Senior Program Officer, Polio

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Location
    Seattle, Washington
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Jan 10

Position description

The SPO (Senior Program Officer) will work with a team to develop, manage and implement foundation-supported strategies to improve the quality and impact of polio program field operations, with a particular focus on countries in Africa. The goal is to improve vaccination coverage during polio campaigns and routine immunization, improve polio surveillance, reduce the frequency and severity of polio outbreaks and ensure the Africa region maintains its wild polio-free status. The focus of the work will include directing a range of contracts and grants to strengthen and innovate financial management systems, human resource development and program operations in partnership with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, especially the regional and country offices of W.H.O. and UNICEF. The position will manage consultants and contractors across various countries, participate in country-specific polio program and surveillance reviews, and support polio outbreak response plans and assessments, especially as they relate to program operations. The position will also lead foundation engagement on polio transition planning in the Africa region. In the global management structure, the SPO will represent the foundation on the Outbreak and Preparedness Response Task Team.

Key duties and responsibilities:

  • Manage a portfolio of grants and contracts in several African countries designed to improve polio program operations, including financial management systems, human resource development, and program logistics. These include working with EPI programs and implementing partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to identify novel means of ensuring polio program funds are disbursed and accounted for in a timely and effective manner, especially in response to emergency outbreak situations, human ‘surge’ capacity in response to polio emergencies is strengthened, and other program operations are improved;
  • Support the scale-up and review of innovations designed to improve program operations, including electronic disbursement of polio funding at the sub-national level in high priority countries in Africa, Direct Disbursement mechanisms are more widely used in polio operations, innovate contracting systems, i.e. ‘emergency umbrella agreements’ are developed and put in use to improve logistics and operations during polio emergencies, and new contracting systems are identified to rapidly deploy skilled workers in response to polio outbreaks;
  • Support GPEI’s operational partners to strengthen the management and planning skills of technical officers overseeing large-scale field operations, including vaccination campaigns, emergency response immunization activities, polio surveillance activities and vaccine management;
  • Contribute to the design of budgeted, rational and effective transition plans to ensure long-term sustainability and impact of polio eradication in the Africa region post-certification, including support to W.H.O. and UNICEF in human resource transition planning;
  • Represent the foundation on the GPEI Outbreak Preparedness and Response Task Team, track GPEI’s progress in delivering on outbreak Standard Operating Procedures and timelines, and identify foundation resources that can help ensure better quality outbreak response immunization campaigns and surveillance activities;
  • Solicit and review letters of inquiry & grant proposals; provide clear, concise & insightful written analyses & recommendations for funding, including drafting & editing proposal summaries & progress reports for existing grants for review by Foundation leadership;
  • Manage internal processes and portfolio progress while ensuring appropriate documentation, grant budgeting and reporting;
  • This role manages consultants and contractors across several countries, tracks deliverables and communicates performance expectations, gives and seeks feedback, measures progress and holds people accountable, and recognizes achievement and lessons learned.

Reports to: Deputy Director, Polio Program Strategy & Implementation


  • Advanced degree in business administration and public health preferred and minimum 12 plus years of experience in polio eradication/vaccine delivery/public health programs, with an emphasis on program operations, financial systems and human resource development in African countries;
  • Strong management experience leading and directing a group of highly talented and motivated team members;
  • Ability to prioritize, focus and achieve results in a fast paced and complex environment;
  • Ability to assess and manage the risks inherent in complex bodies of work;
  • Demonstrated strategic thinking paired with an ability to develop scale up in the context of a complex portfolio of activities and an evolving political environment;
  • Passion for critical thinking, and developing creative approaches to analyze and solve problems that block progress;
  • Strong record of engagement with major donors/partners (e.g. CDC, UNICEF, WHO, Rotary, etc.) and country level familiarity with funding and planning process, goal setting, implementation and evaluation of activities;
  • Demonstrated ability to work with diverse stakeholders and teams including elected officials, bureaucrats, public health specialists, business analysts, program implementers and developing country stakeholders;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills and ability to communicate with a broad and diverse audience;
  • Experience in developing and managing strong partnerships and relationships inside and outside the organization, managing conflicts, and building consensus. Interactions involve very senior decision makers within organization;
  • Ability to travel up to 40% internationally.

Application instructions

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