Deputy Executive Director

IRAP is currently accepting applications for the following position:

Deputy Executive Director


The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) works through a robust network of staff, pro bono attorneys and law students to fill a major gap in access to legal aid for refugees, asylum seekers, and other displaced people. IRAP has become the first advocacy organization to provide comprehensive legal representation to refugees throughout the registration, protection and resettlement processes. As fear, division, hatred, and economic uncertainty persist in the global consciousness and manifest in discriminatory policies, speech, and actions, individuals across the world must respond by demanding and upholding commitments to justice. IRAP is leveraging its volunteers and resources to fight back and ensure that we continue to uphold the humanitarian tradition of welcoming those who need refuge.

IRAP is now seeking nominations and applications for the position of Deputy Executive Director.

Since its founding in 2008, IRAP has used legal aid, litigation and advocacy to protect and advance the rights of refugees, both domestically and internationally; the organization has also remained committed to developing the next generation of human rights attorneys through its work with law students. The global turn against refugee resettlement coupled with IRAP’s highly effective model has led to a period of rapid expansion to meet new levels of demand. In the past two years, IRAP’s annual budget has increased from $2 million to $9 million, and over the past six years, its staff has grown from ten to seventy-five.

As it builds capacity through this period of tremendous growth, IRAP seeks a Deputy Executive Director (DED) to provide strategic vision and leadership, lead infrastructure development and programmatic oversight, manage IRAP’s dedicated and talented team, and steward the organization’s continued development to maximize impact. Reporting directly to Becca Heller, IRAP’s founder and Executive Director, the DED will work closely with staff across the organization and at all levels to foster IRAP’s culture of collaboration and identify opportunities for increased support and development.

The ideal candidate will demonstrate a deep connection to IRAP’s mission to use legal advocacy to find safe places to live and safe passage for the world’s most persecuted individuals. S/he/they will be an inclusive, passionate leader committed to combatting inequitable policies impacting refugees and other displaced people and to delivering the highest quality legal and advocacy services. S/he/they will bring at least eight years of progressive leadership experience in a legal and/or nonprofit setting, with demonstrable success in change implementation. The new Deputy Executive Director will be an experienced manager who excels at supporting, mentoring, and motivating staff; developing structures and processes that facilitate efficient and effective communication across leadership and teams within an organization; and supporting teams that work closely with individuals who have experienced trauma.

This search is being conducted by Callie Carroll, Allison Kupfer Poteet, Hallie Dietsch, and Javier Garcia of NPAG. Application instructions can be found at the end of this document.


The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) is a dynamic and growing legal, policy, and advocacy organization that works to develop and enforce a system of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced people around the world. We are the first organization to provide free and comprehensive legal representation to refugees throughout the registration, protection, and resettlement processes. Since IRAP’s establishment, we have helped to resettle more than 3,800 individuals to 18 countries.

IRAP operates offices in the U.S. (New York), Jordan (Amman), and Lebanon (Beirut). Our legal services are supplemented by a corps of pro bono lawyers from leading U.S. and international law firms and multi-national corporations, and by law students who have created IRAP chapters across the United States and Canada. Through this work, we aim to assist refugees and other displaced people to find safe passage and to transform the landscape of refugee rights in the U.S. and internationally. We are a growing, nimble organization staffed by an innovative and collaborative team that is committed to high standards of quality and close partnerships with our clients, peers, and colleagues.

IRAP has developed an innovative legal aid and advocacy model that defends the rights of refugees and assures their passage to safe destination countries. IRAP’s approach is grounded in three distinct but interrelated strategies:

  • IRAP has created a “virtual public interest law firm” that defies geographical boundaries and provides high quality representation to refugees by a cadre of 1,200 law students and over 800 pro bono attorneys. This model is scalable and allows IRAP to take on an increasing number of urgent refugee cases, as well as respond to immediate crises.
  • Through extensive litigation and systemic advocacy, IRAP brings legal challenges to refugee rights violations in the courts, creating solutions to overcoming the legal and bureaucratic impediments in the resettlement process, and developing an enforceable system of legal and procedural rights for refugees and displaced persons worldwide. As the only organization that guide refugees through every step of the resettlement process, IRAP is often able to identify obstacles of which other institutional players are unaware. This unique model utilizes lessons learned in individual casework to advocate for systemic changes that benefit broader refugee populations.
  • IRAP trains the next generation of international human rights advocates through its law school chapters. These advocates are essential to assuring fairness, decency, and adherence to the rule of law throughout the refugee resettlement process and promoting pro-refugee policies through the country.

This comprehensive advocacy network was successfully activated on January 27, 2017, when President Trump signed an Executive Order implementing the first travel ban. IRAP immediately mobilized lawyers across the country to travel to airports and other ports of entry to prevent them from being turned into prisons or black sites. IRAP filed suit demanding freedom for more than 2,000 travelers imprisoned at airports around the country simply because they were traveling from Muslim-majority countries. In total, it took only 27 hours from the signing of the Executive Order to the emergency court decision demanding that these thousands of people not be deported. IRAP’s ability to rapidly mobilize a nationwide network of attorneys and advocates and secure an important legal victory was pivotal – the organization’s actions created a movement and ensured that the public was made aware of the chaos and injustice taking place behind closed doors.

The Deputy Executive Director will directly supervise IRAP’s Legal Services Director, Litigation Director, Policy Director and Legal Strategy Director. Together, these departments work to deliver direct services to refugees and other displaced people, litigate to change the systems and structures that create obstacles to refugee resettlement and the securing of safe passage for those in need, and advocate for U.S. policies that help create and expand pathways to safety for refugees and displaced people.

Opportunities and Challenges Facing the New DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

The new Deputy Executive Director will:

Provide strategic vision and leadership. The Deputy Executive Director will develop and implement an organization-wide approach to administrative and programmatic alignment, supporting and empowering IRAP’s Directors to both lead effectively and solicit support from each other and the Executive Director when needed. The Deputy Executive Director will also help facilitate strategic planning for the organization’s growth. Externally, this individual will design, develop, and evaluate new and innovative programs and services.

Create infrastructure that supports IRAP’s recent and continued growth and impact and ensure accountability and quality in all work. The new Deputy Executive Director will bring strong project management skills, communication structures, and process orientation to the organization, making sure that appropriate policies and protocols are in place to support key functions across and within teams. In concert with all Department Directors, s/he/they will work to continuously improve client services, heighten litigation and policy impact, strengthen internal systems, ensure that work is of the highest caliber, and continue sound fiscal stewardship.

Manage IRAP’s talented team, support staff development, and lead a culture of commitment and collaboration. The new Deputy Executive Director will directly supervise the heads of the three programmatic departments: Legal Services, Policy Advocacy, and Litigation, and will work proactively to understand staff needs in the midst of a period of rapid growth and increasingly urgent demand for legal services for refugees and other displaced individuals. S/he/they will be a systems-thinker with the ability to listen, motivate, and execute to make the teams’ work as efficient and effective as possible. This individual will provide consistent, clear communication to build trust and promote team morale and transparency and will be able to balance being collaborative and seeking input with the need for momentum and execution.

Cultivate, deepen, and sustain partnerships. This individual will strategically assess proposals for new programs and collaborations with partner organizations, NGOs, and other stakeholders in the humanitarian assistance community. S/he/they will be able to build new projects or scale up existing programs, being mindful of staff capacity, mission alignment, organizational reputation, and potential impact.

Ensure that IRAP offers a supportive, equitable, and inclusive work environment and upholds principles of anti-oppression in all its work, across all its teams. Recognizing the unique challenges inherent to this work, the new Deputy Executive Director will work closely with IRAP leadership to make available resources, programming, and ongoing support to staff who are vulnerable to or are experiencing vicarious trauma. This individual will ensure that IRAP offers a supportive, equitable, and inclusive work environment and upholds principles of anti-oppression in hiring, staff support, client relationships, outreach, and coalition building. S/he/they will support IRAP’s work to reflect the communities it serves and build a culture of inclusion, ​continuous learning​, and trust.


The ideal candidate will be deeply committed to IRAP’s mission and understand the critical role that legal aid, litigation, and advocacy play in advancing the rights of refugees worldwide. S/he/they will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:

  • Demonstrated record of successful management experience, with a minimum of eight years of progressive programmatic leadership and supervisory experience;
  • An observable track record of success in developing or improving organizational capacity, with an eye toward opportunities for process improvement;
  • Relevant legal experience working with refugees and displaced people, immigrants, or other vulnerable populations;
  • Commitment to and experience in successfully employing an anti-racist/anti-oppression lens to foster a diverse, equitable working environment and creating diverse teams that reflect communities served;
  • Experience with international programs and cross-cultural communication;
  • Initiative, vision, creativity, and a demonstrated willingness to take calculated risks in crafting and executing strategies;
  • A systems thinker with the ability to translate ideas into action, and a creative and resourceful problem solver;
  • A collaborative, collegial style and a proven track record and commitment to mentoring and coaching staff and building internal leadership. A management style that fosters respect, teamwork and innovative approaches;
  • Highly organized and flexible; able to multi-task and manage a high-volume workload; excellent time management skills;
  • Strong interpersonal and communications skills and the ability to understand and handle sensitive and confidential information;
  • Experience in or significant exposure to IRAP’s three main programming areas (direct legal services, policy advocacy and litigation);
  • Excellent writing, analytical, and oral communication skills;
  • An optimistic outlook and the humor, integrity, patience, and perseverance necessary to advance efforts to ensure displaced persons have greater access to services;
  • A law degree and admission to practice law in the United States are highly preferred;
  • Fluency in oral and written English required; additional languages (Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Kurdish, Pashto, Somali, and/or Spanish) are a plus;
  • Must be based in New York City (or willing to relocate). 

The midpoint of the salary range is $200,000, with actual salary commensurate with experience. IRAP offers an excellent benefits package, including healthcare and retirement plans, a flexible work schedule, and vacation and sick leave.


This search is being conducted with assistance from Callie Carroll, Allison Kupfer Poteet, Hallie Dietsch and Javier Garcia of NPAG. Due to the pace of this search, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applications including a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, your resume (in Word format), and where you learned of the position should be sent to: In order to expedite the internal sorting and reviewing process, please type your name (Last, First) as the only contents in the subject line of your e-mail.

IRAP believes that diversity is critical to fostering a strong workplace and serving our clients well. We strongly encourage applications from people with lived experiences in the communities that we serve, members of other marginalized communities, and individuals whose identities are underrepresented in the legal profession.