Program Officer

The Open Society Public Health Program aims to promote health policies based on scientific evidence, social inclusion, human rights, and justice. Broadly, the program works with civil society organizations within two fields:  promoting the participation of socially marginalized groups in public health policy and fostering greater government accountability and transparency through civil society monitoring efforts. Program areas focus on addressing the human rights and health needs of marginalized groups, facilitating citizen access to health information, and advocating for a strong civil society role in public health policy and practice.

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. 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. 

Job Profile

The Open Society Foundations seek a full-time program officer in its New York office to work with the Public Health Program. This is a great opportunity for an experienced grantmaker with a background of knowledge and experience in communications and social media for social change. The ideal candidate will have a creative background, have strong collaborative skills, be able to work independently, and have strong facilitation skills.

The purpose of the position is strategy development and grantmaking for the assigned program and for developing the connections between the assigned program and the broader priorities of Open Society. Work is carried out independently/under general supervision.


  • In conjunction with project supervisor(s) and other staff/consultants, develop grantmaking strategies, priorities, and guidelines;
  • Invite grant proposals from selected funding applicants;
  • Work with applicants to develop and finalize grant proposals;
  • Review grant proposals and participate in the preparation of written grant recommendations as part of the docket preparation process;
  • Perform site visits of prospective and current grantee organizations;
  • Ensure that grantees submit narrative and financial reports as required under the terms of the contract;
  • Monitor grants through review of reports, on-going communication and site visits.


  • Work collaboratively with Public Health Program grantees to strengthen their capacity to refine advocacy strategies and effectively utilize the media to advance their advocacy goals;
  • Identify and facilitate media-related technical assistance for grantees and partners;
  • Develop, plan, and organize program-related workshops, trainings, and events;
  • Work with supervisor(s) to ensure close collaboration with other projects, convene cross-program collaborations as needed to advance strategic grantmaking opportunities;
  • Write and edit program materials and guidelines;
  • Stay abreast of developments in the field through research and attendance at conferences and/or meetings;
  • Write strategy/position papers that provide direction on policy and capacity-building issues impacting the field and/or offer suggestions about strategic development;
  • Perform special assignments, including participation in other Open Society program and foundation task forces and working groups;
  • Build and establish strategic relationships with other philanthropic partners and NGOs.


  • Manage financial and budget reports to track grant and Project spending;
  • Assist in planning and development of annual budgets.


  • Extensive travel is required;
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Program-Specific Responsibilities

This position is responsible for developing the Public Health Program’s work in the following areas:

  • Grantee Communication: managing a grantmaking and operational portfolio aimed at supporting and developing the strategic communications capacity of Public Health Program grantees;
  • Transforming Dominant Media and Public Narratives: manage grantmaking and other initiatives to advance the Public Health Program’s strategy of transforming dominant narratives about marginalized groups as well as about medicine prices and medical innovation.
  • Graduate degree in communications, journalism, social psychology, or other related social science field;
  • A minimum of five years work experience in strategic communications and advocacy and/or in communication for social change;
  • Experience in working collaboratively with NGOs, including an understanding of civil society approaches to campaigning, organizing, and advocacy;
  • Experience collaborating with/providing technical assistance to civil society organizations in developing communication strategies and media activities;
  • Up-to-date knowledge of digital and social media and their use by human rights activists, including knowledge of key organizations and networks active in the field of digital and social media;
  • An understanding of, and demonstrated commitment to, advancing the health and human rights of marginalized people;
  • Experience in grantmaking or project management;
  • Experience working in at least one of the following regions: Southern or Eastern Africa, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the former Soviet Union (fSU) and/or Latin America;
  • Experience in community organizing, creative campaigning, and/or strategic storytelling strongly preferred.
  • Pleasant, diplomatic manner and disposition in interacting with colleagues and the general public;
  • Ability to generate creative solutions to work-related challenges;
  • Ability to work effectively and efficiently in a fast-paced environment, to troubleshoot problems, and to follow projects through to completion under often-strict deadlines and without loss of attention to detail;
  • Excellent organizational and analytical skills;
  • Excellent facilitation and presentation skills;
  • Excellent computer skills, proficient in Microsoft Office;
  • Excellent communication skills with sensitivity to cultural communication differences;
  • Ability to work effectively both as a team member and independently, with a high-level of self-motivation and ability to set and meet own goals;
  • Ability to exercise discretion in the handling of confidential issues.
Work Environment and Physical Demands

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

Commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits package.
Application Instructions

Please email resume and cover letter with salary requirements before October 10, 2014, to: Include job code in subject line: PO-HMI.