Associate Director, United States Program

Human Rights Watch

Associate Director
United States Program
Multiple US Locations Considered
Application Deadline: April 9, 2023

The Opportunity:

The United States Program (USP) of Human Rights Watch (HRW) is seeking an Associate Director to play a leadership role within the US Program in identifying, highlighting, and investigating key US human rights issues as they relate to racial justice considerations.

The US Program is organized to advance human rights in three priority areas — criminal justice, immigration, and democracy — in ways that center racial justice and equity. In partnership with allied organizations, USP undertakes research and provides expertise to evaluate ongoing racial human rights violations in the US, identifies goals and targets for remedy, and engages in advocacy for change. In addition to our priorities, areas for engagement include reparations for slavery and Indigenous peoples’ rights, as well as education, environmental justice, labor, health, including mental health, and housing rights through a race lens. USP also collaborates with the multiple HRW thematic and regional divisions that work in the United States to address racial justice issues in their specific projects.

The Associate Director will operationalize this vision. Though a senior position, the Associate Director will conduct their own research and advocacy, and work closely with the Research and Advocate for US racial justice work. The role reports to the USP Director based in New York.

The successful candidate may have the option to work remotely. We aim to be as flexible and supportive as possible in both the recruitment for and onboarding of this position.

Candidate Profile:

The Associate Director should have demonstrated experience addressing the causes and effects of racial injustice in the US, including its links to poverty. They should be recognized as an expert in the area of racial justice and related topics who is consulted by policymakers, journalists, academics, activists, and others interested in US racial justice concerns. They should have familiarity with aspects of the priority areas of ongoing US Program work including criminal legal system abuses; reparative justice, including for slavery and its legacies; border policy; the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers; and ensuring an inclusive and vibrant democracy.


1. Identify and analyze race-based abuses within the broader political, social, and economic context (including the context of structural racism) to highlight factors contributing to abuses and avenues for effective change; work with USP staff and other divisional staff to design research and advocacy addressing myriad racial justice concerns through a human rights lens; support and inform organization-wide strategies with respect to racial justice concerns;

2. Develop, implement, supervise and coordinate research and advocacy projects with a high level of complexity;

3. Research, monitor and document human rights abuses by collecting and analyzing information from a wide variety of sources including directly affected people, grassroots and grasstops partner organizations, litigators, governmental and agency personnel, journalists, academics, and others in the field;

4. Conceptualize, lead, conduct and coordinate advocacy efforts; present human rights concerns to government officials, opinion leaders, courts, partner organizations, international organizations (governmental and non-governmental), and the media; assist in the development and implementation of local, state, national, and international strategies to change abusive laws, policies, and practices;

5. Write and publicize reports, policy, legal, and regulatory analysis, letters, news releases, short commentary and blog posts, tweet threads, op-eds, and submissions to international bodies, as needed;

6. Convene, provide guidance and leadership to, and participate in coalitions led by partners;

7. Work closely with directly affected people, and partner organizations to ensure that HRW’s work is responsive to directly affected people’s needs and is in close partnership with them;

8. Project HRW’s concerns into public debates to generate tangible pressure to improve protections for the rights of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color in the United States; find innovative approaches in light of the obstacles and resources available;

9. Respond to and/or anticipate news events in order to press human rights issues; to assess when and where to make public interventions; and to think creatively about using the web and social media to generate public support for human rights issues and further advocacy goals;

10. Respond promptly to queries from the media, public, and colleagues in the human rights community, as needed;

11. Work effectively with HRW staff located in multiple locations throughout the US and the world to ensure effective coordination;

12. Perform speaking duties and represent the work of the US Program in public forums;

13. Travel, as required, to conduct and lead research and advocacy work, and meet with colleagues;

14. Assist with building donor relationships, including with foundations and with individual relationships, sometimes requiring travel; and

15. Carry out any other duties as required.

Managerial Responsibilities:

1. Deliver outputs in a timely manner while maintaining consistency with the agreed strategies and priorities of the US Program;

2. Operate in compliance with organizational regulations and rules, including the policies of applicable employee agreements;

3. Lead, motivate, and mentor direct-reports, including communicating clear expectations, setting performance objectives, providing regular and timely constructive feedback, ensuring balanced workload, providing guidance on professional growth, and monitoring staff well-being as it pertains to stress and resilience issues and self-care;

4. Promote an inclusive and positive work environment including by incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion values and practices into the US Program’s work, soliciting diverse points of view, encouraging staff to participate in DE&I efforts, and proactively addressing bias, discrimination, microaggressions, etc. Consistently adhere to HRW’s internal values;

5. As part of the management team of the US Program, contribute to internal HRW policy debates on issues relevant to your expertise and areas of focus, edit the work of other divisions of HRW related to the US, assist and advise them on research projects, participate in security meetings, and contribute to strategic decision making within the US Program;

6. Work with staff to develop initiatives aimed at movement-building and expanding our partnership with diverse directly affected individuals and other stakeholders; and

7. Contribute to the organization through work on internal committees, strategy development, and assisting with management, evaluation and learning efforts.


Especially given the US Program’s substantive work focus and theory of change, Black, Indigenous and other people of color, as well as people impacted by the criminal legal and/or immigration systems are encouraged to apply. Candidates who are traditionally underrepresented in the human rights sector are enthusiastically encouraged to apply if they feel they have the ability to succeed in this role, even if they do not have all of the skills and qualifications listed.

Education: An advanced degree or commensurate work experience in journalism, law, social sciences, international relations, or related studies is required.

Experience: Minimum seven (7) years of relevant experience in investigations and connected advocacy, leading advocacy campaigns and initiatives, local, state, or federal government experience, grassroots organizing, communications strategies, and/or various forms of related social justice litigation required.

Related Skills and Knowledge:

1. Extensive knowledge of racial justice, social justice and civil and human rights issues in the United States, including the movement for reparations, and ability to identify and evaluate trends and needs.

2. Demonstrated ability to conduct, coordinate, and supervise complex and/or innovative research and community and policy advocacy projects with minimal supervision.

3. Relevant experience and familiarity with human rights research methodologies.

4. Relevant experience in work to combat structural barriers that entrench racial and economic discrimination in the United States, preferably including work with or alongside organizations led by directly impacted people, in determining advocacy, research, and communications strategies to pursue.

5. Ability to write and edit accurate, persuasive, well-organized, analytical, and timely reports and media products is required.

6. Strong initiative and follow-through, the capacity to think creatively and strategically, excellent writing and editing skills, and a dynamic public speaking ability are required.

7. Strong interpersonal skills in order to work collaboratively within HRW as well as with local partners, government officials, media, and other external partners is required.

8. Ability to multi-task effectively, including having good planning and organizing skills and ability to work under pressure are required.

9. Good judgment and the ability to make sound decisions consistent with functions is required.

10. Some management experience, whether formal or informal, is required.

Salary and Benefits: The salary range for this position is USD 97,000- 110,000. Salary ranges outside of the United States vary based on location. Human Rights Watch offers comprehensive employer-paid benefits, including medical, dental, vision, disability and life insurance, a retirement savings plan and twenty (20) days of vacation per year. HRW offers a relocation assistance package and will assist employees in obtaining necessary work authorization, if required; people of all nationalities are encouraged to apply.

How to Apply: Please apply immediately or April 9, 2023 by visiting our online job portal at and attaching a letter of interest and a CV or resume. No calls or email inquiries, please. Only complete applications will be reviewed and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

If you are experiencing technical difficulties with your application submission, or if you require accommodations during the application process, please email [email protected]. Due to the large response, application submissions via email will not be accepted and inquiries regarding the status of applications will go unanswered.

Human Rights Watch is strong because it is diverse.We actively seek a diverse applicant pool and encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply. Human Rights Watch does not discriminate on the basis of disability, age, gender identity and expression, national origin, race and ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or criminal record. We welcome all kinds of diversity. Our employees include people who are parents and nonparents, the self-taught and university educated, and from a wide span of socio-economic backgrounds and perspectives on the world. Human Rights Watch is an equal opportunity employer.

Human Rights Watch is an international human rights research and advocacy organization known for its in-depth investigations, its incisive and timely reporting, its innovative and high-profile advocacy campaigns, and its success in changing the human rights-related policies and practices of governments and international institutions.

How to apply

Please apply immediately or April 9, 2023 by visiting our online job portal at and attaching a letter of interest and a CV or resume. No calls or email inquiries, please. Only complete applications will be reviewed and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

Deadline: 9 Apr 2023