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Director, Protection Initiatives

Will work out of our Toronto or New York City Office (Hybrid model)
4+ years
Full time, Permanent
$80,000-$102,000 CAD/year plus competitive benefits package

About us 

Rainbow Railroad is an international organization, registered in Canada and the United States, whose mission is to help LGBTQI persons in danger find safety. Our goal is a world free of persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. Until then, we provide solutions for individuals in immediate danger of persecution or violence amidst a global refugee crisis. In partnership with a global network of LGBTQI organizations and human rights defenders, we support individuals experiencing violence to get them out of harm’s way. Around the world, we are recognized for our efforts to support and protect the thousands of LGBTQI people living in countries which criminalize their existence. Since our founding in 2006, we’ve helped over 1,400 LGBTQI individuals relocate to safe(r) countries and have provided in-country assistance to more than 4,000 other individuals through basic needs and other services. 

Globally, Rainbow Railroad has been part of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Roundtable on LGBTQI+ forced displacement, as well as ILGA, Dignity Network, Council for Global Equality, Equal Rights Coalition, Rainbow Coalition for Refuge, the Commonwealth Equality Network and Refugee Council USA. Rainbow Railroad has invested in advocacy efforts with governments to build durable and sustainable pathways to safety for LGBTQI+ persons, seeking to be a disruptor for good and to queer humanitarian systems.


The Role: 

Rainbow Railroad’s program team has unique expertise in protection for LGBTQI+ people who are forcibly displaced or at risk, through resettlement referrals, emergency travel support (ETS), information provision, cash for protection and support to partners. These interventions include innovative program models like ETS, as well as mainstream modalities such as cash assistance, with unique characteristics based in trauma-informed, queer-sensitive approaches. As the number of case individuals in our assistance pipeline continues to grow and new staff are hired, strengthening our capacity to generate updated tools, guidelines, and processes will ensure that caseworkers have resources that they need to support a growing caseload and on-boarding effectively. Rainbow Railroad seeks to influence government stakeholders and mainstream humanitarian groups in LGBTQI+ inclusive practices, as well as building and supporting networks to connect and lift up Global South/World Majority partners. 

A core value and component of our work is funding, building capacity, and advocating with LGBTQI+ partners, including activist groups and informal collectives as well as formally registered organizations. Through our work, we have come to understand an urgent need for a platform whereby civil society organizations, governments, people with lived experience and academics can collaborate in developing protection solutions for LGBTQI+ people who are forcibly displaced, both on humanitarian services delivery and on a policy level.

Reporting directly to the Head of Impact, this role will oversee two key areas of work:                

1) developing systems and resources for technical advising and support on humanitarian protection and refugee protection for LGBTQI+ people;

2) establishing and supporting an LGBTQI+ forced displacement network which will connect governments, civil society, academics and people with lived experience in generating protection solutions.

The right candidate for this role loves creating toolkits and resources for frontline colleagues and collaborating with inspiring human rights defenders to take over the world of humanitarian protection.


Key Accountabilities: 



  • Leads and manages protection and policy staff within the Impact team;
  • Supports in recruitment and training of new staff working under the portfolio;
  • With the support of the Head of Impact, initiate and set goals for the team according to Rainbow Railroad’s strategic objectives; 
  • Reports on budget, impact and progress, and risk to the Head of Impact.

Revolutionizing Case Work 

  • In close collaboration with the Programs team leadership, oversees a comprehensive strategy for updating existing program toolkits and developing new ones for emerging areas of need, aligned with queer-sensitive best practices and international standards, to ensure that management and staff have research on best practices which they can draw on to revise and refine the case management process as needed;
  • Adapt programmatic toolkits, guidance documents and impact evaluations as external-facing policy documents seeking to ensure that key protection actors, particularly government and multilateral partners, are familiar with RR program policies and impact, building our credibility and influencing our stakeholders to queer the humanitarian system;
  • Supervise research on complementary pathways in Canada, the United States, Germany, Spain, France and Netherlands to identify those which are suitable for Rainbow Railroad caseload and support advocacy with governments to consider RR as a referral partner for these pathways and build internal capacity building to pursue those pathways effectively;
  • Support creation of internal staff learning opportunities, such as reading groups, field visits, shadowing, and other learning initiatives, so that staff have more tools to do their work and a deeper understanding of work across the organization;
  • Work with other Directors to find synergies across all programs and stages of case management.

Establishing the LGBTQI+ Forced Displacement Network

  • Support the organization of a two-day academic symposium held in a Global South transit country for people with lived experience and academics;
  • Oversee preparation of substantive materials for government meetings related to the Forced Displacement Network and seek to influence government stakeholders (Canada, United States, Netherlands, Spain, France, Germany) related to the LGBTQI+ Forced Displacement Network and government referrals. 
  • Convene key government actors who influence international protection to present evidence regarding LGBTQI+ forced displacement and strengthen their links with civil society organizations towards the establishment of an LGBTQI+ forced displacement network through one-day roundtables in South Africa, Mexico, Argentina, Lebanon, Pakistan over the next two years.
  • Convene key civil society actors towards the establishment of an LGBTQI+ forced displacement network through one-day roundtables convened in two transit countries (Lebanon and Pakistan) for local/regional CSOs and people with lived experience and one-day roundtables convened in three transit countries (South Africa, Mexico, Argentina) for host states, local CSOs, and people with lived experience, over the next two years.

Staff Support and Supervision

  • Manage and supervise staff to set strategic goals with clear outcomes and deliverables, and support a values-based organization and team culture that makes Rainbow Railroad a great place to work including supporting professional development and growth



  • University degree in a relevant field and/or demonstrated relevant experience, applicants with advanced experience or training in law, human rights, refugee protection, gender studies or related fields preferred. 
  • 4+ years’ professional experience in developing, implementing and managing humanitarian protection, human rights, LGBTQI+ rights, refugee or closely related programming.
  • Lived experience as a migrant, refugee, or forcibly displaced person will be considered as a form of experience as it relates to the role.
  • Experience with building and sustaining initiatives with LGBTQI+ networks, coalitions, collectives, and movements and/or with queer organizing strategies desirable.
  • Experience with sub-granting or partnering with Global South/Majority World countries on research and advocacy initiatives.
  • Knowledge of humanitarian standards and understanding of the UN cluster system, experience in humanitarian advocacy and contributing to inter-agency processes, or prior field-level humanitarian experience in complex crises, desirable.
  • Knowledge of and experience with pathways for refugees, asylees, and migrants in North America, Europe and beyond (i.e. complementary pathways, asylum processing, humanitarian visas, etc.)
  • Experience in leading influencing strategies, demonstrating the ability to build relationships with external partners to take steps toward an ambitious goal.
  • Excellent writing skills and the ability to translate complex material and data into coherent narratives that resonate with policymakers and peers.
  • Calm under pressure, able to manage competing priorities and work under external pressures with an eye for quality output.
  • Commitment and support of the LGBQTI+ community in Canada and internationally.
  • Ability to work effectively in a dynamic environment independently and as part of a team. 
  • Cultural awareness and ability to work well with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Familiar with office suite, including Google Apps, Mac, Salesforce, Slack, Monday, Trello.
  • Flexibility to respond to short deadlines when needed.
  • Organized and able to create structures and processes for work efficiency. 
  • Ability to effectively motivate, train, and supervise staff and establish an operational environment that promotes excellence, leading practice, and engagement
  • Knowledge of applicable legislation (Occupational Health and Safety Act, Human Rights Code, Privacy Legislation etc.)


Lines of Communication

  • Reports to the Head of Impact;
  • Works closely with the Head of Programs and Program team Directors in developing protection resources for casework and with the Senior Advisor and others on the LGBTQI+ Forced Displacement Network.


This role may require some travel internationally – the ability to travel internationally is required.


Application Deadline – January 30, 2023 @ 5:00pm

Length of Contract – Full-Time, Permanent

Hiring Salary – $80,000-$102,000 CAD/year plus competitive benefits package.

Location – Will work out of our Toronto or New York City Office (Hybrid model)


Please forward your cover letter and resume to Include the exact job title in the subject line of your email or complete the form here through our website.

We thank all applicants for their interest in this position however we will only be contacting those selected for interviews.

Rainbow Railroad is dedicated to building an organization that reflects the diversity of the communities we serve. This includes diversity in languages spoken, culture, race, sexual orientation and gender identity.

In accordance with Ontario Human Rights Code, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, accommodation will be provided in all parts of the hiring process. Applicants need to make their needs known in advance.


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