Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst - Refugee Protection

Human Rights First
  • Location
    Washington, D.C.
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Apr 23

Position description

Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. Over its 35-year history, Human Rights First has earned a reputation for pragmatic, results-oriented advocacy that is politically astute, grounded in facts, and driven by sophisticated legal and policy analysis. Human Rights First is a non-profit, non-partisan organization with a track record of success in delivering change that has made a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

The organization is led by President and CEO Elisa Massimino. A lawyer and activist with more than two decades of experience in the field, Massimino has been recognized as one of the top 20 public advocates in the country. Massimino leads a team of almost 100 talented and committed activists based in New York City, Washington, DC and Houston, TX. Our office environments are professional, collaborative and friendly. Employees are passionate and work hard to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives. We strive to attract and retain good talent and offer competitive compensation and strong benefits.

Human Rights First is committed to equal employment opportunity and recruiting talent from across all diverse groups. We do not discriminate against any person because of the individual’s race, color, creed, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, affection preference, gender identity, marital status, national origin, citizenship status, disability, status as a war veteran, status as a victim of domestic violence, or on any other basis prohibited by law. We believe a diverse staff and an inclusive work environment that welcomes a range of perspectives make us a stronger and more effective organization.

The individual in this role will conduct legal, factual, and policy research and analysis and advance advocacy efforts directed at the U.S. government to promote the protection of refugees, reform U.S. asylum law, policies and practices, and address deficiencies in the U.S. resettlement system. They will also bring other U.S. immigration policies and practices into line with international refugee protection and human rights law standards. This position will be based in Washington, D.C. preferably, but potentially in New York, NY.


  • Conduct research and prepare materials, including:
  • desk research, interviews, and fact-finding trips, designed to help achieve the organization’s advocacy objectives
  • analyze laws, policies, practices, and proposed laws and policies of the U.S. government as well as other governments or inter-governmental organizations affecting human rights, and draft specific and practical recommendations to improve the promotion and protection of rights
  • draft reports, recommendations, web site content, fact sheets, written content specific to campaigns and ongoing initiatives, press materials, legal and other research memos
  • Build and maintain relationships with journalists, legal practitioners, refugees and their advocates, faith groups, non-governmental organizations, foreign government and international organizational officials.  Assist and coordinate with Human Rights First’s Advocacy Strategist, Refugee Protection and other team members in building and maintaining relationships with executive branch officials, staff and congressional offices, particularly with respect to Human Rights First research and analysis efforts   
  • Develop and supervise work of fellows and ensure appropriate distribution of tasks
  • Represent Human Rights First as an expert with U.S. government officials, other governments, the media, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and other interlocutors 
  • Develop and regularly update U.S. policy recommendations and policy briefs on relevant issues, as assigned
  • Participate in and generate ideas for Human Rights First events
  • Contribute to organizational planning, strategy development and evaluation, including by promptly analyzing emerging challenges and trends in human rights and U.S. policy and proposing strategies to address these challenges as well as conducting research into possible new objectives and strategies, as assigned
  • Participate in the development of advocacy strategies to achieve the organization’s objectives, as well as in advocacy meetings with decision makers in both the legislative and executive branches, as assigned
  • Contribute to fundraising outreach, proposal drafting and reporting
  • Other duties as requested based on department and/or organizational need


  • Advanced degree in a discipline related to international human rights and at least 5 years of relevant human rights work experience; law degree highly preferred
  • Significant knowledge of international human rights and refugee protection standards including as they relate to asylum and immigration detention and enforcement
  • Fluency in Spanish required
  • Significant knowledge of U.S. asylum and immigration policies and proceedings, as well as expertise on resettlement, immigration detention, and experience working with refugee and immigrant populations in the United States  
  • Familiarity with international refugee protection challenges, mechanisms and strategies
  • Prior policy advocacy experience, including with the U.S. government
  • Strong research, writing and policy analysis skills, including ability to monitor and analyze relevant national and international legal, political and other conditions
  • Good written and oral advocacy skills and a demonstrated ability to translate highly technical material for a variety of audiences, including through the media and social media
  • Demonstrated capacity to take initiative, to finish assignments under pressure and to work collegially with others
  • Prior supervisory experience preferred
  • Ability to work comfortably in a variety of settings, including legal, academic, and governmental
  • Ability to work successfully across organization lines and with a diverse team of colleagues

Application instructions

Please be sure to indicate that you saw this position on

follow us on Twitter