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US Institute of Peace Reviews

Updated January 12, 2018
46 reviews

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2.7
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Nancy Lindborg
3 Ratings

46 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Great mission; lots of hands-on experience, wonderful building (in 6 reviews)

  • Great people, great mission, never a dull moment (in 4 reviews)

Cons
  • Hour-glass (top-heavy) organization (in 3 reviews)

  • High turnover and not much room for advancement (in 3 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (3)

    "Excellent place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Program Specialist in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Program Specialist in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at US Institute of Peace full-time

    Pros

    - Great co-workers. Smart, capable, funny, dedicated.
    - Flexible work due to funding mechanisms. Can pursue projects of interest. Not beholden to strict grant cycles, like NGOs.
    -Above average pay compared to NGOs doing similar work.
    - Organization is committed to its strategic plan. An impressive feat.
    - An excellent starting point for for folks getting into peace/conflict/governance/rule of law work, (but most junior staff don't know it).

    Cons

    - Decentralized org structure. VPs of the different centers have greatest autonomy, which very much limits the ability to do things across the organization.
    - Staff have arguably too much flexibility, resulting in too little strategic direction.
    - Result of two points above is that the organization struggles to communicate about itself and it's good work (of which there is plenty being done).
    - Little enforcement of policies, procedures even after there is wide buy-in from the organization.
    - Lacking capacity in management services, and purchasing/procurement process is ridiculous.

    Advice to Management

    - Enforce more when there is buy-in and the course is clearly the right one.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Program Specialist"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at US Institute of Peace full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    It's a good idea and there are really some wonderful and incredibly smart people there.

    Cons

    Not everyone is on the same page of the vision and mission. Management seems to be forgetting why the institute was developed.

    Advice to Management

    Go back to the roots...and think beyond trying to save yourself from being defunded

  3. Helpful (3)

    "Management is Abysmal"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Director in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Director in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at US Institute of Peace full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    A noble mission, with some sincere and motivated members of staff. The headquarters building is beautiful.

    Cons

    Management is terrible, obsessed with public relations to avoid being defunded. There are strategic reorganizations (read: layoffs/pressuring employees to resign) every 2-3 years, none of which have fundamentally fixed or changed the organization or it's basic problems. 10% of overall staff have left in the last few years, many of whom were grossly mistreated.

    Advice to Management

    It's challenging to give advice to the clueless, or those who have internalized/rationalized the management line. It's great that, on paper, you support peace and nonviolent approaches to address conflict. But that is not enough. Since you don't actually model that behavior in-house, through overall management, you are missing the big picture, and will really have no impact at the end of the day.


  4. Helpful (7)

    "Run the other way"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Program Specialist in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Program Specialist in Washington, DC
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at US Institute of Peace full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Strong mission that promotes peace around the nation

    Cons

    Many people must have forgotten what the mission of the Institute is. It's a revolving door here. People are quitting and resigning at the drop of a dime. Managers treat you like their PhD gives them the right to talk down on you. This organization is horribly ran and very political. Some of the best employees have left because of their managers and no one cares enough to do anything about it. It's almost like it's one big fear factor in this place. I wouldn't recommend working here at all. You will be stuck in the same spot for years with no growth, development or raises. Move on to another organization where you are valued and respected because you won't find that here.

    Advice to Management

    Take a training course of 2 or 3. Your inability to lead your team is the very reason why there is high turnover. Stop with the intimidation tactics of making your employees fear you. It doesn't gain you respect, but only makes you look incompetent and weak.


  5. Helpful (4)

    "Good place to work for 2-3 years at most"

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

    I worked at US Institute of Peace full-time

    Pros

    - meaningful mission
    - friendly staff
    - junior staff works collaboratively and effectively to accomplish quite a lot

    Cons

    - reorganizations - multiple leadership changes in the last several years and each were eager to put their own stamp on the place
    - too small of a budget for the number of missions/goals
    - some teams punch above their weight, several barely accomplish anything
    - strategic vision lacking
    - lack of staff advancement


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Great overall"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at US Institute of Peace full-time

    Pros

    - Flexible funding mechanisms allows design of quality work, interesting projects
    - Growing in-country presence in conflict zones a good move for the organization to be more effective
    - People care deeply about mission
    - Incredibly smart staff
    - Good culture at junior and mid levels
    - Excellent compensation and benefits compared to NGO world

    Cons

    - Some staff act *very* entitled – everyone thinks they are experts. One example are the reviews here that USIP is bureaucratic - it’s clear that this criticism comes from those who haven't worked at similar organizations doing field programming
    - Experience working there is entirely manager/leadership dependent.
    - VPs are given wide discretion of policies and processes in each center. Leads to a weak collaboration across centers, and competition between teams
    - HR department is not transparent about decision-making and data
    - Individuals are allowed to lead pet projects with little accountability, a holdover from USIPs think tank days
    - The loudest complaints are often prioritized with any organization-wide decision. This makes leadership wary of tough decisions, which leads to putting in place very weak, insufficient policies/processes
    - Some recent poor personnel decisions, including letting go some very effective, intelligent people, when there are many others who are less effective
    - Due to current administration, leadership focusing too much on selling itself, instead of being frank about what’s not working, and learning past mistakes. Sends wrong signals.
    - Awful new finance system selected and rolled out with very little attention to how teams operate

    Advice to Management

    - Make tough, but smart decisions
    - Model collaboration in your own actions
    - Model humility and learning
    - Prioritize accountability of projects and learning from mistakes, not selling the Institute. The latter will follow if the first is prioritized.


  7. "Fantastic Organization but Structural Challenges"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Program Assistant in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Senior Program Assistant in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at US Institute of Peace full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Everyone in the building cares deeply about addressing violent conflict, and many are deeply knowledgeable in their craft. In terms of people to work with, it is a fantastic organization. (And, frankly, it is a fantastic location to work. Marble floors, curving walls, and a great view of the Washington Mall.)

    Cons

    Despite periodic strategic reorganizations, teams regularly seem to spar against one-another and do not collaborate well. Plus, for early career professionals, there is a limit to how high you can climb within the organization. With some exceptions, people can climb to "Specialist" level, but will need to leave and come back to join the ranks of "Program Officers"

    Advice to Management

    Encourage collaboration - and make it easier for people to pay for things and administer their finances!

  8. Helpful (4)

    "Beautiful building hides toxic environment"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at US Institute of Peace full-time

    Pros

    Good benefits
    Compensation is higher than nonprofit organizations

    Cons

    Palpable lack of trust between leadership and program teams
    Influx of USAID hires has increased bureaucracy and reduced agility
    Competition for funding divides the Institute
    Very limited upward mobility for junior staff

    Advice to Management

    Fire people with multiple HR complaints
    Limit former USAID hires
    Pay attention to mass exodus of staff


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Good for a starter job"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at US Institute of Peace full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great mission; lots of hands-on experience, wonderful building.

    Cons

    Not much room for promotion; top-heavy in management.

    Advice to Management

    Provide management training to managers.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Excellent mission, downward trend on management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Several in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Several in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at US Institute of Peace (More than a year)

    Pros

    Very hard working, dedicated staff. Some of the most knowledgeable conflict resolution specialists I have come across in the field. They do a lot with a small budget. I admire the approach of working to build local systems and sustainable P2P programs. You should enjoy event planning if you're jr. staff because that's a lot of what you'll do.

    Cons

    Recent mismanagement has seen USIP lose a lot of it's top talent.
    Also difficult to have your entire organizational budget on the chopping block every few years (congressional byline)-- especially under this administration.

    Advice to Management

    When people who have been at an org for 15 years start leaving en masse, it's time to reexamine your leadership.


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