Program Officer

The Open Society Foundations seeks a program officer for its U.S. Special Initiatives and Partnerships unit within U.S. Programs. Special Initiatives and Partnerships leads the foundations’ work with its largest multi-issue grantee organizations; with grantees that build the capacity and advocacy impact of diverse communities; and with grantees that advance fiscal equity. Beyond grantmaking, the unit staffs two creative “futures” explorations to inspire learning and generate new ideas. The first is the “future of work,” looking 30 years into the future at how work and the workforce will change as technological innovation and adaptation occur. The second focuses on the United States in the year 2020, via an exploration of shifting demography, escalating challenges to a participatory democracy, and what civic capacity will be necessary so that communities of color, immigrants, low-income people, and young people can be heard and that public priorities reflect their aspirations and challenges.

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 be part of a five-person team and will play a leadership role in the development and implementation of the 2020 Project, where shifting demography, threats to democracy, and the need for enhanced civic capacity, particularly in the Southeastern and Southwestern United States, intersect. The program officer will also be responsible for grantmaking recommendations to support multi-issue organizations that advance U.S. Programs’ four goals: democratic practice, economic opportunity, and racial and criminal justice.

The successful candidate will be an excellent writer, with superb analytical and interpersonal skills, and excellent organizational and communication skills. She or he will have diplomatic and problem-solving skills, will collaborate well with colleagues, be outgoing and entrepreneurial, and possess the capacity to translate ideas into action. She or he will also have a deep interest, familiarity, and expertise in the development of nonprofit organizations dedicated to systemic change, the changing dynamics affecting the United States, and reforms in policy and practice that encourage broad civic participation, effective and accountable governance, and inclusive economic opportunity. She or he will also have sensitivity to the tensions inherent in state-based work that is supported by a national entity. A good sense of humor will be valuable.

As part of the Special Initiatives and Partnerships team, the program officer will contribute to the preparation, deployment, and monitoring of work plans, timelines, and budgets annually and for particular events. From time to time, the program officer will be called upon to take on assignments or participate in working groups and discussions on topics that are related to U.S. Programs or Open Society Foundations as a whole. Work requires moderate travel.

The position reports to the director of U.S. Special Initiatives and Partnerships, who is based in New York City. While being based in New York City is preferred, we will also consider Washington, D.C., as an option.

  • Bachelor’s degree (BA) from a four-year college or university and five to eight years relevant experience;
  • Strong familiarity with democratic participation principles, approaches, and laws;
  • Strong background in advancing social justice, particularly in Southeastern and/or Southwestern states, through advocacy, community organizing, political participation, research, policy reform, or leadership development;
  • Demonstrated problem-solving skills and ability to implement a policy reform or advocacy initiative in a nonprofit organization, foundation, and/or government agency;
  • Experience strengthening nonprofit management and development and knowledge of key organizations, networks, and technical assistance programs in the field;
  • Working knowledge of U.S. demography, trends, and how synthesize demographic data;
  • Ability to manage multiple priorities under pressure, troubleshoot, be comfortable with ambiguity, and to meet short- and long-term deadlines with a heavy workload;
  • Interest in continued professional growth and in the professional development of colleagues;
  • Strong awareness of the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, and class;
  • Fluency in Spanish is preferred.


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 by October 24, 2014, to: Include job code in subject line: PO-USP SIP.