LGBT Rights Director at Human Rights Watch

  • Full Time
  • Nairobi

Human Rights Watch

The Opportunity

  • Human Rights Watch is seeking a human rights professional to lead its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Rights Program, one of HRW’s eight thematic research and advocacy programs, made up of 9 staff.
  • The LGBT Rights Program defends and promotes the rights of LGBT people globally. Focal areas include violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, criminalization of same-sex conduct, restrictions on freedoms of expression and association, abuses in medical settings, and socio-economic rights including access to education, healthcare, and employment.
  • The successful candidate will be a thoughtful, collaborative, and strategic leader with deep knowledge and experience working on a diverse range of human rights issues related to LGBT rights. The Director will be a persuasive advocate in the field, and have an impressive track record of driving change, a deep commitment to coalition building and equitable partnerships, and a strategic vision for HRW’s contribution to the global LGBT rights movement.
  • The Director will be an experienced manager and demonstrate the ability and commitment to foster the safety and resilience of staff, to promote diversity and inclusion, to support sustainability of the organization, to be an effective communicator, to provide appropriate and timely feedback on staff performance, to build consensus with staff around key challenges and new research and advocacy approaches, and to ensure the highest research standards in a culture of learning, trust, teamwork, and collaboration
  • The Director will represent the organization in national, regional, and international media on LGBT human rights issues; will advocate with high-level officials from governments, companies, the United Nations, and other regional and international bodies; will foster and strengthen partnerships with other human rights and civil society organizations, particularly local partners; and will lead our LGBT-related collaborations in the human rights movement.
  • The position will be based in any of HRW’s global offices. The Director will report to a Deputy Program Director in the Program Office and will lead a team of researchers / advocates based in various locations. We aim to be as flexible and supportive as possible in both the recruitment for and onboarding of this position.


  • Develop strategies, set programmatic priorities, and plan and execute research and advocacy to best defend and advance LGBT rights as human rights globally;
  • Ensure high research standards, including thorough vetting of research and media products, developing innovative research methods, and ensuring that the division’s work meets a high ethical standard;
  • Collaborate with HRW staff in other program areas, including by reviewing products produced across the organization;
  • Provide final editing of reports and other written interventions and take part in research and writing;
  • Oversee the collection of detailed, contextualized information on human rights violations affecting LGBT people around the world, ensure the publication of accurate, comprehensive, insightful, strategic, and timely reports on those policies and practices, and ensure the use of those reports to generate effective and appropriate pressure to curb abuses;
  • Collaborate with HRW’s security teams and others to ensure the safety and resilience of staff, information security, and security of interlocutors and partners;
  • Work closely with the Development and Outreach Department to fundraise, identify and recruit donors, and prepare funding proposals;
  • Maintain an extensive network of informed, supportive, individual donors based all over the world, and support, maintain and grow the network;
  • Ensure that individual donors are kept updated and informed about the work of the program and work with Development colleagues in arranging events and briefing sessions for donors. This includes managing staff time and travel related to fundraising efforts and spending a significant amount of time meeting with donors and prospective donors;
  • Manage budget setting and spending priorities, in co-operation with the Finance Department, and ensure that resources are allocated to maximize impact;
  • Undertake extensive domestic and international travel; and
  • Perform other responsibilities, as required.

Managerial Responsibilities:

  • Lead, motivate, and mentor a thriving nine-person team, including communicating clear expectations, setting performance objectives, providing regular and timely constructive feedback, ensuring balanced workload, and providing guidance on professional growth;
  • Supervise the team’s use of traditional media, multimedia, new technology, and other innovative tools to advance advocacy goals;
  • Monitor staff well-being to help manage stress, and boost resilience;
  • Promote an inclusive and positive work environment including by soliciting diverse points of views, encouraging staff to participate in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and proactively addressing any bias, or discrimination; and
  • Model inclusive behavior and consistently adhere to HRW’s internal values;


  • Education: An advanced (graduate) degree or equivalent work experience in law, social science, public policy, or a related field is required.
  • Experience: A minimum of ten (10) yearsof relevant work experience with at least five years in a management role.

Related Skills and Knowledge:

  • Self-motivated, creative, strategic thinker with senior-level experience working on LGBT human rights issues globally is required.
  • Knowledge of LGBT rights movements worldwide and experience negotiating the political and ethical challenges such work poses is required.
  • Excellent leadership skills and a depth and breadth of management and organizational skills, including the demonstrated ability to lead a team of talented professionals in multiple global locations is required.
  • Fundraising and development experience is highly desirable.
  • Ability to juggle multiple tasks and work collegially in a demanding, diverse, and fast-paced professional environment is required.
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills in English are required. Fluency in one or more languages other than English is highly desirable.
  • Keen political judgment, proven initiative and follow-through, the ability to work quickly and well under pressure, and a commitment to human rights is required.
  • Experience with LGBT research and advocacy in a transnational context and with groups relatively marginalized within larger LGBT communities is required.

Method of Application

Attach a cover letter and a resume or CV, preferably as PDF files. No calls or email inquiries, please. Only complete applications will be reviewed and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

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