1901 Senior Program Officer, Senior Program Officer, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey - MENA

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1901 Senior Program Officer, Senior Program Officer, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey - MENA

Job Category: Finance, Grants & Contracts

National Endowment for Democracy

Washington DC

Position Summary

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a congressionally funded, private, nonprofit grant making organization that works to support freedom around the world, seeks a Senior Program Officer for Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey for the Middle East North Africa (MENA) team’s regional portfolio. This position is based in Washington, D.C.



The Senior Program Officer is responsible for overseeing a substantial portfolio and has considerable supervisory responsibilities within the regional team.  Reporting to the Senior Director for MENA and supervising the relevant staff, the Senior Program Officer contributes to developing strategy for the region; identifies, develops and manages programs and contributes to evaluation of the programs; and takes the lead on presenting proposals and articulating the Endowment’s strategy for a substantial portion of the regional portfolio.


  • Strategic planning for a substantial portion of the regional grants program; represent their regional portfolio before the Board of Directors, the President, congressional committees, government agencies and other entities as needed; provide support for Directors.
  • Provide strategic and programmatic guidance to NED grantees in the portfolio, including assisting them with program development and design, offering creative solutions to political and technical challenges, providing administrative advice, and facilitating contact with like-minded organizations throughout the region.
  • Work closely and flexibly with a diverse range of activists in media, human rights, rule of law, conflict resolution, civic education and other areas.
  • Monitor political developments in Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey; and the surrounding region to inform NED strategies and programming, including reading various US- and regional-based publications, meeting with regional political analysts and other partners, keeping abreast of the changing political environment, and actively coordinating with other MENA team members on their country portfolios.
  • Oversee the implementation of NED-approved projects, including analysis of quarterly reports, providing feedback on implemented activities, maintaining continuous communication over the grant cycle, and conducting regular field visits.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness and the institutional growth of NED grantees and the overall portfolio, and recommend renewed and new funding. 
    • Oversee the management, development, assessment, and presentation of a substantial set of proposals at quarterly Board meetings;
    • Review core institute proposals as they relate to the SPO’s specific portfolio;
    • Present the proposals at the Board expert reviews;
  • Build and maintain relationships with like-minded organizations, including other donors, NED partners and regional organizations.
  • Travel to the region to monitor existing grantees, identify new funding opportunities for NED, and gain an on‑the-ground perspective on the political situation. The visits include on-site meetings with all or most NED grantees, meetings with core institutes, potential civil society partners, other donors active in the country, and political analysts and opinion-makers.
    • Conduct and oversee monitoring visit for groups in the field and maintain relationships with grantees, other organizations and individuals in the region;
  • Think creatively about how to improve team effectiveness, including suggestions for new team processes, improving grantee-reporting guidelines, communicating with other teams at NED, etc.
  • Liaise with other NED teams; participate in various working groups, and other efforts to improve NED’s overall functioning and effectiveness.
  • Supervise and mentor junior staff by providing guidance and advice on programmatic and administrative issues; management of one staff person.


  • Knowledge/Experience:
    • Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs, Political Science, International Development or a related discipline; Master’s degree preferred.
    • 10 or more years of experience in democracy-related projects and programs from the civil society perspective; significant experience in nonprofit work.
    • 5 years at the NED senior level or external supervisory equivalent.  
    • 2 or more years living or working in Afghanistan, Iran and/or Turkey.


  • Other Qualifications: 
  • Recognized country or regional expertise, for a broad range of program focus areas within the region, including facility with local languages where appropriate;
  • Good understanding of civil society issues and familiarity with civil society networks and individual activists in the region.
  • In-depth understanding of political issues and trends in Afghanistan/Iran/Turkey and the MENA region generally;
  • Full professional fluency in English and Farsi/Dari languages are essential; other regional languages are preferred.
  • Authorized to work in the United States.


  • Competencies:
    • Political assessment skills;
    • Good leadership skills and excellent, interpersonal, communication, and writing skills.
    • Excellent interpersonal skills in multi-ethnic, multi-national environment;
    • Solid analytical skills;
    • Ability to maintain professionalism under pressure;
    • High degree of organization and initiative;
    • Demonstrated ability to work as a team player, including coordination and facilitation skills.

Application Instructions

Please click here to apply.   

Applications must include a cover letter, resume, contact information for three professional references, salary history and requirements.   

Please, no phone calls.  Direct questions to careers@ned.org with Job #1901 PO, NAS, MENA – YOUR NAME in the subject line.



The NED is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  For more information, please visit our website at www.ned.org.