Program Director -- Asia/Pacific

National Democratic Institute
  • Location
    Washington, D.C.
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Nov 16

Position description

Program Director: Asia/Pacific

Position Summary

The Asia-Pacific's democracy landscape is diverse and dynamic. Political transitions and economic shifts are testing the resilience of the region's more established democracies and pushing more fragile republics towards regression. Democratic political institutions are finding it more challenging to address rapid social change and corresponding citizen needs, counter polarization, and manage political conflict. New technologies and social media are enabling inclusive participation and greater transparency as well as empowering disinformation. Authoritarianism has increasingly sought ways to degrade democratic culture by suppressing activism and independent thought, restricting political development and undermining democratic norms. Through these changing dynamics and for over three decades, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has worked in partnership with women activists, youth leaders, civil society groups, political networks, parliaments and government bodies across the Asia-Pacific region to address these challenges.

To support these efforts, NDI seeks a Program Director to join its Asia-Pacific team. This full-time role is responsible for leading and overseeing current programming in a portfolio of Southeast Asian countries. The Program Director will contribute at a senior level to program planning, program implementation including budget development and oversight, and ensuring quality control of programs and written products. Background in managing offshore programs and/or working in closed societies is highly preferred. S/he will manage junior staff teams and report to the senior advisor for the Asia-Pacific team and work closely with the regional director.

Essential Accountabilities/Responsibilities

  • Provides leadership and oversight to a diverse portfolio of democracy and governance programs in Southeast Asia, which includes both offshore and in-country programs.
  • Leads team in conceptualizing and drafting proposals, together with country directors and the Asia-Pacific monitoring and evaluation team lead.
  • Develops and maintains collaborative external relationships with international democratic development organizations, civic organizations in the U.S. and the region, national and international news organizations, political party networks and partners, and NDI's network of volunteer trainers and experts.
  • Provides guidance to country directors on NDI and donor policies and procedures, including coordinating headquarter resources to assist with country office compliance.
  • Serves as “Resident Director” in absence of established office or staff.
  • Provides strategic direction and senior-level management monitoring of budgets, grants and expenditures for the assigned portfolio.
  • Leads and supervises staff in documenting program progress and achievements, ensuring quality control of written quarterly and semi-annual reports.
  • Travels to assigned countries to assess political development, new opportunities and current programs.
  • Collaborates with regional leadership and country directors on fundraising initiatives.
  • Manages subordinates including conducting yearly performance reviews and supporting staff in achieving professional growth and development through established goals.

Peripheral Accountabilities/Responsibilities (Non-essential)

  • Support onboarding and training of Project Assistants, Program Associates, Program Officers, Program Managers and Senior Program Managers, and participate in the recruitment process for those positions by reviewing resumes and recommending candidates for consideration/interviews.
  • Act as a back-up for other team members as needed.
  • Participate in cross-functional initiatives or other team-wide initiatives as needed.
  • Actively seek and engage in professional development opportunities to enhance knowledge in program management.
  • Represent the Institute at international and national venues to contribute substantially to policy discussions on foreign assistance and political developments in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Maintain a general working knowledge of relevant program trends and issues occurring external to NDI.
  • Perform other duties as required


  • Operate under general direction, plans or coordinates work in accordance with established objectives.
  • Interact with NDI partners, funders and other key program contacts.
  • Interact regularly with staff at all levels within NDI.
  • Serve as a resource and provide guidance to lower-level staff.
  • Regularly interacts with NDI partners, funders and other stakeholders, including international development organizations, civic organizations, NDI's network of volunteers, trainers, and experts, political leaders, and other key program contacts.

Supervisory Responsibility

This position manages direct reports in Washington, DC and liaises with staff in the assigned region.

Required Qualifications


  • Bachelor's Degree, preferably in International Relations or related subject; graduate degree desired.


  • A minimum of 10 years relevant work experience in international development, community organizing, political campaigns, organizational development, legislative affairs, or impressive experience at NDI. Additional years of relevant work experience may be substituted for educational requirement on a one-for-one basis

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Extensive experience overseeing large grants or handling multiple programs or countries, particularly in fluid political environments and/or closed societies.
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills and cultural sensitivity to effectively interact with all levels of staff, U.S. and foreign government personnel, members of donor organizations, funders, and policy makers.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct and apply sophisticated political analysis to programmatic activities.
  • Knowledge of and ability to provide oversight and strategic direction for fulfilling donor requirements and regulations in financial management, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting.
  • Experience in developing and implementing effective communication and outreach strategies for a variety of audiences.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills; fluency in English required and fluency or advance working proficiency in Southeast Asian language highly desired.
  • Demonstrated experience in fundraising from government, foundation and private donors.
  • Experience as a political practitioner and trainer working with civil society groups, political parties or government in a developed democracy.
  • Proven experience fostering the growth of and mentoring junior staff.
  • Experience in the Asia-Pacific region strongly preferred.
  • Working knowledge of Google Apps suite, PC-based word processing, database and spreadsheet applications.

Certification/Licenses (desired)

  • None Required

Work Environment

  • This position generally is performed in an office environment and may be suitable for partial telework.
  • Occasional evening and weekend work may be required, as well as attendance at external events.
  • Some international travel is required for this role, approximately 15 percent, to NDI field locations in order to facilitate work at the country level. These locations often are in remote locations and may require significant time and varying modes of travel. Designated locations may at times be considered less secure and with greater risk to NDI employees.

Physical Requirements

  • Sitting/mobility—to work at a desk and move around work areas.
  • Speaking/hearing—to engage orally in conversation with others and conduct presentations.
  • Seeing—to effectively use a computer screen and for reading and interpreting printed materials, memos and other paperwork.
  • Reaching/handling—to input information into computer systems and retrieve and work with appropriate paperwork, equipment and supplies.

ADA Notation

The physical demands and work environment that have been described are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. NDI encourages applicants with disabilities to apply.


To comply with tax and legal obligations, all candidates for DC-based positions must reside in Maryland, DC or Virginia. While there may be flexibility for remote/hybrid work environments, candidates must be residents of MD, DC or VA or relocate prior to the start of employment at NDI.

Candidates must be legally eligible to work in the U.S. NDI does not provide sponsorship.

NDI is an equal opportunity employer (EOE). As such, NDI makes employment decisions and provides equal employment opportunity without regard to an applicant's or employee's race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or any other basis protected by federal, state and local laws. If you need reasonable accommodation in the application or hiring process, please notify NDI's Human Resources department.



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