Senior Policy Advisor
Open Society Foundations

The Senior Policy Advisor for International Public Health serves as the leading advocate in Washington for the Open Society Foundations and the Open Society Policy Center on issues relating to U.S. policy on international public health issues.  This includes United States foreign assistance funding for health issues, policy relating to the HIV/AIDS crisis and the Global Fund, policies and funding concerning reproductive freedom and sexual rights and international aspects of health policies and programming related to drugs.  The position seeks to advance rights based, non-discriminatory health policies, with a special emphasis on stigmatized and underserved communities.

The successful candidate must have a sophisticated understanding of Congress and congressional procedure, including the appropriations process, and have a solid understanding of the United States Agency for International Development and other parts of the federal bureaucracy which play important roles on international public health policy.  While this position focuses on influencing U.S. policy a solid understanding of relevant multilateral and foreign entities that play important roles on international public health policy is essential.

The position will work closely with other Open Society Foundations entities and partner organizations in helping to establish advocacy priorities and in carrying out advocacy activities.  The Senior Policy Advisor will play the leading role within the Washington Office on Open Society Policy Center grant making relating to supporting lobbying activities on international public health.

Issues that would typically fall within the scope of this position’s advocacy activities might include appropriations for international public health activities, appropriations riders and restrictions on the use of U.S. international assistance, such as the global gag rule and the prostitution pledge, U.S. support for and policy toward the Global Fund to Fight AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria, PEPFAR, sex worker rights and U.S. policy on harm reduction strategies such as syringe exchange programs.  Depending on circumstances the Senior Policy Advisor might also collaborate with others on international trade policy affecting public health (e.g., intellectual property issues affecting drug pricing and availability).

The Senior Policy Advisor for International Public Health reports to the Director of the OSF DC Advocacy Program and jointly supervises a shared Policy Associate with another Senior Policy Advisor.    A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study or equivalent experience/education is required.  A relevant graduate degree is a plus, but substantial relevant practical experience is a sufficient alternative.  A successful candidate would be expected to have had 7-10 years of progressively responsible experience in a situation relevant to the duties of this role. Experience working with, or knowledge of, U.S. health advocacy organizations would be considered a plus for any candidate.

While the current focus of the role is described, the position of Senior Policy Advisor at OSF embraces a wide range of activities and areas of focus, and it is to be expected that the shape of the issues and related partnerships, as well as the strategies and approaches being used will evolve over time.  The remainder of this announcement provides a more detailed explanation of the generic role, responsibilities and expectations for the Senior Policy Advisor position within the Open Society Foundations DC Advocacy Program.


The Senior Policy Advisor is a pivotal programmatic role in the OSF DC Advocacy Program.  This role has responsibility for monitoring fields of interest to OSF, developing appropriate strategies and tools for fostering desired social change, managing relationships with other entities including potential and current grantees, OSF-affiliated foundations, other civil society and social change organizations, etc., making grant recommendations and managing grant relationships, participating in collaborative decision-making both within OSF and with external entities, and related key responsibilities.

The Senior Policy Advisor role requires comprehensive specialized knowledge in the field of specialization sufficient to include current policy debates, issues and leading figures and thinking, along with substantial knowledge of organizational and cross-cultural leadership, which frequently includes some sense of international impacts on the role.

This role is responsible for contributing to, communicating, executing and helping to revise one or more complex strategies.   This role works with minimal supervision, solving problems independently and collaboratively.  This role is responsible for contributing to the overall wellbeing of the program or other assigned area of responsibility.

The Senior Policy Advisor role includes project management, which requires effective use of time, money, and human resources, network-wide or similarly complex coordination, effective communication, and collaborative problem-solving. This role builds and maintains strong, trusting relationships internally and in the field of specialization across cultures and geographies.  Competing interests, complex political and cultural factors, and tensions between long- and short-term goals must all be managed effectively.

Typical Duties and Responsibilities: The following illustrate duties that are typical of the role, but the range of activities that can appropriately fall within this generic job description is wide.  This list does not include all possibilities.  All positions will not perform all duties, nor will all duties be present in equal degree in a single position within the role.

  • Serving as senior policy expert in their subject area, with extensive knowledge of the field and its actors
  • Creating original policy recommendations and developing and implementing strategies to change or defend U.S. Government policy, using a range of advocacy tools
  • Working closely with many high-level representatives of other organizations and OSF grantees to help build effective coalitions on related matters.
  • Developing close working relationships with staff members of other OSF programs that work on related issues and serving as policy expert and resource for other OSF programs
  • Expanding OSF relationships with officials in the U.S. government and other key players within the policy community
  • Monitoring and analyzing relevant and complex activity on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch
  • Developing short and long-term advocacy goals
  • Developing  advocacy and grant budgets in area of work
  • Crafting persuasive advocacy messages and materials for a range of audiences
  • Soliciting, vetting and recommending  targeted grants related to OSPC’s advocacy and drafting grant write-ups and eligibility assessments
  • Author, co-author, and editing policy reports, memos, issue briefs and other documents on subject of expertise
  • Reading and analyzing complex statutes and draft legislative language for bills and amendments
  • Regularly representing OSF as lead expert at coalition meetings primarily in Washington, D.C.
  • Contributing original content for op-eds, blogs, and websites and represents OSF in the media through interviews, publication of op-eds, and occasional articles
  • Working with communications staff on media strategies and outreach on related issues
  • Co-supervising a Policy Associate and may supervise a temporary Project  Associate or Law Clerk

PROFILE – Senior Policy Advisor

Skills and Abilities.  Among other things, a Senior Policy Advisor should have the following skills and abilities:

  • The Senior Policy Advisor recognizes the power differential inherent in OSF relationships, e.g., the funder- grantee relationship, and has demonstrated an ability to handle this relationship properly and respectfully
  • Deep understanding of and vision for social change that is incorporated into a strategy for achieving it.
  • Demonstrated success in developing and advancing social change strategies, including identifying needed modifications in response to an evolving situation
  • Ability to work with significant autonomy and willingness to be accountability for results
  • Comprehensive understanding of the workings of NGO/non-profit organizations is important
  • Strong understanding of cultural differences and the proven ability to build and maintain relationships with a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds within a complex organization
  • Significant expertise in the relevant issue area
  • Experience reading statutes and drafting legislation
  • Proven network of contacts in the field and in government (high-level access)
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills in English are essential.

Competencies.  A Senior Policy Advisor would be expected to have the following general competencies:

  • Advancing Diversity– encourages diversity of viewpoints and discussions, and building workgroups that are broadly inclusive.
  • Expertise-looks outside OSF to stay relevant and adapts to changes in field(s) of expertise.  Uses external networks to achieve positive outcomes for OSF.
  • Getting the Right Things Done- establishes goals, plans for contingencies, readjusts where appropriate, and takes responsibility for delivering outcomes that have a positive impact.  Balances risk/reward, and intellectual curiosity with pragmatism to get things done.
  • Working Well with OSF Colleagues- builds collaborative relationships inside OSF through the understanding and development of other’s and own ideas.  Uses appropriate means and tone of communication to convey messages, seeks input from others and ensures understanding.
  • Working Well with Others- seeks to clarify, understand and exceed expectations of others to make a positive impact.
  • Strategic Thinking- considers multiple options to achieve long-range goals, appropriately balancing risk and reward, selecting the best strategies for success.

Qualifications: Experience/Education

  • Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study or equivalent experience/education; relevant graduate degree advantageous but substantial relevant practical experience a sufficient alternative
  • 7 -10 years of progressively responsible experience in a situation relevant to the duties of this role is typically required to develop the skills required for this role.

Work Environment and Physical Demands:

Essential functions are typically performed in an office setting with a low level of noise.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Get the newsletter