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Managing Director, Refugee Programs – Middle East

International Impact | New York, NY | Full Time

Job Description

Sesame Workshop is looking for a Managing Director, Refugee Programs. The Managing Director (MD) reports to the Senior Vice President of International Social Impact . His/her work will focus on the Sesame Workshop’s humanitarian initiative, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and in partnership with the International Rescue Committee, in the Middle East (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria). The position is based in New York City with frequent travel to the Middle East as needed. The MD will be responsible for overseeing the execution of an outstanding, large-scale Early Childhood Development program that achieves measurable outcomes for children. The right candidate will have proven track record managing large, complex projects and budgets; and building a unified and high performing team across multiple countries, organizational partners and areas of expertise.

Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) have won the inaugural MacArthur Foundation 100&Change competition, a $100 million grant to make measurable progress toward solving a significant problem. The program will embark on a life-changing, five year intervention to bring vital early learning and nurturing care to more than 9 million children and families affected by the ongoing civil war in Syria. Part of the program will be to create multimedia programming for children affected by the conflict. Together with the IRC, a leading provider of life-saving assistance to people in crisis contexts for over 80 years, we will develop a pliant platform to reach young children and their caregivers wherever they are and measure how we can impact their lives. For more information, please visit:

The MD is responsible for three key objectives:

  • Delivering an outstanding, large-scale early childhood development program that achieves measureable outcomes for children in the Middle East
  • Building a unified program identity and shared vision among a large team of directors, producers and managers from both organizations (Sesame Workshop and the IRC)
  • Rallying support for the program in the region and internationally  


Responsibilities Include:

Leadership of the Humanitarian Initiative

  • Develop program plans and set key performance indicators in coordination with program team members, the IRC as a key implementation partner, NYU as research partner, government partners and the primary funder (the MacArthur Foundation)
  • Drive efficiencies and performance, enable more effective program innovation and delivery. Specifically: setting annual work planning priorities and process, establishing a regular cadence of participatory reviews of progress with partners, and identifying and agreeing on course corrections needed for success.
  • Oversee the program operations and day to day leadership of Sesame Workshop’s program team: provide management guidance, strategies for growth and operational assistance, build and lead strategic partnerships
  • Forge strong leadership across the different program teams and partner staff, building a sense of team that transcends organizational identities
  • Ensure the program maximizes effectiveness, quality and impact
  • Ensure effective budget planning, oversight and management
  • Identify and manage risks affecting the program

Strategic Planning

  • Establish and lead regular reviews of, and adjustments to, the high level program strategy
  • Support reflective strategic discussions at a high-level program Advisory Committee comprised of senior Sesame Workshop and IRC leadership. The MD will drive an effective and focused agenda for Advisory Committee meetings.
  • Create communications and presentations for senior management that fuse financial, performance, strategic and competitive information about the program cohesively
  • Help identify, analyze and present programmatic opportunities
  • Thoroughly assess new business opportunities (both qualitatively and quantitatively); help develop complete program plans




  • 15+ years of professional experience in a general management role, working internationally and across cultures 
  • Proven track record of dynamic and inspiring leadership of a large team
  • Thorough understanding of project management; able to work effectively under pressure to meet tight deadlines and goals
  • Ability to organize effectively, delegate, solve problems quickly and communicate clearly
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills; persuasive, credible, and polished communicator with excellent interpersonal and multidisciplinary project skills.
  • Coalition building skills to balance, negotiate and work with a variety of internal/external stakeholders.
  • High level of knowledge building strategic partnerships with potential of connecting programs to funding while creatively generating other resources.  
  • Willingness to travel frequently, as needed, and work across multiple time zones


  • Masters in Management, Media, Communication, Development, Education, or related field is a plus
  • Experience in broadcasting and/or production
  • Understanding of the humanitarian sector, particularly early childhood development and/or child protection
  • Experience working in and/or living in the Middle East/North Africa region (Syria response region a plus)
  • Strategic and business planning experience. Management consulting experience desirable



Department Information

Sesame Workshop’s International Social Impact department, a division of Social Impact and Philanthropy, develops and implements Sesame’s powerful initiatives to serve children and families around the world, builds strong partnerships and coalitions to maximize reach and impact.  Building upon the familiarity and appeal of the trusted, beloved Sesame Street characters – and their global counterparts – we create and disseminate unique educational resources and tools for families most in need.  Sesame’s research-driven initiatives reach many children who would otherwise have little or no access to early childhood education, and support all aspects of children’s development – including healthy habits, cognitive development in areas such as early literacy and math, and social-emotional well-being and resilience. We reach and engage children and the important adults in their families and communities using multiple media platforms and innovative strategies – from television and radio to digital media, mobile technologies, books, E-books, magazines, classroom materials, teacher/provider training, social media, and more.