Democracy Fellow for Digital Technology, Civil Society, and Media

Institute of International Education - USAID Democracy Fellows and Grants Program
  • Location
    Washington, D.C.
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Feb 28

Position description

The Institute of International Education (IIE) seeks applications from qualified individuals for a full-time Democracy Fellow for Digital Technology, Civil Society, and Media to serve within the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG Center) in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA). IIE manages the Democracy Fellows and Grants Program (DFG) for USAID. Initial appointment is for approximately nine (9) months, to be concluded by January 31, 2019. The Fellow will be hired as a full-time, salaried IIE employee, with benefits. The Fellow’s salary will be commensurate with salary history and experience.


The Democracy Fellow for Digital Technology, Civil Society, and Media will provide technical expertise and recommendations for civil society strengthening and civic advocacy, with a focus on linkages among new media, technology, and civic advocacy. Recognizing that civil society advocacy is increasingly diffuse and may be conducted by networks of digital technology-enabled activists, rather than formal organizational structures, USAID seeks to support citizen-focused advocacy in a rapidly changing communications and social movement landscape. The Fellow will provide support to programs across USAID’s portfolio; however, special attention may be given to countries experiencing a closing of civic and political space.


USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance provides technical advice and support to USAID missions implementing programs in democracy, human rights, and governance; generates and disseminates knowledge to build the evidence base for global advancement in the area; and elevates the role of DRG in key USAID, U.S. Government, and multilateral strategies. The Center is structured into nine technical/functional Divisions: Civil Society and Media (CSM); Elections and Political Transitions; Inclusion and Empowerment; Governance and Rule of Law; Human Rights; Cross-Sectoral Programs; Global and Regional Policy; Learning; and Strategic Planning. This position sits within the CSM Division.

The CSM Division provides technical leadership, training, and support to international field missions and regional bureaus engaged in programs designed to strengthen the civil society and independent media sectors to promote USAID’s democracy, human rights, and good governance goals. The Division also oversees central contracts and grants that provide millions of dollars of technical assistance in a myriad of developing countries. CSM supports USAID Missions, regional bureaus, and DCHA leadership with the design, implementation, and evaluation of civil society and independent media strengthening programs and ensures that the Agency is up to date on cutting-edge research and technologies being used by civil society and media globally. CSM also partners with USAID’s Policy, Planning, and Learning Bureau in implementing USAID’s Closed Space Guidance, which helps ensure that the Agency properly balances transparency in programming with the safety of our beneficiaries and partners in some of the most challenging political environments. The CSM Division also leads the effort to develop an intra-agency Closing Space Community of Practice to facilitate learning across the Agency on how to effectively program in extremely challenging political environments. 

Scope of Work Summary

As part of the CSM Division, the Digital Technology, Civil Society, and Media Fellow will provide technical leadership and expert advice on the planning, design, and evaluation of civil society and media strategies and programs globally, with a special focus on countries experiencing a closing of civic and political space. S/he will provide research and technical support to USAID programs worldwide in the areas of civil society and independent media, with a focus on how civil society and media actors – including social movements – use digital technology to network, advocate, and improve their operations, with an awareness of digital security issues. The position will provide technical support in the design and implementation of programs encompassing digital development, including the areas of internet freedom, internet governance, open data, and online activism to support democracy development objectives, as well as broader civil society programming. S/he will be responsible for drafting guides, toolkits, training modules, and other products meant to analyze and disseminate best practices in civil society, media, and information security programming for use by USAID Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG) Officers in field missions. As appropriate, s/he may also provide technical guidance and support to some of CSM’s core programs and related evaluation activities. S/he will contribute to other key CSM Division and DRG Center duties, including training, annual reporting, country backstopping, and advancing the CSM Division’s learning agenda. 

Roles and Responsibilities 

This position will provide technical assistance toward developing strategies for effective use of digital technology and data to strengthen movements for social change. The Fellow will assist the DRG Center in advancing the effectiveness of digital development, internet freedom, internet governance, open data, media, and civil society programs worldwide through contributions to strategy, program design, field support, training, monitoring, and evaluation. S/he will provide advisory support for civil society and media activities funded through Civil Society & Media Division and DRG Center contracts and agreements.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Assist DCHA/DRG and USAID missions to design and implement strategies and programs for civil society and media development activities emphasizing the strategic use of digital technology, internet freedom, internet governance, and open data for positive social change.
  • Provide technical assistance and support to core CSM programs advancing state-of-the-art approaches to civil society and media programming, with a focus on programs implemented in challenging political environments. 
  • Support CSM’s engagement in intra-USAID efforts focused on combatting closing and closed spaces.
  • Assist in the development of indicators, measurement tools, and evaluation criteria for new media and civil society programs and participate in the evaluation of these programs.
  • Identify best practices and cutting-edge approaches in advocating for promoting freedom of association, assembly, and expression online and offline for use in development assistance programs and assistance to Missions.
  • Review, update, and expand as appropriate DCHA/DRG’s analysis of social movement/social media and ICT issues in key countries across all geographic regions.
  • Provide technical support to USAID Field Missions and analyze and present recommendations to facilitate decisions on future program directions.
  • Advise and assist Field Missions with strategies, effective reporting, and activity design, including writing scopes of work, program descriptions, and results frameworks. 
  • Provide guidance for a learning agenda around social movements, digital development, open data, internet freedom, and internet governance.


Required Skills, Knowledge, and Experience

  • U.S. Citizenship is required.
  • Ability to obtain a Secret level security clearance is required; current Secret level security clearance is strongly preferred.
  • Full-time Democracy Fellows must not have worked inside USAID as a technical professional (Direct-Hire, Non-Direct Hire, PSC) for more than five years cumulatively. 
  • Ability to travel internationally at least 3-4 weeks over the course of the nine-month fellowship is required.
  • Bachelors’ degree in a relevant field is required; a graduate degree is preferred.
  • Experience living and/or working in developing countries is required.
  • Experience in at least two of the following areas is required:
  • adaptation of appropriate digital technology solutions to developing country environments;
  • direct engagement to promote internet freedom;
  • experience implementing digital security, media, and/or civil society programs;
  • experience training and designing training activities for adult learners;
  • experience promoting or implementing open data processes, communities, and initiatives;
  • experience working with social movements, including developing or promoting techniques used by netizens and online activists.
  • Knowledge of international affairs and U.S. foreign policy, specifically as related to foreign assistance to developing countries, is required.
  • Ability to research, analyze, and evaluate complex development issues is required. Highly developed analytical skills are required.
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks at once and work independently in handling routine, complex, and/or controversial issues that arise in completing assignments is required.
  • Demonstrated interpersonal and communications skills, including the ability to exhibit tact, diplomacy, and resourcefulness while working in a variety of settings and with high-level officials in the U.S. government, foreign governments, and international organizations, as well as with other foreign and domestic development partners, colleagues, and office associates are required. 
  • Develop training modules and deliver training to the cadre of DRG Officers working at USAID.
  • Provide technical input for talking points, speeches, and other briefing materials for USAID senior staff and others, as needed. 
  • Work with other USAID technical bureaus to integrate best practices for integrating civil society and social movement-related information into other communications programming (for example, health, education, humanitarian assistance and water and sanitation).
  • Support the work of the DRG Center including, but not limited to, backstopping specific country DRG programs, participating as a technical advisor on intra-Center and intra-USAID task forces and working groups, and performing other duties, as required. 
  • Assist with DCHA/DRG projects and activities, as needed. 
  • Strong experience working with teams, including experience working collaboratively with experts to accomplish shared objectives, is required.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to communicate complex programming elements into clear, concise documents and actions for senior leaders and the public, are required.
  • Knowledge of computer software, including Word, Excel, Windows, and the Google Office Suite, as well as general familiarity with networked computer systems, is required.
  • Previous experience with USAID programming is preferred. 
  • Previous experience working in countries or regions experiencing a closing of civic and political space is preferred.
  • Working proficiency in a foreign language is preferred. 

Supervision and Guidance

The Digital Technology, Civil Society, and Media Fellow will serve as a member of the DRG Center’s CSM Division and will be managed on a day-to-day basis by the CSM Division Chief (or his/her acting designee). The Fellow will participate in relevant working groups in other parts of USAID, as required. The Fellow is expected to exercise professional initiative, resourcefulness, and discretion consistent with USAID’s overall policy and procedural framework.

The Fellow will be an IIE employee and will report for administrative purposes to the DFG Program Director.

Application instructions

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