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Asylum Access

Chief Executive Officer(s)

About Asylum Access

Asylum Access is a human rights advocacy organisation that supports forcibly displaced individuals and communities as they reclaim their rights, agency and power.  

The unique combination of legal empowerment, policy advocacy and global systems change of Asylum Access creates conditions in which refugees can live safely, move freely, work legally and go to school. Their work transforms the traditional approach of endless humanitarian handouts into a sustainable solution that honors refugees’ freedom, dignity and autonomy and equips them to make choices about their own lives.

Asylum Access’ global team and family of local civil society organizations advocate to make human rights a reality for refugees throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. Their national organizations are led and staffed primarily by community members in those countries, and there is strong mutual trust and respect between them and their clients. On the international stage, they work with established institutions and partner with local civil society, including refugee-led organizations, to shift the global system to better uphold and promote refugees’ human rights. Asylum Access can help catalyze and lead systemic transformation because, uniquely among NGOs in the refugee response sector, they focus exclusively on rights and governance.

Asylum Access is also a founding member of the Resourcing Refugee Leadership Initiative (RRLI), a global coalition dedicated to shifting power and resources to refugee-led organizations. The initiative is convened by Asylum Access, and includes five prominent refugee-led organizations around the world: Basmeh & Zeitooneh in Lebanon, Saint Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS) in Egypt, Refugiados Unidos in Colombia, Refugees and Asylum Seekers Information Centre (RAIC) in Indonesia, and Young African Refugees for Integral Development (YARID) in Uganda. With an initial $10 million in seed funding as winner of the 2021 Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award, RRLI created the first grantmaking fund managed by and for refugees. Over the next 5 years, the initiative aims to assist 45 refugee-led organizations across 10 countries to access $40 million.

About the Role

Asylum Access’ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the organization’s top staff management position and holds overall responsibility for achieving its mission.

The CEO is entrusted by the board with day-to-day responsibility for all activities of the organisation, and as such is ultimately accountable for those activities, positive and negative.  The CEO is empowered and expected to build, develop, and inspire a team of other staff members to assist and collaborate to carry out the activities of the organization. The CEO is empowered to delegate responsibility for any activities but retains overall oversight and ultimate accountability regardless of any delegation. The CEO is hired by, reports to, and serves at the pleasure of the Board of Directors, who are responsible for organizational governance as set forth in the Asylum Access bylaws. The CEO serves as an ex officio member of the Board. 

Purpose of the Role

The CEO is responsible for the development and stewardship of Asylum Access’ vision and role within the global refugee response ecosystem; the development of organizational strategy; construction of organizational budgets; staffing, motivation and mentoring of the team; development and implementation of programs; development and implementation of operational systems and processes; cultivation and stewardship of financial resources; promulgation and upholding of organizational values; and all other aspects of guiding and managing the organization so as to enable the achievement of the mission in an inspired and responsible manner.  The CEO also serves as the public face of Asylum Access and as such, has an obligation to represent the mission, values and vision of the organization throughout any situations in which their words or actions may be attributed to or associated with Asylum Access.  

In the case that two co-CEOs are selected, they may divide specific areas of focus, but both co-CEOs would individually bear ultimate overall responsibility for ensuring that Asylum Access operates effectively to further its mission and for representing the organization publicly. The division of specific responsibilities is left to the co-CEOs, in consultation with the Board and with due attention to the needs of the organization.

Duties and Responsibilities

The role of the CEO generally includes, without limitation, the following duties:

Strategic Visioning and Leadership

  • With a consistent eye on the future, continually gather information and assess trends relevant to Asylum Access’ mission, and guide the organization to adapt accordingly.   
  • In consultation and association with stakeholders inside and outside the organization, craft and carry out a strategic vision in line with Asylum Access’ mission and values. This includes the development of theories of change and the development and implementation of multi-year strategic, operational, and annual plans.   
  • Ensure the entire family of Asylum Access organizations maintains coherence and consistency with the organization’s mission, vision, values, and brand.  
  • Envision and direct Asylum Access’ journey towards global governance, eagerly creating spaces for managers across the organization to build collective strategy and make strategic choices for the whole family of organizations. Cultivate and steward a strong relationship with the Board of Directors with a mutual duty to Asylum Access’ mission, vision and values at its core.  In particular, without limitation:
    • Support the Board of Directors in their practice of good governance by providing necessary information and analysis and by aiding in board recruitment, learning, and development.  
    • Develop and steward strong relationships between the Board of Directors and the Global Leadership Team (GLT), and aid them to engage in generative thinking and joint strategic efforts to advance Asylum Access’ mission and goals.  
    • Ensure Board members comprehend and are equipped to carry out their role as ambassadors for the organization, including by cultivating and stewarding donor and influencer relationships and advancing Asylum Access’ reputation and influence in philanthropic and displacement response spaces.  
    • In association with the Board Chair, strategically engage separate Board members as advisors where needed, capitalizing on their respective areas of expertise and experience.  
  • Inspire, motivate, and catalyze the development of staff at all levels of the organization.  

Reputation and Influence

  • Serve as a main public face of Asylum Access, with an emphasis on being heard in prominent spaces and among key stakeholders.  
  • Steward and advance Asylum Access’ global reputation as the well-known refugee human rights organization and as an important and effective actor in displacement response, human rights, and migration fields.  
  • Grow Asylum Access’ influence with decision-makers and influencers at all levels of the displacement response, human rights, and migration sectors — global, regional, and national.  
  • Consistently uphold and promote Asylum Access’ values, acting thoughtfully and with integrity in all interactions, internal and external.  

Impact Oversight

  • Continually ensure that Asylum Access’ programs, communications, and operations are advancing the organization’s mission and creating significant positive impact for forcibly displaced individuals and communities on appropriate timelines.  
  • Accurately assess effectiveness and impact on a regular basis, and make appropriate adjustments where needed to improve outcomes.  

Operational Effectiveness

  • Continually ensure that Asylum Access has a solid operational foundation that appropriately aids the program and other impact-focused activities of the organization.  Specifically, without limitation:
    • Ensure Asylum Access maintains sound finance and accounting policies and practices and generates and uses financial information effectively to make strategic choices about all aspects of the organization and its mission.  
    • Ensure Asylum Access maintains sound human resources policies and practices that reflect all our organizational values, and in particular advance diversity, equity and inclusion, and center the management of those with lived experience of forced displacement.  
    • Ensure Asylum Access maintains appropriate systems and processes to carry out all activities of the organization.  Proactively identify where systems or processes may need to be improved, expanded, or enhanced, and ensure such adjustments are made.  
  • Ensure Asylum Access budgets and manages financial and other resources in a strategic and responsible manner to achieve our mission and goals.   
  • Ensure Asylum Access appropriately manages all types of risk, including without limitation legal, financial, and reputational.  

Resource Magnetism

  • Demonstrate an exceptional ability to attract and retain resources — funding, people, partnerships, reputation — that enable the organization to advance its mission.  
  • Ensure plentiful funding for Asylum Access’ needs and growth, including but not limited to:
  • Cultivating and stewarding relationships with key current and prospective funders and donors 
  • Advancing the philanthropic community’s knowledge of the problems and barriers impacting refugees and the role of philanthropy in addressing them  
  • Advancing Asylum Access’ reputation and influence with funders and donors
  • Ensuring that Asylum Access has strong staff and systems for fundraising and assisting them to achieve the organization’s fundraising goals 

Skills and Experience

  • Demonstrated experience in the following areas: 
    • Refugee rights, legal empowerment and/or policy advocacy
    • Serving as upper management in an organization 
    • People management, particularly in building, developing and inspiring a team
    • Operations management
    • Credible advocate, with expertise and experience related to forced displacement and refugees
  • Outstanding communication skills
  • Creative and effective problem-solving skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Time management skills
  • Decision-making skills placing a high value on shared management
  • Prioritization and delegation skills
  • Ability to anticipate trends, have foresight and steer an organization
  • Mindfulness and strategic thinking in promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and transparent management
  • Decency and care toward others
  • Cultural competence and intelligence, ability to work well in a diverse, multicultural workforce

Preferred Qualifications

  • Nonprofit operations management experience is preferred.
  • Fluency in Spanish and/or other languages in addition to English is a significant plus.
  • A lived experience of forced displacement is preferred. Such experiences could include but are certainly not limited to experience as someone seeking asylum or protection in another country or as a refugee or internally displaced person. Asylum Access values the expertise associated with these experiences and works to increase the representation of those who have the above-described experiences on our team.

Please indicate in your cover letter if you are applying as the CEO or are open to a Co-CEO role. You are also welcome to indicate if you would like to apply in partnership with another individual. 

Compensation Package

Asylum Access is committed to paying equitably, and anticipates taking into account both individual candidate situation and location – They are open to conversation. For estimated location-based scaling of the salary based on the cost of living, Asylum Access uses Numbeo.