Special Assistant, Latin America Program

Open Society Foundations
  • Location
    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Early Career / Mid Career
  • Posted
    Dec 21

Position description

Special Assistant, Latin America Program, Latin America Program, Rio de Janeiro, Deadline: 01/18/2019

The Open Society Foundations' (OSF) Latin America Program seeks a full-time Special Assistant to the Regional Director. The position is based in Rio de Janeiro.

The Open Society Foundations (OSF) is seeking a Special Assistant to work with the Regional Director for the Latin America, supporting and representing the Regional Director in a wide range of functions and leading or participating in special projects within and outside of OSF.

The Open Society Foundations' Latin America Program addresses rights and governance issues in Latin America and the Caribbean primarily through grant making, network-building, and the development of specific initiatives. We focus on supporting Latin American and Caribbean efforts to reform democratic institutions in ways that are more open and responsive to citizens, realizing human rights, and reducing homicides in a region with extremely high levels of violence. We are committed to advancing government accountability and transparency, public access to information, citizen security, human rights, and drug policy reform, primarily through grant making to civil society actors in these fields.

Job Profile

The Special Assistant provides direct programmatic and high-level administrative support to the Regional Director for Latin America. The Special Assistant may be asked to convene and/or conduct meetings, undertake special projects that require research and engagement of other OSF colleagues develop reports and analysis; and otherwise facilitate the Regional Director's effectiveness on issues, which will involve considerable judgment and autonomy.

The role includes significant engagement across departments, programs, and staff levels in a manner that encourages clear communication and respectful colleagueship. Relationships are critical to the success of the role and diverse in scope. The role requires the development and nurturing of trusting relationships internally and externally, and understanding and managing competing interests, complex political and institutional factors, and tensions between long-term and short-term goals. The individual is responsible for working collaboratively with minimal supervision and participating materially in developing, assessing, and executing strategies and specific projects.

Typical duties and responsibilities will include:

  • Representing the Regional Director as required, both internally and externally, maintaining relationships in line with the strategic objectives of the Latin America Program and the Regional Director;
  • Communicating internally within LAP and OSF as appropriate about meetings conducted with or on behalf of the Regional Director
  • Organizing high-level events and meetings for the Regional Director with external partners or allies
  • Supporting programmatic efforts by conducting a wide range of activities that may be related to LAP's grant making and/or analytical work in support of the program;
  • supporting the Latin America Program Advisory Board;
  • drafting memos, reports, updates to senior management, the LAP Advisory Board and the Global Board and other documents as required by the Regional Director;
  • conducting research, leading consultations or managing special projects on behalf of the Latin America Program.
  • liaise with OSF's Executive Office and Communications team, as needed.
  • develop and manage elements of the Regional Director's role and activities. This is expected to include anticipating and following through on issues that have been highlighted as priorities for the program, initiating planning and scheduling for such priorities, preparing the Regional Director for such meetings, and working with other staff across the program on scheduling and preparation to maximize successful execution of such priorities
  • participate in, including at times convening, and report on internal and external meetings and processes, and ensuring that appropriate team members are involved in follow up or future meetings
  • identify, respond, and assess matters that are in preliminary stages of development to determine if they are worth further follow-up, respond to efforts emanating from the Office of the President or Chairman, and/or ongoing efforts related to cross-OSF initiatives. This involves undertaking preliminary research and assessment of possible projects and determining appropriate paths to proceed with regard to early stage ideas
  • communication functions, including drafting internal communications with staff (including OSF senior leadership) and external audiences, and working with Executive Assistant and others on correspondence and r epresentation of the Regional Director in outside forums that the Regional Director cannot attend as requested
  • ongoing research and information assembly, including identification of issues and opportunities that could impact the program and alternative approaches to addressing problems or opportunities
  • in collaboration with senior managers in LAP, ensure the s mooth running of the program across all levels - programmatic and operational -- and provide active feedback for Regional Director to improve functioning and institutional culture
  • support Regional Director to create and manage effective and lean coordinating mechanisms to improve communication and team collaboration towards focused prioritization and open transparent communication. Support positive change management to champion new ways of working together
  • lead and actively manage projects from design to implementation as assigned by the Regional Director ensuring efficient implementation and administration of the project plan, including coordination of diverse and multiple stakeholders, work streams prioritization, change management, and tracking of outcomes and requirements


Candidate Profile

The role requires strong interest in, and broad knowledge of Latin American current affairs, particularly in themes such as justice, human rights, economic citizen security, corruption, political inclusion and other areas in which OSF works, and of the leading voices in these areas. Knowledge of Latin American civil society networks is essential. Familiarity with philanthropy in Latin America is highly desirable. This position requires high-level planning, organizing and writing skills and will attract candidates that are comfortable working on a variety of tasks simultaneously, and working with colleagues based in different locations. The role 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; and respect for confidentiality and high personal integrity. The successful candidate will be working in a team but may at times be expected to perform tasks and take responsibilities with little or no supervision. Essential duties and responsibilities include:

Additional desired qualifications include the following:
  • 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 Latin American issues in an organizational role in an institution that works internationally, preferably with a geographic/thematic matrix;
    • Experience in journalism and/or communication roles an advantage;
  • Strong knowledge of the Latin American region, widely read on developments relevant to open society in Latin America; and familiarity with OSF priority issues and activities;
  • 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;
  • 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 spoken and written English communications skills, and proven ability to effectively communicate with senior executives and staff at all levels
  • excellent spoken and written Portuguese
  • strong spoken and written Spanish
  • strong research skills using on-line and off-line, official and unofficial, field-based and traditional sources
  • strong project management, including budgets, strategic, and organizational skills, including ability to be self-reflective, read complex interpersonal and political dynamics, and provide critical and confidential input and feedback
  • ability to develop strong working relationships within a remote team, with only infrequent opportunities to work in person with colleagues
  • International travel is required


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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