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Vice President of Research

The Open Technology Fund is seeking an experienced, collaborative, thorough, and curious Vice President of Research to lead OTF’s research efforts and help advance a shared understanding of the fight for internet freedom.

Deadline to apply: 23 June 2021

About OTF

The Open Technology Fund works to advance Internet freedom in repressive environments by supporting the research, development, implementation, and maintenance of technologies that provide secure and uncensored access to the Internet to counter attempts by authoritarian governments to restrict freedom online. OTF provides direct funding and support services to individuals and organizations around the world to address threats to Internet freedom, journalism, and human rights with technology-backed solutions.

OTF is a private, non-profit organization funded by the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

OTF is a place for people who are mission-driven. We thrive when different perspectives and diverse experiences come together behind a shared commitment to a free and open internet for all. As in all of our positions, we encourage applications from anyone who wants to make this vision a reality - regardless of whether you meet every single qualification listed below.

Position Summary

The Open Technology Fund is seeking an experienced, collaborative, rigorous, and curious Vice President of Research to lead OTF’s research efforts and help advance a shared understanding of the fight for internet freedom. The VP of Research must have methodologically-rooted research expertise; interest in and exposure to a wide variety of research approaches and complex, context-specific and technical research questions; experience designing, interpreting, evaluating and communicating research in partnership with and on behalf of a wide variety of stakeholders; demonstrable success leading applied research efforts with real world impact; a deep working knowledge of and broad networks within the Internet freedom community; and expertise in monitoring and evaluation, program management, and U.S. government funding.

The position requires a passion for working collaboratively with diverse global communities who are actively countering threats to internet freedom, independent journalism, and human rights with technology-backed solutions. The VP of Research will work to support a robust field of individuals and organizations protecting the free flow of information, free speech, free expression, a free press, and other human rights in repressive societies around the globe.

The VP of Research reports directly to the Senior Vice President of Programs.

Responsibilities

Shape Understanding

  • Further develop OTF’s research practice area in order to:
    • inform internet freedom technology development and OTF’s technology funding activities,
    • increase the internet freedom community’s access to and use of rigorous research related to global censorship and surveillance
    • shape stakeholder and popular understanding of internet freedom challenges and the impact of OTF projects
  • Identify new research projects, areas for investigation, emerging methodologies and researchers from adjacent spaces in support OTF’s internet freedom mission;
  • Provide thought leadership and research insight on current global internet freedom and human rights technology trends in human and technical terms;
  • Stay up to date on the academic, technical and policy literature relevant to OTF’s mission and develop ways to increase its accessibility;

Portfolio Management

  • Implement and manage the OTF Information Controls Fellowship Program working with priority host organizations, emerging issues and cultivating research capacity in relevant fields with a focus on applied research with both real-time integration into OTF work as well as long-term threats to internet freedom.
  • Oversee OTF funds and labs, including but not limited to OTF’s Learning Lab.
  • Work with the OTF program team to create new internal initiatives, funds, or labs, as appropriate, to enable OTF to support innovative and emerging Internet freedom research efforts.
  • Support OTF’s funding process by reviewing applications, participating in regular OTF application review calls, and conducting application due diligence.
  • Manage a portfolio of advanced research projects, including project development, onboarding, monitoring, payments, and closeout tasks.
  • Maintain a deep field-based understanding of current global internet freedom and human rights technology trends.

Team Management

  • Oversee a diverse team of program managers and program specialist
  • Contribute to the professional growth and development of colleagues in VP’s program team
  • Foster an environment of engagement and accountability among program team members
  • Coordinate with other VPs to ensure consistency and complementarity in OTF’s programmatic efforts

Partnership Development

  • Lead efforts to foster partnerships with other like-minded research organizations, including foundations, private sector, and government agencies, to OTF’s mission and research goals, in collaboration with OTF leadership.

Community Engagement

  • Represent OTF at relevant events, code sprints, hackathons, forums, and other relevant convenings worldwide, as appropriate.
  • Follow key developments and debates related to Internet freedom; identify new opportunities and challenges; keep abreast of the academic and popular literature relevant to OTF’s mission; and, share key findings and lessons among colleagues and the field.
  • Continually learn new skills and share knowledge to help improve and advance team practices.
  • Promote engagement between supported projects and other communities to encourage collaboration, learning, exchange and strategic partnerships.
  • There will be many opportunities to travel and some may be required.

The VP of Research is expected to fulfill other essential duties as discussed and assigned by OTF leadership.

Qualifications

Alignment to the Mission and Culture of OTF

  • Commitment to OTF’s mission and core values of equity, fairness and diversity.
  • Passion for social change with knowledge of philanthropy, and interest in the field of human rights and Internet freedom, including nonprofit organizations, entrepreneurship, racial and gender equity, civic engagement, etc.
  • Personal qualities of humility, capacity for self-reflection, and/or a sense of humor.
  • Action-orientated and entrepreneurial self-starter who can work well independently while also as part of a diverse team.
  • Discretion and ability to handle confidential issues.

Education

  • A level of education that when combined with your professional experience will adequately show you have the capability to contribute meaningfully to OTF. Candidates who have relevant academic degrees or certifications are encouraged to apply, but this is a plus - not a requirement.

Experience

We do NOT expect applicants to have all the experience, skills, and knowledge described below. This section contains an illustrative list of what we will be looking at when evaluating applications for this critical role.

  • 10+ years experience designing, conducting, analyzing, commissioning and communicating research efforts relevant to internet freedom technologies, the individual and organizations who create them and the communities they support.
  • Credible and practiced expertise designing research with vulnerable or under threat populations
  • Demonstrable experience identifying and implementing tailor research approaches balancing rigor, contextual constraints and accessibility
  • Proven track record of developing and implementing innovative strategies to advance Internet freedom in coordination with other experts.
  • Experience managing diverse teams under challenging circumstances.
  • Experience managing, and committing to the growth and development of, diverse teams.
  • Extensive program management experience, particularly with U.S. government funding.
  • Trusted and recognized expert within the Internet freedom community.
  • Extensive expertise regarding the digital threats faced by journalists and human rights defenders.
  • Ability to explain complex technical subjects clearly and respectfully to audiences of specialists in non-technical fields.
  • Ability to simultaneously handle multiple projects effectively and adjust to changing priorities.

Related skills and knowledge

  • A high level of self-motivation with a passion for continuous learning.
  • Strong critical thinking, analytical skills and creativity in approaching challenges and finding solutions.
  • A drive for quality and excellence in your work.
  • Detail-oriented and organized, experience with project management.
  • Exceptional professionalism, follow-through and people skills.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Excellent ability to work collaboratively and respectfully with others in multicultural teams, across organizational boundaries and multiple time zones, and with team members at all levels. Language skills and field experience are a plus.
  • Confidence and enthusiasm when communicating to both external partners and the internal project team in both formal and informal presentations.
  • A flexible, responsive, and enthusiastic approach to work, including the humility and grace to work effectively with others in a collaborative, fast-paced team, a “can do” attitude.
  • Ability to travel, as needed.

Compensation

$112,000 - 168,000 commensurate with qualifications and experience. This is a full-time position for employment. OTF seeks exceptional applicants and offers competitive compensation and excellent employer-paid benefits.

Location

Washington, DC, USA (required), with flexibility for remote work on occasion.

How to Apply

Please email your resume and cover letter to [email protected]

Only applications submitted through [email protected] will be considered. If you are experiencing technical difficulties with your application submission, please email [email protected] Because we receive a large number of applications per job posting, inquiries regarding the status of applications will go unanswered.

Diverse teams are strong teams. OTF includes a mix of genders, parents and non-parents, the self-taught, and people of multiple races, nationalities, ages, and socio-economic backgrounds. We encourage candidates of all races, genders, ages, abilities, orientations, ethnicities, and national origins to apply, and welcome those with alternative backgrounds and experiences. We are interested in every qualified candidate who is eligible to work in the United States. However, we will not offer visa sponsorship for this position.

Open Technology Fund is an inclusive, equal opportunity employer. We actively seek a diverse applicant pool and do not discriminate in our hiring practices.

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