Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer
Executive Division
Multiple Locations Considered
Application Deadline: Open Until Filled

The Role

The Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer (the “DED/COO”) will be empowered with the authority and responsibility to manage Human Right Watch’s operations across the entire global organization and enforce its policies and procedures, extending to all employees. The successful candidate will report to the Executive Director and be a standing member of the organization’s Executive Committee, sharing the organization’s vision and transforming the organization to be scalable and more effective and efficient. The candidate will be assigned the primary responsibility to implement the strategic plan, ensure financial discipline, promote a culture of trust and collaboration and assure that the entire organization operates consistent with its values.

A newly created position, the DED/COO will directly supervise the following organizational functions: Finance & Accounting; Information Technology and Systems; General Counsel; Human Resources; Office Facilities; Security; Internal Communications; Development.

In addition, the DED/COO will be empowered with oversight authority to ensure compliance with the organization’s standards for management and conduct, including its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, budgetary parameters, monitoring and evaluation, planning, and other elements of the organization’s operational procedures, including over areas not under the DED/COO’s direct supervisory control including Program; Advocacy; Media/External Communications.

More than just an effective operational manager, HRW seeks an innovative leader able to work collaboratively with the organization’s diverse and talented staff, including researchers, advocates and communications professionals. The DED/COO with lead a newly formed Management Team consisting of all senior officers along with a broad representation from across the organization. The Management Team will support the DED/COO on management of the organization, implementation of organization-wide policies and initiatives, and effective internal communications in a transparent and inclusive fashion.

The successful candidate will have significant international experience; a sophisticated understanding of the applications of data to decision-making; strong organization transformation experience; the ability to align systems, processes and objectives without stifling individual initiative; and a strong commitment to established “best practice” management principles.

Responsibilities include:
• Establishing a close partnership with the Executive Director and leading a clearly articulated operational strategy in support of HRW’s strategic goals.
• Focusing on outcomes and improvement to ensure that the management, staffing, and culture of the organization’s operational backbone are aligned with HRW’s mission and values.
• Working closely with the Executive Committee and senior leadership to ensure a culture of open and direct communication in a positive, fair, and accountable workplace.
• Ensuring consistent application of policies and practices, with the authority to ensure appropriate accountability across the organization.
• Overseeing a modern and agile financial architecture to oversee the optimization of the annual financial planning.
• Accountable for leading and monitoring overall and organization-wide risk levels.
• Ensuring that the organization recruits, supports, and retains a skilled, diverse, and high-performing workforce. Special emphasis will be given to implementing HRW’s initiatives on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Stress and Resilience.
• Overseeing rigorous management training to ensure HRW managers around the globe. Ensuring opportunities for development, growth, and training of colleagues at all stages of their careers.
• Promoting a healthy organizational culture, helping staff build resilience and manage stress, leading by example. Developing supportive systems for managing work effectively across many time zones.
• In collaboration with the Executive Committee, ensuring that HRW has effective strategic planning and implementation processes, including the setting of annual priorities and the alignment of financial tools.
• Instituting proper monitoring and evaluation of performance and impact throughout the organization.

The position will be located in New York or in one of HRW’s other global offices. We anticipate that this role will require significant travel once Covid-19 related travel restrictions are lifted; accommodations for those with caretaking responsibilities applicable when necessary.

Candidate Profile
The successful candidate will be an experienced, thoughtful, and inspiring manager with a passion for the mission of Human Rights Watch and a track-record of successful operational leadership within a diverse, complex global organization in the business, non-profit, or public sectors. They will be a leader of unquestioned integrity with proven experience in guiding and motivating a diverse and high-performing staff to achieve ambitious goals.

A seasoned operational professional, they will manage through influence rather than hierarchy and have demonstrated an ability to achieve real impact across a complex, global organization. They will display keen analytical and problem-solving skills, a track-record of sound decision-making, strong communication skills, and evidence of strong enduring professional relationships.

Sensitivity to working with diverse cultures is required. The successful candidate will be able to establish a strong working relationship with the Executive Director, the Deputy Executive Director/Chief Program Officer and other members of the senior leadership team, and quickly earn the confidence of the Board, staff, and external stakeholders.

Required performance and personal competencies:
Setting Strategy
• Executive-level experience in strategic decision-making and operational management, preferably in a dynamic international organization.
• An entrepreneurial approach to problem solving that builds resilience in processes, ensures predictability and encourages transparency, teamwork, and accountability.
• The ability to advance organizational change by creating realistic and measurable goals.
• The skill to seek and analyze relevant data to support strategic decision-making.
• Having a defined set of values and principles that align with creating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and experience incorporating these values and principles into policy and decision-making, administration, and practice.
Executing for Results
• Demonstrated ability to set priorities, delegate responsibilities, and allocate resources.
• Comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. Able to adapt and lead the team confidently through complex, evolving situations.
• The ability to act in a transparent and consistent manner taking into account the best interest of the organization.
• Demonstrated ability to apply culturally competent behaviors, attitudes, and practices to enable effective policies and structures.
Leading Teams
• The ability to recruit and retain top talent; motivate teams; delegate effectively; promote diversity, equity and inclusion; and manage performance in a fair, consistent, and transparent manner.
• A thoughtful, empathetic manager with a high degree of integrity. A strong listener able to ask the right questions to identify and fix operational gaps.
• A manager who is aware of their own limitations--who leads by example and drives performance while displaying self-improvement and openness to feedback.
Relationships and Influence
• Excellent interpersonal skills and the capacity to establish productive relationships and consult at multiple levels.
• Has excellent communication and presentation skills.
• Is a present manager. Encourages ideas and opinions and shares information openly.
Personal Attributes
• Resilient with a well-tested capacity to operate effectively and responsively under pressure.
• Unquestionable personal integrity, sense of fairness, humility and strong personal and professional judgment.
• Culturally sensitive; values and promotes diversity in all its forms; ability to adapt to the cultural contexts of a global organization.
• Fluency in English is required. Competency in other languages is a plus.

Salary and Benefits: HRW seeks exceptional applicants and offers comprehensive compensation and benefits.

To submit an application or for additional information, please contact Russell Reynolds Associates at the email address below. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.


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 ability, 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 monitoring 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 influential governments and international institutions.

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