Program Officer- Transparency Fund
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.

OSF's U.S. Programs supports people and organizations that advance a more open society within the United States and around the world. U.S. Programs envisions a society that allows all people to participate actively and equitably in political, economic, and cultural life; encourages diverse opinions and critical debate on public issues; protects fundamental human rights, dignity, and the rule of law; and promotes broadly shared prosperity and human security. U.S. Programs supports grantmaking, programming, and policy initiatives to reduce the over-reliance on incarceration and punishment; to secure equal justice; to develop new leaders and encourage civic engagement, especially among people and communities who have been historically underrepresented; and to increase the transparency, integrity and accountability of institutions vital to open society. U.S. Programs is also currently spearheading special initiatives to restore human rights and secure progressive national security policies, and to advance opportunities for African American boys and men.

It is through the Transparency Fund that U.S. Programs increases the transparency, integrity and accountability of institutions vital to open society. The Fund engages in grantmaking and supports programmatic initiatives to ensure a vibrant, inclusive, engaged and healthy democracy in the United States. The Fund supports efforts that increase access to high-quality information to further public discourse and debate. It promotes open and innovative government at the federal, state and municipal levels; supports efforts to ensure equal access to the vote; addresses the undue influence of money in politics; and strives to keep courts fair and impartial. The Fund supports advocacy, legal, communications and organizing efforts to stimulate debate and achieve systemic change.

The Fund also supports the National Security and Human Rights Campaign, a program within U.S. Programs that supports U.S. based organizations working to promote national security policies that respect human rights, civil liberties, and the rule of law.

Purpose of Position: The Program Officer will work as part of a team to support the Fund's work. The Program Officer will have primary responsibility for strategy development and grant-making for the Open Government portfolio, and for developing the connections between this work and the other priorities of the Transparency Fund, U.S. Programs, and OSF's work internationally.

A more open, transparent and responsive government requires us to shrink the influence of special interests; upgrade the culture of civil service; grow civil society capacity, and most important, ensure public investment and engagement in governance. Efforts to this end must harness opportunities created by technology that lower barriers to information-sharing and participation. New models of government and citizen engagement start with stronger transparency policies, but also require citizens to use available, accessible information to work collaboratively with government to develop solutions to civic problems.

This portfolio's goals for 2013 include: improving federal policy and practice on access to information, whistleblower protection and other key open government policies; and strengthening existing model open governance efforts in New Orleans, accompanied by programmatic efforts to disseminate this model elsewhere.

The Program Officer may also work on other issues of emerging interest to the Transparency Fund specifically, or U.S. Programs more generally.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities include the following. OSF may add, change, or remove essential and other duties at any time.
  • Works with the Director of the Transparency Fund and other staff to develop grantmaking and programmatic strategies, priorities, and guidelines;
  • Reviews and assesses letters of inquiry and makes funding recommendations and declinations to the Director;
  • Invites grant proposals from selected funding applicants;
  • Works with applicants to develop and finalize grant proposals;
  • Reviews grant proposals and participates in the preparation of written grant recommendations as part of grant dockets preparation process;
  • Performs site visits of prospective and current grantee organizations;
  • Monitors grants through site visits and review of narrative and financial reports;
  • Ensures that grantees submit narrative and financial reports as required under the terms of the contract;
  • Writes and edits program materials and guidelines;
  • Participates in the development, planning and organization of program-related events;
  • Manages financial and budget reports to track grant and program spending;
  • Stays abreast of developments in the field by, inter alia, reading and attending conferences;
  • Writes strategy/position papers that provide direction on policy issues impacting the field and/or offer suggestions about strategic program development for funders and grantees;
  • Interacts with grantees and other field professionals and participates in program- and field-related meetings and convening's;
  • Builds and establishes strategic relationships with other parts of OSF and other philanthropic partners;
  • Performs occasional special assignments, including participation in U.S. Programs and foundation task forces and working groups.
Education/Experience: Bachelor's degree (B.A.) from a four-year college or university and five to eight years relevant experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • NGO experience essential;
  • Strong background with programs advancing social justice through community organizing, legal advocacy, research or policy reform work.
Skills Required:
  • Experience in grant-making or program development is strongly preferred.
  • Demonstrated commitment to working on democracy issues.
  • Strong awareness of relationships that currently exist or could be cultivated among social justice sectors, organizations, and constituencies.
  • Excellent writing, verbal, analytical and organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Excellent public speaking and presentation skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, including the ability to listen effectively.
  • Self-starter with ability to set and meet goals.
  • Creative thinker and strong analytical skills.
  • Ability to travel.
  • Pleasant, diplomatic manner and disposition with colleagues at all levels and the general public.
  • Ability to work effectively as part of a close knit, collaborative team.
  • Strong computer skills (Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint preferred).

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