; and a civil society that helps keep government power in check.

We help to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights.

We implement initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media.

We build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information.

Working in every part of the world, the Open Society Foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.

The Human Rights Initiative works across issues and geographies to promote a comprehensive vision of human rights that recognizes that rights are not realized through law alone, that innovations in one field can unlock opportunities in others, and that experimentation and collaboration strengthen advocacy strategies. The Initiative capitalizes on opportunities, working in places where there are prospects to advance the rights framework, as well as those where challenges seem intractable. We support groups to engage deliberately in public discourse, recognizing that how people talk about rights is important to how those rights are realized. The Human Rights Initiative supports civil society groups to engage at the international, regional, and national levels through a combination of advocacy, monitoring, documentation, litigation, and campaigning to ensure that people can exercise their rights.

The Communications Office plays a central role in the work of the Foundations by coordinating and strengthening the public presence of the global network and by helping to advance relevant issues. Communications works to raise the Foundations’ public profile by promoting the network’s many noteworthy achievements as well as responding to attacks from opponents of open society around the world. The department employs media outreach, publications, and the web to assist dozens of Open Society foundations and programs in their communications efforts.

Purpose of Position

The communications officer will design and implement the communications and outreach strategies for the Open Society Human Rights Initiative and provide support to program grantees by developing communications and advocacy strategies. The position will also be responsible for media outreach, assist with trainings throughout the network, and work on Communications projects as needed.

The position will be based in Washington, D.C., and will report to the director of public affairs of the Open Society Foundations and the program director of the Human Rights Initiative.

Essential Duties & Responsibilities

The Open Society Foundations may add, change, or remove essential and other duties at any time.

Overall program and individual issue strategies

  • Work with the Human Rights Initiative team to develop and disseminate an overall communications strategy for the program as well as individual issue strategies and key messages for advancing our work in prioritized areas and projects—such as disability rights, LGBTI rights, abuses in detention, human rights defenders, right to information, etc.  

Field communications/Advocacy strategy development

  • Work with grantees, other Open Society programs and foundations, and other donors in the field to develop communications and advocacy strategies and messages connected to shared prioritized areas of our work, as well as deliver advocacy and communications trainings to grantees in the field.

Media visibility

  • Working with Communications colleagues to identify media opportunities in promoting (select) human rights issues in order to raise the visibility of our grantees and Open Society work in ways that advance our strategies. This work may include:
    • Drafting and editing op-eds, letters-to-the-editor, and press releases;
    • Pitching op-eds from key grantees or Open Society staff in major commercial media and philanthropy related journals;
    • Promoting Human Rights Initiative grantees and staff for TV, radio, newspaper, and social media interviews;
    • Writing and positioning media alerts/press releases that draw attention to crisis or emergency situations impacting our grantees (when media exposure would be helpful);
    • Developing profiles of grantees for promotion to major news magazines or television programs that provide platforms for significantly raising their visibility;
    • Promoting events in Open Society offices that profile grantees and our role on different priority issues to policy makers, other donors and thought leaders—with a particular focus in Washington, D.C., and NYC, but may include London, Brussels, and Budapest offices and other regional/national foundations;
    • Developing an effective web presence for Human Rights Initiative and helping promote its work on Open Society’s social media channels.

Web presence

  • Produce and curate effective content on Human Rights Initiative, its issues and grantees to attract external audiences and promote our advocacy while ensuring there is a solid understanding of the kind of human rights work we are supporting.
    • Individual grantee voices;
    • Open Society expert voices;
    • Grantee profiles;
    • News/announcements and events;
    • Updated grantee lists with descriptions of work.

Other duties

  • Design and conduct extensive trainings with Communications colleagues throughout the network on developing communications strategies and successful messaging related to the Human Rights Initiative;
  • Elevate the profile of the Human Rights Initiative at key international conferences, including organization of press briefings to advance human rights priorities;
  • Significant travel will be required;
  • Perform other duties as assigned.
Education / Experience
  • Bachelor’s degree (BA/BS) from a four year college or university and five to eight years of relevant experience and/or training, or equivalent combination of education and experience;
  • Advanced degree (MA/MS) preferred;
  • Strong knowledge and background in the field of human rights;
  • Significant experience leading communications and/or advocacy efforts in the field of human rights.
Skills Required
  • Excellent skills in the development of communications strategies;
  • Excellent written, verbal, editorial, organizational, analytical, and interpersonal skills;
  • Excellent computer skills, proficient in Microsoft Office;
  • Excellent listening and communication skills with sensitivity to cultural communication differences;
  • Show discretion and ability to handle confidential issues;
  • High level of self-motivation and at ease working independently when necessary;
  • Poised and works well under pressure;
  • Attentive to detail and thorough in approach;
  • Flexibility and willingness to work simultaneously on a wide range of tasks and projects and ability to prioritize tasks;
  • Pleasant, diplomatic manner and disposition in interacting with senior management, co-workers, and the general public;
  • Excellent team work skills, able to work effectively in highly collaborative environment and as a member of multiple teams.
Program Specific Requirements

Knowledge of Spanish, French, or Russian strongly preferred.

Work Environment and Physical Demands

Essential functions are typically performed in an office setting with a low level of noise. Reasonable accommodations will be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Compensation
Commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits package.
Application Instructions

Please email resume and cover letter with salary requirements to: humanresources@opensocietyfoundations.org. Include job code in subject line: CO-HRI.