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The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa

Executive Director

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) is a growing African institution committed to deepening democracy, protecting human rights and enhancing good governance in the region. It’s vision is to promote and sustain the ideals, values, institutions and practices of open society, with the aim of establishing vibrant and tolerant southern African democracies in which people, free from material and other deprivation, understand their rights and responsibilities and participate actively in all spheres of life.

In pursuance of this vision, OSISA’s mission is to initiate and support programmes working towards open society ideals, and to advocate for these ideals in southern Africa. This approach involves looking beyond immediate symptoms, in order to address the deeper problems – focusing on changing underlying policy, legislation and practice, rather than on short-term welfarist interventions.

Established in 1997, OSISA works in 10 southern Africa countries: Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. OSISA works differently in each of these 10 countries, according to local conditions. OSISA is part of a network of autonomous Open Society Foundations, established by George Soros, located in Eastern and Central Europe, the former Soviet Union, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the US.

OSISA has exclusively retained Mission Talent for the search of a new Executive Director, who will preferably be a national of one of the ten southern African countries covered by OSISA and have the following attributes:

  • Strong vision of Southern Africa’s future as a place where there is justice, equitable development and economic security, respect for difference;
  • Interest in and desire to innovate, renew and improve work practices and assumptions;
  • Instinctive and intuitive reliance on high moral and fiduciary standards in both personal relationships and institutional governance;
  • High standards in quality of work – budgets, board books, grant dockets – keen to improve staff standards and to track improvement;
  • Readiness to be held accountable to their board, OSISA leadership and staff for their decisions, in an open and non-combative manner;
  • Courageous and persuasive advocate for their personal or institutional positions;
  • Willing to make difficult decisions and implement them fairly but firmly;
  • Strong supporter of staff, keen to promote their wellbeing and their careers and to make the workplace and encouraging and supportive environment for professional growth;
  • Passionate and vigilant defender of institutional partners and promoter of open society values and principles;
  • Non-discriminatory, respectful and fair in all dealings inside and outside the organization;
  • Confident, collegial, personable manner, with ability to deal appropriately with diverse range of contacts in varying setting.


  • Strong leadership skills – proven by experience as a successful leader in other organisations and/or situations; able to earn and keep the respect of staff through sound and fair judgment, reliability, concern for their well-being, high standards for conduct of work and behaviour in the workplace;
  • Strong management skills – acquired through experience and perhaps also study, allowing strong grasp of budgeting techniques and scrutiny, planning ability, knowledge of personnel management, familiarity with IT options;
  • Able to negotiate relations in a highly complex institutional context, co-operating with multiple other foundations, network programs and reporting lines;
  • Strong interpersonal and supervisory skills – shown in both informal and formal settings, and in challenging situations as well as day to day encounters;
  • Excellent time management;
  • Confident and inspiring public engagement –whether through media outreach or one-to-one encounters;
  • Knowledgeable and experienced in implementing effective and instructive monitoring and evaluation tools;
  • Knowledgeable and experienced in the legal dimensions of non-profit organisations and comfortable implementing complex, rule-based systems.