HRW US Program Executive Director
Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) is seeking an experienced professional as its US Program Executive Director to lead a dynamic team dedicated to protecting and promoting the fundamental human rights of people in the United States. HRW’s US Program investigates and exposes systemic human rights abuses committed by the US federal, state, and local governments, particularly in three areas: criminal justice, immigration, and national security. We prioritize issues affecting people who are likely to have difficulty vindicating their rights through the political process or in the courts, such as the poor, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, incarcerated people, immigrants, and children.

The Executive Director should be a creative and strategic thinker with a powerful voice, strong experience engaging with the media, and substantive experience on domestic civil or human rights issues in the United States. A strong background in criminal and racial justice will be particularly important. The Executive Director provides the dynamic vision and leadership for the US Program’s work in the United States, and should be a thought leader in the community of organizations promoting civil and human rights in the US. The Executive Director is responsible for developing effective research, advocacy and communications strategies for maximum impact in defending human rights in the United States, and for ensuring that these strategies inform the work of the entire organization. The Executive Director has the most senior public-facing role for HRW’s US work with the media, partner organizations, and donors, and will oversee research and advocacy staff, with a particular emphasis on the criminal justice and national security work. The Executive Director will also have a primary responsibility for work with the US Program’s Advisory Committee. This position is based in New York, NY or Washington, DC and reports to the Deputy Program Director.


  1. Provide overarching vision for the US Program’s research and advocacy priorities and oversee research and advocacy on human rights issues in the United States, including through providing project management and editorial guidance, with a particular emphasis on US criminal justice and national security policy;
  2. Respond to and/or anticipate relevant news events and policy debates by inserting HRW’s voice, research-based expertise, and strategic messaging into such events and debates; advise senior management on effective responses and advocacy strategies; and project a human rights perspective into media coverage of current events, even when they fall outside specific areas of US Program research;
  3. Influence policy debates by providing press quotes, writing press releases, op-eds, and blog postings, and using social media;
  4. Represent the organization frequently before national and international media and, in coordination with the US Program Advocacy Director, advocate with federal, state, and local governments;
  5. Collaborate with key colleagues within HRW including those working on thematic issues and US foreign policy and externally with allied organizations; proactively seek to establish relationships with new partners;
  6. Coordinate closely with the Development Department on fundraising, providing requested information, drafting reports to donors in a timely manner, promoting the work of HRW as a whole, and actively soliciting and following up with potential new donors to achieve US Program-specific fundraising goals;
  7. Oversee and strengthen the work of the US Program’s Advisory Committee, which provides the US Program with outreach, fundraising, management, and substantive policy advice;
  8. Communicate regularly with the Deputy Program Director, his deputies, and other HRW senior managers to ensure the program’s policies and objectives are aligned with the organization’s focus;
  9. Travel on a frequent basis; and
  10. Carry out other duties as necessary.

Managerial Responsibilities (Carried Out in Conjunction with the Managing Director):

  1. Manage the Program’s output and staff with the aim of promoting and maintaining strong unity and sense of purpose within the program;
  2. Manage the Program’s budget, in cooperation with the Finance Division and others in the Program, to ensure adequate and timely oversight of resources and ensure that resources are allocated to maximize impact;
  3. Establish clear work plans for staff, communicate priorities clearly and effectively, and provide oversight and take responsibility for delegated assignments;
  4. Ensure that the workload of staff is manageable and the reporting lines are clear;
  5. Provide appropriate and timely feedback on staff performance and leadership on employee relations through effective communication, conflict mediation, guidance, coaching, and training, including with staff in supervisory positions;
  6. Operate in compliance with organizational regulations and rules, including the policies of applicable employee agreements;
  7. Ensure the security of staff, information security, and security of interlocutors and partners in their work with HRW; ensure that staff receive appropriate training in security policies and procedures, and that relevant policies and procedures are implemented effectively; and
  8. Foresee risks and allow for contingencies when planning; monitor and adjust program plans and actions as necessary; and resolve any disputes or conflicts in a timely manner with appropriate consultation with supervisors and HRW senior managers.


Education: An advanced (graduate) degree in journalism, law, social science, or related studies or equivalent experience is required.

Experience: A minimum of 10 years of experience in US domestic civil or human rights issues, with at least 4 years in a management position is required.

Related Skills and Knowledge:

  1. Extensive knowledge of and substantive senior-level experience working on domestic civil or human rights issues in the United States is required.
  2. Knowledge of and experience with US criminal justice and racial justice issues is highly desirable.
  3. Demonstrated ability to think strategically and creatively and work quickly and well under pressure are required.
  4. Capacity to serve as an effective spokesperson, advocate and activist is required.
  5. Track record of dealing with the media, including television and radio, and cultivating relationships with journalists is required; experience with multimedia and social media is desirable.
  6. Excellent oral and written communication skills in English are required; proficiency in Spanish is highly desirable.
  7. Ability to advocate effectively on complex domestic policy issues is required.
  8. Experience working in an international environment or on international issues is desirable.
  9. Ability to work collegially in a demanding, diverse and fast-paced environment and strong interpersonal skills in order to work with partner organizations and government officials are required.
  10. Excellent leadership skills and recognized management experience are required, including supervising a team of talented professionals from diverse backgrounds.
  11. Keen judgment and capacity to appropriately plan, organize, prioritize and manage multiple, sometimes competing demands efficiently in a challenging environment is required.
  12. Self-motivation with proven initiative and follow-through are required.
  13. Strong commitment to human rights is required.

Salary and Benefits: HRW seeks exceptional applicants and offers competitive compensation and employer-paid benefits. HRW offers a relocation assistance package and will assist employees in obtaining necessary work authorization, if required; citizens of all nationalities are encouraged to apply.

Application Deadline: Please apply immediately or by 11:59 PM ET on August 25, 2017. No calls or email inquiries, please. Only complete applications will be reviewed and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

If you are experiencing technical difficulties with your application submission, please email Due to the large response, application submissions via email will not be accepted and inquiries regarding the status of applications will go unanswered.

Equal Opportunity Employer

Human Rights Watch is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate in its hiring practices and, in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seeks a diverse applicant pool.

About Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch is an international human rights monitoring and advocacy organization known for its in-depth investigations, its incisive and timely reporting, its innovative and high-profile advocacy campaigns, and its success in changing the human rights-related policies and practices of influential governments and international institutions.

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