Program 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 Open Society Justice Initiative uses law to protect and empower people around the world. Through litigation, advocacy, research, and technical assistance, the Justice Initiative promotes human rights and builds legal capacity for open societies. We foster accountability for international crimes, combat racial discrimination and statelessness, support criminal justice reform, address abuses related to national security and counterterrorism, expand freedom of information and expression, and stem corruption linked to the exploitation of natural resources. Our staff is based in Abuja, Amsterdam, Bishkek, Brussels, Budapest, The Hague, London, Mexico City, New York, Paris, Santo Domingo, and Washington, D.C.   

Purpose of Position

Based in New York, the program officer for Freedom of Information and Expression (FOI/E) will have responsibility for implementing Justice Initiative projects in the field of freedom of information and expression, with a particular emphasis on managing and implementing projects in Latin America, under the supervision of the FOI/E senior legal officer. Tasks include hands-on engagement in providing assistance to NGOs in pursuing legal advocacy and to governments in the design and/or implementation of legislation and institutional reform; support for litigation; and research and policy analysis. The successful candidate should be self-sufficient, willing to travel at least several times each year, and willing to handle administrative tasks, such as the processing of grants and consultancies, and making meeting arrangements.

Essential Duties & Responsibilities

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

  • Assume responsibility for implementing freedom of information/expression-related projects, with a particular emphasis on projects in Latin America, under the supervision of the FOI/E senior legal officer, and in collaboration with the FOI/E legal officer and senior attorney;
  • Support and provide research and advocacy on freedom of information/expression-related issues, including regarding whistleblower protections, access to information of high public interest, Internet censorship, and privacy issues;
  • Help organize workshops, conferences and other events for the Justice Initiative and/or in cooperation with partner organizations. This work includes overseeing logistics of organizing events, and assisting partner organizations with participants, agenda, budgets, and other matters where necessary;
  • Prepare budgets, memoranda, grants, contracts and other documents required to activate budgets to implement freedom of information/expression-related projects and liaise with members of Open Society Foundations administration and legal departments as necessary;
  • Assist the FOI/E program coordinator, as needed;
  • Liaise with partners on administrative and financial aspects of projects, including handling grant contracts, ensuring that payments are made, notifying partners of reporting duties, tracking submission of narrative and financial reports, comparing budgets and spending reports, and tracking payments for invoices and contracts;
  • Draft freedom of information/expression materials and related program information and communications, including for the Justice Initiative website, as needed;
  • Assume responsibility for updating the case-law database, www.right2info.org/cases, including by supervising students and other pro bono contributors.
Education / Experience
  • Five to eight years relevant experience and/or training, or equivalent combination of education and experience;
  • Advanced degree (MA, JD, or LLM) in human rights, international law or policy, with a focus on Latin American Studies, desirable;
  • Substantive research and/or advocacy; at least one year of experience in Latin America, preferably more;
  • Experience in grantmaking, project management, including managing consultants and developing and managing project budgets;
  • Experience with programs advancing social justice through community organizing, legal advocacy, research, or policy reform work.
Skills Required
  • Work efficiently in a fast-paced environment, troubleshoot and follow projects through to completion, with strict deadlines and 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 and database management;
  • Exercise good listening and communication skills with sensitivity to cultural communication differences;
  • Effectively work as a team member and independently, with a high-level of self-motivation and ability to set and meet goals;
  • Show discretion and ability to handle confidential issues;
  • Knowledge of key organizations and networks active in the field;
  • Pleasant manner in interacting with colleagues and the general public.
Program Specific Requirements
  • Oral and written fluency in Spanish and English; ability to work in Portuguese or French desirable;
  • Strong oral and written communication and analytic skills;
  • Experience using FOI laws, and monitoring the passage and implementation of laws;
  • Human rights work experience in Latin America.
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.

Compensation
Commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits package.
Application Instructions

Please email resume and cover letter with salary requirements by May 7, 2014, to: humanresources@opensocietyfoundations.org. Include job code in subject line: PO-FOIE.