Careers and Internships at PHR | Senior Program Officer, Asylum Program

Senior Program Officer, Asylum Program 

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 violations of human rights and humanitarian law, 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 Senior Program Officer, Asylum Program.

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

Location: Headquarters, New York, NY 

Reports to: Director of Programs

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

We seek a program officer to lead Physicians for Human Rights’ (PHR) domestic asylum work by developing and continuing several exciting program collaborations with academic partners. PHR’s Asylum Network consists of more than 2,200 health professionals throughout the United States who offer pro bono forensic evaluations to document evidence of torture and other human rights abuses for immigrants fleeing persecution in their home countries. PHR provides training, mentorship, and other support to volunteer physicians, psychologists, and licensed social workers nationwide to evaluate the growing number of requests that the Asylum Network receives. We maintain active collaborations with over 20 medical school-based asylum programs, also engaging them in PHR advocacy and research initiatives. 

The Asylum Program is committed to quality services provision for immigrants, as well as advocating for systemic change in U.S. immigration and asylum policy and equipping clinicians to be human rights researchers and advocates. To inform its advocacy, the team conducts and publishes research on the health harms resulting from abuses in immigration detention and border enforcement, as well as research related to root causes of migration and persecution of specific groups. PHR asylum research is used in advocacy with federal agencies and Congressional offices, and as evidence in litigation. 


1. Staff Management and Supervision

  • Manage and supervise the program associate and/or coordinator 
  • Act as program liaison to senior management (e.g., Director of R&I, Director of Programs, Medical Director) 
  • Recruit and supervise program interns 
  • Participate in hiring of additional staff as needed 
  • Participate in hiring and supervising short-term consultants 
  • Act as main liaison with senior medical advisor

2. Asylum Program Management

  • Oversee and ensure effective operation of the Asylum Program and Clinician Network  
  • Develop and implement plans to sustain and improve case placement and follow-up processes
  • Develop and implement processes to recruit and retain clinicians to conduct evaluations
  • Develop and oversee monitoring, evaluation, and quality control systems. 
  • Foster good relations between medical school asylum clinics, attorneys, and network members by ensuring strong communication and coordination 
  • Build and manage external relationships with local, national and international organizations  
  • Provide monitoring and feedback to medical school asylum clinics on their support and development.
  • Oversee the regular communication with Asylum Network members;  
  • Identify and reach out to Asylum Network members with appropriate expertise and skills to assist in specific research and advocacy initiatives 
  • Develop and manage Asylum Program budget and tracks program expenses 
  • Provide support to medical/psychology/social work students interested in starting an asylum clinics;  
  • Supervise the development of medical school clinic-specific materials and training curriculums
  • Work with Advocacy on engagement with PHR’s Student Advisory Board. 
  • Support collaborations among clinician members and other PHR staff in programs, communications, and advocacy departments to support engagement in research and advocacy initiatives

3. Strategy and Development

  • Work with senior leadership on Asylum Network strategy 
  • Work with senior leadership to create a research and advocacy strategy around asylum and immigration issues 
  • Create strategies for identifying and maintaining external partnerships and collaborations (I.e., with medical societies, medical schools, non-governmental organizations, impacted populations
  • With PHR’s development staff, design and support the drafting of grant proposals and reports, manage relationships with funders, manage project budgets. 
  1. Research 
  • Work with internal and external partners to create qualitative and quantitative research projects to conduct research of asylum/immigration/torture and related topics. 
  • Work with internal and external partners to submit, publish and disseminate research findings and align them with advocacy objectives.  
  • Lead the creation of ethical, survivor-centered and trauma-informed research protocols that as much as possible engage with all key stakeholders in all stages of development, conducting, and disseminating findings.  
  • Lead the creation of IRB protocols and lead the submission process internally and externally, including with partnering academic organizations 
  • Collect, aggregate, and analyze data received from network members and/or respondents.  
  1. Advocacy and Media
  • Author internal and external updates on asylum issues and program developments, including network accomplishments for the annual report, briefings to the Board of Directors, etc.
  •  Develop and implement plans for increasing both advocacy and capacity of the PHR asylum network
  • With communications staff, maximize media exposure of asylum research, advocacy, and other activities;  
  • Author or co-author policy briefs, op-eds and/or blog posts related to asylum and immigration law and enforcement. 
  • Serve as a media liaison for interviews and background briefings 
  • Along with leaders of the Advocacy team, lead engagement with local, state and federal government on initiatives related to asylum or immigration (e.g., DHS, USCIS) 
  • Use data and qualitative materials to write policy brief and reports to UN agencies, other international bodies, and the U.S. government. 
  • Provide other programmatic support as needed. 

Qualifications of the Ideal Candidate

  • Advanced degree preferred, particularly in public health, law, human rights, etc.  
  • Minimum five years of asylum, immigration, or human rights experience required 
  • Experience and skills in strategic and project management, communication, and advocacy required, preferably in a human rights, public health, or advocacy setting  
  • Experience creating, delivering advocacy and campaign messaging
  • Demonstrated commitment to human rights of asylum seekers, other immigrants, and survivors of abuse 
  • Exceptional analytical, writing, and verbal skills in English; strong research skills; experience in public speaking and training is a plus 
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively, effectively, and professionally with multifaceted organizations 
  • Capacity to manage and foster relationships with internal and external program stakeholders 
  • Mature judgment, strong sense of integrity, ability to maintain strict confidentiality, and capacity to be a self-starter 
  • Strong organizational skills, attention to detail and follow-through 
  • Significant cross-cultural experience and interpersonal skills 
  • Computer/database management proficiency (experience using Salesforce preferred, but on the job training with SF is provided) 
  • Willingness to travel domestically and internationally as needed (e.g., to northern Mexico) 
  • Ability to work under pressure and meet tight deadlines 
  • Familiarity with Human Rights Research methodologies  
  • Ability to work collaboratively and with a sense of humor.  
  • Spanish language proficiency or fluency preferred 

Salary and Benefits

This is a full-time position located in New York City and is a hybrid role (not remote.) Salary is between $70,000-$90,000 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 Please include the job title of the position you are applying for in the subject line of your email and where you saw this job posting in the email body.

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.