Careers and Internships at PHR | Director of Advocacy and Policy

Director of Advocacy and Policy

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which shared in the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, is a U.S.-based international advocacy organization working at the intersection of medicine, science, and law. With a global network of thousands of medical, scientific, and legal experts, PHR uses the power of medical and scientific evidence to document human rights and humanitarian law violations and prevent abuses, protect survivors, and promote justice and universal human rights for all.

Building upon its highly respected place in the field, and supported by a committed and talented team, PHR seeks a Director of Advocacy and Policy to join the PHR team.

Work Authorization: Applicants must be authorized to work in the United States.

Location: New York City or Washington D.C. (currently remote due to COVID-19 but hybrid model in the future)

Reports to: Executive Director

Organizational Overview

Physicians for Human Rights was founded in 1986 by five physicians who were united in the belief that health professionals, with their specialized skills, ethical duties, and credible voices, are uniquely positioned to prevent harm and promote respect for human rights. Since its founding, PHR has built a long and distinguished record of accomplishment by conducting groundbreaking investigations and advocacy, in concert with strategic partners.

PHR’s approach includes extensive documentation of the use of illegal and inhumane weapons in armed conflicts, attacks on civilians, and the physical and psychological impacts of torture and sexual violence as a weapon of war. Other core activities include protecting the rights of those seeking asylum in the United States, the human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, and halting attacks on medical facilities and frontline health professionals.

Role Description

Health professionals are uniquely positioned to be a powerful voice for human rights advocacy. Reporting directly to PHR’s executive director, the director of advocacy and policy will lead the expansion of the global organization’s existing advocacy work, engaging, mobilizing, and leveraging the positive potential of PHR’s vast network of health and science professionals to promote human rights worldwide.


  • Expand PHRs’ advocacy function to enhance its global impact. Translate PHR’s Strategic Framework into actionable policy and advocacy initiatives, ensuring that PHR’s work incorporates a well-understood advocacy plan that leverages a movement of health professionals to impact human rights policies and practices, and to ensure accountability worldwide.
  • Serve as PHR’s chief policy expert, framing, articulating, and guiding policy recommendations, priorities, and strategiestoleverage the organization’s research, capacity development, strategic partnerships, and communications expertise. Identify when PHR takes specific policy positions and mediate our engagement in areas where we don’t have programs.
  • Implement innovative campaigns to further local, national, and international policy goals and shape narratives and practices to prevent human rights violations, support accountability, and implement meaningful policy reforms that reinforce the right to health and dignity.
  • Develop, mentor, and support a highly committed advocacy team, fostering excellence, collaboration, and innovation. 
  • Monitor the global human rights landscape and identify opportunities for PHR to engage our network to advance human rights goals where our unique skillset can have an impact.
  • Serve as a spokesperson and advocate on international human rights issues. Cultivate relationships with PHR’s network of experts, peer organizations, and leaders in the human rights sector to identify opportunities to advance PHR’s mission. Engage with the board and Advisory Council, donors, media, international entities, and other key stakeholders to promote the values, vision, and goals of the organization.
  • Collaborate on fundraising and communications efforts to ensure that policy goals and strategic advocacy are integrated throughout PHR’s work. Support general and campaign-specific fundraising. Provide editorial review of select reports, publications, ERB applications, or other work, as needed.
  • Help shape PHR’s continued growth and impact. Serve as a member of the executive management team and a thought partner and collaborator with the executive director to support organizational decision making and strategy.
  • Contribute to a supportive, equitable, and inclusive work environment, seeking opportunities to deepen PHR’s collective understanding of and commitment to principles and practices that reflect diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and power.

Qualifications of the Ideal Candidate

While no one candidate will possess all the qualifications listed below, the ideal candidate will embody many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:

  • A strong commitment to advancing human rights and to communities affected by social injustice and human rights abuses;
  • Extensive experience in developing, framing, and explaining complex policy positions; a deep understanding of human rights law and policy, the political climate, emerging issues, and advocacy opportunities in the international human rights landscape;
  • A minimum 15 years of professional experience, including at least 10 in progressively senior advocacy or management roles in the public health, environmental, civil/human rights, humanitarian, or advocacy fields; experience working with medical or public health professionals is preferred;
  • A record of success leading effective, strategic advocacy campaigns and a vision for how to leverage PHR’s unique position at the intersection of medicine, law, and human rights; a demonstrated ability to build successful programs, lead and inspire teams, and cultivate networks in multiple global locations, and to manage resources and budgets;
  • Proven track record of building and sustaining constituencies, partnerships, and alliances, including funder relationships;
  • Exceptional communication skills, including compelling public speaking and writing skills, and the ability to translate complex, technical issues for media, senior officials, government policymakers, intergovernmental bodies, and donors; experience with leveraging complex data in the service of an advocacy agenda; fluency in using digital tools, including social media, to engage audiences is required;
  • Demonstrated collaborative and entrepreneurial spirit; strategic and outcome-driven leader who is enthusiastic about working in partnership, identifying and leveraging expertise, and building the next generation of leaders;
  • Experience with and enthusiasm for mentorship and staff development; strong ability to instill teams and networks with a sense of shared commitment and purpose; demonstrated commitment to responsive, accountable leadership and the ability to inculcate those values within a team;
  • Familiarity with organizational fundraising strategies; ability to understand strategic opportunities and to develop the case for support for complex and long-term advocacy initiatives;
  • An advanced degree in a relevant/aligned field is preferred;
  • Bi- or multilingual fluency preferred;
  • A willingness to travel globally as needed, sometimes on short notice.

Salary and Benefits

This is a full-time position located in New York City or Washington D.C. and is an in-office-based role (it is currently remote during the COVID-19 pandemic but plan to return to the office on a hybrid model). Salary is commensurate with experience. PHR offers comprehensive employer-paid benefits, including medical, dental, disability, and life insurance, a retirement savings plan, and generous vacation.

How to Apply

Please email cover letter and resume to Indicate your “Last Name/First Name, Director of Advocacy and Policy” in the subject line.

Physicians for Human Rights is an equal opportunity employer. We recruit and hire without regard to race, national origin, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, prior conviction, arrest history, disability, marital status, veteran status, or age.