Position Description

Senior Program Officer, HRSM REF
Work Location Washington, DC or Remote
Requisition Number 1209
# of Openings 1
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Freedom House monitors, strengthens, and defends democracy worldwide through programs that support frontline activists, research, and advocacy. We are leaders in identifying threats to civil liberties and political rights. Freedom House is seeking to add a new member to our diverse Human Rights Support Mechanism (HRSM) team to support an anticipated five-year Asia Religious and Ethnic Freedom (Asia REF) award from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 

This is an outstanding opportunity for an experienced professional in international program management aiming to further develop their expertise by contributing to a leading democracy and human rights organization on an innovative new program. The Senior Program Officer will work in collaboration with other members of the HRSM team and HRSM consortium members (ABA ROLI, Internews, Pact, and Search for Common Ground). This position requires a high degree of both self-reliance and engagement with other members of the HRSM team, and it is an excellent next step for a confident professional able to make difficult decisions in complex and sensitive context. This position is based in Washington, DC (temporarily remote due to COVID-19 restrictions) and reports to the HRSM Senior Program Manager.

The anticipated Asia REF award has been designed through co-creation with USAID and the HRSM consortium partners. By design, the Asia REF award will require a high degree of collaboration, learning, and adaptation (CLA). Freedom House seeks candidates who have experience in adaptive management, who excel in addressing challenges through consensus building, and who have worked on USG awards with a high degree of substantial involvement by the donor.

Note: Freedom House may choose to make a hire at the Program Officer level if the outstanding candidate does not possess the minimum qualifications required for the Senior Program Officer level.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

  • Serve as the headquarters point of contact on the implementation of multiple projects under the Asia REF award.
  • Closely coordinate with HRSM consortium partners and the Freedom House Asia and Eurasia teams.
  • Monitor key developments in the Asia region regarding ethnic and religious freedom, including reforms, socio-economic and political changes, elections, status of relevant legislation, human rights situations, international engagement on human rights and democracy issues.
  • With minimum supervision, coordinate project development under the Asia REF award by HRSM partners. This task includes review of proposal packages: technical narratives, budgets, and budget notes on a quarterly basis.
  • Take part in the development and implementation of the overall multi-year strategy for the portfolio region in collaboration with the Senior Program Manager, HRSM MEL specialist, USAID, and consortium partners. 
  • Represent Freedom House at appropriate events and with donors, peer organizations, international partners, government officials, and other external stakeholders on Asia REF. Prepare and lead briefings on programmatic, strategy and political updates; present the analysis to the relevant stakeholders with a high degree of professionalism and in-depth knowledge of details.
  • Lead the preparation of high-quality narrative quarterly, final, and ad-hoc project reports for USAID.
  • In coordination with HRSM partners, lead the monitoring and evaluation process on the overall Asia REF award, ensuring timely documentation of all project activities and their impact.
  • Track and analyze budgets for accuracy and draft spending projections and forecasts, propose corrective action when necessary. 
  • Liaise with other Freedom House teams (Emergency Assistance Programs, Communications and Advocacy, Research, Finance, etc.) to collaborate on program implementation or to resolve administrative issues.
  • Supervise assigned junior DC-based project staff, with the priority on their professional development, and coordinate the allocation of staff resources with other supervisors.
  • Travel to overseas locations to participate in, oversee, or evaluate project activities (10-20% time, COVID permitting).
  • Perform all other duties as assigned.


Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor degree required, with a focus on international affairs, public management, political science, anthropology, religious studies, or a related field or equivalent experience. Masters degree preferred.
  • Six to eight years of directly related project management experience.
  • At least one year of professional experience working on the Asia region within the last five years.
  • Experience working on ethnic and religious rights programs strongly valued.
  • Deep understanding of USG funding processes and compliance regulations from project design to closeout; at least four years of experience working on USG-funded projects including proven ability to manage multi-year budgets, conduct subgranting, and manage multiple partners.
  • Experience managing the entire proposal development process with multiple team members and potential partners strongly valued.
  • Professional fluency in English, both verbal and in writing.
  • Strong knowledge of human rights principles and mechanisms; up-to-date understanding of the current socio-political landscape and its implications on the prospects of ethnic and religious freedom in the Asia region.
  • Strong understanding of history and culture of Asian countries and the complexity of ethnic and religious freedom in the rights and conflict.
  • Confidence in using project management software (Planner, Asana, Trello or the like) strongly valued.


Attributes and Characteristics

  • Ability to exercise critical judgment and poise in leading the assigned projects and representing the team within the organization, as well as Freedom House at high-level meetings and in engagement with senior interlocutors from government, nonprofit and corporate institutions.
  • Eagerness to think creatively about complex challenges, identify problems, and propose solutions, both in program management and strategy development.
  • Proven ability to maintain composure, project confidence, make informed decisions, and lead junior staff in ambiguous situations.
  • Strong analytical skills and proven ability to conduct research and write well-argued analytical pieces.
  • Ability to balance strategic thinking with exceptional attention to a myriad of minute yet critical details.
  • Commitment to the greater goals of the team and ability to contribute constructively to joint tasks despite competing priorities.
  • Ability to effectively work remotely and productively with minimal oversight.


Additional Information

Applicants are required to complete our online application form and to submit a resume, a cover letter that outlines interests and qualifications for this position, and a writing sample on a relevant topic (no more than 2 pages).

  • Freedom House provides a strong benefits package, including a 403(b) retirement account, commuter benefits, flexible hours, floating holidays, high employer contributions to medical, dental, and vision premiums, basic and voluntary life and AD&D insurance, short- and long-term disability, flexible spending account, and more.
  • Salary is commensurate with experience and will be no lower than $58,000/year
  • Diversity makes our work stronger. We actively seek a diverse applicant pool and encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply.
  • Staff are currently working remotely due to Covid-19, and Freedom House is continuing to evaluate when, and under what circumstances, staff will return to the office. This position will start remote and will require mandatory relocation to Washington DC once circumstances allow.
  • Candidates must possess authorization to work in the United States.


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Diversity makes our work stronger. We actively seek a diverse applicant pool and encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply. 

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