Program Officer - U.S. Justice Team

Open Society Foundations | New York, New York


The Open Society Foundations seeks a Program Officer for its Justice unit within U.S. Programs to oversee its Drug Policy/Health Systems portfolio.

Within U.S. Programs, the Justice team seeks a society whose justice systems are fair and equitable for all, especially those who are most vulnerable, and whose public policies and institutions promote individual and community health and safety. Through grants to a diverse array of organizations working nationally and in key states, a range of fund-led activities, and individual fellowships, the Justice Fund supports a maturing criminal justice reform field across a wide spectrum of issues. We support efforts to reduce jail and prison populations; end the death penalty and other harsh punishment; address violence and community safety through efforts grounded in  harm reduction, accountability and respect, and led by those directly impacted; promote fair and effective policing. Work in the drug policy arena includes efforts to support the development of the heath system, public health system and community-based infrastructure and capacity to provide for non-punitive, harm reduction and health-centered approaches to involvement with drugs.

Job Summary

Job Profile

The Program Officer will be part of a ten-person team in U.S. Program’s Justice Team. The successful candidate will have knowledge and understanding of the U.S. justice, health and public systems, as well as a perspective on the social justice ecosystem and the forces that threaten it.  The candidate also must have a strong commitment to social justice and understanding of the impact of race, ethnicity, and wealth on full participation in our democracy.  Prior experience is preferred in one or more of the following: advocacy at the local, state, and/or federal level; civic engagement and/or community organizing; organizational capacity building; leadership development; philanthropy or non-profit fundraising.  We also strongly encourage applications from those with lived experiences in the criminal justice system or other exposure to the above noted issues and concerns.

The Program Officer role has responsibility for engaging with fields of interest to OSF, developing appropriate strategies and tools for fostering desired social change, while also developing and managing relationships with other entities, foremost potential and current grantees. The successful candidate will have a sophisticated perspective on the social justice ecosystem as well as the forces that threaten it. She or he will have diplomatic and problem-solving skills, will collaborate well with colleagues, be outgoing and entrepreneurial, and possess the capacity to translate ideas into action. A demonstrated commitment to social justice and good sense of humor will be valuable. 

Reports To

The position reports to the Director of the Justice team, who is based in New York City, the preferred location for the Program Officer to be based.


Typical Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Responsible for grant-making and capacity building activities relating to U.S. Programs’ Drug Policy/Health Systems portfolio
  • Participate in the development of overall program strategy and conduct research to support program design.
  • Provide capacity-building expertise, both internally and externally, to support the development of grantee organizations.
  • Build collaborative relationships (e.g., with existing grantees, prospective grantees, community experts, peer funders, etc.) that advance social change efforts within areas of specialization.
  • Responsible for strengthening connections between US Programs units and with OSF’s geographic and thematic programs consistent with OSF’s broader priorities, identifying opportunities where a shared approach might have the potential to create a broader impact.
  • Manage projects that include staff within/outside OSF and that may be regional or global in nature.
  • Guide the work of program and/or administrative staff in support of grant-making or other program activities.


Candidate Profile

  • 7 -10 years of progressively responsible experience working in a field related to criminal justice, drug policy, harm reduction or health systems reform, preferably in a non-profit or philanthropic capacity, or equivalent combination of education, experience and accomplishment;
  • Ability to articulate a deep understanding of and vision for change based on experience and/or knowledge and able to use that understanding to develop and implement a strategy for achieving the vision.
  • Demonstrated success in advancing social change strategies, including planning and implementing modifications in response to evolving situations.
  • Experience in strengthening nonprofit management and development of capacity and knowledge of key organizations, networks, and technical assistance programs in the field.
  • Possesses a comprehensive understanding of the structure and workings of both formal and informal organizations (NGO/non-profit organizations), networks, and movements within varied contexts.
  • Excellent project management skills, including the ability to direct others to gather evidence and research effectively to inform decisions or judgments.
  • Ability to manage multiple priorities under pressure, trouble-shoot, be comfortable with ambiguity, and to meet short- and long-term deadlines with a heavy workload.
  • Demonstrated sensitivity to the power differential inherent in the funder-grantee relationship as well as the ability and the willingness to handle such relationships properly and respectfully.
  • Strong awareness of the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, and class.
  • Must have the ability to exercise effective and inclusive leadership in cross-cultural settings.
  • Ability to build collaborative relationships – within OSF, in peer foundations, and with grant seekers and grantees, and others in the field.
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills in English are important.


Competitive rates of pay apply.

How to Apply

Application instructions:  Please include a cover letter and resume, and upload as one document when submitting an application.

Apply online at: 

Open Society Foundations


Organization: Foundations