Director of Programs

Physicians for Human Rights
  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career / Advanced
  • Posted
    Nov 20

Position description

For more than 30 years, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has used science and medicine to document and call attention to mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. PHR, which shared in the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, is now poised for even greater growth and impact. As part of that strategy, we are very excited to be recruiting committed activists with a passion for human rights.

One such role will be a strategic, innovative, and experienced director of programs to provide vision, leadership, and direction for PHR’s research, advocacy, training and capacity building, and asylum case management programs.

The director will lead a dynamic team of professional staff, consultants, and volunteers to develop and carry out PHR’s programs to advance human rights, consistent with its recently developed strategic plan. The director will foster new programming that builds on the high-quality, specialized medical and scientific expertise for which PHR is renowned. S/he will integrate PHR programming and advocacy strategies to ensure maximum impact; monitor and evaluate programs; develop and mentor new generations of human rights defenders; inform PHR communications strategies; and serve as a lead spokesperson and writer. The director will supervise a team of 20+ staff in multiple locations, with four to five direct reports, and serve as a member of the executive management team.

Reports to: Executive Director

Location: Based in New York City, NY, United States. Candidates must have U.S. working papers to be considered.


  • Lead PHR’s research and investigations, advocacy, capacity building and training, and asylum case management programs to leverage the organization’s strengths and operationalize its strategic plan, ensuring that PHR’s programs adhere to the highest scientific and ethical standards and are designed and executed for maximum impact in advancing human rights. 
  • Monitor global human rights issues and identify opportunities to maximize PHR’s impact, consistent with the organization’s mission, vision, and strategic plan. 
  • Build, manage, train, mentor, and inspire an extraordinary team of professionals consisting of staff, consultants, interns, and volunteers, creating a culture that promotes innovation, builds confidence, encourages teamwork, supports diversity, and sets clear expectations for future success.
  • Support PHR’s fundraising and institutional development efforts, assisting in the design of program proposals, stewarding relationships with institutional funders and individual donors, and collaborating on donor outreach and engagement strategies. 
  • Serve as a top PHR spokesperson and advocate on international human rights issues, and engage with funders, media, and international entities. 
  • Support PHR’s Legal Review Board and Ethics Review Board, and work closely with PHR’s Editorial Review Board (comprised of leading experts in the medical, scientific, and legal fields); significantly expand PHR’s network of subject matter experts (currently more than 400) and other partners in the global health and human rights field to advance PHR’s programs through collaboration and partnerships.
  • Develop, defend, and monitor PHR’s program budgets to support short- and long-term planning, maximize efficiency, and ensure accountability.
  • Oversee the substantive writing of all communications resulting from investigations and advocacy missions (reporting in all forms).
  • Oversee security policies and protocols and their implementation, including security of staff and volunteers, data, and partners involved in PHR’s field work.
  • Oversee regular monitoring and evaluation of PHR’s program efforts.
  • As a member of the executive management team, help ensure leadership, management, coordination, communication, and collaboration throughout the organization.


  • At least 10 years of human rights, humanitarian, or public health experience in increasingly senior leadership/management positions, with a demonstrated ability to lead and inspire teams in multiple global locations, and to manage resources and budgets.
  • A strong record of success in the strategic and forward-thinking development and management of effective, integrated, and results-driven human rights programming, including medical, scientific, public health, and/or forensic research and advocacy.
  • An advanced degree in public health, medicine, international relations, international law, or social sciences is preferred.


  • Superior management skills, including demonstrated capacity to build, motivate, and hold accountable diverse teams in multiple locations, preferably in a non-profit advocacy setting.
  • Excellent political judgment and understanding of global advocacy, with an in-depth appreciation of the potential to leverage evidence to achieve advocacy goals.
  • Substantive expertise in human rights and/or humanitarian law, able to support teams in characterizing human rights violations documented through program activities and developing strategies for accountability using programmatic findings.
  • Nuanced understanding of the medical landscape and the ability to leverage partnerships to galvanize doctors and other health care providers in promoting human rights.
  • Detailed knowledge of scientific research methodologies; experience conducting field research is preferred. 
  • Superb interpersonal skills with experience forging strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders. 
  • Experience working with international programs is required; experience living outside of the United States and proficiency in another language is desirable.
  • Familiarity with organizational fundraising strategies and the ability to develop the case for support for complex and long-term program initiatives.
  • Compelling writing skills and the ability to defend and explain complex issues to broad audiences, including the media, senior officials, intergovernmental bodies, and donors.
  • Comfortable, fluent, and persuasive public speaking skills, both to the media and other stakeholders of all types, globally.
  • A team-oriented person with a passion for human rights, excellent judgment, maturity, creativity, flexibility, and a good sense of humor.
  • Fluency in using digital tools, including social media, to engage audiences is preferred.
  • Ability to be available off-hours for rapid response and to travel internationally.

Salary and Benefits

This is a full-time position located in New York City. Salary is commensurate with experience. PHR offers comprehensive employer-paid benefits, including medical, dental, disability, and life insurance, a retirement savings plan, and generous vacation.

Application instructions

Please email cover letter (with salary requirements) and resume to [email protected]. Please include the job title of the position you are applying for in the subject line of your email. Please indicate where you saw this job posting in your cover letter.

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