Senior Program Officer, Natural Resource Rights via Idealist

New York, NY, US

Overview of AJWS

Inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world. AJWS advances the health and rights of women, girls and LGBT people; promotes recovery from conflict, disasters and oppression; and defends access to food, land and livelihoods. AJWS pursues lasting change by supporting grassroots and global human rights organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and by mobilizing supporters in the U.S. to advocate for global justice. Working together, the AJWS community strives to build a more just and equitable world.


AJWS’s international programs division works to build civil society in select countries in Africa, the Americas and Asia by supporting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) that are advancing human rights. AJWS partners with organizations that work on three critical issues:

Natural Resource Rights: Defending the Right to Food, Water, Land and Livelihoods

AJWS supports organizations that advocate for the rights of rural, indigenous and poor communities who are displaced from their land or prevented from earning a living because of mining, dams and other development that threaten their way of life.

Sexual Health and Rights: Advancing the Rights of Women, Girls and Sexual Minorities

AJWS works to increase access to services and end discrimination, violence and abuse of women, girls, LGBTI people and sex workers, so that they can access the full spectrum of opportunities in society and live in health, safety and dignity.

Civil and Political Rights: Promoting Recovery from Conflict and Oppression

AJWS supports communities to recover from conflict and oppression, speak out against injustice and create vibrant, peaceful, societies that respect the rights of all citizens.


AJWS seeks a talented and experienced grantmaker to work in two of its three critical thematic areas. The program officer manages a dynamic grants portfolio in the Natural Resource Rights issue area, coordinates capacity-building and programmatic opportunities for grantees, and engages in strategic learning and evaluation in order to document AJWS’s impact and to improve grantmaking strategies Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador. And, similarly, for the Civil and Political Rights issue area in Mexico and Guatemala. S/he collaborates closely with in-country consultants and the Directors of the Natural Resource Rights and Civil and Political Rights departments to shape AJWS’s work and to raise its visibility with key stakeholders. The program officer seeks strategic opportunities for partnership and collaboration that leverage AJWS’s grantmaking and promote the work of grantees, develops initiatives that advance AJWS and grantees’ work, and contributes to funder affinity groups and networks to deepen knowledge in the field. S/he also works as part of a closely knit international programs division and with other AJWS programs, including development, communications, advocacy, campaigns and experiential education.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Develop, implement, monitor and evaluate grantmaking strategies in Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador in collaboration with the Director of Natural Resource Rights and Director of Civil and Political Rights, staff and in-country consultants;
  • Advance AJWS’s grantmaking program in Natural Resource Rights/Civil and Political Rights by identifying new grantees, supporting proposal development, providing grantees with technical assistance and access to opportunities, and refining grantmaking strategies based on learning and evaluation;
  • Identify and deepen relationships with collegial donors, civil society organizations, activists, policymakers and other allies;
  • Provides managerial guidance and oversight to AJWS country consultants in Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador; works closely with them to recommend new grants, build grantee capacity, and monitor and evaluate country grantmaking strategies;
  • Monitor Natural Resource Rights/Civil and Political Rights grantmaking budgets and operational plans in conjunction with the respective Program Director;
  • Identify emerging issues and trends and utilize findings to determine funding priorities and develop grantmaking strategies and initiatives;
    • Collaborate with grantmaking colleagues to identify and analyze global trends and document lessons learned;
    • Organize and conduct two to three trips to the region per year for exploratory research, site visits, partner meetings, and monitoring and evaluation;
    • Increase AJWS’s visibility and profile by presenting AJWS’s work to donors, collegial organizations, networks and policymakers, and by working closely with AJWS’s communications department;
    • Collaborate with members of the DC-based advocacy department to ensure a close integration of the priorities of AJWS’s grantees with AJWS’s domestic advocacy; and
  • Work with in-country and external stakeholders to conduct evaluations, provide technical assistance, facilitate peer exchanges, and respond to crises and emergencies in support of grantees;
  • Partner with development staff to manage relationships, write reports and fulfill other contractual obligations of donors that are supporting AJWS’s work; cultivate and engage individual donors by speaking at fundraising and advocacy events.


  • BA/BS required; Masters degree strongly preferred;
  • Five to seven years of experience working at a foundation, international development or human rights organization in the field of natural resource rights, sustainable development, transparency, and accountability, Climate Justice, and/or civil and political rights;
  • Demonstrated issue area expertise in one or more of the following fields: natural resource rights, sustainable development, transparency and accountability, Climate Justice, and/or civil and political rights;
  • Demonstrated experience with, and commitment to, grassroots social justice and human rights movements;
  • Excellent analytical and writing skills; experience writing or reviewing grant proposals; strong public speaking and presentation skills;
  • Strategic planning or other organizational development skills strongly preferred;
  • Proficiency in reading, writing and speaking English and Spanish required;
  • Minimum of two years’ experience living and/or working in the Global South;
  • Expertise in human rights law, norms and practices, global development theory or grassroots social movement building;
  • Knowledge of current political, social and economic trends in the region;
  • Proficiency analyzing, monitoring and evaluating budgets;
  • Staff management experience preferred;
  • Enthusiastic about spending 6-9 weeks per year traveling internationally, either with colleagues or alone;
  • Willingness to work occasional evenings and weekends;
  • Team player and flexible about the challenges of working in a fast-paced environment with shifting priorities;
  • Highly organized, with the proven ability to work independently, prioritize and complete multiple projects, meet deadlines and maintain consistent attention to detail; and
  • Ability to work in and with diverse communities.

Additional Considerations:

People of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, trans and gender non-conforming people; women; and differently abled people are encouraged to apply. We also encourage applications from people of diverse religious, spiritual and cultural backgrounds.

Authorization to work in the US is required.