Senior Program Officer – Micronutrient Innovation, Evidence and Fortification Delivery

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Location
    Seattle, Washington
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
  • Posted
    Nov 27

Position description

Group Summary

The goal of the Global Development Program is to increase opportunities for people in the developing world to lift themselves out of hunger and poverty and to help deliver targeted healthcare solutions in these regions. Our strategies focus on Polio, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Family Planning and Nutrition. These strategies are supported by functional teams that focus on Vaccine Delivery and Integrated Delivery. The Global Development Program also has Special Initiatives that focus on Emergency Relief and Global Libraries.

Position Summary & Responsibilities

The Nutrition Team is seeking to fill a permanent senior position in support of the end-to-end value chain from micronutrient evidence, through innovation, to implementation of large-scale food fortification programs. The position will primarily support grant shaping, making, and management of investments that support that agenda within our broader Food Systems Initiative. The portfolio of the Food Systems Initiative includes nutrition-sensitive interventions delivered through agriculture platforms, increased access and affordability of nutritious foods delivered by the private sector, and solutions for addressing micronutrient deficiencies, particularly through large scale food fortification and biofortification. This role is an important contributor of expertise in broadening the understanding of the etiology and burden of micronutrient deficiencies, guiding innovations to address bottlenecks in delivering solutions, and developing novel approaches to micronutrient fortification (including new ingredient technologies and novel food vehicles) and the implementation of fortification programs.

The foundation has invested heavily since its earliest days in the establishment and scale-up of food fortification programs in Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. Today, nearly all African countries and India mandate the fortification of one or more staple foods and/or condiments with essential vitamins and minerals. While tremendous gains have been made over the past two decades, evidence suggests that roughly half of the foods mandated for food fortification in low-income countries are inadequately fortified, meaning that many food fortification programs are not delivering the impact they should be. The Senior Program Officer will play a unique and catalytic role within the global fortification field to mobilize and accelerate efforts to improve the quality of fortified foods. In addition to expanding the body of evidence around the levels and etiology of micronutrient deficiencies in specific countries, this role could include a radical re-thinking of conventional approaches to packaged food ingredients and assessment tools, improving monitoring and industry compliance, and lead to the identification and testing of innovative approaches. While strongly focused on fortification, the position will also support development of approaches that are delivered through supplementation.

This position works in partnership with other Nutrition team members and closely with the Senior Program Officer and Initiative Lead for Food Systems, and the Deputy Director for Innovation and Private Sector Engagement. The SPO will also carry out research and analysis work, as needed, for strategy planning, annual reviews, and learning related to Food Systems.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Micronutrient Expertise - Expanding the body of evidence and understanding burden, including:
    • Assessment agenda (tools and application):
      • Improved assessment methods for determining the population burden of micronutrient deficiencies;
      • Measuring consumption of fortified foods;
      • Designing and optimizing programs to control micronutrient malnutrition.
    • Harmonization efforts
      • Consensus on micronutrients of public health significance;
      • Consensus on upper intake levels and guidelines;
      • Consensus on nutrient intake requirements.
  • Innovation in:
    • Ingredients and fortificants, including encapsulation and other technologies;
    • Suitable food fortification vehicles including condiments, staple foods and health processed foods.
  • Implementation of large scale food fortification programs, including expertise in:
    • Regulatory environment;
    • Accountability mechanisms;
    • Quality assurance;
    • Industry Compliance.
  • Related tools for addressing micronutrient malnutrition, including:
    • Biofortification;
    • Supplements and supplementary food products.
  • Provide thought partnership and support to field-based program officers responsible for managing fortification-related investments and relationships in specific countries;
  • Collaborate with internal and external partners in catalyzing greater advocacy on food fortification, ensuring advocacy efforts link with programmatic priorities and leverage available data and evidence;
  • Actively participate in the Global Fortification Technical Advisory Group and other relevant global fora;
  • Shaping and manage a portfolio of grants;
  • Grant related work may span the entire grant lifecycle, including (for example):
    • Helping to shape initial investment briefs;
    • Working with prospective grantees on proposals and developing robust results frameworks;
    • Organizing external grant reviews and synthesizing reviewer comments;
    • Working with grantees to review progress and troubleshoot challenges; and
    • Carrying out annual progress report technical and budget reviews;
    • Serving as an internal reviewer on relevant grant applications led by other program officers.
  • Participate in foundation technical working groups related to the nutrition team initiatives, as requested;
  • Facilitate, coordinate, or manage a range of special projects and activities related to developing, preparing, evaluating and monitoring specific grants, and/or other team activities;
  • Provide ongoing research, background information, and analytical support, including conducting literature reviews, analyzing portfolio data, preparing briefing notes, developing strategy documents, drafting requests for proposals, and other research support required to assess initiative priorities, progress, and gaps.
  • Participate in meetings, coordinate programmatic input and write and review briefs to prepare initiative team members, the Nutrition Leadership Team, and other Foundation Leadership for high-profile events;
  • This role requires solid understanding of human nutrition, clinical and community research methods, and data analysis, interpretation, and synthesis. Expertise in evaluation methods is also desirable. The role is responsible for high quality interactions and clear and consistent communications with grantees and partners in the field.


The successful candidate will be passionate about nutrition, the quest for new solutions to accelerate progress toward achieving global goals and targets for ending malnutrition and be committed to the generation and use of data to inform policy and programmatic decision making. S/he will be a mid-career professional with experience in global nutrition research or programs, with competency in research design, and experience with data collection, curation, and analysis. S/he should be organized and flexible, and able to work on multiple projects simultaneously.

The candidate should also have the following qualifications:

  • Minimum of 15 years of relevant professional work experience in nutrition or public health research;
  • PhD, MD, or equivalent degree in nutrition, public health, epidemiology, or related discipline field strongly preferred. Masters-level training with compelling professional experience will be considered;
  • Strong experience with programs to address micronutrient malnutrition, including food fortification is required and familiarity or past experience in one or more of the following topics would be helpful: food processing/value chains, food regulatory systems, public-private partnerships;
  • Strong oral and written communication skills in English; French language would be an advantage;
  • Experience engaging in multi-stakeholder partnerships, identifying shared interests and aligning disparate or competing organizations around a common vision or goal;
  • Demonstrated experience coaching partners to improve their effectiveness and capacity to deliver upon stated goals;
  • Proven ability to work in groups to achieve shared results within specified timeframes, manage partner relationships, and convey the content and relevance of our work with non-specialist technical colleagues;
  • Conversant with logic models, results frameworks, or similar tools for framing strategic objectives, articulating key assumptions, and articulating results;
  • Work as part of a team with flexibility, efficiency, enthusiasm, diplomacy, and humor in an evolving, fast-paced and highly matrixed work environment;
  • Experience working in one or more of the Nutrition Strategy focus regions (South Asia, Africa South of the Sahara) is a strong advantage;
  • 25% or more domestic and international travel.

Application instructions

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