Director Africa Programs

Closing date:

Freedom House (FH) is founded on the core conviction that freedom flourishes in democratic nations where governments are accountable to their people; the rule of law prevails; and freedoms (such as freedoms of expression, association, and belief, as well as respect for the rights of women, minorities and historically marginalized groups) are guaranteed. We speak out against the main threats to democracy and empower citizens to exercise their fundamental rights through a unique combination of analysis, advocacy, and direct support to frontline defenders of freedom, especially those working in closed authoritarian societies. Established 80 years ago to respond to the threats posed by fascism, we know there is no more powerful force for the development of human society than democracy. As the world experiences the 15th year of consecutive democratic decline, our work—and our people carrying it out around the world—have never mattered more.

The Director for Africa Programs at FH is a senior position responsible for providing strategic leadership, management, and vision for Freedom House programmatic activities in and related to Africa. The Director ensures and promotes partnership with research and policy and advocacy leads, in line with Freedom House’s mission and strategic framework, including cross-unit collaboration in other non-programmatic activities related to Africa. The Director works for and closely with the Vice President for International Programs (VPIP), and the Africa FH team to develop and manage donor-funded programs in Africa. This includes analyzing local social and political contexts to determine intervention opportunities and needs; setting and updating priorities; designing programs; ensuring a steady stream of donor funding for programs, managing people and processes, and overseeing implementation of programs. The Director oversees the Africa programmatic teams and works closely with the Deputy Program Director (DPD) and/or Senior Program Managers (SPMs) to manage multiple program budgets, and US based and internationally based program staff.

The position requires a candidate with deep knowledge of democracy, governance and human rights issues throughout Africa, broad network of relationships in Africa (including with civil society organizations (CSOs), government entities, the diplomatic community, etc.), and relationships with relevant USG entities (including donors supporting democracy programs in Africa). These qualifications must be combined with a proven record of: designing and implementing innovative USG-funded democracy and human rights programming throughout the Africa region that produces verifiable results; managing teams and processes strategically; carrying out successful research that informs advocacy on public or foreign policy before the U.S. Congress and executive branch, and international and regional bodies; and effectively leading and managing diverse staff, including overseas operations.


♦ Strategic leadership

  • Working closely with the VPIP, develop and periodically update a comprehensive strategy for FH programming in the Africa region that is aligned with the overall FH strategic plan and leverages FH’s strengths and prior programming in Africa.
  • Recruit, supervise and mentor direct-report staff, including communicating clear expectations, setting performance objectives, providing regular and timely performance feedback, and leading documented semi-annual performance reviews.
  • Support the VPIP to foster an environment of cross-functional and regional collaboration, as well as the wider FH organization.
  • Proactively promote FH’s strategic plan (inform, mobilize, support) and its thematic and country priorities, to facilitate close collaboration and leverage research, advocacy, and programming interventions in support of democracy and human rights in Africa.
  • Effectively manage culturally diverse staff and ensure the holistic implementation of organization’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy.
  • Cultivate a safe and protective working environment for all staff.

♦ Award management/implementation

  • Working closely with the DPD and/or SPMs, ensures the timely completion of deliverables and processes (work plan development and implementation, monitoring and evaluation, grants and budget/finance monitoring, reporting).
  • Drive seamless coordination between programming and operations and across portfolios and outcomes, with the objective of improving the quality of Freedom House programs and impact.

♦ Programs

  • Working closely with the DPD and/or SPMs, lead to build consensus around thematic and country priorities to improve the delivery of programs in Africa and to make processes more consistent within the region and between country programs.
  • Strengthen the Africa regional program team’s readiness to respond to new emergencies in line with Freedom House strategic plan priorities, policies, and guidelines.
  • Engage Africa regional teams and country programs in on-going context analysis to ensure FH programs are continually adapted to the evolving contexts across the region.
  • Ensure integrated security of program personnel at the home office and in the field, including physical, digital and wellness.

♦ Fundraising/Proposals

  • Identify opportunities for new programs and additional funding for existing programs; lead the design of program concepts for proposals that prioritize thematic and country priorities; and draft and negotiate proposals and budgets with a range of funders.
  • Engage in strong Africa regional-level representation with donors, international and local NGOs, and networks, and leverage and forge effective partnerships.

♦ External outreach, advocacy and representation

  • Work closely with the VPIP and VP of policy and advocacy to develop annual strategic advocacy plans for Africa priority countries and issues directed at the US government and other targets of importance, including other democracies, international or regional bodies, or the private sector, as relevant.
  • Working closely with the VPIP and other members of FH’s Executive team, serve as point of contact and speak with authority on Freedom House’s activities in Africa, including with donors, at policy forums, in testimony before legislative bodies and in regional or international advocacy initiatives.
  • Use knowledge of the region to effectively interact with funders, partners, government officials, policy and diplomatic communities, and other stakeholders.
  • Draft written materials for publication, including articles and social media content, in coordination with Communications team and as requested, to strengthen Freedom House’s communication, advocacy agenda, and programmatic strategy for the Africa region.

♦ Travel as needed to implement awards and develop new programs, travel internationally.

♦ Other related duties as reasonably assigned.


Education, training, and/or certification

  • Advanced degree in political science, international relations, or a related field strongly preferred.
  • Strong demonstrated skills in program and staff management; program design; Monitor, Evaluation and Learning (MEL); grants, contracts, and subawards management required.
  • MS Office Suite, specifically Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, as well as advanced knowledge of all other standard workplace software

Experience and Competencies

  • Twelve or more years of directly related experience including design and implementation of donor-funded international development, democratic governance and human rights programs; minimum four years at managerial level and experience managing USG funded human rights and civil society project field offices in the Africa region strongly preferred.
  • Five or more years of field experience in the Africa region preferred.
  • Eight or more years of experience leading and managing multi-disciplinary staff , including minimum of five years managing senior staff preferred.
  • Mastery of human rights principles and governing international/regional institutions/organizations, instruments, and processes.
  • Expert knowledge of Africa, including history, culture, economy, political economy, and of democracy and human rights issues, organizations, legal frameworks, and opportunities.
  • Expertise in management of international donor funded programming including work planning; MEL; budget management; and donor relations.
  • Proven knowledge of USG and other donor rules and regulations.
  • Superior fundraising skills with demonstrable ability to successfully cultivate donors and foundations; outstanding proposal development and writing skills preferred.
  • Experience managing staff to achieve programmatic results; ability to coach and mentor staff and provide visionary leadership.
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace or your community
  • Strong ability to communicate effectively in English, both verbally and in writing is required; ability to communicate effectively in French is a plus.
  • Outstanding writing and presentation skills.
  • Astute political judgment and strategic thinking and vision for developing and implementing programs to support human rights and democracy promotion in Africa.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to persuade people with divergent views.
  • Strong ability to initiate, foster, interact, and maintain relationships with contacts and stakeholders in diverse and cross-cultural environments, with sensitivity and a high degree of courtesy, discretion, tact, and professionalism.
  • Ability to always maintain the highest degree of confidentiality regarding all aspects of work.
  • Strong ability to plan, organize, prioritize work, and multitask to meet tight deadlines.
  • Ability to travel independently and complete tasks in unfamiliar countries and regions.
  • Previous advocacy or government experience a plus.

Primary Contacts

♦ Internal : U.S. and regional based employees throughout FH; Vice President for International Programs, and other members of the FH’s Executive Team.

♦ External : Partners, funders, donors, consultants, implementers, US congressional staffers, US government agencies, US legislators, regional or multilateral bodies, human rights and civil society organizations, US embassy and USAID mission staff, the press, vendors, FH board members, journalists/media, and members of the general public.

Working Conditions

General Working Conditions:

♦ General working office environment

♦ Some long hours including evenings and weekends to complete tasks or attend events

♦ Travel to event sites and field offices at least 20% of the time

♦ Exposed to outside weather conditions when required to attend event venues or travel

♦ May involve work in regions that are remote and lack basic modern infrastructure, and in countries under U.S. travel advisory due to threats of terrorist attacks, civil unrest, kidnappings, disease outbreaks, etc.

Physical Requirements

  • Using a computer and associated software for full workdays.
  • Communicating verbally in in-person and virtual meetings

Additional Information

Applicants are required to complete our online application form and to submit a resume and a cover letter that outlines interests and qualifications for this position.

  • Diversity makes our work stronger. We actively seek a diverse applicant pool and encourage candidates of all background to apply.
  • 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.
  • Salaries are commensurate with experience.
  • Staff members are currently working remotely or partially 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 completely or partially remote and may require mandatory relocation to Washington DC once circumstances allow (no earlier than July 1, 2022).
  • Candidates must possess long-term authorization to work in the United States. Freedom House will not sponsor work visas.

Disclaimer : This job description is only a summary of the typical functions of the job. It is not an exhaustive or comprehensive list of all possible job responsibilities, tasks, and duties. The responsibilities, tasks, and duties of the jobholder may differ from those outlined in the job description and other duties, as assigned, may be part of the job. Freedom House may add, change, or remove essential and other duties at any time.


How to apply

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