Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Work Location: Washington, DC - US
Requisition Number: 1188
# of Openings: 1



Freedom House works to defend and expand freedom globally to help secure a world where all are free. Around the world, antidemocratic forces are preventing billions of people from exercising their fundamental rights. Freedom House strives to create a world where all people are free. We identify and analyze threats to freedom, mobilize decision makers to respond to those threats and seize opportunities for progress, and support activists and organizations working to defend and expand freedom. We are dedicated to ensuring that the United States serves as a positive model of democratic practice at home and a consistent champion of freedom globally. By gathering authoritative data and leveraging our global networks, Freedom House is an unwavering beacon in protecting human rights and promoting democratic governance. 

Established nearly 80 years ago to respond to the threats posed by fascism, we know there is no more powerful force for the development of human society than democracy. Working as an independent watchdog organization dedicated to defending and expanding freedom and democracy around the world, Freedom House is notable for its nonpartisan character and commitment to maintaining support for its mission across political divides.  

We believe that freedom flourishes in democratic nations where governments are accountable to their people; the rule of law prevails; and freedoms of expression, association, and belief, as well as respect for the rights of women, minorities, and historically marginalized groups, are guaranteed. Freedom House conducts analysis and reporting on current threats and opportunities related to democracy and freedom. This reporting frames the policy debate in the United States and abroad on the progress and decline of freedom. Freedom House's flagship publication Freedom in the World is the standard-setting comparative assessment of global political rights and civil liberties. Freedom House also produces other reports, including Freedom on the Net, Nations in Transit, Freedom and the Media, the China Media Bulletin, as well as periodic special reports. 

Freedom House advocates for leadership, particularly by the US Government, to vigorously oppose dictators and oppression, and strengthen democracy at home and around the world. We amplify the voices of those struggling for freedom in repressive societies and counter authoritarian efforts to weaken international scrutiny of their regimes.

Freedom House's programs support human rights and democracy advocates in their efforts to promote open government, defend human rights, strengthen civil society, and facilitate the free flow of information and ideas. We assist through grants and programs that provide emergency support, training, and support to courageous defenders around the world.  In addition, Freedom House helps through advocacy and visible demonstrations of solidarity on behalf of counterparts abroad.  

Freedom House has 13 field offices, two US offices (Washington, D.C. and New York City, N.Y.), and a global staff of nearly 200, including contractors. The organization’s operating budget is roughly $35 million, with a blend of public (coming from United States Government sources such as USAID and the Department of State) and private (individuals, foundations, and corporations) support.  


Freedom House aspires to expand its impact on the most pressing challenges of our day. Long-standing dictatorships continue their oppression at home and abroad, while a new breed of authoritarianism is on the march, with repressive tactics being increasingly used in open societies. Populists in once-promising democracies such as Brazil, India, Turkey, Hungary, and the Philippines are eroding protections for fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. Political rights and civil liberties remain at a 15-year low. More than one-third of the world’s population now lives under autocratic rule.  

Having embarked on a refined mission and strategy, our future success and impact require organizational change and renewal, more flexible funding as well as disciplined operational execution. To lead the organization’s operations through this critical and exciting moment of opportunity, Freedom House is creating the new role of Chief Operating Officer (COO). Reporting directly to the President and working in concert with the Executive Vice President (EVP), the COO is the lead executive overseeing all operations of one of the world’s leading democracy and human rights organizations. The COO will be a:  

  • Strategic partner to the President, the EVP, and the executive team, who will lead the development and implementation of an operational and financial plan in support of the new strategic direction for Freedom House.  

  • Skilled manager who will supervise and be accountable for the updated design and operation of the critical functions that permit Freedom House to achieve its mission, including finance, human resources, information technology, physical and cyber security, legal and compliance, and office operations. 

  • Experienced leader who will work with the President and EVP to design and implement plans and systems to articulate and measure the organization’s annual and long-term goals and achievements and who will develop and oversee a culture of continual process improvement. 

  • Champion of organizational development who will help create a flexible and nimble culture of talent that will reflect the organization’s strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 


The Role:           Chief Operating Officer 

Reports to:         President (Michael Abramowitz) 

Direct Reports:  Director of Finance, Director of Informational Technology*, Human Resources Director*, Senior Manager

                            Global Security, Office Operations Manager (*currently outsourced) 

Location:  Washington, D.C. 


Financial Management  

  • Oversee management of finance, risk assessment, accounting, investment, budgeting, internal control, tax, and grant compliance processes.  

  • Serve as the primary liaison to the Finance and Audit Committees of the Board of Trustees. 

Human Capital Management 

  • Recruit and retain top talent, build, and lead cohesive and effective teams.  

  • Support execution of organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. 

  • Connect front-line and functional support teams to the organization’s overarching mission, enabling colleagues to see how their work enables high impact programmatic work in the world.  

  • Coach, motivate and ensure professional growth and development of finance, human resources, and administrative staff.  

Legal and Compliance Management 

  • Ensure donor intent and regulatory compliance on US Government- funded programs and that Freedom House maintains its tax-exempt status.  

  • Serve as primary contact with all external legal counsels (paid and pro bono). 

Information Technology, Security, and US Office Management 

  • Direct the acquisition, deployment, and performance monitoring of these key support services. 

  • Ensure that Freedom House adapts to new office work environments 



  • Significant senior executive level experience managing the financial and human capital required to successfully drive the operations of a mission-driven business, social enterprise, nonprofit, or government agency.  

  • Demonstrated tangible accomplishments across some combination of the following: 

  • Designing, implementing, and evaluating annual and long-term operational plans and budgets for a complex organization that operates in multiples locations, including overseas. 

  • Identifying, prioritizing, and addressing complex legal, compliance (including compliance with USG grant requirements), and security issues (including security operations for staff and offices in closed and closing societies) for a high-profile advocacy organization. 

  • Developing and overseeing a talent management plan to recruit, retain, and develop a mission-driven team with diversity, equity, and inclusion in mind. 

  • Resolving operational challenges inherent in a leanly operated environment. 

  • Adapting to different audiences and cultures, and nurturing equity and inclusion. 


Skills and Leadership Attributes 

  • A personal belief in and commitment to the inherent value of freedom, democracy, and human rights. 

  • Strong financial and administrative expertise. 

  • Excellent written, verbal communication, and presentation skills. 

  • Sound judgment as both as a thought-partner and hands-on decision-maker.  

  • Ability to maintain a diplomatic and effective approach even especially when dealing with multi-party stakeholder and urgent situations. 

  • Sophisticated level of business and operational acumen; excellent problem-solving and analytic skills, resourcefulness in setting priorities and guiding investment in people and systems. 


Salary commensurate to experience.


Please share nominations or confidentially submit a resume and cover letter to Doris Cook  


Freedom House is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate in its selection and employment practices. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, or protected veteran status, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, or other non-merit factors,  In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if you have a disability and would like to request an accommodation in order to apply for a position with Freedom House, please call: 202-227-4308

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