Program Specialist

Open Society Foundations
  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Sep 12

Position description

Program Specialist, US Programs, New York, Deadline: 11 09 2018

The Open Society Foundations seeks a Program Specialist to work as part of its Special Initiatives and Partnerships team within U.S. Programs. U.S. Programs works to build a vibrant society that invites all people to participate fully in civic, economic, and cultural life. It supports efforts to advance equality, fairness, and justice with a focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized communities and the most significant threats to open society in the U.S.

Within U.S. Programs, the Special Initiatives and Partnerships team engages in grantmaking and supports programmatic initiatives to support multi-issue advocacy and effective governance at the federal, state, and local levels, expand civic engagement and public leadership, build organizational capacity to expand reach and resonance, and lead the foundations' work in the states. In each initiative, racial equity is emphasized.

The Program Specialist will work with the U.S. Programs Special Initiatives and Partnerships team, including a division director, three program officers, and a program administrative specialist who are responsible for several grantmaking portfolios. The Special Initiatives and Partnerships team leads six main areas of focus for U.S. Programs:
  • Strengthening federal, state, and local advocacy across multiple issues relating to a healthy and high functioning democracy, racial justice and immigrants' rights, economic advancement, and confronting mass incarceration (Anchor Portfolio).
  • Increasing civic engagement and nonpartisan political participation, especially from communities of color, immigrant communities, and young people (Civic Core Portfolio).
  • Enhancing the capacity of local and state public leaders so that they may be more effective (Local Governance Portfolio).
  • Building strong organizations, leaders, and alliances at the state level to advance more effective issue advocacy (States Portfolio).
  • Supporting advocacy to confront distortions in democracy and ensure an accurate census and fair and equitable redistricting (2020 Portfolio).
  • Implementing a fellowship program for former public sector senior leaders who served as social change agents within government (Leadership in Government Fellowship).

Job Profile

The Program Specialist is a professional program role at the Open Society Foundations, reporting to the Division Director of U.S. Special Initiatives and Partnerships and performing a wide range of responsibilities that advance program strategies. The role requires specialized knowledge of advocacy and how independent non-profit organizations and community-based efforts and movements can bring about social change. The Program Specialist will use the various tools available to OSF to support their team in accomplishing its objectives. Responsibilities are carried out with a degree of independence, although collegial problem-solving is a hallmark of Open Society work, and close collaboration with colleagues essential.

The Program Specialist role may include any or all of the following and/or similar activities:
  • Supporting programmatic efforts by conducting a wide range of activities related to the grant making process and/or analytical work in support of field development, advocacy, regional consultations, and integrative activities;
  • conducting research and collecting data/information to be used in decision-making, strategy development, budget planning, and evaluation of the grants portfolio and other program processes;
  • designing and carrying out relevant field scans and conducting on-going field monitoring;
  • analyzing grant proposals (including budgets), designing grants (types of support, degree of flexibility, duration, payment structure, reporting/learning expectations, etc.) and drafting grant recommendations;
  • partnering closely with team members to ensure the efficient flow of grants processing and similar information;
  • developing and executing convenings, research initiatives, and advocacy efforts, and partnering closely with other team members to ensure effective implementation;
  • contributing to assessment of organizations, including primary responsibility for assessment of organizational finances and budgets;
  • performing administrative tasks or projects as needed and assigned, including processing grants, developing tools and templates, coordinating event logistics, and processing vendor contracts and consultancy agreements;
  • participating in evaluating grant portfolios; and
  • developing and maintaining a network of relationships with key actors, including advocates, practitioners, academicians, policymakers, funders, civic and business leaders, and the media.
  • The Program Specialist may also take the lead on projects or issues as determined by the team.

Candidate Profile

The successful candidate will have knowledge and experience in local, state, and/or federal advocacy, civic engagement, nonpartisan political participation, organizational capacity building, public leadership development, structures of democratic participation, social movements and/or grassroots organizing, or related fields. They also must have a strong commitment to social justice and understanding of the impact of race, ethnicity, and wealth on full participation in our democracy. The Program Specialist is expected to stay abreast of pertinent developments, policies, reform initiatives and opportunities, activism, and social movements. The Program Specialist must have demonstrated capacity to translate the Program's strategic plans into action and to assess impact.

The successful candidate will also have the following qualifications:
  • 3-5 years of experience in position(s) relevant to the duties of this role;
  • knowledge and experience in the fields referenced above;
  • highly skilled in researching and processing information and analyzing its importance in informing programs and strategies;
  • excellent written and spoken communication;
  • ability to recognize and work effectively in compliance with internal policies and external constraints;
  • willingness and ability to exercise sound professional judgment on issues of sensitivity;
  • demonstrated ability to respect others' opinions, listen well, and respond to colleagues with awareness of and sensitivity to communication differences;
  • diplomatic, discreet, and able to handle confidential matters with a high level of integrity;
  • well-developed emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, self-management, and empathy;
  • organized, strong project management ability, self-directed on work initiatives, strong attention to detail, and ability to manage competing priorities and deadlines;
  • ability to work constructively and collegially with colleagues at all levels of the organization as well as with external partners;
  • strong commitment to inclusion and respect for all colleagues regardless of identity or seniority;
  • strong commitment to open society values of rights, justice, accountable governance, human dignity, and democratic practice; and
  • collaborative, collegial working style and sense of humor.

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

Competitive rates of pay apply.

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 adjustments so that colleagues with disabilities are able to fulfill the essential functions of the job.
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