Special Assistant

Open Society Foundations
  • Location
    Berlin, Germany
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Oct 26

Position description

Special Assistant, Office of the Berlin Director, Berlin, Deadline: 11/16/2018

Special Assistant to the Director of the Hub Office Berlin, Open Society Foundations (OSF) and co-director of Open Society Initiatives for Europe (OSIFE)

Open Society Foundations (OSF) is a global network of foundations committed to local knowledge and national expertise, and including national foundations, regional foundations, and other geographic programs operating in more than one hundred countries. In Berlin, OSF has one of its key hub-offices housing more than 80 employees working for various programmatic or operational units. OSIFE works at national, local and pan-European level to support European progress towards open society goals though grant making, convening, advocacy and research mainly, and supports OSF's foundations and thematic programs to achieve their Europe-focused strategies.

Job Profile

The Special Assistant will provide direct high-level programmatic, administrative and project support to the Director of Berlin Office / Co-Director of OSIFE (one person).

The successful candidate will undertake a wide range of activities that include:

  • Pertaining to Berlin office: supporting the director in enabling a great working environment for OSF staff in Berlin and flawless connection with other OSF offices globally; supporting the work of the Operations Management Team of Berlin and other coordination bodies in the hub-office in Berlin, drafting memos, documents, reports and updates to the Director and other senior managers as required; preparing and /or attending meetings in support or behalf of the Director; liaising with the community of Foundations, international and local civil societies in Berlin, and assisting the director in presenting the work of OSF in Berlin.


  • Pertaining to OSIFE: drafting memos, policy documents, reports, updates to senior management and the Global Board and other documents as required ; conducting research and/or leading consultations on behalf of the co-Director of OSIFE, and provide communication services internally for OSIFE and for the Open Society's wider European community. The position will also liaise with the Open Society's Communications team and the special assistant to the Regional director for Europe, as needed.


The role requires interest and familiarity with European current affairs, particularly in themes such as justice, human rights, economic advancement, political participation and inclusion, policy-relevant research and high-level debates and other areas in which OSF works, and with some of the leading voices in these areas. Knowledge of European civil society networks, familiarity with philanthropy in Europe, and experience in pan-European or several national European contexts are all highly valued. Understanding and prior experience with German civil society, in particular in Berlin, are an advantage.

This position requires high-level planning, organizing and writing skills and will attract candidates that are comfortable working on a variety of tasks simultaneously, across various time zones. The role also requires self-confidence and a respectful collegial style in dealing with a wide range of people in both senior and junior roles and of diverse backgrounds; strong diplomatic skills, respect for confidentiality and high personal integrity will be important. The successful candidate will be working in a team but may at times be expected to perform tasks and take responsibilities with little supervision.

Application: To apply for this position, please submit a CV in English and a motivation letter in English and German. In your cover letter, please demonstrate your capacity for undertaking the versatile and challenging tasks to advance open society goals in Berlin.

The successful candidate will work under a German employment contract and will report to the Director of the OSF hub-office in Berlin. OSF offers a competitive remuneration package. The position requires regular travel in Europe and occasional trips beyond Europe.

Essential duties and responsibilities will include:

  • Supporting the director in enabling a great working environment for OSF staff in Berlin and flawless connection with other OSF offices globally;
  • Supporting the director in representing OSF towards Berlin's local and Germany's civil society, private foundations and other relevant policy actors in the domains of OSF's interest. OSF aims to build a significant institutional presence as a global Foundation operating from one of the key European capitals.
  • Mapping the relevant partner institutions in Berlin and assisting the director in maintaining regular contact with the key partner institutions
  • Conducting research independently or in collaboration with the senior information specialist to synthesize large amounts of data/information to be used in decision-making and strategy development.
  • Anticipating opportunities of potential interest to the Director in Berlin and the OSIFE leadership in the European area, researching options for new directions and presenting them to the Leadership of the Regional Program;
  • Supporting internal communications by producing period news updates about recent developments in Berlin, Europe for internal OSF consumption and liaising with OSF's communications program
  • Representing the Director as required, both internally and in engagement with external partners, maintaining relationships in line with the strategic objectives of the Regional Office and the Leadership of the Regional Program;
  • Managing one-off or continuing projects as assigned by the Director
  • Organizing and servicing high-level events and meetings for the Director or the leadership of OSIFE with external partners
  • Supporting programmatic efforts by conducting a wide range of activities that may be related to OSIFE's grant making and/or analytical work in support of field development, advocacy, regional consultations and collaborations;
  • There is significant travel, a lot of it to the European continent.


Candidate Profile
  • 5-7 years of work experience preferred in relevant programmatic and administrative/organizational roles sufficient to demonstrate competency in skills indicated, particularly:
    • Experience working on European issues in an organizational role in an institution that works internationally, preferably with a geographic/thematic matrix;
    • Experience building and maintaining individual and institutional relationships in support of organization goals;
    • Experience in communication roles an advantage;
  • Strong knowledge of the Europe region, widely read on developments relevant to open society in Europe; and familiarity with OSF priority issues and activities;
  • Good understanding of German civil society, particularly Berlin scene
  • Advanced degree desirable, as is experience in social change, areas of work relevant to the particular role.
  • Diplomatic, discreet, able to handle confidential matters with a high level of integrity and exercise sound judgment on issues of sensitivity;
  • Demonstrated ability to think strategically about program needs, administrative process and operations;
  • Up-to-date knowledge and experience of project management, including budgets, and organizational tools for complex multi-location processes;
  • Ability to work independently on work initiatives, and ability to manage competing priorities
  • Demonstrable interest in and understanding of a range of open society policy issues and personal commitment to values of rights, justice, accountable governance, human dignity and democratic practice;
  • Excellent written, verbal, organizational and analytical skills in English and German; other languages widely used in Europe would be desirable;
  • Knowledge of philanthropy in Europe an advantage;
  • Ability to work effectively using social media and other online communication tools.


Competitive rates of pay apply.

We are strengthened by the diversity of our colleagues across the Open Society Foundations. We welcome applications from people of all cultures, backgrounds, and experiences, and are committed to providing reasonable adjustments so that colleagues with disabilities are able to fulfill the essential functions of the job.
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