Director - Tanya’s Dream Initiative

Swiss Philanthropy Foundation
  • Location
    Brussels, Belgium
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
  • Apply by
  • Posted
    Sep 25

Position description

Location: Preferably based in or near Brussels (other locations within Europe will also be considered)
Job status: Full-time position
Travel: Up to 30% travel with frequent visits to Bulgaria
Salary: Competitive salary and benefits


Tanya’s Dream is an initiative originally created by the Oak Foundation in honour of Tanya Kovacheva, a former Programme Officer for Oak’s children’s programme, who passed away unexpectedly in 2017. The initiative is inspired by her passion to build a Bulgarian society where all children grow up with their families and where the next generation does not understand the meaning of the word “institution”. (Watch Tanya’s video here).

Tanya’s Dream is in line with the Government strategy “Vision for deinstitutionalization of children in institutions – 2010-2025”. It is aimed at shifting the focus from institutional care for children to family- and community-based care by 2025. Significant progress has been achieved. Between 2010 and 2017, 97 of the 137 large-scale institutions were closed. This was facilitated by rapidly developing or expanding alternative care, principally through EU funds. Despite these achievements, much work remains to be done.

The special initiative seeks to trigger renewed action and leverage new resources and commitments in a reform already backed by significant funding from the EU and the Bulgarian government. Looking for a strategic position in a wider national effort, the initiative aims to: (1) refocus public commitments on keeping families together first and foremost; (2) focus on catalysing and building a new movement of care-leavers and parent advocates to hold the government and EU accountable; and (3) scale what works to prevent family separation and evaluate promising interventions to keep families together. For more information on the initiative and the Prevent Child Sexual Abuse Programme, please see our website.

In order to carry on this project, a philanthropic fund has been created within the Geneva-based independent public-utility umbrella foundation Swiss Philanthropy Foundation. Consequently, SPF is the legal entity hosting the Tanya’s Dream Initiative Fund, which is time-bound with an expectation to fulfil its mission over the next 7-10 years. The Fund’s governance body is a Steering Committee, compromising of the Director of Oak’s Prevent CSA Programme, Oak’s Administrative Director, the dedicated Oak’s Programme Officer, and a representative of Swiss Philanthropy Foundation.

Swiss Philanthropy Foundation is recruiting a Director to lead Tanya’s Dream Initiative. We are looking for a passionate leader with a strong background and expertise in children’s rights and EU level advocacy (child protection/supporting families/alternative care/reforming child protection systems) to serve as experienced strategist and funder. The Director will work closely with the Fund’s Steering Committee to develop and implement a grant making strategy to achieve the initiative’s vision and will be networking with a range of NGOs and donors working in Bulgaria, at EU level and globally. S/he will be tracking and considering strategies to influence EU funding and policy in the field through grant making, advocacy and learning generation. The Director will set up the initiative, including building and supporting a senior level advisory group – a consultative body composed of independent international and Bulgarian care reform experts to advice the decisions of the Fund’s Steering Committee.


We are seeking a senior level, strategic professional who can build and oversee this exciting new initiative.

Strategic responsibilities include (not listed in a specific order):

  • Scanning the field for opportunities to advance the initiative’s goals and objectives;
  • Building strategic partnerships at the national and regional level;
  • Exploring opportunities to leverage historical Oak’s funding to be pursued by the Fund to influence care reform both within and outside of Bulgaria;
  • Recommending an investment strategy to the Steering Committee.

Key areas of work include:

1) Strategy development and execution

  • Develop, refine, consult and agree with the Steering Committee the initiatives’ vision and mission, the grant-making strategy, relevant entry points and approaches;
  • Track and monitor developments in the field to identify emerging needs, gaps, and opportunities in alignment with approved strategy and how to best respond and advance the portfolio.

2) Organizational set up and management

  • Oversee the administrative set up of the initiative, incl. development of internal grant-making process, facilitating office space and business operations services, development of initiative’s visual identity and communications frame;
  • Oversee and supervise the work of the initiative’s Project Manager based in Sofia;
  • Maintain regular communications and direct contact on substantive issues related to the strategy and grant-making with the Steering Committee (in particular with the Programme Officer) and SPF;
  • Regular travel to Bulgaria and internationally, up to 30% of the time during the year.

3) Grant-making

  • Consider grant concept notes, review and comment grant recommendations in coordination with the Project Manager in Sofia for the Steering Committee’s consideration. Make recommendations on due diligence on potential grantees, incl. site visits;
  • Work with outside reviewers and experts to gather information and assess grant proposals;
  • Handle correspondence and communications with grantees and potential grantees; conduct site visits to assess progress;
  • Coordinate the preparation of all Steering Committee and Advisory group meeting materials and facilitate the grant review process;
  • Oversee the management of a selected grant portfolio - mostly strategic grants at the regional level;
  • Work with MEL partner to develop and set up monitoring, evaluation and learning plan for the initiative’s strategy and for the individual grants; analyse grant and programme impact; document the work to share successes and challenges along the way.

4) Partnerships building, advocacy and communication, representation

  • Oversee the development and implementation of a high impact communications and advocacy strategy to influence key actors at the EU and national level. This may include working with partners, commissioned work or direct advocacy;
  • Work closely with EU structures responsible for de-institutionalization reform and social inclusion;
  • Act as a spokesperson from the initiative and participate in key events to raise awareness and advocate for changing the way we care for children;
  • Build strategic collaborative donor relationships to advance opportunities to leverage historical Oak’s funding to be pursued by the Fund through influencing, alignment, co-funding or pooled funding.
  • While the Director has a representative role for the Fund as described above, Swiss Philanthropy Foundation only has signature authority for the grants and mandates to be given.


The Director will report to the Steering Committee of the Fund. For daily operations, he or she will report in particular to the designated person (Programme Officer) within the Steering committee. The Director will legally report to Swiss Philanthropy Foundation who has the authority to take legal commitments for the initiative.



  • A University degree in a relevant field such as children’s rights/welfare, social policy, movement building and social justice. Master’s degree is preferred;
  • A minimum of 15 years of relevant experience, with a proven track record in influencing systemic change in a related field within the non-for-profit sector or governmental development agencies;
  • Experience in setting up and running organization/s or major initiatives, management experience;
  • Strong background and experience in care reform, ideally in Europe;
  • Strategic thinker with excellent analytical and writing skill, evaluating programme impact and assessing financial budgets skills;
  • Excellent networking, negotiation, presentation and communications skills;
  • Discerning and able to absorb and synthesize new information rapidly;
  • Tact, maturity and a good sense of humour;
  • Fluency in spoken and written English.


  • Reputation as a care reform leader;
  • Knowing the stakeholders and understanding the structure of the European Commission, relevant EU budget planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and the subsequent relationships with the national governments;
  • Knowledge of the political and social context in Bulgaria, understanding the de-institutionalization reform in Eastern Europe and the key stakeholders;
  • Prior experience in philanthropy and grant-making.

Application instructions

Please send BY EMAIL ONLY a letter of application stating the skills and approach that you would bring to the post including any relevant insights into Tanya’s Dream initiative with your CV/resume (no photos) in strict confidence by email only to: Karem Armstrong at [email protected].

Please ensure that they are sent as Word or PDF documents with the titles “your name cover letter” and “your name CV”. Please put “Tanya´s Dream Director” in the email subject line.

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