Program Officer

Open Society Foundations
  • Location
    Berlin, Germany
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Feb 08

Position description

Program Officer. Roma Initiatives. Berlin. Posting Date: 02/12/2019. Deadline: 02/28/2019

The Roma Initiatives Office aims to strengthen the voices and leadership of Roma as well as to improve public policies and services provided to Roma and others.

Job profile

The Roma Initiatives Office is looking for a dynamic, creative, and collaborative Program Officer to lead the implementation of Roma and EU Enlargement, an initiative focused on the Western Balkans and Turkey that uses a combination of civil society advocacy and government support to improve the situation of Roma in the domains of housing, employment, and public budgeting. The initiative is the result of a unique partnership between the Open Society Foundations and the European Commission and it is implemented by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and its Roma Action Team based in Belgrade.

The Program Officer will have three complementary levels of responsibilities: first, to engage with EU enlargement policy institutions and stakeholders in order to ensure that priorities on Roma are included in the political, policy, and funding negotiations between the European Union and national governments; second, to support the Roma Action Team in working with governments and supporting officials and civil servants in making progress in relation to the goals of the initiative; third, to support Roma-led civil society networks in the region to have persuasive arguments, public relevance, and community support for priorities in the domains of housing, employment, and public budgeting.

This position is for a project management professional with a spirit of social justice and an understanding of EU enlargement and domestic policy-making in the region. It is based in Berlin, for a fixed 3-year term.


  • Coordinate and implement the Roma and EU Enlargement initiative. Operating with considerable autonomy, this involves annual grant planning, working with current and prospective grantees, conducting organizational assessments, negotiating project budgets and contracts, and undertaking periodic reviews of progress with grantees in order to advance and improve the strategy and budget of the initiative.
  • Build collaborative relationships and work across sectors with Roma-led civil society groups, relevant EU institutions (DG Near, European Parliament, ECAS), intergovernmental organizations (Regional Cooperation Council), government officials, private sector actors, issue experts, and colleagues across the Open Society Foundations in order to advance the objectives of this initiative and adapt to the many emerging challenges of the field. This includes organizing events, making complex decisions that involve political and cultural differences, and navigating tensions among diverse goals.
  • Interpret the EU political environment regarding the Western Balkans and domestic politics in Wester Balkans countries, and stay abreast of key issues and developments in enlargement policy and Roma inclusion with the aim of connecting new trends to programmatic efforts and refining strategies.
  • Create original policy recommendations (particularly in the areas of employment and housing) and advance them using established contacts with key decision-makers within DG Near, the RCC Roma Action Team, governments in the region, and influential organizations.
  • Contribute to pursuing national and regional work and implement complex policy-advocacy strategies in order to galvanize political will, national ownership, and community support for change that can be experienced by Roma in the Western Balkans on issues such as employment and housing.
  • Evaluate, critically assess, and reflect on what is working and what is not working in order to adjust programming and advocacy accordingly.

Candidate profile
  • Professional or activist experience of at least 5 years as a project manager, or experience working for government, non-profits, or political campaigns. Experience with work in Roma communities is strongly preferred.
  • Good understanding of and a vision for how EU accession in the Western Balkan and Turkey impacts societies, particularly regarding the challenges and opportunities faced by Roma in the region.
  • The ability to exercise measured and appropriate judgment, rooted in analysis and often done under circumstances in which insufficient information is available and/or the circumstances are highly volatile.
  • Demonstrated experience working with diverse stakeholders to advance social change strategies, including planning and adapting in response to an evolving situation. Deep understanding of policy change and advocacy strategies and initiatives in order to persuade various stakeholders, including governments, to take action.
  • Team orientation - Strong appetite to understand and support the full scope of the team's work and to help ensure integration among all the pieces of work underway. The ability to exercise effective and inclusive leadership in cross-cultural settings.
  • Flexibility and willingness to work simultaneously on a wide range of tasks and projects. The ability to tolerate stress, prioritize multiple tasks, and work under tight deadlines and a willingness to travel extensively.
  • Excellent communication skills in English. The ability to communicate in any of the languages spoken in the Western Balkans, including Romani, is strongly preferred.

Application instructions: Please include a cover letter and resume (both required), and upload as one document when submitting an application. *Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled.*

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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