Program Director

The Open Society Foundations are seeking a London-based director for the Program on Independent Journalism, a grantmaking and operational program that strengthens the work of professional, ethical, public interest journalism worldwide, and the organizations, policies, and legal environments that enable it to flourish in the digital age. The program has previously been known as the Media Program.

The Open Society Foundations

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to criticism, whose laws and policies are open to debate and correction, and whose political institutions are open to the participation of all people. We seek to strengthen justice and the rule of law; broaden respect for human rights, including the rights of minorities; encourage pluralism and a robust diversity of opinion; deepen democratic practice and participation; expand economic equity; support effective governance; and invest in individuals, public and private organizations, and social movements that advance these goals.

We are a global network of foundations committed to local knowledge and national expertise. Our network includes national foundations, regional foundations, and other geographic programs operating in more than one hundred countries. At the same time, many programs with global reach operate from our four headquarters in Europe and the United States, including programs on digital information, documentary photography, drug policy, early childhood, education, fellowships, fiscal governance, higher education, human rights, international migration, justice, public health, scholarships, think tanks, and women’s rights alongside the Program on Independent Journalism. Still other programs advance our special commitment to Roma communities. In addition to making grants to organizations and individuals, the Open Society Foundations engage in policy advocacy, legal advocacy and litigation, program-related investing, and public communications, as well as providing direct assistance to governments. Most programs and foundations in the network are governed or advised by their own boards.

The Open Society Foundations are the global philanthropies of George Soros, who, as chairman, plays an active role in the work of the foundations. 

The Position

The director of the Program on Independent Journalism leads a team currently consisting of 14 professionals based in London and Budapest. The program supports investigative journalism, exile journalism, and organizations that distribute public-interest journalism both on- and off-line, especially in closed and transitional societies. The program assists in the defense and protection of journalists threatened with persecution and helps to advance free-press and free-expression principles in law, regulation, and policy.

The successful candidate will be an expert in the field of public-interest journalism. The director is expected to be and remain up-to-date on the trends, debates, and innovations in the field, and maintain familiarity with the individuals and organizations that play significant roles in the field.

The director is the principal strategist for the Open Society Foundations on professional, public-interest journalism and the policy environment that allows it to flourish. The director leads the program staff and works closely with the Advisory Board to shape the goals and craft the strategies of the program, subject to the approval of the president and the Global Board. The director serves as an expert resource to national and regional foundations and the various geographic programs in the network and collaborates with a wide range of partners inside and outside the Open Society Foundations. 

The director must also be a skilled manager and team leader, with strong organizational abilities. The director is expected to provide effective supervision of program staff members, including attending to individual performance and professional development. Program directors are expected to build constructive relationships with the chair and the members of the program’s Advisory Board.

The strategic and management roles of a program director require constructive participation in the Open Society Foundations as a whole, including effective collaboration with other thematic programs, geographic programs and foundations, and the many other departments, units, boards, and entities within the complex. The director will be called upon from time to time to participate in working groups and discussions on topics beyond journalism related to the Open Society Foundations as a whole.

The position is based at Open Society Foundation–London and reports to a member of the Senior Management Committee designated by the president of the Open Society Foundations.

Qualifications

The successful candidate will have demonstrated mastery of the field of public-interest journalism through some combination of professional experience, academic training, and/or familiarity with relevant literature, institutions, and leaders in the field. Detailed knowledge of the state of independent journalism in at least two countries where the Open Society Foundations are active is essential, along with curiosity about the situation in other countries and regions. Engagement at the intersection of independent journalism and other themes prominent in the mission and work of the Open Society Foundations will be a great advantage.

The successful candidate will be an excellent writer, editor, and speaker in English. Proficiency in other languages will be a great advantage as will skills as a facilitator, presenter, instructor, or discussant. Demonstrated cross-cultural competence and substantial life experience in multiple cultures will be great assets. Diplomatic and problem-solving abilities as well as broad intellectual curiosity, comfort with robust debate, and a good sense of humor will be valuable. Candidates should be eager for continued professional growth while focused on the promotion of grantees and partners in the field, and the professional development of colleagues.

The successful candidate must have demonstrated skills as a supervisor, manager, and team leader. Experience in executive leadership is not necessary but would be an advantage. Candidates should be articulate about their own strengths and limitations as a manager, coach, and group leader. Experience in more than one sector (public sector, commercial sector, nonprofit sector) would be a benefit, but is not essential.

The director should expect to travel frequently throughout the world, and will be expected to manage responsibilities, collaborations, and reporting relationships across substantial distances.

Application Instructions

Please email your resume and cover letter to: recruitment-admin@opensocietyfoundations.org. Include in subject line your name, surname, and job code: DI.