Chief Program Officer

Freedom House

Posted: 11/13/2020

Position Type: Full-Time (Paid)

Function: Programs

Primary domain: Other

City: Washington

Postal code: 20036

State: Washington, DC

Country: United States

Organization Information:


$20M +


Mission statement:

Freedom House 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 nearly 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. Working as an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world, Freedom House is notable for its nonpartisan character and commitment to maintaining support for its mission across political divides.

Freedom House produces research and reports on a number of core thematic issues related to democracy, political rights and civil liberties. Our research and analysis frame the policy debate in the United States and abroad on the progress and decline of freedom. Freedom House's flagship publication Freedom in the World is the standard-setting comparative assessment of global political rights and civil liberties. Freedom House also produces Freedom on the NetNations in TransitFreedom and the Media, the China Media Bulletin, as well as periodic special reports.

Freedom House advocates for U.S. leadership and collaboration with like-minded governments to vigorously oppose dictators and oppression, and strengthen democracy around the world. We amplify the voices of those struggling for freedom in repressive societies and counter authoritarian efforts to weaken international scrutiny of their regimes. To learn more about Freedom House policy positions and advocacy work, visit our Policy Recommendations page.

Freedom House's programs support human rights and democracy advocates in their efforts to promote open government, defend human rights, strengthen civil society and facilitate the free flow of information and ideas. Freedom House primarily assists through grant-giving, emergency support, capacity-building programming, trainings, and networking activities. In addition, Freedom House helps through advocacy and visible demonstrations of solidarity on behalf of counterparts abroad. 

Freedom House has 13 field offices, two U.S. offices (Washington, D.C. and New York City, N.Y.), and a global staff of nearly 200 plus contractors. The organization’s operating budget is roughly $30M, with a blend of public (the vast majority, coming from United States Government sources such as USAID and the Department of State) and private (individuals, foundations and corporations) support. 

Position Details:

Job Description:


A new breed of authoritarianism is on the march, with repressive and hybrid tactics making their way to open societies. Populists in once-promising democracies such as Brazil, India, and Poland are eroding protections for fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. China is aggressively pushing its authoritarian model and influencing democratic and nondemocratic states alike. Political rights and civil liberties remain at a 14-year low. More than one-third of the world’s population now lives under autocratic rule. 

Covid-19 is testing our ability to tackle a global crisis on par with nuclear proliferation or climate change. The qualities needed to mitigate these risks—competent leadership, international cooperation, and domestic resilience—are under strain, while some governments are hastily enacting policies that will have lasting repercussions for citizens’ freedom. 

Freedom House informs the efforts of democracy defenders; our future success requires new strategies, organizational change and renewal, more flexible funding as well as disciplined operational execution. The Chief Program Officer, in this newly configured role, will work toward this transformation, as: 

  • A strategicpartner to the president and executive team, ensuring the effective translation of Freedom House’s vision into disciplined decision-making and operating plans while enhancing cross-organizational communications, collaboration and innovation.
  • A leader who implements both growth and new approaches across the diverse program platform --  Research, Advocacy, Emergency Assistance and Regional/Country Programs --  acting as a change agent to evolve Freedom House to more effectively address new challenges to democracy;
  • A champion of professional development for staff and who is able to nurture an organizational culture committed to equity and inclusion; and 
  • An operational manager who understands and can implement the infrastructure and functional supports needed to achieve quality program outcomes and delivery.

The Role:   Chief Program Officer

Reports to:   President (Michael Abramowitz)

Location:  Washington, D.C.; given, COVID-19, flexibility exists

More detail as follows: 

Strategic leadership: Engage substantively with the president and executive team colleagues to translate Freedom House’s vision into a multi-year strategic plan; track external trends, opportunities, and threats, and integrate learning into on-going planning; ensure that implementation plans and goals are transparently developed with clear accountability; and, support both board engagement (in partnership with the president) as well as public and private fundraising efforts.

Program Leadership and Delivery: Support passionate, talented program teams (Research, Advocacy, Emergency Assistance and Regional/Country Programs) to operate with more agility and coordination; to identify opportunities that leverage cross-organizational strengths; develop and assess current programs against new challenges, incorporating financial assumptions and models; communicate and support change initiatives; review and clarify competing needs; and, address and resolve any barriers to program delivery.

Team Engagement and Development: Develop professional development strategies, to include, career paths (recognizing the complexity inherent in a project-funded model); and, promote creativity, innovation, continuous improvement and learning.

Culture and Collaboration: Nurture a collaborative, unified, positive, equitable, and inclusive culture across Freedom House; model teamwork, effective decision-making, and candor in interactions; and, ensure a positive and empowering performance culture, with the right role clarity and tools for colleagues to succeed.

Program Operations: In partnership with the finance team, address gaps in risk and compliance, and ensure that operating processes, budgeting, reporting, human resources and technology are aligned to support program team needs.



Significant management, leadership or strategic consulting experience within a mission-driven business, social enterprise or nonprofit.

Tangible accomplishments across some combination of the following: 

  • Leading and managing a complex program portfolio comprised of multiple programmatic levers (ideally cutting across similar levers to Freedom House: Research, Advocacy, and Regional/Country Programs, in addition to a multi-country/multi-continent footprint); 
  • Overseeing varied funding streams, ideally with a blend of private (individuals, foundations) and U.S. Government funding (Department of State, USAID, etc.)  
  • Managing change, with sensitivity to both business/organizational and team member imperatives;
  • Creating and delivering on ambitious strategic plans; 
  • Making disciplined decisions when needed to balance delivery with budgetary realities;
  • Driving projects with a direct team and as a peer colleague, leading through influence and trust; 
  • Resolving operational challenges inherent in a lean infrastructure environment;
  • Adapting to different audiences and cultures, and nurturing equity and inclusion.

Skills and Leadership Attributes:

  • Brings a personal belief system that aligns to Freedom House, and ideally brings relevant program knowledge;
  • Excellent written, verbal communication, and presentation skills;
  • Sound judgment as both a thought-partner and hands-on decision-maker; 
  • Sophisticated level of business and operational acumen; excellent problem-solving and analytic skills, resourcefulness in setting priorities and guiding investment in people and systems.


Not Specified


Commensurate with Experience

Posting Expiration Date:


How to Apply:

Please share nominations or confidentially submit a resume and cover letter (in non-pdf format) to Viewcrest Advisors: [email protected]

Freedom House is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate in its selection and employment practices. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, or protected veteran status, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, or other non-merit factors.  In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if you have a disability and would like to request an accommodation in order to apply for a position with Freedom House, please call: (617) 564 3779 

Viewcrest Advisors is committed to social justice and access to opportunity; we actively cultivate relationships with leaders who have varied life experiences as well as the skills needed to lead strong, innovative organizations. Additionally, Viewcrest Advisors commits to protecting your personal data privacy; please visit to view our privacy policy.

Posted By: Viewcrest Advisors


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