Program Officer
Open Society Foundations - New York, NY

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The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.

We seek to strengthen the rule of law; respect for human rights, minorities, and a diversity of opinions; democratically elected governments; and a civil society that helps keep government power in check.

We help to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights.

We implement initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media.

We build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information.

Working in every part of the world, the Open Society Foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.

The Open Society Foundations seek a full-time program officer in its New York office to work with the Public Health Program’s Access to Essential Medicines Initiative.

Open Society’s Public Health Program (PHP) is committed to advancing health and human rights in two distinct but interconnected ways:
  • by advancing the social inclusion of groups that are discriminated against on the basis of their health status or in their interaction with the health system; and
  • by increasing transparency, accountability, and participation in decision-making about health-related laws, policies, implementation, and resource allocation.
PHP works in Central and Eastern Europe, Southern and Eastern Africa, Central and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and China.

The Access to Essential Medicines Initiative (AEMI), one of 10 initiatives within the PHP, seeks to promote increased access to essential medicines globally, especially for poor and vulnerable populations. AEMI pursues this goal by developing civil society capacity for advocacy and leadership on access to medicines at national, regional, and international level. AEMI’s strategy is guided by two main principles: i) Essential medicines are social goods; it is a public responsibility to ensure their development, availability, and accessibility for those who need them; and ii) More transparency and accountability in policymaking and practices are essential to ensure the development, availability, and accessibility of essential medicines.

The AEMI aims to empower civil society to achieve the following objectives:

  • To improve access to essential medicines at country level by making better use of the existing legal and policy frameworks;
  • Push back on emerging national and international policy and legal frameworks that hamper access to essential medicines, while promoting laws, policies, and practices that protect public health and safeguard access to medicines;
  • Foster new thinking and action on needs-driven pharmaceutical innovation and access.
  • AEMI undertakes many of their efforts in collaboration with other initiatives within PHP (in particular Health Media Initiative and International Harm Reduction Development) and Open Society foundations around the world.

    Purpose of Position
    Strategy development, advocacy, and grantmaking for the Access to Essential Medicines Initiative and the broader priorities of PHP and Open Society. Work is carried out independently/under general supervision. Regional scope: worldwide, with particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia

    Essential Duties & Responsibilities
    The Open Society Foundations may add, change, or remove essential and other duties at any time.

    • In conjunction with project supervisor(s) and other staff/consultants, develop grantmaking strategies and priorities, and implement and oversee a portfolio of grants to further AEMI’s strategic objectives;
    • Identify relevant potential partners and invite grant proposals from selected funding applicants;
    • Work with applicants to develop and finalize grant proposals;
    • Review grant proposals and participate in the preparation of written grant recommendations and management of the grant documentation as part of the docket preparation process;
    • Perform site visits of prospective and current grantee organizations, monitor progress and assess for possible technical assistance or other needs to enhance the organization’s advocacy and general capacity; work with grantees, consultants, and/or other support as appropriate to strengthen such capacities;
    • Ensure that grantees submit narrative and financial reports as required under the terms of the contract;
    • Monitor grants through review of reports, ongoing communication and site visits.
    • Develop, plan, and organize program-related workshops, trainings, and events;
    • Work with supervisor(s) to ensure close collaboration with other projects, convene cross-program collaborations as needed to advance strategic grantmaking opportunities;
    • Write and edit project materials including advocacy materials;
    • Stay abreast of developments in the field through research and attendance at conferences and/or meetings;
    • Write strategy/position papers that provide direction on policy and capacity-building issues impacting the field and/or offer suggestions about strategic project development;
    • Perform special assignments, including participation in other Open Society program and foundation task forces and working groups;
    • Build and establish strategic relationships with other philanthropic partners and NGOs;
    • Engage in direct advocacy activities through active participation (e.g. presentation, panel debates) in relevant forums and (social) media presence, for instance blogging, op-eds, publications, Twitter, etc.;
    • Assist grantees and partners in presenting the results of their work, and disseminate information on best practices and success stories at national, regional, and international levels.
    • Manage financial and budget reports to track grant and project spending;
    • Assist in planning and development of annual budgets.

    Education / Experience
    • Bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university and five to eight years relevant experience and/or training in public health, life or health sciences, pharmacy, law, or medicine, or equivalent combination of education and experience;
    • International work experience in issues related to access to medicines policies and practice, in particular the role of intellectual property rights in health innovation and access to medicines, medicines availability and pricing, medicines procurement and supply management, and/or pharmaceutical research to address global health needs;
    • Experience in capacity-building of civil society organizations and individuals in advocacy or technical issues related to access to medicines;
    • Experience in grantmaking, project management, including managing consultants and developing and managing project budgets;
    • Knowledge of key organizations and networks active in the field of health and human rights, in particular access to medicines;
    • NGO experience essential;
    • Strong background with programs advancing social justice through community organizing, legal advocacy, research, or policy reform work.
    • Experience working in a relevant field in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and/or Asia

    Skills Required
    • Demonstrated advocacy skills in any of the above fields, and experience in mobilizing for policy change at national or international level, preferably through civil society activism;
    • Effectively manage to work efficiently in a fast-paced environment, troubleshoot and follow projects through to completion, with strict deadlines and without loss of attention to detail, including administrative requirements, budget, and reporting;
    • Excellent verbal, organizational, analytical, and interpersonal skills;
    • Excellent oral and written English, including the necessary writing skills to develop content and advocacy materials. Other languages relevant to the geographical focus of the work an advantage;
    • Excellent computer skills, proficient in Microsoft Office and experience with internet research and database management;
    • Exercise good listening and communication skills with sensitivity to cultural communication differences;
    • Ability to identify trends and opportunities and rapidly develop innovative strategies to respond to them.
    • Effectively work as a team member and independently, with a high-level of self-motivation and ability to set and meet goals;
    • Show discretion and ability to handle confidential issues;
    • Pleasant, diplomatic manner and disposition in interacting with colleagues and the general public;
    • Willingness to travel internationally on a frequent basis.

    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.

    Commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits package.

    Application Instructions
    Please email resume and cover letter with salary requirements by December 16, 2013, to: . Include job code in subject line: PO-AEMI.

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