Director, Governance

San Francisco, California, United States | Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, United States
Apply by 2 April 2018
Senior-level , Full-time staff position
Posted on 9 March 2018

Job Description

In an increasingly complex and interconnected world, Asia plays a crucial global role. Would you be excited at the prospect of employing your knowledge and skills to improve lives, expand opportunities, and help societies flourish across this dynamic region?

You could have this opportunity at The Asia Foundation. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, we address critical issues affecting Asia in the 21st century: governance and law, economic development, women’s empowerment, environment, and regional cooperation. We work with innovative leaders and communities to build effective institutions and advance path-breaking reforms. Together with our partners, we are committed to Asia’s continued development as a peaceful, just, and thriving region of the world.


Governance is a defining feature of Asia Foundation (Foundation) programming across the 18 countries and three sub-regions of Asia in which it works. Foundation support for national and sub-national institutional development, law and justice reform, human rights protection, conflict mitigation and peacebuilding, women’s empowerment, economic development, environmental resilience, regional cooperation, and the application of technology for development is informed by political economy analysis and other analytical tools that are grounded in its hallmark governance approach.

The Foundation’s efforts to foster open, effective, and accountable systems of governance span countries in which state institutions, political accountability, access to justice, and human rights protection are historically weak; others in which more well-established democratic systems, values, and governance standards are threatened by authoritarianism, weak governance, corruption, shrinking space for rival political views and perspectives, or other political backslides; as well as countries in which alternative political systems and structures have evolved to create space and scope for enhanced governance standards and practices.

Foundation grants and technical assistance to partners in government, civil society, academia, and the private sector promote responsive and accountable systems of governance, equitable, efficient, and predictable justice for all citizens, mitigation of national, sub-national, and local conflict, robust civil society, independent media and other watchdog institutions, public advocacy, and participatory decision-making processes through which citizens and communities (including those that have been historically marginalized) assume a more informed voice in public affairs.


The Director/Governance (the Director) provides technical and intellectual leadership of program design, implementation, review, and refinement to support the Foundation’s country and regional programs, in coordination with other program units; helps to raise public and private resources for Foundation programs; catalyzes the exchange of ideas and information on governance issues and emerging trends within the Foundation; facilitates opportunities for the Foundation to engage, influence, and benefit from the broader development community; and leads the Governance program in new directions that address emerging issues and program opportunities—including the myriad challenges associated with political settlements, public policy making for contemporary economic and social development, evolving political processes, decentralization, urbanization and livable cities, corruption, authoritarian backslides, shrinking space for civil society, and the transformational role of technology and social media.

The Director regularly engages with governments, partner organizations, present and prospective donors, diplomatic missions, national and international institutions, academic specialists and think tanks, and the media. He/she plays a prominent thought leadership role through publications, public speaking, conference participation, mentoring colleagues, and other contributions. As a member of the Program Specialists Group (PSG), he/she joins fellow program directors in pursuing more rigorous cross-thematic discourse, collaboration, and other coordinated efforts to enhance the quality of Foundation programming.


Internal: The Director/Governance reports to the Managing Director/SPO, Program Specialists Group (PSG). He/she supervises long and short-term consultant technical specialists, and works in close collaboration with country offices and other PSG directors and the technical staff of other program units. Regular contact with country representatives and deputy country representatives, field-based program staff, and technical specialists attached to other PSG program teams. Regular contact with the Foundation’s President and Vice Presidents and periodic engagement with members of the Board of Trustees.

External: Frequent contact with headquarters and field-based counterparts in key donor and diplomatic agencies (including DFID, Australian DFAT, the U.S. Department of State, USAID, Global Affairs Canada, the European Union, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and United Nations agencies), local partner organizations, domestic and international research organizations and think tanks, and specialists in the fields of governance, law and justice, decentralization and local governance, urbanization, elections and political processes, public advocacy, and civil society development. Periodic contact with Asian government officials, diplomatic officials, and print and broadcast and social media professionals.


Required Experience: At least 10 years of professional experience of increasing responsibility in international development assistance programs (or relevant policy or academic experience) focused on governance, public policy, decentralization, urbanization, elections and political processes, corruption prevention, law and justice, or related areas. Extensive experience in program design, implementation, and review, informed by robust political economy and policy analysis. Exceptional track record in proposal writing and successful fundraising with public sector development agencies and private donors. Proven capacity to work cross-sectorally and beyond conventional niche approaches, with preference given to candidates with experiencing in political economy analysis, thinking and working politically (TWP), and the application of adaptive management tools for programming.

Preferred Experience: Academic and professional experience in one or more Asian countries or sub-regions. Language proficiency in at least one Asian language.

Skills: Proven ability to link strong analytical approaches and understanding with practical, on-the-ground programming. Strong team building, representational, and problem-solving skills. Demonstrated experience managing multi-disciplinary teams; excellent verbal and written communication skills, including public speaking experience; and proven interpersonal and intercultural skills and sensitivity.

Other: Readiness to undertake extensive travel in Asia, including periodic missions to countries that experience significant political tensions and security challenges, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Education: Master’s or doctoral degree or equivalent in political science, political economy, public administration, public policy, law, or related development field.


Supporting Country and Regional Programs

Coordinate technical support to country programs for the design and development, review, and refinement of governance programs.


Lead fundraising efforts spanning public and private donors, in coordination with country offices, other program units, and the Public Sector Development Services (PSDS) and Resource Development units.

Manage Governance Program-led Regional Programs

Manage Governance program-led or coordinated program activities with a regional or multi-country focus, with responsibility for delivering activities and outputs, meeting donor reporting requirements, financial management and oversight, and other commitments specified in funding agreements.

Thought Leadership

Expand the Foundation’s role and profile as a thought leader on governance in the Asia-Pacific region by leading engagement with different external audiences through research and writing, conference participation, public speaking, design and testing of innovative program tools and approaches; and engaging donors in dialogue on emerging issues and program opportunities.

Mentoring Program Staff and Raising Country Program Capacity

Lead support to Foundation country program staff to enhance programmatic capacity and confidence in governance programming; share relevant literature; and convene periodic gatherings of program staff to share experience and refine program activities and approaches through in-person workshops and webinars.

This position will be based in San Francisco or Washington, D.C. with regular travel to Asia.


At a critical moment in history, you will have the opportunity to contribute to the development, stability, and growth of the Asia region. You will help promote a more constructive engagement between government and citizens and advance learning and awareness about The Asia Foundation. You will work with and learn from dedicated, smart, and accomplished colleagues and local partners, and, in the process, improve your skills and expertise.


Applications should be submitted by visiting our website: selecting “Regular Employment”. We will only consider applicants who apply online and include both their cover letter, resume, and answer the assessment questions provided. Please upload your cover letter and resume in one document. You can also upload both in separate documents but please note, to do so, you will have to sign out of the system and go back into your record for additional documents. Applicant must submit their application prior to the deadline on Monday, April 2, 2018.

The Asia Foundation offers excellent benefits and salary commensurate with experience. We are an equal opportunity employer. Women and people of color are encouraged to apply.

About the Organization

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals—strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation.

Headquartered in San Francisco, The Asia Foundation works through a network of offices in 18 Asian countries and in Washington, DC. Working with public and private partners, the Foundation receives funding from a diverse group of bilateral and multilateral development agencies, foundations, corporations, and individuals. In 2017, we provided $83.7 million in direct program support and distributed textbooks and other educational materials valued at $8.7 million.