Senior Program Officer, Advocacy

Posted April 7, 2023

POSITION SUMMARY: Scholars at Risk (SAR) seeks a strategy-oriented, highly-organized, and thoughtful individual to join SAR’s Advocacy team as a Senior Program Officer to lead and evolve SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project and Free to Think report series into more effective advocacy tools. Through the Monitoring Project, SAR conducts research and reporting on attacks on higher education communities worldwide, data which is summarized and analyzed in SAR’s annual Free to Think report. These projects have been successful in placing the global phenomenon of attacks on higher education on the international community’s agenda. SAR seeks to build upon this success, striving to support the international higher education sector, states, and other stakeholders in their efforts to implement protections from such attacks; we believe the Monitoring Project and Free to Think report can better support these efforts. SAR seeks a Senior Program Officer with analytical skills and experience with strategy development to lead the review of these projects, to propose and implement changes, and to ensure that, in the interim, monitoring and reporting of attacks on the higher education sector continues. The position requires excellent analytical skills, research, writing, communication, project management, attention to detail, and judgment. It is ideal for a proactive, thoughtful individual who takes initiative, embraces transformative thinking, enjoys the research process, and likes to work on a small team. The position requires timely and professional communication, including with partners, SAR and NYU staff, media, and the public. The role is based in New York City and will report to SAR’s Advocacy Director.

Primary responsibility for SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project, which identifies and registers attacks on the higher education sector worldwide (50%)

  • Conduct research on attacks reported in open sources; and, with the Advocacy team, draft, edit, verify, and publish summary reports
  • Conduct an analytical review of the Project, including by comparing the Project to peer monitoring efforts, with an eye to improving efficiencies, and propose and implement data-supported changes
  • Supervise and train staff and volunteers contributing to the Project
  • Maintain a regular team research and drafting cycle to support a consistent flow of potentially-qualifying reports
  • Ensure consistent use of SAR’s research methodology across the team
  • Ensure effective use of SAR’s smart-search research technology
  • Routinely assess efficiencies of the Project and propose and implement improvements, including, where appropriate, changes to the media monitoring and drafting processes, including developing additional editorial guidelines
  • Recruit contributors to the Project, including by establishing rotating short-term or part-time staffing opportunities, to ensure regular staffing of the Project
  • Present and discuss Monitoring Project data at conferences, events, private meetings, and with the media
  • Liaise with and maintain understanding of developing monitoring efforts, such as nascent projects within various European government structures, and connect to SAR’s work where possible

Research, write, and produce SAR’s annual Free to Think report series and related reports (50%)

  • Research and write Free to Think, drawing on SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project data, the Academic Freedom Index, and the work of SAR’s growing coalition partners
  • Conduct an analytical review of the Free to Think report series, including by assessing our target audiences and distribution tools to reach them, and propose and implement data-supported changes
  • Develop and implement a timeline for research, drafting, and editing of report text
  • Supervise SAR’s Advocacy Assistant in developing and executing a project plan for the production of the report, and in liaising with vendors on design, print, website publication, and related questions
  • Lead the Advocacy team’s report release development strategy, including by collectively researching relevant governmental and nongovernmental targets and seeking meetings to share the report’s findings; conducting outreach to SAR sections and coalitions to organize advocacy, awareness-raising, and events around the report; guiding SAR’s Advocacy Assistant in researching and drafting press releases, digital posts, talking points, and other content that highlight the key trends and recommendation in the report; and conducting outreach to press and partners ahead of the release
  • Present and discuss Free to Think at conferences, events, private meetings, and with the media
  • Following each report release, conduct a review of the drafting and production process, and make recommendations for adjustments
  • Where needed, research and write additional SAR advocacy reports, including possibly an assessment of the Academic Freedom Index’s annual data

In compliance with NYC’s Pay Transparency Act, the annual base salary range for this position is $60,000 – $75,000.  NYU considers factors such as (but not limited to) scope and responsibilities of the position, candidate’s work experience, education/training, key skills, internal peer equity, as well as market and organizational considerations when extending an offer.


  • Undergraduate degree, or similar, relevant experience, required.
  • 4+ years experience or equivalent combination of education and experience required.
  • Commitment to and strong understanding of human rights and contemporary threats to academic freedom.
  • Excellent research, analytical, oral and written communication skills in English; working proficiency in other relevant languages highly desired (e.g., Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish).
  • Exceptional attention to detail, initiative, time-management, project management, and problem-solving abilities.
  • Supervisory experience required.
  • Ability to set and meet realistic goals and implementation plans.
  • Ability to manage complex political and cultural factors; difficult information, including human rights abuses; and tensions between long- and short-term goals.
  • Proficiency in wordprocessing and spreadsheet software (e.g., Word/Google Docs, Excel/Sheets), website content management systems (e.g., WordPress) and major social media platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook).
  • Humility, confidence, flexibility, resilience, unquestionable personal integrity, strong personal and professional judgment, good listener, global mindset, culturally sensitive, welcomes and promotes diversity in all its forms.

Application Instructions
Apply by uploading the requested materials in one combined PDF: (1) a letter of interest, (2) resume, (3) list of references or letters of reference, and (4) a brief, unedited writing sample). DEADLINE FOR INITIAL APPLICATION REVIEW IS APRIL 30, 2023. Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed on a rolling basis, until the position is filled. No phone calls or email inquiries, please.

Regrettably, SAR is not able to sponsor work-eligible visas.

Apply here


In Categories: Career Opportunities