Program Officer, Jewish Advocacy and Engagement

New York City preferred, with flexibility to be based in Washington, D.C.

Overview of AJWS

Inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world. AJWS promotes civil and political rights; advances sexual health and rights; defends land, water and climate justice; and aids communities in the aftermath of disasters. AJWS pursues lasting change by supporting grassroots and global human rights organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and by mobilizing supporters in the U.S. to advocate for global justice. Working together, the AJWS community strives to build a more just and equitable world.

Founded in 1985, AJWS is the first and only American Jewish organization dedicated solely to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease in the developing world.  Since its founding, AJWS has supported more than a thousand grassroots social change organizations and has granted $360 million to support human rights. Today AJWS has a budget of more than $50M. There are over 100 U.S.-based employees located in five offices (New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.), and 24 country representatives in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.  The organization has more than 190,000 supporters across the U.S. and around the world.

Overview of Department

The AJWS International Education and Jewish Engagement (IEJE) department oversees AJWS’s Jewish and rabbinic advocacy and engagement. This four-person New York-based team consists of two program officers and one executive assistant/program associate, all of whom report directly to the director of IEJE.

IEJE envisions a world in which Jewish values and international social justice values coalesce to support the realization of human rights in the Global South. It values grasstops Jewish leadership: rabbis who already are, or can be trained towards using their moral leadership in the Jewish community to affect United States foreign policy and Jewish communal institutions that coalesce to positively impact the human rights of AJWS’s partners in the developing world. IEJE works to create, sustain and feed a movement of rabbis, Jewish leaders and institutions that call upon Jewish teachings and texts in their pursuit of global social justice. In deep collaboration with AJWS’s DC-based advocacy team, IEJE strategically mobilizes rabbis to engage in the lawmaking process by influencing policymakers in the U.S. government—including Congress and the Administration— and to demonstrate Jewish community leadership towards a progressive foreign policy vision agenda that affirms and promotes human rights.

Beyond advocacy, the department collaborates with AJWS’s grantmaking, communications, and development teams, as well as our partners abroad, to mobilize the American Jewish community around global social justice and critical human rights issues in AJWS’s 19 countries. In addition to political advocacy, IEJE connects human rights grantmaking to Jewish principles and values and uses that connection to uplift AJWS’s leadership in the interfaith community, and support fundraising for AWJS’s grantmaking and organizing.

Job Summary

The Program Officer is an integral member of the IEJE department and is responsible for overseeing IEJE’s advocacy strategy and organizing AJWS’s Jewish communal leaders and high-level donors to speak out on AJWS’s top human rights issues as it relates to carrying out AJWS’s advocacy agenda. In partnership with IEJE’s other Program Officer, this roll will lead IEJE’s road map for leveraging the power and moral authority of top level donors and Jewish leaders to sway U.S.  Congressional leaders, federal offices (USAID, State Department), and Jewish nonprofits to support policies that promote and empower the work of AJWS grantees.

As of early 2018, this Program Officer will primarily focus on mobilizing the Jewish community around the Rohingya crisis in Burma (and U.S. policy to alleviate it), as well as some U.S. based advocacy around access to justice/anti-corruption campaigns in Guatemala, though the portfolio will expand to include a variety of progressive issues being impacted by the current Administration and government. The Program Officer will work closely with the Director of IEJE and also liaise with the Director of Government Affairs, working closely with her team to identify opportunities for impact, develop policy positions and implement government affairs strategy in these areas. They will also advise the Director on effective, sustainable collaboration with AJWS’s advocacy offices, and represent AJWS at key interfaith spaces and conferences. The Program Officer also participates in frequent formal and informal cross-organizational collaboration, particularly with other Programs staff, as well as colleagues in the communications and development divisions.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Advise Director on strategy and implementation around rabbinic organizing in pursuit of advocacy goals (justice for the Rohingya people in Burma, anti-corruption in Guatemala).
  • Engage top donors towards AJWS’s advocacy outcomes
  • Develop policy positions and talking points for rabbis’ advocacy with their congregations, Congressional representatives, and federal agency staff and directors;
  • Monitor, track and disseminate state-of-play information and analysis as it relates to the intersection of human rights, Jewish public opinion/nonprofit leadership, and political action, particularly in Congress and the State Department;
  • Cultivate relationships, through the Advocacy team, with key partner NGOs – both secular and interfaith – who work to advance AJWS’s advocacy goals through the legislative process. Also cultivate relationships with grasstops rabbinic leaders with proven capacity for political advocacy;
  • Represent AJWS in coalitions and at conferences or other relevant interfaith campaign functions/spaces;
  • Write factsheets, talking points and other materials targeted to Jewish leaders, primarily on foreign policy issues impacting AJWS grantees;
  • Respond to requests, manage information from and provide project support on campaign advocacy to a variety of internal and external stakeholders including other AJWS departments, AJWS international partners, Jewish communal organizations and colleague advocacy organizations (particularly around Rohingya rights in Burma and anti-corruption causes in Guatemala);
  • Provide campaign policy content for a variety of communications, development and campaigns support materials (such as e-action alerts, direct mail, issue one-pagers, AJWS publications and funding proposals);
  • Plan, organize and implement the annual Global Justice Fellowship (GJF, IEJE’s annual social justice programming for rabbis) DC Lobby Conference; and
  • Assist the IEJE department director in coordinating messaging with communications colleagues, between grasstops leadership and the grassroots supporters
  • Support yearly budget and departmental planning and strategy development as well as ongoing evaluation and government affairs relationship database tracking for IEJE.


  • General knowledge of and commitment to international issues required and a background in one or more of the issue areas within AJWS’s portfolio, particularly around Burma and Guatemala;
  • Familiarity with the Jewish communal landscape and a demonstrated ability to work with high level thought leaders, donors and rabbis in the Jewish community;
  • Familiarity with U.S. government structures and law-making processes, Congressional action and the role of the American Jewish community as a political constituency. Experience with facilitating conversations about Jewish values, Jewish text, social justice and human rights, particularly with leaders in the American Jewish community;
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment while maintaining a high level of organization, attention to detail and flexibility.
  • Bachelor’s degree required (MA degree preferred)
  • 4+ years relevant professional experience in human rights advocacy, Jewish or rabbinic organizing, and lobbying at the federal level and/or on Capitol Hill;
  • Expertise and experience with Jewish and interfaith communal organizations and advocacy nonprofits;
  • Strong interpersonal and coalition building skills;
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills;
  • Demonstrated success in working effectively both independently and as part of a team;
  • Passion for and commitment to AJWS’s mission and values;
  • Willingness to travel to Washington, DC office several times per year, as well as other occasional domestic travel required;
  • Willingness to travel internationally, at least 1-2 times annually preferred;
  • Standard knowledge of basic office computer programs required (Microsoft Office, etc.);
  • Fluency in Spanish, both in speaking and writing, a plus;
  • Experience living or working in the Global South a plus.

Additional Considerations

People of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, trans and gender non-conforming people; women; and differently abled people are encouraged to apply. We also encourage applications from people of diverse religious, spiritual and cultural backgrounds.

Authorization to work in the US is required.

How to Apply

For immediate consideration please apply below.

Applications submitted without a personalized cover letter will not be considered.

We thank you for your interest in career opportunities with AJWS. Due to high volume, only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted. No phone calls please.