Senior Director of Programs

Heartland Alliance
  • Location
    Chicago, Illinois
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Sep 22

Position description

Organizational Background:

Heartland Alliance International (HAI) is the global arm of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, a family of organizations that has been leading anti-poverty and social justice work in Chicago for more than 125 years. HAI is comprised of offices in nearly a dozen countries that implement programs on a range of global human rights issues, as well as the Chicago-based Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture, which serves individuals from more than 50 countries. HAI has significant expertise in the fields of trauma-informed mental health care and access to justice for survivors of rights abuses. It is also an industry leader in access to high-quality and stigma-free health care, including HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs. Across all of its programs, HAI promotes progressive, innovative approaches to human rights protections and gender equality that are inclusive of the rights of LGBT persons.


The Opportunity:

HAI’s new Senior Director of Programs would join a team of dedicated, energetic staff committed to making the world a better place. HAI is the fastest growing part of the Heartland family, having tripled in size in the last five years. This is a unique opportunity to work with talented senior leaders to build a new programs department that delivers high quality programming (both direct services and systems change work) and drives organizational learning. HAI is seeking a flexible, talented leader with experience managing large international programs, someone who is eager to be based in Chicago and is excited to help lead a progressive and dynamic organization at a moment of rapid growth and change.

Position Overview:

The Senior Director of Programs will oversee HAI’s program portfolio and technical team to ensure ongoing program excellence and quality. The Senior Director of Programs is a critical role at an exciting moment of organizational growth. The Senior Director of Programs will be instrumental in ensuring program quality, managing competing priorities, and leading a dynamic and talented team of human rights workers. This position will be a member of HAI’s Senior Leadership Team and will be accountable, with other members of the Senior Leadership Team, for implementation of HAI’s strategic plan. Individual accountabilities and work volume will be established through the development of annual Success Objectives, within the framework outlined below.

The position reports to the Executive Director. The position’s direct reports include regional directors (Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America) and the director of learning. This position coordinates closely with peers on the Senior Leadership team such as the Director of Program Development and the COO.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

Program Management and Quality

  • Ensure ongoing program excellence and quality
  • Oversee programs and portfolio management
  • Provide strategic direction for and assist with donor relationship management
  • Attract, develop, coach, and retain high-performance team members, empowering them to elevate their level(s) of responsibility and performance
  • Support regional and country directors in creative program design and planning
  • Identify challenges and work constructively with the Senior Leadership Team and across departments to develop useful solutions
  • Ensure program quality control and standards are implemented
  • Ensure professional project management standards are implemented; work with staff to develop systems to ensure consistent, high-quality project management, from project design to startup and closeout.
  • Travel 25% time to HAI country offices sometimes in high risk locations as well as Washington, DC, New York and other strategic cities in the US

Leadership and Strategy

  • Understand and track the relevant professional fields (human rights, development, humanitarian response) to ensure HAI’s competitive posture and heightened impact
  • Represent HAI externally in panels, events, networking, with donors, and in other meetings as necessary for the position to promote organizational values/objectives and to elevate the organization’s profile/reputation
  • Work collaboratively with the Senior Leadership Team to integrate cross-program activities and functions
  • Work closely with the program development team and regional directors to support and strengthen regional and country strategies and growth
  • Lead the implementation of HAI’s strategic plan, in particular ensuring the objectives around programming (trauma-informed mental health and psychosocial services, access to justice, gender and human rights), program quality, and national reputation are met
  • Support development of inter-team communication and cohesiveness, sustaining culture and supporting staff during a time of organizational growth
  • Strengthen organizational learning infrastructure, with a particular focus on programmatic and technical learning, and strengthening cross-regional collaboration


  • Management Experience: 10+ years of progressive professional experience in NGOs or relevant sector.  At least 5+ years of direct management experience, including managing, coaching and leading staff.  Experience remotely managing large global teams of 200+ people.
  • Sector Experience: Experience with US Government funding, preferably USAID and ideally experience with a diverse portfolio of donors including the European Commission, United Nations, and other governments. International experience and direct experience managing multi-million dollar programs.
  • Education:  A Master’s Degree in a relevant field, such as international relations, development studies, political science, human rights, law, public administration. Additional years of experience may be considered if a Master’s Degree has not been obtained.
  • Communication Skills: Effective business writing skills and the ability to communicate clearly with all levels of staff with an attention to organizational structure and department responsibilities.
  • Computer Skills:  Demonstrated proficiency in Word, Power Point, Outlook and Excel.
  • Personal Characteristics:  A passionate and dynamic leader with experience managing change and harnessing staff potential. Demonstrated ability to manage both the urgent and important to ensure high quality programs and meet strategic goals. Demonstrated commitment to human rights, social change, and serving the world’s most marginalized populations. Maintain a sense of humor during stressful situations.


Other Competencies:

  • Leadership - Leads by example and serves as a model for others. Creates an environment where people feel valued. Sees problems as opportunities and provides solutions through inspiring and empowering others. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of others to improve performance. Takes responsibility for oneself or one’s employee’s performance. Provides constructive feedback and develops team members. Integrity to do the right thing even when it’s difficult or not popular.
  • Decision-Making - Models and trains staff in decision making. Even in the most difficult situations, recognizes problems or opportunities and determines whether action is needed, assesses risks, takes charge of and ensures integration of feedback from a group when it is necessary to facilitate a decision, and makes decisions in a timely manner under ambiguous circumstances and when there exists considerable risk.
  • External Representation - Effectively designates a portion of time to external representation. Prioritizes donor communications and maintains positive relationships with donors. Regularly develops partnerships and relationships with external organizations as relevant to position. Actively seeks out opportunities to present, network, or engage externally to represent HAI.
  • Change Management - Initiates the change process and energizes it on an ongoing basis through facilitating groups or teams to problem-solve and think creatively to develop and implement new approaches or systems. Helps employees to develop a clear understanding of what they will need to do differently, as a result of changes in the organization. Implements or supports various change management activities (e.g., communications, education, team development, coaching). Establishes structures and processes to plan and manage the orderly implementation of change. Able to identify when change is needed and focus on why changes are beneficial or necessary to successfully implement change.
  • Teamwork/Collaboration  – Promotes and generates cooperation among one’s peers in leadership to achieve a collective outcome; fosters the development of a common vision and fully participates in creating a unified leadership team that gets results. Able to leverage relationships across offices or HA partner companies to broaden managers’ knowledge and understanding of internal resources for collaboration and who the members of the team are.
  • Adaptability - Adapts to changes in the work environment; Manages competing demands; Changes approach or method to best fit the situation; Able to deal with frequent change, delays, or unexpected events
  • Cultural Humility and Interpersonal Awareness – Consistently open and approachable when resolving highly sensitive and complex issues; including with parties holding opposing viewpoints. Treats staff at all levels of the organization in accord with organizational principles of respect and reciprocity.  Able to appropriately challenge others who are not demonstrating cultural humility.
  • Integrity/Authenticity - Skilled at building trust, sincerely soliciting input with clear understanding of how input will be used, able to create and maintain a culture that enables staff to learn and grow from mistakes, and challenges others who are not acting with integrity. Maintains confidentiality regardless of pressure from others, admits mistakes and takes stands based on principles and values in spite of the potential for negative consequences
  • Resilience - Able to not only recognize and mitigate personal stressors, but is skilled at coaching middle managers on how to anticipate increased stress in teams and implement systems to minimize the impact, and able to recognize and respond to changes in individual employee's stress levels.

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to sit; use hands to handle or feel and reach with hands and arms.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; climb or balance and stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl.
  • The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 20 pounds.

Application instructions

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