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Director of Policy and Advocacy

Basic Function: The director leads the Program Department of Refugees International (RI) and works in close collaboration with the president and heads of other departments. As the person responsible for the development of policy and advocacy positions, and as the lead campaign strategist for the organization, s/he ensures that RI achieves its programmatic goals. S/he also ensures that the objectives of RI’s priority thematic areas and geographical regions are in line with the organization’s strategic plan. The director supervises staff who work on policy development and advocacy in Washington, New York, and when relevant, Brussels and Geneva. This high-level advocacy targets governments, the United Nations, and other international organizations. The director is significantly involved with fundraising and is a member of RI’s management team.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

  • Policy (20%):
    1. Follows US legislative and administrative humanitarian policies and incorporates these into RI’s programmatic priorities. Identifies areas requiring sustained advocacy/campaigning to improve them when required.
    2. Analyzes the development of UN humanitarian policies, the relationship between operational agencies and developments within the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, in order to identify critical issues for advocacy.
    3. Collaborates as required with NGO umbrella agencies (ICVA and Inter-Action) to determine when collective action supports RI’s objectives.
    4. Closely follows the development of crises worldwide and identifies those that justify immediate, mid-term and/or long-term involvement by RI.
  • Advocacy (35%):
    1. Oversees the development and timely implementation of advocacy strategies to meet RI’s thematic and regional objectives, working within the framework of the Board-approved strategic plan, under the President, and with input from staff. The thematic areas to be addressed include humanitarian response, protection and security, climate-induced displacement, and women and children’s rights.
    2. Ensures the overall quality of advocacy materials, which serve as the starting point for RI’s advocacy initiatives. In this respect, the director is expected to have a major input in the development of TORs for field missions; analysis of mission findings and what recommendations should RI develop, and edit reports into their final form.
    3. Conducts outreach to government and UN humanitarian agencies, academia, and policymakers to increase the impact of RI’s research.
    4. Reviews the outcome of RI’s advocacy work in order to build on achievements and redress weaknesses, with the overall aim to strengthen a learning culture within the organization. Monitors and evaluates progress made toward achieving plan objectives, and adjusts strategies and tactics as appropriate.
  • Management (25%):
    1. Manages the staff of the Program Department including approving timesheets in a timely manner and evaluates their performance on a regular basis.
    2.  Directs the development of staff work plans in line with the strategic plan, and ensures that the objectives of RI’s thematic areas are integrated into its work across geographic regions.
    3. Supports staff capacity-building to enhance their engagement and performance on policy and advocacy issues.
    4. Works closely with the director of finance and operations to ensure overall security of staff traveling on missions, including as a member of the security management team and the incident management team.
    5. Manages the Program Department’s finances, including analysis, budget preparation, monitoring, projections and allocation of expenditures in full compliance with funder requirements. Reviews and authorizes individual expenses by program staff (essentially related to mission costs) in a timely manner.
  • Fund Raising (15%):
    1. Works closely with the Development Department to draft and pitch proposals and ensure fulfillment of grant and donor reporting requirements in collaboration with other colleagues.
    2. Assists with fundraising outreach and high-level donor relations and participates as needed in institutional or other grant meetings.
  • Field work (5%):
    1. The director will be expected to undertake one to two field missions per year in countries covered by the annual work-plan. 

Special Education/Experience Requirements:

  • Fifteen to twenty years of significant professional experience involving work on policy and advocacy for a non-governmental organization, think tank, Congressional office, United Nations office, or similar institution, preferably with a focus on displacement, humanitarian action, or related issues.
  • At least five years of supervisory experience, preferably in a non-profit setting.
  • Prior involvement with humanitarian advocacy networks and targets in the U.S. and Europe.
  • Familiarity with proposal development and grant management and reporting.
  • Professional experience overseas in humanitarian work with refugees and internally displaced people, preferably for five years or more.
  • Academic qualifications in international affairs, area studies, political science, humanitarian action, or a related field, at the Master's level or above.

Special Knowledge/Skills Requirements:

  • Strong grasp of the evolution of the humanitarian system over the past 15 years and of achievements and failures of reform.
  • Solid understanding of the UN system and U.S. Government.
  • Exceptional communication skills, particularly the ability to write quickly and clearly, edit materials, and deliver effective public presentations.
  • A track record of proposal development and grant management is highly desirable.
  • English language fluency is required; a working knowledge of another language of value to RI’s overseas work (such as French, Spanish, or Arabic) is a plus.
  • A record of relevant publications is preferred.
  • Ability to work well with others in small teams.
  • Willingness and ability to travel on two missions per year to places with security risks.
  • Flexibility and sense of humor.

Application Instructions: Please send a cover letter, resume, and one writing sample to In the subject line write Director of Policy and Advocacy followed by your family name. Only those selected for an interview will be contacted. Applications are now being accepted.


General information on internships

Interns are essential to the work of Refugees International. RI strives to provide interns with an environment that encourages their professional development, offers networking opportunities, and increases their understanding of humanitarian issues worldwide.

Refugees International accepts a limited number of applicants for unpaid internships throughout the year. Interns should be willing to commit a minimum of 15 hours per week for 10 weeks to the internship and be able to work at the Refugees International office in Washington, DC.

All intern applicants must either be enrolled as students or have graduated in the last three months.

Internships are based loosely on the following schedule:
Winter/spring, January – April (application deadline: November 15)
Summer, May – August (application deadline: March 15)
Fall/winter, September – December (application deadline: July 15)

If you would like to apply, please refer to the instructions below. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but priority will be given to those received by the deadlines listed above.

Please note: the following positions are only general descriptions of the types of internships that may be available. Each type of internship may or may not be open during different semesters.

General Intern
The General intern assists the Office Manager and RI staff with both administrative tasks and special projects. General interns have the opportunity to gain exposure to all aspects of the organization. Responsibilities may include answering and transferring phone calls; greeting guests to our office; assisting with special projects; attending local conferences and seminars on behalf of the advocacy staff; and compiling News Clips to update our staff on our focus countries.

Program Intern
The Program intern works closely with our advocates, who complete approximately twelve field missions a year, and support staff. Responsibilities may include attending local government and NGO conferences; conducting research on focus countries; assisting in the creation and editing of research reports; and providing additional front office support. The Program intern may also work with the Communications Department to promote Refugees International through website development, media relations, and promotion of publications.

Development (Fundraising) Intern
The Development intern works with the Development Department to support fundraising activities in various capacities, ranging from prospect funding research to assisting the development team with a variety of administrative tasks and other fundraising projects as they arise. Responsibilities may include supporting foundation fundraising and grant writing; coordinating mailings; supporting event planning and execution; updating donor databases; and conducting research on potential funding sources and new fundraising techniques.

Application Instructions
To apply for an internship with Refugees International, please forward your resume, a cover letter, a brief writing sample (2 – 5 pages), and a list of three references to Your cover letter should clearly indicate the semester you are available and your interest in a general, program, development and/or congressional internship. Please submit all materials at one time. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Please fill out and forward this questionnaire as part of your application.

Only those candidates selected for further review will be contacted by Refugees International.

General information on Fellowships

Criteria for candidates for the RI Resident and Non-Resident Fellows Program: 

  • Must have completed at least a Master’s Degree in a relevant field of study,
  • Must have previous work experience relevant to RI’s work or can demonstrate an ability to do research,
  • Must submit a one page proposal which includes research relevant to RI’s work prior to being offered a position and subject to review through the supervisor by the Management Team,

The proposal must include a final product—e.g., a longer report—for possible publication by RI,

The proposal must include a work schedule which is at a minimum three months in duration and ten hours per week (Resident Fellows only),

  • RI will provide fellows with a work station and materials to perform their tasks. RI will not provide any additional compensation.
  • RI encourages fellows to seek outside funding and will assist the fellows with the application where possible.

Other Requirements:

  • Fellows must renew with RI on an annual basis which includes submitting a new one page proposal;
  • RI reserves the right to publish the final product of the fellowship. If RI does not choose to publish the report then the fellow can use the document as they wish;
  • Fellows will be assigned to one staff person at RI and all work assigned to the Fellow must go through the supervisor;
  • Fellows are required to update their assigned staff person as to work they are doing and communications made regarding RI at a minimum on a monthly basis;
  • Fellows are strongly encouraged to draft blogs on relevant issues at least once a month—to be reviewed by RI staff;
  • Non-resident fellows are expected to have significant knowledge of the organization and have spent at least three months in RI’s Washington office prior to serving as a non-resident fellow;
  • Non-resident fellows may have an RI account: meaning they would have an email address and they would have access to RI folders.

For more information on RI fellowships, please email