Senior Program Officer, Outreach and Selection, CLS Program
Job Details
Washington DC - Washington, DC
Full Time




The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. Students spend eight weeks abroad studying one of fifteen critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. In addition to summer study abroad programming, the CLS Program offers CLS Spark, an academic year opportunity for American students to study critical languages virtually when they may not have access to language learning on their campuses or the ability to travel overseas. By prioritizing inclusion and access, the CLS Program ensures that the next generation of America’s global leaders reflects its diversity.

The CLS Program generates approximately 6,000 applications each year for approximately 600 opportunities to participate in intensive language institutes, provided both virtually and abroad. Based in Washington, DC, the Senior Program Officer, Outreach and Selection organizes the promotion of the CLS Program and conducts outreach to potential applicants and campus stakeholders, with the goal of broadening and deepening the range of applications submitted for the CLS Program each year. The Senior Program Officer also organizes and oversees the process for the selection of awardees. The primary responsibilities of the position include:

  • Serving as the main point of contact for university faculty and staff, including study abroad and fellowship advisors, career services and multicultural offices, and language instructors;
  • Overseeing the production and dissemination of social media, print, and electronic materials;
  • Supervising the implementation of the program’s social media strategy;
  • Executing an advertising and earned media strategy to promote the program to a diverse range of stakeholders;
  • Planning and managing the CLS Program’s representation at national conferences;
  • Planning and arranging direct outreach to higher education institutions through campus visits and virtual outreach;
  • Making regular public presentations in person and through virtual conferencing;
  • Developing and launching an accessible application each year that promotes learning outcomes for applicants and measures diverse competencies that contribute to success on program;
  • Developing rubrics and multi-tier processes supporting the fair and equitable selection of scholars; and
  • Working with the U.S. Department of State to coordinate recruitment activities for the CLS Program and other programs of the U.S. Study Abroad Branch.

The Senior Program Officer also works to ensure that the diversity of U.S. higher education institutions and students is reflected in outreach efforts and contributes to the development of policies and guidelines informing the selection process. The position requires close attention to detail, the ability to multi-task, the ability to be a self-starter, and a talent for communicating with diverse audiences.

In addition to student recruitment, outreach, and selection, the Senior Program Officer position works closely with the CLS Program team to support program administration and implementation, and contributes to regular program evaluations and reports. Although knowledge of recruitment strategies, data and budgets are an important plus for any candidate, an understanding of U.S. academic culture and study abroad trends is also essential. Some travel is required.

The Senior Program Officer, Outreach and Selection reports to the CLS Program Director and Senior Director.

Position Responsibilities

  • Develops and implements the overall CLS Program outreach strategy, working strategically to develop recruitment and merit-based selection processes that result in a large applicant and finalist pool that is broadly reflective of the diversity of the United States;
  • Develops and distributes advertising materials for the CLS Program;
  • Coordinates and conducts informational presentations about the CLS Program for students, study abroad administrators, and faculty, including promotional trips to U.S. universities and conferences;
  • Works with partners on American university campuses to develop and deliver substantive conference panels, presentations and posters, with support from CLS staff members;
  • Organizes and implements a series of webinars, promotional videos, in-person trainings and workshops, and virtual information sessions, with support from CLS staff members;
  • Assists in the development and administration of the online application and recruitment database;
  • Serves as main staff contact for college and university staff and faculty, and coordinates communications with them, including drafting and issuing press releases, and working with individual institutions on tracking their awardees;
  • Maintains contact with U.S. university faculty and administrators to strengthen existing networks and develop new contacts, thereby increasing CLS visibility on U.S. campuses, and increasing the program’s network of scholarship application evaluators;
  • Oversees the administration of a multi-tier selection process involving application evaluators and in-person selection committees, including training, event planning, and handling honoraria and reimbursements;
  • Works with the Alumni Coordinator to build alumni networks and mobilize alumni to assist with program outreach;
  • Develops a comprehensive understanding of the CLS Program by participating in program management activities, including staff meetings, participant orientations, directors’ meetings, as well as trainings and debrief sessions;
  • Assists in program implementation by providing backstop support for CLS participants, overseas staff and resident directors at one or more CLS Program sites throughout the summer;
  • Coordinates program assistants and other CLS staff to respond to telephone calls and email inquiries;
  • Works with program budgets to track expenses and execute cost-effective advertising strategies;
  • Coordinates between American Councils, the U.S. Department of State’s U.S. Study Abroad Branch, and cooperative organizations on other ECA grants to conduct recruitment and outreach activities;
  • Evaluates and assesses the results of outreach, recruitment and selection activities;
  • Contributes to quarterly performance reports and to grant proposals;
  • Produces content for social media and internet properties to contribute to the recruitment of a diverse range of applicants;
  • Works closely with the Communication Officer to implement a coherent recruitment and outreach strategy on social media;
  • Contributes to the development and implementation of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policies and practices for the CLS Program.
  • A minimum of three years of relevant progressive experience in communications, higher education, international education, or a related field;
  • BA or an advanced degree is preferred, but not required;
  • Experience with study abroad or in an international setting;
  • Familiarity with American higher education, U.S. academic culture and study abroad trends;
  • Demonstrated support of diversity, equity, and inclusion in study abroad;
  • Ability to conduct outreach with diverse groups of students, faculty, and administrators;
  • Communication Skills:
    • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English, and the ability to communicate with clarity and precision to diverse audiences, specifically racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse communities;
    • Strong public speaking skills and ability to present information clearly and concisely;
    • Experience working with content management systems or web publishing;
    • Experience in developing marketing and advertising strategies strongly preferred;
    • Ability to communicate effectively about issues affecting underrepresented and underserved students and groups;
  • Administrative Competencies:
    • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail;
    • Ability to work independently while contributing to overall team effort;
    • Ability to manage multiple priorities quickly and effectively;
    • Demonstrated general financial accountability;
  • Technical Skills:
    • Knowledge of Microsoft Office applications, particularly Word and Excel;
    • Familiarity with graphic design, video, and photo-editing software;
    • Familiarity with Adobe Creative Suite for desktop publishing and basic design;
    • Experience working with social media in a professional context;
    • Experience working with a database, basic data analysis and the use of data for public communications.



American Councils is committed to taking affirmative steps to enhance employment opportunities for minorities, women, veterans, and people with disabilities, and strives to ensure that meaningful employment and promotional opportunities are maintained for everyone. American Councils’ commitment to equal employment opportunity is based not only on federal requirements, but also on a longstanding commitment to maintaining a diverse workforce reflective of the communities in which we operate.



The contractor will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with the contractor’s legal duty to furnish information.