National Democratic Institute

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National Democratic Institute Reviews

Updated March 1, 2015
Updated March 1, 2015
49 Reviews
2.8
49 Reviews
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Kenneth Wollack
35 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    NDI is a good place to start a career in international or political affairs.

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

    I worked at National Democratic Institute full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Very interesting subject matter; lots of writing and chances to develop as a writer; occasional international travel; excellent program management experience; challenging work in general

    Cons

    Very hierarchical; very poor senior management; limited opportunities for advancement; again senior management is lacking - there are several dinosaurs among NDI's directors who contributes absolutely nothing to its mission and are a waste of resources.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get rid of the dinosaurs, including the president. Do a better job of preventing turnover.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful  

    Important work, very poor management

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

    I have been working at National Democratic Institute full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    NDI junior staff often have an opportunity to meet and work with inspiring people working for democratic principles in difficult environments across the world.

    The organization appears to be well respected in the NGO community and former employees find good positions after they leave.

    Junior staff are highly educated, skilled, and committed. The culture among junior staff is positive and supportive.

    Cons

    Management is extremely poor. While salaries for junior staff are low, senior management can be so disconnected (or just don't care) from actual budgeting that they frivolously spend money and leave junior staff to find ways to cover the cost.

    Office culture does not encourage dissent on major issues or questioning of authority.

    The organization is nearly creatively dead. Previous work is constantly recycled and new initiatives are rare.

    Administrative tasks are burdensome and bureaucratic, some program staff spend most of their day on operations and accounting and not anything 'program related'.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Come up with some new ideas (which does not just mean inserting 'the internet' into programs).

    Find a way for actual feedback to be communicated to directors on their management performance and provide accountability to directors.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Lots of bureaucracy

    Former Intern - Project Assistant in Washington, DC
    Former Intern - Project Assistant in Washington, DC

    I worked at National Democratic Institute as an intern

    Pros

    Talented people who care about their work - I was lucky to have an excellent manager who went out of her way to help me develop professionally. I think this was more due to her own motivation and qualities than to the overall culture of NDI though.

    Cons

    No opportunity for those talented people to actually make a difference as proposals, work streams etc. are recycled and not tailored to the actual situation.

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  5.  

    Project Assistant Public Affairs

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

    I worked at National Democratic Institute as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    Great place to work. Very warm staff, very scholarly, very efficient.

    Cons

    Not a lot of room for growth in the organization. A lot of lenience toward senior staff. Open work space but closed work environment.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Lighten up.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 2 people found this helpful  

    Bureaucracy for a good cause.

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

    I have been working at National Democratic Institute full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great people who mostly mean well.
    Awesome benefits.
    Nice plants in the office.
    Free coffee.

    Cons

    All encompassing bureaucracy makes it impossible to get things done.
    Way too many long term "time serving" employees.
    Terrible vending machines.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Pay attention to junior employees.
    Stop empire building.
    Improve morale. Friday Fun days just don't cut it.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7.  

    Awful management!

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

    I have been working at National Democratic Institute full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Very passionate people but ultimately work is often hindered by egos of management and directors. I learned a lot because I had to become a manager since the director was incapable of completing simple administrative tasks or managing people. Junior staff are incredible, including interns and project assistants.

    Cons

    Directors have egos and don't know how to collaborate. Sadly, don't expect upward mobility or opportunities. Teams and organizations not open to new ideas or taking risks.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    When staff complain about management, do something about it. Build some accountability structures so Directors don't get away with bullying other teams and staff. Encourage and support junior staff and their ideas.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8.  

    consultant

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

    I have been working at National Democratic Institute as a contractor (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    really smart people, looking to promote democracy abroad

    Cons

    sometimes staff on ground abroad are not experienced

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Great place to work, particularly compared to other INGOs

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

    I worked at National Democratic Institute full-time

    Pros

    The benefits were great; good luck duplicating anywhere else. Good people with a good sense of humor. Hard working, smart and talented staff.

    Cons

    Egos of a handful of regional directors and some deputies unnecessarily inflated, which is hard to understand as NDI's President is an extremely approachable and unassuming leader.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Open minds to new ways of managing, structuring teams and rewarding/recognizing staff.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    Fantastic experience

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

    I have been working at National Democratic Institute full-time

    Pros

    Quite the learning opportunity, great people, very fulfilling job

    Cons

    Can't think of any to be honest..

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  11. 3 people found this helpful  

    Important Work but Demoralized

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

    I worked at National Democratic Institute full-time

    Pros

    -Smart, talented junior staff who have good ideas and in tune with the types of changes needed to make meaningful institutional changes.
    -Important mission and willingness to be innovative in program design.
    -Access to a diverse set of government, think tank and NGO communities doing important related work.

    Cons

    -Demoralizing and dishonest mid-level management with no real management or human resources skills. Possibly because they have been around for a long time and lack motivation and ingenuity.
    -Below-average salary compensation and benefits, even compared to other Washington DC non-profits.
    -Non-transparent, disconnected executive office. "Fun Fridays" don't cut it.
    -Cumbersome, bureaucratic, and arcane financial and reporting practices.
    -Little demonstrated interest in work/life balance or employee health.
    -On some teams, little opportunity to travel and interact with field staff that DC teams support.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Upper management can have a genuine interest in junior staff by improving vertical communication, showing an interest in staff development that junior actually staff wants, and finding ways to incentivize work even if higher salaries are not possible.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

National Democratic Institute Photos

NDI Kenya office (Photo thanks to Flickr user andinyc All rights reserved.)
NDI Burundi office (Photo thanks to Flickr user andinyc All rights reserved.)
NDI Office (Photo thanks to Flickr user Thomas K Kelly All rights reserved.)

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