Job Title: Director, United States Program – UNGO Jobs

Country: United States of America
Organization: Human Rights Watch
Closing date: 29 May 2022

US Program
Multiple Locations Considered
Application Deadline: May 29, 2022

Organization Overview

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an independent non-governmental organization that works to advance human rights worldwide. We investigate wrongs, expose the facts, offer solutions, and challenge those with power to respect rights. We collaborate with people claiming their rights, learn from partners, and engage the public. Human Rights Watch upholds the freedoms and defends the protections that promote dignity, equality, and justice.

Our 500 staff based in more than 50 countries conduct research into human rights abuses, publicize our findings, and advocate for change; we raise money to sustain our work, ensure our security, and manage a complex operations environment.

Position Overview

Human Rights Watch is seeking an outstanding leader to direct its United States Program, one of its 16 programmatic divisions.

The Director should be a strategic thinker able to assess the rights landscape in the United States. They should have insight into how US domestic rights issues and needs intersect with HRW’s mission and work globally, and the ability to determine HRW’s added value. They should be agile and able to position the program’s work effectively in response to external developments, both anticipated and unexpected, and ensure the highest research standards in a culture of learning, trust, teamwork, and collaboration.

The Director should have demonstrated experience addressing the causes and effects of racial injustice in the US, including its links to poverty. They should have familiarity with the other main areas of ongoing US Program work including criminal legal system abuses; reparative justice, including for slavery and its legacies; border policy; the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers; and ensuring a vibrant democracy, the focus of a three-year initiative housed in the program. They should be interested in exploring how human rights abuses, including the failure to achieve economic and social rights, are rooted in entrenched power structures. They should have deep knowledge of research and advocacy methodologies for advancing rights at local, state, and national levels, and embrace partnerships and centering the power and leadership of directly impacted people in setting priorities and in project execution.

Management skills are essential, and the US Program Director must lead and motivate. The Director should have experience galvanizing staff behind a vision and implementing a program of work in pursuit of short-, medium-, and long-term goals and objectives. They should have experience with change management, be able to build resilience and connection within the team, and strategically unite the team behind common goals. They should be committed to fostering the talents and trust of USP staff and supporting a culture of learning, collaboration, and resilience within the team. They must also demonstrate the ability to foster diversity and build an inclusive working environment, to build consensus with staff around confronting key challenges and experimenting with new research and advocacy approach, and to ensure the highest research standards.

The US Program director reports to the Program Office. The position will preferably be based in HRW offices in New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, or San Francisco Bay Area.

To learn more about the organization or the job opportunity, we encourage you to reach out and schedule a 15-minute introductory call with interim leaders of the US Program. To schedule an informational call, please click here.


  1. Provide leadership, vision, and priorities for the US Program.
  2. In collaboration with relevant internal and external partners, oversee and develop research, advocacy, and communications plans, including social media and multimedia production, on human rights issues in the United States. Ensure that plans include clear goals and benchmarks, and that they align with the broader strategic plan and programmatic priorities of the US Program and the organization.
  3. Ensure the work of the program is informed and guided by partnerships with inputs from directly affected communities.
  4. Promote an open and positive work environment including by soliciting diverse points of views, encouraging staff to participate in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, and proactively building a team culture where issues of bias can be named and addressed.
  5. Collaborate with the Development Department on fundraising, working with the US Program team to provide requested information and draft reports to donors in a timely manner, and actively solicit and follow up with potential new donors to achieve program-specific fundraising goals.
  6. Oversee and manage the production of research products and advocacy materials and ensure these materials generate domestic and international pressure to curb human rights violations. Help to ensure that all materials adhere to the organization’s values and standards and are appropriately vetted.
  7. Regularly coordinate and jointly develop strategies with HRW’s thematic programs that work on US domestic issues.
  8. Regularly coordinate and jointly develop strategies with HRW’s Washington Office on US foreign policy objectives and with advocates in other global capitals as needed.
  9. Promote and monitor well-being of US Program staff as it pertains to stress and resilience issues and self-care, foster an inclusive team culture, and work collaboratively with US Program staff in addressing challenges and opportunities.
  10. Manage budget setting and spending priorities, in co-operation with the Finance Department, and ensure that resources are adequately allocated to maximize impact.
  11. Respond to and/or anticipate relevant news events to frame developing US news stories through a lens that prioritizes work of the program, and advise senior management on effective responses and advocacy.
  12. Represent the organization regularly in the domestic and international media on US issues and advocate with high-level officials at the federal, state, local and international levels, as well as with the UN and other relevant international institutions.
  13. Foster and strengthen meaningful and equitable partnerships with other human rights actors and lead our collaboration in the US human rights movement.
  14. With the support of HRW’s security and safety team, ensure the safety and resilience of staff, information security, and security of interlocutors and partners in their work with HRW, and ensure that all relevant policies and procedures are implemented effectively.
  15. Lead, motivate, develop, and mentor direct reports by communicating clear expectations, setting performance objectives, providing regular and timely constructive feedback, ensuring balanced workload, and supporting professional growth.
  16. Work collaboratively with all departments and divisions to ensure operational effectiveness, efficiency, and impact.
  17. Actively contribute to internal cross-organizational priorities, including increasing our alignment and collaboration, effectiveness and sustainability, wellbeing and resilience, and diversity, equity & inclusion.
  18. Perform other responsibilities as required.

Candidate Profile

The successful candidate will be a thoughtful, collaborative, and strategic leader with at least 10 years of relevant experience in social justice, movement building, civil/human rights or related work in the US, including investigations, reporting, strategic communications, and advocacy, and with at least five years in a management position, preferably one that involved both managing down and up within an organization.

Candidates who are traditionally underrepresented in the human rights sector (such as people who identify as BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, women, migrants, people with disabilities, or people who have other related lived experiences) are enthusiastically encouraged to apply if they feel they have the ability to succeed in this role, even if they do not have all of the skills and qualifications listed below.

Required Qualifications / Skills

  1. Extensive knowledge of social justice and civil and human rights issues in the United States, excellent political judgment, and ability to identify trends.
  2. Relevant experience and familiarity with human rights research methodologies.
  3. Relevant experience in work to combat structural barriers that entrench racial and economic discrimination in the United States, preferably including work with or alongside organizations led by directly impacted people, in determining which advocacy, research, and communications strategies to pursue.
  4. Demonstrated aptitude for effectively supervising and managing teams, and ability to manage talented staff based in multiple locations.
  5. Ability to identify critical challenges and opportunities and formulate strategy and to defend and explain complex issues and positions to diverse audiences, including policymakers and senior government officials.
  6. Track record of dealing with the media and cultivating relationships with journalists.
  7. Strong interpersonal skills to work collaboratively within HRW as well as with local partners, government officials and external media partners.
  8. Track record of identifiable and measurable successes in managing and advising on complex projects, implementing operational change, conducting monitoring and evaluation, and ensuring high-quality deliverables.
  9. Demonstrated awareness and sensitivity to the needs and concerns of individuals from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and orientations, and ability to foster a diverse and inclusive team culture.
  10. Track record of, and passion for, being a collaborative team player who can empathetically engage with staff across levels and jurisdictions.
  11. Ability to coach colleagues to understand stakeholders’ perspectives and to handle high-level stakeholder challenges.
  12. Fluency in English is required; knowledge of Spanish is preferred.

Salary and Benefits: The salary range for this position will be USD 160,000 – 185,000. In addition to competitive compensation, HRW offers comprehensive employer-paid benefits. HRW also offers a relocation assistance package and will assist employees in obtaining necessary work authorization, if required; citizens of all nationalities are encouraged to apply.

Human Rights Watch is strong because it is diverse. We actively seek a diverse applicant pool and encourage candidates of all backgrounds based anywhere to apply. Human Rights Watch does not discriminate on the basis of disability, age, gender identity and expression, national origin, race and ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or criminal record. We welcome all kinds of diversity. Our employees include people who are parents and nonparents, the self-taught and university educated, and from a wide span of socio-economic backgrounds and perspectives on the world. Human Rights Watch is an equal opportunity employer.

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.

How to apply:

How to Apply: Please apply immediately or by May 29, 2022 by visiting our online job portal at and submitting a CV and cover letter. No calls or email inquiries related to the status of your application, please. Only complete applications will be reviewed and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

If you are experiencing technical difficulties with your application submission, or if you require a disability-related accommodation to apply, 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.