Universal access to a high quality education is a necessity for a truly open society. For citizens to be able to reach their potential as creative and responsible members of society capable of holding power to account, a capacity for critical thinking and access to knowledge are vital. Access to inclusive, relevant education is a fundamental human right, yet despite the universal principle, millions around the world are denied that right at every level. While much progress has been made in recent decades towards the reform of education systems to ensure they serve broad populations beyond elites, the challenges posed by shrinking civic space, rising authoritarianism and widening economic disparities continue to impede global access to, and equity in education for all.
The Open Society Foundations is, for the first time, bringing its education work together under one roof by uniting its higher education and general education programs. The shift is intended to signal the strategic importance of building and defending integrated systems of education provision that enable learning in diverse contexts, whether disrupted or stable, for all constituencies. The newly consolidated Education Program (EP) seeks to understand and challenge the social, political and economic systems that lie at the heart of education inequity, and to support stakeholders - including students and pupils, parents, teachers, professors and researchers, those administering and managing educational institutions, and diverse communities of interest - to have a voice and influence over the shaping of education provision and content.
The Program will use an array of tools including grant making, research and advocacy to influence policy, increase access and inclusion, build institutional capacity and drive innovation in the field of education. The work of the Education Program can overlap with OSF’s other thematic and regional programs, in areas such as human rights, economic justice, governance, public health, migration, and others, making cross-program collaboration both a necessity and an opportunity. The program can make a critical contribution, through its drive for access, inclusive educational outcomes and relevant/contextualized knowledge production, to OSF’s broad efforts to build and defend open society.
Based in London or New York, OSF’s Education Program Director leads a team based in London, New York and Berlin and is responsible for crafting a vision for the program, establishing and executing a range of complex strategies, and day-to-day management and development of the team. Drawing on the expertise and experience of the programs’ senior staff, the director will use their extensive and up-to-date understanding of education systems and policy at primary, secondary and higher education levels to determine where EP’s work can be most effective, building on the higher education and general education programs’ current strengths and responding to new challenges and opportunities. Engaging extensively with academia, civil society and political actors involved in the development of education policy, the Director guides use of the program’s resources at the national, regional and international level to transformative effect.
The Director acts as OSF’s principal strategist for education and is expected to bring innovative thought leadership to conceptualize the ways OSF can support the field as a grant-maker, be a catalyzer of networks, and position the program as a leading philanthropic supporter of the education reform agenda. The Program takes varied approaches to influencing systemic change, using entry points from grass roots to senior levels, and the Director is responsible for managing that complexity, navigating and balancing operational practicalities and resources with conceptual priorities. As a member of OSF’s Senior Leadership Group, they not only lead the work of the Education Program, but also are responsible for maintaining and strengthening the institutional, programmatic, and financial integrity of OSF as a whole.
Typical duties and responsibilities include the following:
- Sets and upholds the Program’s mission, deploying their understanding of open society goals and the education funding landscape to critically examine how current initiatives may be developed and advanced;
- Guides development of an approach to frame the Education Program’s initiatives; identifies opportunities and tools to advance the Program’s work, integrating diverse functional areas into a comprehensive strategy, designing and evaluating program elements, and overseeing significant grants and operational budgets;
- Leads and manages the program in line with OSF policy, supervising managers with confidence and sensitivity while staying in touch with the whole team, attending to team culture and creating a trusting, empowering environment, while investing adequate time for regular performance review, addressing problems as they arise and removing obstacles to effectiveness;
- Facilitates positive relationships with the Program’s Advisory Board and works closely with the Board on the development of strategy;
- Negotiates complex and divergent stakeholder interests, often with significant political/cultural sensitivities, cultivating an enabling space for critical discourse;
- Acts as an advocate for the Open Society Education Program’s initiatives and values, both internally and externally and manages complex relationships of high sensitivity, including relationships with other OSF Programs, external organizations, OSF’s Global Board and advisory bodies.
- Personal and professional alignment to the core mission and values of OSF and in excess of 15 years’ progressively responsible experience within the fields of academia, public policy or civil society as relates to education;
- A noted authority in the field and frequent contributor to the public discourse on education development; substantive understanding of innovation practices that strengthen education equity, with a particular emphasis on the Global South;
- Experienced manager and supervisor who leads with humility and integrity; conducts all aspects of professional and personal engagements with trust, respect and accountability;
- Keen appreciation of formal and informal civil society movements championing education reform globally;
- Demonstrable understanding of the global education funding landscape including bi-lateral, multi-lateral, private and philanthropic actors;
- Knowledge of philanthropy, discernible interest in using grant making in combination with other tactics to effect social change;
- Interest across all stages of the education system;
- Experienced at leadership level in the design of strategy and projects that influence education policy development and/or implementation;
- Strong understanding and interest in education development as it relates to OSF’s other thematic programs and initiatives;
- Excellent writing, analytical, interpersonal, organizational and communication skills with sensitivity to cultural communication differences;
- Ability to grow and leverage key relationships within networks active in the field in order to further programmatic goals;
- Ability to perform in an advisory role to senior management, including the President of OSF and Global Board;
- Proven experience in the development and nurturing of teams, instinctive understanding of when to delegate or lead, empowers and enables staff to incorporate their perspectives in strategy development; ideally possess experience of managing geographically dispersed teams;
- Experience in planning and managing significant budgets, maintaining high standards of fiscal governance;
- Possesses a strong global outlook; experience of working and/or living internationally preferred;
- Ability to undertake frequent travel.
What we offer:
- Ample opportunities to learn and grow, from annual professional development allowances to onsite trainings and brown bag lunches with visiting experts.
- Top-notch benefits and perks designed for your well-being and a healthy work-life balance. With some variability according to location, this includes generous time off, flexible work arrangements, employer-paid health insurance, generous retirement savings plan, progressive paid parental leave, reproductive and family planning support, sabbatical opportunities, and much more.
- A commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace that enables everyone to bring their full self to work and make a positive impact on the world.
Competitive rates of pay apply.
If this sounds like the position you have been looking for, please submit your cover letter and CV; we look forward to learning more about you.
We aim to build an inclusive workforce that is reflective of the populations we support, and actively seek applications from those who are marginalized and underrepresented. We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations to applicants and colleagues with disabilities.