Program Officer

Jobs

Program Overview

The Human Rights Initiative works across issues and geographies to support a diverse and robust human rights movement capable of confronting violations when and wherever they take place, seizing opportunities to advance the human rights framework, and adapting and sustaining itself over time. The Initiative capitalizes on opportunities, working in places where there are prospects to advance the rights framework, as well as those where challenges seem intractable. Through all its efforts, the Human Rights Initiative supports organizations and leaders within the movement to have the resources to withstand challenges, nurture and promote the participation of new voices and constituents, respond to emerging concerns, debate potential conflicts of rights, and engage allies to develop a shared vision for advancing rights.

To safeguard space for civic activism we are supporting partners to protect the exercise of the rights to assembly, expression, information and association, and design complex strategies to advance the enabling environment for civic participation, including through building cross sectoral alliances. We are seeking an experienced, dynamic and committed Program Officer to help advance our work on civic participation.  Based in London, and working with a global team based across multiple office locations, the Program Officer will serve as a strategic and technical subject matter expert on issues of freedom of assembly, expression and association, enabling environment for civil society, civic organizing and participation.

Job Profile

The Program Officer will support in the development of grant-making strategies to promote an enabling environment for activism and participation and be responsible for the implementation of that strategy. This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced professional with in-depth experience working on human rights, civil society development, and/or civic participation. The Program Officer role may include any or all of the following and/or similar responsibilities:

  • responsible for grant-making activities relating to a portfolio of work on the right to assembly and association within the Participation team of the Human Rights Initiative. Operates with considerable autonomy and makes decisions related to authorizing/declining grants within an approved budget reflective of own field experience/expertise;
  • participates in the development of the overall program strategy and program design, particularly in relation to right to assembly and association work. Strengthens connections between the enabling environment for activism work and existing portfolio on protection of human rights defenders;
  • builds collaborative relationships within and outside the Open Society Foundations (e.g., with existing grantees, prospective grantees, experts in the community, etc.) that advance participation and activism, and in particular, in relation to the development and humanitarian sectors, business and financial institutions;
  • works with Open Society Foundations’ regional programs to identify needs and opportunities at the national and regional levels to support efforts to push back on restrictions on human rights activism addressing the drivers behind crackdowns on civil society;
  • works with colleagues and organizations in the parallel fields of counter terrorism, business and human rights, development, support for civil society and philanthropy, and communications to identify the tools frontline activists need to counter closing space;
  • facilitates exchanges between civil society actors, with a particular focus on national and regional groups, to identify which approaches are most effective at improving the enabling environment, and develop resources on lessons learned that can be shared widely with activists and donors working to counter restrictive regulatory regimes;
  • engages in systematic monitoring and evaluation of progress and lessons learned on the effectiveness of push-back strategies, with a view to documenting and disseminating lessons to colleagues, grantees, other partners, and funders;
  • responsible for strengthening connections between OSF’s geographic and thematic programs consistent with OSF’s broader priorities, identifying opportunities for co-funding and where a shared approach might have the potential to create a broader impact.

Candidate Profile

  • bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study or equivalent experience/education required. Master's or other graduate degree preferred;
  • 7 -10 years of progressively responsible experience, generally in an organization other than a foundation;
  • demonstrated experience working on human rights, civil society development and/or economic advancement essential; field experience in the issue area is mandatory;
  • experience working in Asia, Africa and/or Latin America preferred. Language skills is a plus;
  • deep understanding of and vision for change based on experience and/or knowledge and is able to use that understanding to develop and implement a strategy for achieving the vision;
  • comprehensive understanding of the structure and workings of non-profit organizations, networks, and movements within varied contexts;
  • demonstrated knowledge of international and grassroots human rights NGOs and international organizations;
  • strong critical thinking skills required, including the ability to identify emerging human rights trends and to analyze issues from multiple perspectives;
  • ability to exercise measured and appropriate judgment, flexibility and willingness to work simultaneously on a wide range of tasks and projects;
  • excellent writing, analytical, interpersonal, organizational and communication skills with sensitivity to cultural differences are essential;
  • excellent written and spoken communication skills in English required.

Application Instructions:  Please upload a cover letter and resume as one document when submitting an application.

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. 

We are strengthened by the diversity of our colleagues across the Open Society Foundations, and we welcome and actively seek applications from people of all cultures, backgrounds, and experiences