Open Society Fellowship Program Director

Open Society Foundations
  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Advanced
  • Apply by
    Jun-04-2018
  • Posted
    May 06

Position description



The Open Society Fellowship Program builds individual and institutional capacity in fields that are central to the Open Society Foundations’ (OSF) core mission. The Program achieves its aims through the administration of individual grants that catalyze engagement, foster discourse, and result in strategies to combat rising threats to open society globally. The Program funds initiatives including fellowships and internships, the creation of cohorts, the curation of learning experiences, and support to new executive leaders to build on critical analysis of the systemic causes of inequity and advance theoretical and practical strategies for social change.

Through the identification of emerging leaders and investment in individuals who think without fear or constraint about the global issues in which we engage, the Program pushes the Open Society network and the broader rights community to be critical of unexamined assumptions and received wisdom. Open Society Fellowship also serves as a center of excellence for the network, remaining constantly attuned to the work of colleagues, leveraging the resources of its core initiatives, supporting the network as it develops and implements further individual grants programs, and creating ambitious partnerships with other programs and foundations. The Program has an overall budget for 2018 of $5.9million and currently works across four core initiatives:

Open Society Fellowship- supports individuals pursuing innovative and unconventional approaches to fundamental open society challenges. The fellowship funds work that will enrich public understanding of those challenges and stimulate far-reaching and probing conversations within the Open Society Foundations and in the world.

New Executives Fund- supports newly appointed executive directors and chief executive officers who show promise to grow as leaders in their respective fields. Selected candidates receive funds that can be used flexibly to support projects undertaken early in their organizational leadership tenures.

Open Society Internship for Rights and Governance- dedicated to supporting students from select public policy and related graduate programs and introducing them to the world of open society organizations and values.

Contested Spaces: A site based learning initiative- an intellectual enrichment and professional development program for Open Society staff to broaden their horizons through an intensive learning trip to an unfamiliar country or region, where they are exposed to a diverse range of ideas and realities.
Job Profile
Open Society Fellowship’s Director leads a team of 9 staff, based in New York, and is responsible for crafting a vision for the program, establishing and executing a range of complex strategies, and day-to-day management and development of the team. The Director utilizes a wide and current understanding of the thematic areas across which OSF is engaged to create and embed Open Society Fellowship’s complimentary portfolio of individual grants. To achieve this, the Director engages extensively across the networks, identifies opportunities for the cross-fertilization of ideas, and builds collaborations. The program fosters a culture throughout OSF that is open to the power of ideas in social change and an awareness of intellectual debates and concerns. Leading a program within the world’s largest private funder of human rights and social justice issues, the Director utilizes the creative space afforded by OSF’s grounding in values of pluralism to achieve this work at unparalleled scale.

The Director will understand the interplay between current and emerging global challenges to open societies and possess a deep appreciation of the transformative potential of developing individual capacity within the human rights and social justice community. They will be a flexible and creative thinker with the ability to determine where depth in pluralistic ideas can be augmented through Open Society Fellowship’s work and deploy tact, diplomacy, and intellectual integrity to break down barriers and create catalytic networks. The approaches the Program takes are varied and the Director is responsible for all aspects of managing this complexity, navigating and balancing operational practicalities and resources with conceptual priorities. As a member of OSF’s Senior Leadership Group, she/he not only leads the work of the Open Society Fellowship Program, but is responsible for maintaining and strengthening the institutional, programmatic, and financial integrity of OSF as a whole.

Typical duties and responsibilities include the following:
  • Sets underlying cohesion to Open Society Fellowship’s tangential initiatives within the Program’s broader mission, identifying new approaches and opportunities to develop and leverage the Program’s work
  • Strengthens the Program’s mission, critically examines how current initiatives may be developed or transposed to bring added depth and clarity of purpose
  • Accountable for integrating diverse functional areas into a comprehensive strategy, designing and evaluating program elements, and managing significant grants and operational budgets
  • Acts as an advocate for the Open Society Fellowship’s initiatives and values, both internally and externally
  • Remains attuned to cutting-edge thinking and innovation within the Fellowships space through engagement with academic institutions, philanthropies and non-profits; positions Open Society Fellowship as a thought-leader within this community
  • Oversees performance and quality control for all internal policies and processes
  • Facilitates positive relationships with the Program’s Advisory Board and works closely with the Board on the development of strategy
  • Negotiates complex and divergent stakeholder interests, often with significant political/cultural sensitivities, cultivating an enabling space for critical discourse
  • Empowers and enables a diverse team of 9, developing and growing each individual members’ capabilities
  • Maintains a balance between the soaring world of fresh ideas, and excellent human and resources management in correlation with OSF’s core mission
  • Manages complex relationships of high sensitivity, including relationships with other OSF Programs, external organizations, OSF Board and advisory bodies
Candidate Profile
  • Personal and professional alignment to the core mission and values of OSF and in excess of 15 years’ progressively responsible experience within a field aligned to one of OSF’s thematic areas of focus
  • Demonstrable understanding of the interplay between various institutions in the public, political and corporate sectors as relates to human rights and social justice issues and the space for contestation therein
  • Experienced in curating knowledge and unpacking complex concepts, with a background in academia, public policy, media/journalism or the arts
  • Strong management experience and proven success in developing cohesive teams and growing the professional capacities of team members
  • Excellent writing, analytical, interpersonal, organizational and communication skills with sensitivity to cultural communication differences
  • Frequent contributor to public discourse, stimulates innovation around challenging propositions; considered a thought leader and externally recognized as an expert in their field of specialization
  • Ability to grow and leverage key relationships within networks active in the field in order to further programmatic goals
  • Exercises creative leadership in projects and programs of substance; experienced in creating new and innovative practices for improving team performance
  • Ability to perform in an advisory role to senior management, including the President of OSF and Global Board
  • Understanding of the role of philanthropy, in addition to individual grant making through personal or professional experience; extensive knowledge of principles and practices as relates to individual and/or institutional capacity building and unlocking individual potential
  • Leads with humility and integrity and conducts all aspects of professional and personal engagements with trust, respect and accountability
  • Values cultural differences and human diversity
  • Possesses a strong global outlook; experience of working and/or living internationally preferred
  • Ability to undertake frequent travel

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

We are strengthened by the diversity of our colleagues across the Open Society Foundations. We welcome applications from people of all cultures, backgrounds, and experiences, and are committed to providing reasonable accommodations so that colleagues with disabilities are able to fulfill the essential functions of the job.

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