Senior Advocate
United States Program
Washington DC Office
Application Deadline: August 15, 2021

The United States Program of Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) is seeking someone thoughtful and collaborative to be an advocate and strategist with policymakers, partners, and other relevant actors in Washington, DC and occasionally in key states as the Senior Advocate. Rights abuses in the United States disproportionately impact Black people, people of color, indigenous people, people from working class backgrounds, immigrants, women, and LGBTQIA+ people. Because we believe these communities must be centered in the work we do, we strongly encourage applications from people with these identities or other related lived experiences.

The Senior Advocate will be part of a dynamic team in the US Program, which aims to center the inherent dignity of human beings impacted by systemic racism as reflected in the policies of US federal, state, and local governments. Our team’s specific advocacy aims currently focus on the overarching need to achieve racial equity in the United States within the criminal legal and immigration systems and via broader reparative justice measures. Our investigations and partnership building become the basis for strategic advocacy to press those in power to effect changes in laws and policies that respect fundamental rights.

The Advocate should be a creative and strategic thinker with substantive experience advocating on racial justice and equity, criminal legal system abuses, and/or immigrants’ rights in the United States. The Advocate will be a part of project teams that aim to effect key substantive goals in policymaking in Congress, with the Executive Branch, and occasionally at the state level. As part of this work the Advocate will be responsible for nurturing and strengthening partnerships; developing and maintaining relationships with staff people and principals in key policymaking offices; speaking to the media, producing analytical written products to further advocacy goals; and communicating with HRW colleagues about opportunities for partnership and advocacy impact primarily in Washington. This position is based in Washington, DC, and reports to the US Program’s Executive Director.

Due to COVID-19, many of our global offices are currently closed or operating in reduced capacities. The successful candidate may be required to work remotely initially or if local requirements mandate it. We recognize that this moment, during the pandemic, is a uniquely difficult time for most people, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, and we aim to be as flexible and supportive as possible in both the recruitment for and onboarding of this position.


1. Contribute to setting overall strategic goals and objectives for the US Program’s work on racial equity in the United States and ending systemic racism, with a focus on the immigration and criminal legal systems, and the need for reparative justice;
2. Build working relationships with policymakers, partner organizations, and other relevant actors in Washington, DC, to generate support for human rights-respecting US domestic policies;
3. Develop and implement advocacy strategies in consultation with directly-impacted people, partner organizations, and HRW colleagues on a range of domestic issues, including racial justice and equity, immigration, the criminal legal system, all forms of discrimination, and other issues as needed due to a changing external environment and organizational priorities;
4. Work with colleagues to analyze federal policies impacting racial equity, including in the areas of immigration and the criminal legal system, among others;
5. Build, maintain, repair, and grow partnerships that can successfully advance racial equity and human rights results;
6. Present the research and recommendations of the US program in public fora and speak on behalf of the US program to the media and general public;
7. Meet regularly and develop strong working relationships with government officials, policymakers, representatives of international institutions, and other important actors;
8. Prepare a range of written materials, including policy and bill analyses, regulatory comments, advocacy letters and other related documents targeting officials and the public;
9. Influence policy debates by writing press releases, op-eds, and blog postings, and using social media;
10. Work with other rights organizations including through coalitions and with unlikely allies and develop contacts with journalists in a variety of media;
11. Keep abreast of pertinent legislative and policy developments and advise colleagues of important changes;
12. Travel within the United States and internationally, as required for internal meetings and advocacy opportunities; and
13. Perform other tasks as required.


Education: An advanced degree in public policy, journalism, law, or related studies is required. This requirement may be waived in lieu of additional years of experience.

Experience: A minimum of seven years of relevant experience in nongovernmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, or governments working to influence domestic US policies relevant to human rights issues is required.

Related Skills and Knowledge:
1. Advocacy experience and experience designing and implementing successful advocacy initiatives.
2. Extensive knowledge of human rights/civil rights issues in the US, ideally related to one or more of: racial justice and equity, immigration, and the criminal legal system.
3. Ample experience designing and managing multiple programs, building, and sustaining partnerships, and coordinating with diverse stakeholder communities.
4. Experience with and ability to develop and sustain relationships through regular targeted communications, with attention to timely responsiveness and delivering needed expertise to policymakers and their staff people.
5. Ability to defend and persuasively explain complex issues and positions to intergovernmental bodies as well as staff, including senior officials.
6. A track record of dealing with the media and cultivating relationships with unlikely allies and journalists.
7. Demonstrated ability to think creatively and strategically.
8. Ability to communicate well orally and in writing in English; proficiency in another language is desirable.
9. A commitment to advancing racial justice and equity, experience working with low-income communities of color to develop and implement solutions, and a well-developed practice of analyzing the equity impacts of policies, activities, and decisions on race, class, and other group identities.
10. Strong interpersonal skills to work collaboratively and as part of a team and with external partners.
11. Ability to work individually and multi-task effectively, and have strong communications, networking, planning and organizing skills, and the ability to work well under pressure.

Salary and Benefits: HRW seeks exceptional applicants and offers competitive compensation and employer-paid benefits. HRW offers a relocation assistance package and will assist employees in obtaining necessary work authorization, if required; citizens of all nationalities are encouraged to apply.

How to Apply: Please apply immediately or by August 15, 2021 by visiting our online job portal at careers.hrw.org and attaching a letter of interest and 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, please email recruitment@hrw.org. 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 come 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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