Chief Operating Officer

National Endowment for Democracy
  • Location
    Washington, D.C.
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
  • Posted
    Oct 29

Position description

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Each year, NED makes more than 1,600 grants in more than 90 countries to support the projects of non-governmental groups who are working for democratic goals.

Since its founding in 1983, the Endowment has remained on the leading edge of democratic struggles everywhere, while evolving into a multifaceted institution that is a hub of activity, resources and intellectual exchange for activists, practitioners and scholars of democracy the world over.



NED is a unique institution. The Endowment’s nongovernmental character gives it a flexibility that makes it possible to work in some of the world’s most difficult circumstances, and to respond quickly when there is an opportunity for political opening. NED is dedicated to fostering the growth of democratic institutions abroad, including political parties, trade unions, free markets and business organizations, independent media as well as the many elements of a vibrant civil society that are critical to the realization of human rights and the establishment of the rule of law.

This well-rounded approach responds to the diverse aspects of democracy and has proved both practical and effective. Funded largely by the U.S. Congress, the support NED gives to groups abroad sends an important message of solidarity to many democrats who are working for freedom and human rights, often in obscurity and isolation.

The Endowment is guided by the belief that freedom is a universal human aspiration that can be realized through the development of democratic institutions, procedures, and values. Democracy cannot be achieved through a single election and need not be based upon the model of the United States or any other particular country. Rather, it evolves according to the needs and traditions of diverse political cultures. By supporting this process, the Endowment helps strengthen the bond between indigenous democratic movements abroad and the people of the United States — a bond based on a common commitment to representative government and freedom as a way of life.



From its beginning, NED has remained steadfastly bipartisan. Created jointly by Republicans and Democrats, private sector business and American trade unions, NED is governed by an independent board consisting of representatives of the broad political spectrum, of business and labor, as well as others with deep international experience in fostering the infrastructure of democracy and enjoys Congressional support across the political spectrum. NED operates with a high degree of transparency and accountability reflecting our founders’ belief that supporting democracy overseas should be conducted openly.

Democracy involves the right of the people freely to determine their own destiny.

"The exercise of this right requires a system that guarantees freedom of expression, belief and association, free and competitive elections, respect for the inalienable rights of individuals and minorities, free communications media, and the rule of law." - “Statement of Principles and Objectives,” 1984




Carl Gershman is President of the National Endowment for Democracy. In addition to presiding over the Endowment’s grants program, he has overseen the creation of the quarterly Journal of Democracy, International Forum for Democratic Studies, the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program, and the Center for International Media Assistance. He also took the lead in launching in New Delhi in 1999 the World Movement for Democracy, which is a global network of democracy practitioners and scholars. Mr. Gershman is currently encouraging other democracies to bolster their efforts devoted to the promotion of democratic institutions in the world.



In her prior position as Vice President for Program Planning and Evaluation, Barbara Haig led the dramatic growth of the NED’s Grants Program, which included management of the programmatic development, monitoring and evaluation of the Endowment’s worldwide grant making efforts. In 2009, Ms. Haig became Deputy to the President for Policy and Strategy, which allows her to continue providing strategic and policy direction to the grant making effort of the NED, and to advise the NED President and Board regarding broader institutional strategies that will further advance the goals of the grants program.


Chief Operating Officer

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) serves on the leadership team and reports directly to the President. The incumbent provides the leadership, management and vision necessary to ensure that NED has the proper operational controls, administrative and reporting procedures, and people systems in place to achieve the organizational mission and to ensure financial strength and operating efficiency while preserving NED’s nimbleness and “demand driven” culture. The COO plays a critical role in the financial administration of the organization.

The COO is responsible for the interpretation and implementation of the operational components of the NED in furthering its goals consistent with its by-laws, mission, vision and values. The COO is responsible for deploying, maximizing and coordinating NED’s administrative resources - human, financial, technical and operational - to achieve NED's operational objectives.

The COO works in tandem with the Deputy to the President for Policy & Strategy to provide mission and values-based leadership, direction, support and assistance to the organization to optimize operational effectiveness and institutional integration and cohesiveness.

A collaborative leader, the COO must exercise transparency in all practices, as well as exude an intellectual agility and political acuity in all matters. Given the extensive compliance environment, this leader must have expertise in overseeing the expenditure of federal funds as well as an informed global perspective. The COO needs to have the intellectual integrity and diligence to manage risk and deliver and support the NED’s mission.

NED is a unique institution in the democracy assistance field. It is a publicly-funded, privately operated nongovernmental organization that works to advance democracy in challenging settings and therefore the top characteristics for the COO include a strong mission alignment, institutional honesty, and a flexibility while overseeing administrative and operational components and teams. Being ear-to-the-ground and informed of both global and Washington policy and trends are essential attributes.

Key Responsibilities

• Promotes the administrative and ethical leadership and management acumen necessary to ensure that the NED staff can fulfill its mission.

• Provides the strategic direction necessary to develop and achieve or exceed operational and financial performance targets.

• Guides the implementation of operational organizational policies, procedures, and best practices.

• Assesses financial and operational feasibility of operational plans and activities

• Oversees development of the organization’s administrative budget, identifying strategies to meet the organization’s overall budgetary framework.

• Ensures that financial conditions and requirements are clearly communicated to all staff.

• Establishes policies, procedures, systems and internal staff management functions as they relate to financial controls, administration, human resources, facilities and technology to ensure compliance and accountability.

• Responsible for the measurement and effectiveness of internal operational processes relating to financial, administrative, human resources, facilities, and technology requirements.

• Provides timely, accurate and complete reports on the operating condition of the organization to the NED Board.

• Fosters a success-oriented, accountable environment throughout the organization.


Reporting Relationship

• Direct Reports

o Senior Director, Human Resources and Administration

o Senior Director, Financial Management and Integration

o Senior Director, Knowledge Management and IT


• Shared Administrative Reports

o Vice President, Programs, Grants Operations and Evaluation

o Vice President, Regional Programs

o Vice President, Government Relations and Public Affairs

o Vice President, Studies and Analysis



• A minimum ten years leadership experience at the executive level with solid business sense, including operational and financial planning, policy and procedure development, budgeting, contracting and overseeing the expenditure of federal funds.

• Proven dynamic leader who consistently creates a positive, productive and collaborative work environment; models proper staff behavior; promotes inclusive practices; creates a sense of shared responsibility; leads an efficient and effective operation according to mission requirements, best practices, ethical guidelines and fiduciary requirements; manages competing requirements and interests.

• Adept at managing relationships among diverse and at times competing groups centered on common goals; possesses keen ability to persuade others across a broad spectrum; builds consensus; embraces a leadership style that focuses attention on the mission.

• Possesses exceptional ability to convey clear and convincing reasons for courses of action; listens effectively; encourages creative tension and differences of opinions.

• Demonstrates firm grasp of domestic and global policies and trends that affect the Endowment and its mission; is open to change and new information; rapidly adapts to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles; serves as a catalyst for forward movement and innovation; deals effectively with pressure; remains optimistic and persistent, even under adversity.

• Possesses the ability to work with a bipartisan Board representing diverse sectors; recognizes and adheres to clear lines of responsibility and accountability.

• Proven creator of a work environment in which learning is continuous and staff feel comfortable taking responsible risks to further accomplishment of the Endowment’s mission; sensitive to internal dynamics, which facilitates detection of changes in the organization’s functioning; creates and maintains organizational culture; practiced in organizational change management with a track record of constructively managing change.

• Formulates clear objectives and priorities; possesses sophistication and skills at prioritizing a diverse and complex set of tasks; consistently demonstrates ability to implement plans in a challenging domestic and global environment; routinely capitalizes on opportunities and manages risks.

• Possesses demonstrated deep understanding of the technological and security challenges including cyber-threats, to institutions such as the Endowment.



Advanced degree required; relevant experience may be considered as an acceptable qualification.



A competitive compensation package will be offered to the finalist candidate.



Application instructions


The NED is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  For more information, please visit our website at  Please, no phone call inquiries.  

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