Chief Safety and Security Officer

Job Title: Chief Safety and Security Officer

Sector: Operations

Employment Category: Regular

Employment Type: Full-Time

Location: USA-New York, NY – HQ

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is among the world’s leading nonprofit humanitarian relief and development organizations. IRC’s mission is to help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future. Founded at the request of Albert Einstein in 1933, our organizational vision is to lead the humanitarian field by implementing high-impact, cost-effective programs for people affected by crisis, and by using our learning and experience to shape policy and practice. At work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities, last year our programs impacted the lives of over 23 million people. We restore safety, dignity and hope to millions who are uprooted and struggling to endure.

Executive Summary

As the Chief Safety and Security Officer (CSSO) you will direct the design, development and integration of enterprise level Safety and Security strategies, vision and architecture. Leading a team of passionate and accomplished experts, you will be responsible for facilitating safety and security risk management and safeguarding of IRC’s 12,000 workers, field operations, assets, information and reputation to enable delivery of humanitarian programming and business continuity across headquarters, country offices and hundreds of US Programs and International Programs field sites.

As CSSO, you will engage with the Leadership Board and Senior Leaders Group, providing briefings on safety and security risk analysis, detailed scenarios, mitigation planning and accountability mechanisms and will serve as a core member of the Crisis Management Team. You will also support other risk owners in protecting IRC from risks to people, operations, business interests, facilities and assets, information loss or litigation and reputational harm. A key element of success in this role is close partnership with International and US Programs leadership to develop contextualized strategies, frameworks, policies and training for all employees to effectively implement best practices across conflict, protracted crisis and stable contexts, working to create a world class security awareness culture. In close collaboration with cross-cutting functions in the areas of Duty of Care, Ethics and Compliance, Enterprise Risk Management, Gender Equality, HR and IT, you will ensure a holistic approach to safety and security in line with enterprise wide frameworks and guidance. This position will directly impact IRC’s successful humanitarian service delivery around the world and will require outstanding communication, adaptability and leadership acumen.

In partnership with leaders in IRC’s three primary geographic sectors, the International Programs Department, U.S. Programs and Europe, you will manage the Global Safety and Security team, including the Director, International S&S and the Director, US and Europe S&S. As CSSO, you will lead Safety and Security from an IRC standards and practices perspective; reporting to the Senior Vice President, Operations and Strategy.


Strategy: Responsible for the design and development of safety and security, business resiliency and continuity management strategies to effectively manage risk, respond to incidents, maintain continuity of operations, and safeguard the organization. Ensure implementation of supportive policies, protocols, plans, guidelines, training, exercising and testing, processes and performance monitoring and management across the organization. Ensure institutional capacity for crisis and critical incident management at the local, regional and HQ level.

Team Leadership & Development: Lead global Safety and Security function ensuring a consistently high level of team performance. Manage, mentor and coach direct reports, inspiring and modeling healthy, collaborative intra and inter-departmental working relationships. Lead measurable efforts to ensure safety and security staff – including at leadership levels – reflects the diversity of the places we operate and the people we serve; nurture employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, nationalization, and gender and LGBTQIA equality in all facets of work. Possess and support field teams to adopt a learning and development mindset, reinforced by tangible action and investment. Act as a champion for collaborative ‘Management in Partnership’ demonstrated through joint planning, shared commitments to outcomes, mutual accountability, alignment of resources and quality assessment. Cultivate a safe and protective working environment and culture for all staff, combining locally-led initiatives with wider organizational efforts; Serve as a champion for Duty of Care initiatives.

Risk Management: Facilitate the implementation of holistic strategic, operational and tactical risk management strategies, specifically in the areas of safety, security and business continuity. Collaborate with a broad representation of stakeholders to ensure alignment to enterprise wide frameworks that incorporate best practices, systematic approaches and a gender-sensitive lens to effectively identify, analyze, mitigate and report risks and controls as they relate to people including staff and beneficiaries, business interests, operations, assets, information and organizational reputation. Close collaboration with leadership in Ethics and Compliance (including Senior Director, Enterprise Risk Management), Legal, Finance, HR/Duty of Care, IT, Gender Equality and Programs to ensure an integrated safety and security risk management approach which works within the IRC enterprise risk management framework, informs the organization on safety and security risks and proactively manages threats and ensures compliance with local, national, and international regulatory environments, including privacy, data protection, environmental, health, and safety standards. Working with external stakeholders who enable risk management, or are impacted by a crisis event.

Business Resilience & Continuity: Implement institutional systems, structure and mindset to build resilience and adaptability in response to safety and security related disruptions, while safeguarding the organization and maintaining continuous business and programmatic activity. Ensure post-crisis strategies responsibly avoid downtime, shore-up vulnerabilities and maintain business continuity in the face of unexpected incidents. Ensure business resilience and continuity strategy is aligned to ISO standards and guidelines including ISO 22301. Partner with IT to ensure alignment with ISO 27000, in particular cyber security and disaster recovery guidelines. Partner with the head of ERM to facilitate alignment with ISO 31000 risk management principles. Empower and hold safety and security teams accountable to adapt and contextualize business resilience and continuity strategy, at the field level.

Training & Culture: Responsible for developing, implementing, sustaining and monitoring an organizational awareness and competency program, creating internal resiliency with an emphasis on personal safety and security through training and capacity building. Support the building, management and expansion of country program and field site safety and security capacity and capability, infrastructure, policy and processes. Guide functional leaders to identify business critical risks and designing business continuity plans. Develop and oversee exercising and testing programs to validate processes and confirm knowledge and skills.

Monitoring and Accountability: Lead the Global, US and Europe efforts to ensure safety and security risk management strategies, systems, processes and people reflect current needs and appropriately manage identified risks. Draw upon internal and external resources to establish a contextualized understanding of risk across the spectrum of crisis, protracted crisis and stable operating environments. Implement and sustain the IRC ISO 22301 compliant Business Continuity Management System, acting as the core facilitator and enabler for business owners. Design and implement monitoring, evaluation and quality controls for safety and security strategy and operations, leveraging annual crisis management simulations, research, metrics, audit and testing to inform optimization and continual learning and improvement at the local, regional and global levels.

Crisis and Critical Incident Management: During an organizational crisis, convene and lead the Crisis Management Team (CMT) including analysis, planning and response, leveraging networks and relationships, and mobilizing and coordinating internal and external support and resources. Support the CMT and senior management to define proactive and preventative strategies to respond to, manage, learn and recover from crisis with resilience. Provide as needed support during critical incidents at country and regional level. Engage with or guide the Local Incident Management Team where a serious crisis incident occurs, through the global and regional security framework.

HQ Safety & Security: Lead safety and security for Headquarters location in New York City and Washington DC office including: ensuring a safe working environment for 500 staff; CEO and senior leadership security needs; travel and emergency response policy and planning; disaster recovery; and security management of large-scale events.

Representation: Liaise with external government, peer sector partners, communities and civil organizations. Cultivate strategic relationships with peers and technical experts in the humanitarian sector across global safety and security, enterprise risk and business continuity management. Collaborate with the Directors of International, US and Europe safety and security to represent the IRC in external security and business continuity fora (EISF, OSAC, UNDSS, Interaction, etc.).

Working Relationships

Position Reports to: Senior Vice President, Operations and Strategy

Position Directly Co-Manages: Director, International Safety and Security; Director, USP and Europe Safety and Security

Internal Stakeholders

HQ: International, US Programs and Europe SVPs and VPs; Ethics & Compliance Unit in particular Senior Director, Enterprise Risk Management and Director, Safeguarding; HR, in particular Global Duty of Care Director and Employee Relations Director, Finance, IT, Global Supply Chain, Gender Equality Unit, General Counsel Office; Emergency Unit Adaptive Programs and Humanitarian Access Teams; Senior Leaders Group and Leadership Board

Regional: Regional Vice Presidents and Regional Safety & Security Advisors

Country: Country Directors, Safety and Security and Humanitarian Access Focal Points and teams, Country Directors, Deputy Directors of Operations

External Stakeholders: Peer INGO Safety & Security Leadership; EISF, OSAC, UNDSS, Interaction. Governments, donors, civil society partners.


  • Minimum of 15 years of strong humanitarian operations management experience, with significant or total responsibility for safety and security risk management, or an equivalent combination of INGO, public and private sector safety and security experience.
  • Technical expertise in humanitarian security risk management, humanitarian access, negotiation with armed groups, kidnapping and other related areas.
  • Extensive international field experience in multiple regions and a demonstrated understanding of operating in complex and insecure work environments across conflict, post-conflict, development and stable contexts. Ability to adapt security strategies to varying contexts in the US, Europe and internationally.
  • Excellent track record in providing inspiring international leadership within complex, global organizations.
  • Aptitude in applying a holistic safety and security risk management approach including integration into strategic planning, risk identification and risk mitigation tactics.
  • In-depth understanding of humanitarian programs and donor agencies (USAID, DFID, UN, ECHO).
  • Demonstrated ability in strategic planning and developing organizational capacity. Ability to implement long term vision, while remaining adaptive and nimble to dynamic circumstances.
  • Proven experience in crisis management; able to respond with technical proficiency and professional grace in the face of emergencies, 24/7.
  • Strong acumen in building, developing and delivering effective global safety and security infrastructure including development of policies, business processes and effective training and capacity building programs.
  • A keen understanding of risk and threat analysis and ideally, the political complexities of the regions in which IRC operates.
  • Exceptional business planning, operational analysis, monitoring and evaluation and project management skills.
  • Deft at deploying a highly consultative, collaborative, flexible and consensus-building leadership approach.
  • Outstanding presentation, written and verbal communication skills; persuasive and influential, with and without authority, at all levels of the organization.
  • Receptive and collaborative leadership approach that contributes to positive team environment, builds and maintains strong relationships with people from all backgrounds, genders, cultures and viewpoints.
  • Ability to act decisively and judiciously in ambiguous or critical situations, often under extreme time pressure and with limited information.
  • Able to communicate effectively at all levels, from the CEO and Board through to the most junior member of the IRC team.
  • Able to develop RFPs, assess vendors and manage suppliers effectively.
  • Demonstrated capability to continuously multitask in high-pressure and insecure environments, while simultaneously exhibiting resilience in resisting stress, valuing and pursuing personal work life balance and managing with a staff care lens.
  • Relevant university degree ideal; Graduate degree in security, international relations or related field a plus.
  • Proficiency in MS Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint.


  • Professional fluency in written and spoken English.
  • Arabic, French and/or other language skills an advantage.

Ability To Travel

  • Approximately 30% travel for emergency missions, field visits, workshops, representation and conferences.

Diversity, Inclusion and Gender Equality

IRC is an Equal Opportunity Employer and considers all applicants on the basis of merit without regard to race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status or disability. IRC is also committed to narrowing the gender gap in leadership positions. We offer benefits that provide an enabling environment for women to participate in our workforce including parental leave, gender-sensitive security protocols and other supportive benefits.

Professional Standards

IRC staff adhere to the values and principles outlined in IRC Way – Global Standards for Professional Conduct. These are Integrity, Service, and Accountability. In accordance with these values, IRC operates and enforces policies on Beneficiary Protection from Exploitation and Abuse, Child Safeguarding, Harassment-Free Workplace, Fiscal Integrity, and Anti-Retaliation and Reporter Protection.