Freedom House Reviews

Updated May 23, 2015
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2.7
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David J. Kramer
21 Ratings

39 Employee Reviews

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  1. Cautious Optimism

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Freedom House full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Low threshold for excellence facilitates rapid assumption of responsibility, that sounds like a left-handed compliment, but it spells opportunity for the smart and resourceful. There is a lot of opportunity for advancing core agendas from a low level, if you can figure out where to fill in your program's gaps. There are talented people at work; seek them out, and collaborate. There is a lot of room for creativity.

    Cons

    Management is largely unaware of the moving parts within their departments, and directoral infighting is constant. At a broader level there is little strategic thought from the 'business' perspective. Institutional funding priorities are unclear between research, programs and advocacy initiatives. Accountability is low, and there is a dearth of management talent - which regrettably links full-circle to the low threshold for excellence across all levels and programmatic areas of the organization.

    Advice to Management

    Lead, then manage. The organization lacks a strong vision, and combined with low performance standards, this leads to high turnover, lack of program institutionalization, and ineffectiveness. If publications are most important, then say so. If programs are to remain a small component of the institutional portfolio, then build and equip those teams to do compelling work. The research arm could be doing a lot to inform cutting-edge programmatic interventions, but these opportunities are at best untested and at worst unexplored. The future of the organization rests in strident executive leadership.


  2. lofty mission.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Program Associate in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Program Associate in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Freedom House full-time (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    The mission's lofty. few programs are successful. most publications are well received. few employees identify with the lofty mission. for most, it pays the bills.

    Cons

    Freedon house isnt bad because of bad land, lumber, plumbing, electricals, or construction work. it's a toxic environment. we think it. we believe it. don't waste time splitting hairs separating execs from junior staff or senior staff. bad employees = bad place to work.

    Advice to Management

    get consultant to identify what programs are sustainable. get consultant to help get rid of toxic employees (90% of all employees). bad employees = bad place to work. get real.


  3. Helpful (2)

    Low morale

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Program Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Program Officer in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Freedom House full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    True environment of commitment, new President came onboard earlier in the year and there is the hope that he will take action not only on the balance sheet but to take action and dismiss those who have allowed scores of staff to depart because of a Director's insecurity. If a person is an issue for program staff and their subordinates why is the organization blinded by money and give that person a pass?

    Cons

    Junior Staff are vital to the organization, there are a number of Directors who are professional and encourage growth, however, there are some which overstep the lines of where their program begins and where they should end, intimidate outside of the gaze of the Executive staff and have questionable management skills. Rather than value their staff, they isolate them and subject them to a culture of insecurity. The lack of oversight of some programs by the Executive staff has led to several individuals leaving the organization due to frustration with a Director who keeps staff on a roller coaster where a good day depends on his/her mood or insecurity level. Non-acknowledgement of accomplishment or discounting of one's contribution is the norm. The organization really stands up for the human rights of others, how then is it possible to have personnel who violate the rights of those under their direction. Lack of transparency on the part of Director, Exec staff unaware due to a culture of praising those programs which have funds and allowing management to proceed without oversight despite staff turnover. Some programs seem to never be questioned on management as it is assumed that since they have funding and carry the organization their staff are at the mercy of their Director's personality, insecurity and intimidation which goes unnoticed, despite the frustration and targeting which they bear the brunt of - it seems clear to their colleagues, but they suffer in silence because they are isolated.

    Advice to Management

    Understand what is really going on behind the scenes, junior staff due to a fear of retribution, as evidenced in past need the Exec staff to be more aware of the fact that in some corners of the organization there is a culture of intimidation. Suggest an anonymous discussion/polling of staff so that they can express what is actually taking place.


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  5. Helpful (4)

    Disaster.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Program Officer in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Program Officer in Washington, DC

    I worked at Freedom House full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Because the organization is so dysfunctional, new staff get lots of hands on experience very quickly. Somehow, it still has a good reputation.

    Cons

    Where to start...

    Freedom House is a mess from start to finish. TERRIBLE executive management affects the entire organization. You will find roadblocks to good work at every avenue. You will also be under-appreciated, overworked, undermined, and frankly traumatized by the time you leave. On top of that, the organization just keeps doing the same type of programs it has for decades without any real evidence that they work and contribute to real change on the ground. It is not mission-driven, it is not results-driven, and it is not driven to retain talented personnel.

    Advice to Management

    Impose term limits on the Board so they don't continue the terrible cycle of micro-managing leadership positions and driving the organization into the ground. Have a truly accountable management structure and don't be afraid to replace people who can't demonstrate real success. Empower your staff instead of undermining them at every opportunity. If you want to do human rights work, start at home and value people.


  6. Helpful (4)

    Incompetent managers, low morale, few advancement opportunities, shaky future

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Freedom House full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    The best part of working at Freedom House is the opportunity to interact with activists in your region who actually make a difference. You meet and learn from some amazing people. Some regional teams enjoy frequent regional travel. Many junior staff are smart, interesting, and driven. Some of the programs can be rewarding.

    Cons

    With a very few notable exceptions, managers range from psychotic to incompetent to merely unremarkable. They are overpaid, underworked, and focused on the wrong things. Conversations among junior staff are filled with horror stories about managers and VPs. Managers who are an active detriment to the organization are very rarely let go: instead, they stay for years, drawing enormous salaries and ruining everything and everyone in their path. Junior staff are overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. Crying is frequent, morale abysmal. When you leave, people tell you how jealous they are.

    The former HR manager used to write fake positive reviews on this site in which she berated junior staff for being insufficiently appreciative of the morsels thrown their way. She stayed at the organization for years. This is just one example.

    Oh yeah and the future, in terms of continued funding and growth, looks fairly grim.

    I would only recommend working here to someone who is fresh out of school and needs the experience. You can make good connections and get some good stuff on your resume. Everyone else stay away from this disaster.

    Advice to Management

    It is... hard to know where to begin.


  7. Project management for USAID-funded grants

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Project Assistant in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Project Assistant in Washington, DC

    I worked at Freedom House full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Intelligent, caring employees who sincerely wanted to make a positive difference

    Cons

    Uncertainty of new business / funding / sustainability


  8. Helpful (2)

    Great opportunities for the focused

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Program Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Program Officer in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Freedom House full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The executives, senior and junior staff are committed to democracy, freedom, and human rights, and thankfully, care enough about the organization to stay on and focus on the important task of making it a freer world for all.

    My interactions with HR, IT, Finance, and Ops have always been extremely positive and professional. I respect their policies and don’t ask that they bend rules in my behalf, which unfortunately, is quite common within the organization.

    Cons

    FH has made some poor decisions in the last few years. Some directors have brought in some senior level POs with huge egos who have thought they were the smartest kids on the block and yet expect to be mollycoddled. They seem oblivious to how exhausting it must be for directors who have to hand-hold them. They blame execs and senior management for all the problems in the organization but don’t think their lack of in-depth knowledge and experience of the regions, and deficient-proposal writing skills are in any way a considerable part of the problem. They believe FH is a bad place to work, don't leave because they can't find other jobs, and then complain about how bad the organization is - after 2-3 years. There have been a few cases of favoritism. Directors have on occasion had to take on staff imposed on them by execs, including their assistants.

    Most junior staff are extremely hardworking, knowledgeable, smart, eager to learn, and humble. A persistent problem at FH is senior staff’s fear of asking a few junior staff to grow up or leave. Unfortunately, the directors with the audacity to do so are seen as bad directors. Some senior staff and execs cringe and quiver and avoid dealing with these junior staff, instead, they refer problems which they should resolve to other execs. They place a greater premium on being liked by junior staff than telling them what they really think of them and their mediocre contribution to fundraising.

    My director emphasized the importance of fundraising when I joined the team. It’s mind-boggling that this is cited as a failure of the organization instead of our own failure. Our programs don’t raise funds yet some of us ask our directors for higher pay.

    The angst toward publications is startling. Freedom House is well-known for its publications, definitely not the programs. Program staff in DC relish telling others in the field what to do, when, and how. This is particularly infuriating when you realize how little they know of the regions. For some junior staff, their claim to field experience is a few weeks backpacking in some “foreign” country before returning home to start paying off their student loan debt. They don’t seem to particularly care about democracy or freedom in other countries. Most just want to jump-start their careers.

    Advice to Management

    There are quite a few program staff who have their hearts in the right place. They are quiet, keep their heads down, work hard, don't play politics or back-stab, and got where they are today purely on merit - reward them!

    Stop picking favorites - it's wrong and they'd leave and tell the world how weak (rightly or wrongly) you are anyway.

    That some of the senior staff and execs have risen above the fray is to be respected. However, the incoming president should be more business minded and willing to hold everyone accountable, especially the so-called "superstars" who blame everyone else for their failures.

    Grow publications - they are credible, the staff are hardworking and respected professionals, and the execs are superb!


  9. Helpful (4)

    Organization in freefall.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Program Officer
    Former Employee - Program Officer

    I worked at Freedom House full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    There are some very nice and talented people who work here. We move to a new office soon, which could only be a positive thing. Upcoming change in leadership, will also be a potential positive...

    Previously controversial Human resources Director was replaced by a very kind and helpful person. Good job, Freedom House, Incorporated (Inc.). She and the HR staff are doing well to get things moving in the right direction.

    Cons

    In reference to the Washington, DC-based organization, there are many to consider.

    Liiterally dozens of the organization's staff members have left this year. Sometimes, it was due to funding. But in many cases it was due to they just could not take it anymore. They seem to have taken upper management's attitude - if you think you can get higher pay/more respect/a better work experience elsewhere, go ahead and try - to heart.

    Accountability:
    there is little accountability at Freedom House, Inc. Instances of waste are not uncommon - yet the leadership seems strangely uninterested in doing anything about it, even when it harms organizational reputation (which makes it difficult to get more funding in the future). Serious instances of incompetence and ethical violations are (or at least historically have been) swept under the rug.

    Management
    There are certainly widespread morale problems stemming in large part from ineffectual management, both senior and middle. The current executive leadership is highly ineffective at tackling the challenges facing the Organization. For instance, on the Programming side there is no discernible strategy for dealing with "USAID (the United States Agency for International Development) Forward" and the movement by other donors to directly funding local organizations. Being intermediary for the US government and local groups is no longer a "value added." Freedom House, Inc. has yet to carve out new niche. The senior leadership will not come up with coherent strategy for moving forward. They are stuck in the passed. They are seen to be either highly disorganized/scattered or pushing their own agenda (at the expense of all else). In both the cases, it is ineffective leadership and that has a negative trickle-down effect on the morale and performance of the organization.

    In Middle Management, citizens are hired or promoted to positions where they should at least have a modicum of a) demonstrated success at program management, b) ability to can manage people and lead teams, and c) raise funding. However, key management positions are hired for by the aforementioned executive staff, often with disastrous consequences. Several teams (Mid-East & North Africa, South East Asia, Freedom of Expression) are in their death throes. Still, the leadership does nothing! Bizarrely, several "managers" were promoted to "directors" this year, even when they have little to know staff to manage/direct.

    Fundraising
    The burden of fundraising and new business development falls on what are called "junior" staff, with VPs and management typically only reading the proposals before submission to offer last minute suggestions about projects they'll never really work on if the proposal is won (unless it involves travel to a nice fun place). Nevertheless!! executive staff is included in proposal budgets at minimum 10% of salary, inflating personnel costs and making proposals less competitive. Nobody monitors how many work hours are spent fundraising (writing proposals) and ignoring actual program implementation. (There's also the issue of charging to grants while working on fundraising.) The president spends valuable time and energy fundraising for the "flagship publications" but not the programs. He says this doesn't take away money from programming but that is discounting the opportunity cost.

    Advice to Management

    As a parting show of good faith, the outgoing president should get rid of the 3-4 execs who are not doing their jobs. Don't set the next guy/gal up for failure.


  10. Focus on two things you do best.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Anonymous in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Freedom House full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    With committed employees who make personal sacrifices for the mission, most junior staff and research team are dedicated. Great benefits, excellent work/life balance & work culture. Annual Freedom reports are revered. Elimination of previous Ops team was laudable. HR remains a strong advocate for junior staff - finally eliminated hole-in-the wall PM.

    Cons

    Senior staff have poor management skills. Execs & senior staff aren’t able to raise funds but, continue to draw a paycheck! Junior staff are now expected to raise funds. PM MENA was a nightmare. Finance is stretched thin. Development needs results-oriented exec. I.T is inappropriate!

    Advice to Management

    Merge the programs. Merge global and regional execs and replace with new veepee. Show leadership and hold senior staff accountable for their decisions and conduct. Hold directors accountable for junior staffs' professional growth and development.


  11. Good for entry level but suffering from reliance on government funding

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

    I worked at Freedom House full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Great place to gain experience working in the human rights field and with US government funding. Works on a range of issues and the caliber of staff makes it an interesting and dynamic place to work.

    Cons

    There is minimal support from senior management for career growth and advancement and few female role models. The HR department was a nightmare. The over reliance on US government funding means that staff are consistently having to fundraise for their positions and undermines the perception of the organization's independence.



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