Program Officer

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 program officer will focus on recruitment and selection of fellows, strategy development for fellowship, and initiatives exploring innovative approaches to open society practice. Work is carried out independently/under general supervision.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following. The Open Society Foundations may add, change, or remove essential and other duties at any time.


  • Work with the Fellowship staff to develop programmatic and grantmaking priorities and guidelines as well as strategic broadening of programmatic mandate;
  • Conduct internal and external outreach for the program, including recruitment of suitable applicants and liaising with other offices and national foundations. Outreach conducted remotely as well as through travel to relevant countries, conferences, and organizations;
  • Conceptualize and help organize events related to both fellows and broader programmatic strategy;
  • Perform special assignments, including participation on Open Society taskforces and working groups;
  • Represent Fellowship program at Open Society and other gatherings as required;
  • Build and maintain strategic relationships with internal and external partners and funders to identify joint programming opportunities;
  • Contribute to drafting and editing of program and strategy materials and guidelines;
  • Stay abreast of political and intellectual developments in the global human rights and development field through research and attendance at conferences and/or meetings.

Fellows’ Selection and Grants

  • Organize and manage the selection process for fellows from application to selection, including soliciting and recording internal and external reviews of proposals;
  • Review all fellowship applications in the first round, and actively participate in interviews and final selection of fellows;
  • Review and assess letters of inquiry, and work with applicants to develop and finalize fellowship proposals;
  • Engage with active fellows and embed their projects and ideas within the Open Society network;
  • Review fellows’ narrative reports and assist the program associate in assessing financial reports.


  • Plan and develop annual program budget under the oversight of program manager; participate in budget meetings as required;
  • Track program spending and review quarterly reports to manage program budget.
  • Bachelor’s degree (BA) from a four-year college or university and seven to ten years relevant experience and/or training, or equivalent combination of education and experience required;
  • Advanced degree preferred;
  • Experience in project management and administration, including developing and managing project budgets;
  • NGO or journalistic/editing experience;
  • Strong expertise in or knowledge of issues related to international politics, social justice, and human rights;
  • Ability to effectively and efficiently work in a fast-paced environment, and troubleshoot and follow projects through to completion;
  • Demonstrated ability to meet strict deadlines without loss of attention to detail, budget, and reporting;
  • Excellent written, verbal, organizational, analytical, and interpersonal skills;
  • Excellent computer skills, proficient in Microsoft Office and experience with internet research; some multimedia knowledge a plus;
  • Good listening and communication skills with sensitivity to cultural nuances;
  • Pleasant, diplomatic manner and disposition in interacting with senior management and  colleagues, and representing the Fellowship program and Open Society to applicants and partners;
  • Ability to work as a team member and independently, with a high-level of self-motivation and ability to set and meet goals;
  • Flexibility and willingness to work simultaneously on a wide range of tasks and projects and ability to prioritize tasks;
  • Show discretion and ability to handle confidential issues;
  • Understanding of key organizations and networks active in the field.
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 August 15, 2014, to: Include job code in subject line: PO-Fellow.