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Open Society Foundations: Program Officer, Human Rights Initiative, 15.10.

Posting Date: 10/01/2019. Deadline: 10/15/2019

Do you want to help protect human rights activists at risk? We’re seeking a Program Officer based in Berlin to manage a global grants portfolio with the aim to develop effective, responsive and nimble protection infrastructure for human rights activists that is grounded in and close to the activists at risk and their communities.

The Open Society Foundations works to build vibrant and inclusive democracies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people. We are active in more than 120 countries, making us the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights.

The Human Rights Initiative (HRI) works across issues and countries to promote a diverse and powerful human rights movement, which is critical to the struggle of all people to realize their rights. We support the movement to engage directly with the public to elevate support for human rights values, prioritize the voices of activists rooted in and able to mobilize communities, and ensure greater solidarity across rights struggles and social movements. Our vision is one in which the human rights movement is grounded in communities, is able to build partnerships with actors from within and outside the movement, has skills for developing and communicating its message with impact, and is able to push back against the growing politics of fear.

As a Program Officer with the Human Rights Initiative you will:

  • Lead and develop portfolios of grants to advance the protection of human rights activists globally by supporting protection networks and actors located close to activists at risk and able to implement holistic security strategies.
  • Conduct grantee site visits and other monitoring activities, provide technical and strategic assistance, and identify outcomes.
  • Assess the organizational capacity of potential grantees.
  • Engage direct advocacy, convening, exchange of experiences, learning and strategizing on protection and other approaches to maximize impact.
  • Build and establish strategic relationships with other philanthropic partners and NGOs.

What we are looking for:

  • Seven to ten years of relevant experience working on issues related to protection of human rights activists, including issues related to resilience, wellbeing and care, collective/community protection strategies and identifying new and creative approaches to build support networks for human rights defenders.
  • Direct experience in supporting protection networks in at least two regions preferably Latin America and Africa and in implementing strategies that address the growing confluence of interests and actions between state and non-state actors in attacking defenders.
  • Comprehensive understanding of the structure and workings of the international protection mechanisms for human rights defenders, networks, and movements within varied contexts.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of the funding environment for protection of human rights activists.
  • Strong critical thinking skills, including the ability to identify emerging human rights trends and to analyze issues from multiple perspectives;
  • Commitment to the Open Society Foundation’s values of diversity and inclusion
  • Willingness to undertake extensive travel


  • Experience in grant-making to or technical assistance to defenders at risk.

What we offer:

  • Ample opportunities to learn and grow, from annual professional development allowances to onsite trainings and brown bag lunches with visiting experts.
  • Top-notch benefits and perks designed for your well-being and a healthy work-life balance. With some variability according to location, this includes generous time off, flexible work arrangements, employer-paid health insurance, generous retirement savings plan, progressive paid parental leave, reproductive and family planning support, sabbatical opportunities, and much more.
  • A commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace that enables everyone to bring their full self to work and make a positive impact on the world.

See what a day in the life of a Program Officer at Open Society is like here.

If this sounds like the position you have been looking for, please submit a cover letter that addresses the specific skills and experience that OSF requires for Program Officers (guidance is located here) and CV; we look forward to learning more about you.

We aim to build an inclusive workforce that is reflective of the populations we support, and actively seek applications from those who are marginalized and underrepresented. We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations to applicants and colleagues with disabilities.


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.


Available at https://osfglobal.wd5.myworkdayjobs.com/en-US/OSF/job/Berlin/Program-Officer–Human-Rights-Initiative_JR-0001604


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