WashingtonRecruiter Since 2001
the smart solution for Washington DC jobs

Senior Program Officer - Americas

Company: Mercy Corps
Location: Washington
Posted on: June 12, 2021

Job Description:

About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action - helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.

Program / Department Summary

Mercy Corps' operations in The Americas are focused in the countries of Bahamas, Haiti, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, US Territory Puerto Rico and The Pacific Northwest. Within this collection of countries there are many different challenges and opportunities that are all undergoing dramatic transitions that have the potential to create significant opportunities for development and change. Mercy Corps is well-placed to play a meaningful role in supporting forces for positive change in these countries. Our path to being relevant and having significant impact will be through the clear identification of high leverage strategies and related resource mobilization, learning about what works in the current context and from our significant experience in the region, recruiting and developing exceptional regional team members to lead our programs.

The primary role of the America's Regional Program Team (RPT) is to provide essential headquarters support to Mercy Corps programs in the region. The Americas RPT is the key point of HQ contact for field management including Regional Director (RD), Country Directors, Program Managers and other Expatriate and National staff. The RPT links the country programs to a range of U.S. and international-based resources and represents the region to potential and current funders and other organizations and institutions in the US. Additionally, the Americas Regional Program Team provides targeted strategic support and management capacity to Mercy Corps' growing portfolio of US domestic-managed awards through regular engagement with key agency stakeholders and headquarters-based teams.

The Position

The Senior Program Officer (SPO) supports strategic, impactful, high-quality programming in the Americas. The SPO works closely with the Regional Director and is an essential member of the Regional Management Team. They are the headquarters (HQ) focal point for regional and country level structures and transitions and updates and progress on program implementation and impact. They lead, manage and mentor a team of Program Officers (POs) and/or Assistant Program Officers (APOs), ensuring quality work, and instilling a cohesive team dynamic. The SPO supports country teams in multiple aspects of their programs, and plays a key role in connecting the field to HQ resources and represents country/regional interests internally with various HQ teams, as well as with external stakeholders. They are ultimately responsible for overall monitoring of grants/programs for compliance with external (donor) requirements, and adherence to Mercy Corps' internal policies and procedures. They also direct desk engagement with US domestic-managed awards administration and management and the relevant internal stakeholders.

Essential Responsibilities


  • The SPO is the HQ point of responsibility for overall monitoring on grants/programs for both external/donor requirements as well as Mercy Corps' internal policies and requirements.
  • Provide ongoing monitoring of the status of programs and complete regular check-ins on grant requirements (such as co-financing/match, BVA, data aggregation, etc).
  • Support country team's adherence to Mercy Corps' internal policies and Program Management minimum standards as well as adherence to Mercy Corps' Complex Programs management standards.


  • Lead HQ coordination and prioritization for development of concept notes and proposals (unless designated otherwise), monitor the timeline, status of proposal and communicate to the relevant parties as appropriate.
  • Review final draft for coherence and manage submission to the donor.
  • May be appointed a different role in the design process and travel to the field if needed.
  • Help supervise review and submission of US domestic-led proposals as required.
  • May be requested to write smaller proposals.
  • In the event of a major disaster or emergency in the region, work directly with Mercy Corps Humanitarian Leadership and Response unit to coordinate an appropriate and timely response.


  • Coordinate partnership negotiation & development, ensuring necessary teams are engaged to help further program, country and regional interests related to Americas regional programming and US domestic-managed awards.


  • Develop the capacity of the Americas regional program and US domestic awards team, deepen understanding of their roles and assist with career development.
  • Assist team members with information, tools and resources to improve performance & reach objectives.
  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback informally and formally via regular one on ones and performance reviews.
  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.
  • Hire, orient and lead team members as necessary.
  • Provide support to RD and country teams on matters pertaining to strategy, planning, budgeting, programming, management and security incidents.
  • Engage in regular and timely communication with finance directors/managers and operations directors/managers, including travel to country offices as needed;
  • Support country, regional and agency leadership in adhering to Mercy Corps and donor policies and procedures, including rollout of new initiatives and standards.


  • Represent regional interests and programs with external stakeholders, in concert with the field teams.


  • Support country teams with strategy development and planning and travel to the field to support facilitation of the process as requested.
  • Facilitate learning across country portfolios and regions and share lessons learned and knowledge of agency resources/tools/best practices, etc.
  • Contribute to the development of compelling, coherent strategies that integrate and align with the regional strategy and agency strategy (where relevant), and support the agency's impact, influence and innovation objectives in the Mercy Corps Global Strategic Compass.
  • In coordination with the RD and other senior leaders, lead the planning and preparation of agendas of regional gatherings.
  • Direct the facilitation of new efforts to review existing policies and structures related to the administration and management of current and HQ managed awards in collaboration with key HQ stakeholders, including the Executive Team and department heads.
  • Lead the coordination of improvement of systems to support HQ Managed Awards in collaboration with the Executive Team, department heads and key stakeholders and in line with PM@MC standards and compliance requirements.
  • Propose solutions and lead the design of the initial strategic process to improve administration and management of US domestic-managed awards.
  • Conduct quarterly reviews of the HQ- managed awards strategy and administration processes for presentation to the executive team, department heads and all stakeholders.
  • Direct adaptive management efforts to react to learnings and make improvements to Mercy Corps' systems to support the administration of HQ-managed awards.


  • Ensure proper compliance with internal and external ethics and safeguarding standards and processes and liaise with country leadership, Regional Director and HQ Ethics and Finance and Compliance Unit to manage and report on issues related to Ethics and Fraud as required.


  • Participate in the interview process, providing contextual information on Mercy Corps' programs and realities of the position, and selection for key positions as identified with the recruiting team.
  • For senior management field positions, participate in Mercy Corps' LEAP process and support the process as needed.


  • Oversee the A/PO with internal communications and ensure knowledge management systems are up to date and accurate to support communication with other teams.
  • Play a greater and more direct role in internal communication management during periods of disaster response.


  • Oversee the A/PO for management of agency systems and adherence to HQ-related Program Management minimum standards, etc. ORIENTATION
  • For new-hires visiting HQ, provide briefings on context, country strategy and programs prior to their departure as initial step in the onboarding process.
  • As requested, support supervisors with onboarding of new expatriate team members.

Supervisory Responsibility: Oversee the PO and/or APO.


Reports Directly To: America's Regional Director

Works Directly With: Other HQ Program units and other departments, including, the Technical Service Unit, Monitoring, Evaluation and & Learning, Resource Development, Finance, Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness, Legal, Policy and Advocacy, People Team, Mercy Corps Counterparts at MC HQ offices in Europe; MC donors and partners.

Accountability to Participants and Stakeholders

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our program participants, community partners, other stakeholders, and to international standards guiding international relief and development work. We are committed to actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Minimum Qualifications & Transferable Skills

  • BA/S in relevant field required; MA/MS/MBA or equivalent preferred.
  • 3 - 5 years of field-based experience in international relief and development - ideally in the region; demonstrated knowledge of relevant sectoral and/or operational areas.
  • 3 - 5 years of experience managing the development, implementation, administration and compliance (especially of US Government-funded grants); general program management experience required.
  • Experience with proposal development including support and writing with various donors, particularly US Government, private foundations and corporations.
  • Experience with monitoring and evaluation and other learning efforts.
  • Experience representing the organization and its interests to a diverse range of local and international government officials, local civil society organizations, other international organizations, the media and the public - required.
  • Proficiency with MS Office software required (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint).
  • Preference given to candidates with prior work experience in (REGION).
  • Proficiency in Spanish. French a plus.

The successful candidate will demonstrate:

The successful candidate demonstrates the skill, professional maturity and finesse required to manage the desk team to provide excellent, timely support to the Americas. They are a problem solver, who is adept in successfully dealing with issues of complexity and demonstrates the ability to serve as a mentor for the Program Officer and/or Assistant Program Officer. The SPO is a skilled communicator, able to develop and utilize strong relationships with staff, MC departments, partners and donors. They will coordinate with their supervisor, the Regional Program Director, and be skilled at building highly effective working relationships with Country Directors and their teams. They will harness the expertise, experience and ideas of Mercy Corps' diverse program support teams, including members of the TSU, Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness and Social Innovations teams and channel them into impactful partnerships with country programs and the region at large. The SPO will work with country teams to ensure that we learn from experience, thoroughly research, analyze context and develop high impact strategies. They will be a skilled writer and synthesizer of diverse and complex information, helping teams generate new insights into their work, the needs of their countries and the region as well as how program impact can be scaled. A robust sense of humor is greatly appreciated.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The position is based in either Portland, Oregon or Washington D.C. and is expected to travel up to 35% of the time - sometimes on short notice- to areas with limited access to medical facilities and amenities. There is the possibility that the SPO may be called upon to serve as an Acting Country Director for short periods of a month +/- a couple of weeks pending needs.

Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit/STA to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.

Fostering a diverse and open workplace is an important part of Mercy Corps' vision. Mercy Corps is an Equal Opportunity Employer regardless of background. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment.

Ongoing Learning

In support of our belief that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities we serve, we empower all team members to dedicate 5% of their time to learning activities that further their personal and/or professional growth and development

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world's most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.

We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact.

We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.

Safeguarding & Ethics

Mercy Corps is committed to ensuring that all individuals we come into contact with through our work, whether team members, community members, program participants or others, are treated with respect and dignity. We are committed to the core principles regarding prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse laid out by the UN Secretary General and IASC. We will not tolerate child abuse, sexual exploitation, abuse, or harassment by or of our team members. As part of our commitment to a safe and inclusive work environment, team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, respect local laws and customs, and to adhere to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct Policies and values at all times. Team members are required to complete mandatory Code of Conduct elearning courses upon hire and on an annual basis.

Keywords: Mercy Corps, Washington DC , Senior Program Officer - Americas, Other , Washington, DC

Click here to apply!

Didn't find what you're looking for? Search again!

I'm looking for
in category

Log In or Create An Account