Program Specialists
Open Society Foundations

The Open Society Foundations seeks two (2) Program Specialists to work as part of its Justice 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 Justice team seeks a society whose justice systems are fair and equitable for all, especially those who are most vulnerable, and whose public policies and institutions promote individual and community health and safety. Through grants to a diverse array of organizations working nationally and in key states, a range of fund-led activities, and individual fellowships, the Justice Fund supports a maturing criminal justice reform field across a wide spectrum of issues.

We seek to end mass incarceration and mass criminalization through efforts to reduce jail and prison populations; abolish the use of the death penalty; advance alternative approaches to address violence and community safety grounded in principles of harm reduction, accountability and respect, and led by those directly impacted by the criminal legal system; promote fair and effective policing; and foster new approaches to drug policy, with an emphasis on work that supports non-punitive, health-centered approaches to serving populations currently targeted by punitive drug law enforcement.

Job Profile

Under the guidance and delegation of Program Officers, the Program Specialist will contribute to programmatic activities such as the identification of new grantee partners, the assessment of organizations in the field, the design of grants, and the assessment of grants and portfolios.  The Program Specialist may also be delegated to lead on projects or issues – such as research initiatives, convenings, or advocacy efforts – as determined by the team.

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;
  • Assist in the designing and carrying out relevant field scans and conducting ongoing field monitoring;
  • Contributing to assessment of organizations, including primary responsibility for assessment of organizational finances and budgets;
  • Analyzing grant proposals (including budgets), and assisting in the designing of grants and drafting of grant recommendations;
  • Participation in meetings and site visits;
  • Programmatic and administrative support for the Soros Justice Fellowships program, including support to current and former fellows;
  • Partnering closely with Grants Officers to ensure the efficient flow of grants processing;
  • Developing and executing convenings, research initiatives, and advocacy efforts, and partnering closely with Program Administrative Specialists to ensure effective implementation;
  • Provide administrative support for Program Officers such as meeting scheduling, preparation and planning, and calendaring and team management support for the team director as needed;
  • Perform range of administrative tasks or projects as needed and assigned, including developing tools and templates, coordinating event logistics, and assisting in the processing vendor contracts and consultancy agreements;
  • Participating in the evaluation of grant portfolios; and
  • Support the developing and maintaining a network of relationships with key actors, including advocates, practitioners, academics, policymakers, funders, civic and business leaders, and the media.

Candidate Profile

The successful candidate will have knowledge and understanding of the U.S. criminal justice system, as well as a perspective on the social justice ecosystem and the forces that threaten it.  The candidate 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.  Prior experience is preferred in one or more of the following: advocacy at the local, state, and/or federal level; civic engagement and/or community organizing; organizational capacity building; leadership development.  The Program Specialist must have demonstrated capacity to translate the Program’s strategic plans into action and to assess impact.  We also strongly encourage candidates with lived experiences in the criminal justice system to apply.

The successful candidate will also have the following qualifications:

  • 3-5 years of experience in position(s) relevant to the duties of this role;
  • Highly skilled in researching and processing information and analyzing its importance in informing programs and strategies;
  • Excellent written and spoken communication;
  • Ability to 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 and respond to colleagues with awareness and sensitivity to cultural communication differences;
  • Capacity to learn, adapt to, and manage evolving systems and operations
  • Diplomatic, discreet, and able to handle confidential matters with a high level of integrity;
  • Ability to adapt to work styles that may vary from colleague to colleague;
  • Well-developed emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, self-management, and empathy;
  • Demonstrated comfort engaging with formerly incarcerated individuals and others directly impacted by the justice system;
  • Organized, strong project management ability, self-directed on work initiatives, strong attention to detail, and ability to manage competing priorities and deadlines;
  • Strong commitment to inclusion and respect for all colleagues;
  • 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.

Location: New York (preferred) or Washington D.C.

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

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

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