Vice President, Program Operations

Room to Read
  • Location
    San Francisco, California
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
  • Posted
    Jan 30

Position description

The Vice President (VP) of Program Operations is responsible for overall leadership and management of the Program Operations department, which oversees implementation of all programs and projects around the world. This position manages the strategy, planning and implementation of Room to Read’s operations worldwide as well as expansion into new geographies. This portfolio currently includes nine countries with full operations and an increasing number of countries with short and medium-term projects. Under Room to Read’s new five-year strategy (Vision 2025), the organization plans to expand project-based operations into 10 new countries and further diversify our funding base with more awards from bilateral and multilateral donors.

The VP of Program Operations directly manages two Regional Directors (based in Asia and Africa), 2 Global Program Operations Directors (based in San Francisco), and the India Country Director (Room to Read’s largest country portfolio). Reporting directly to the Chief Operating Officer, the VP of Program Operations is part of the extended management team and has regular interactions with Room to Read’s Country Management teams and the Board of Directors. The role requires visionary strategic leadership, coupled with strong ability to drive results, deep operational expertise and global experience, and a commitment to continuous enhancement of systems, processes, and staff capabilities.  

The position will be based at Room to Read headquarters in San Francisco and will include extensive travel to Room to Read programs around the globe.

Duties & Responsibilities:

The VP will be accountable for the following areas of work, leveraging, guiding, and overseeing his/her direct reports and program operations team members, as applicable, to manage and carry out the day-to-day work.

Strategy and Planning

  • Recommend to the Management Team strategies and tactics to “operationalize” Room to Read’s new Global Strategic Plan (Vision 2025)
  • Aggressively lead change and innovation focused on scaling Room to Read’s operations to deliver impact through high quality, efficient and effective programs that maximize outcomes and opportunities for host government adoption
  • Oversee the development of multi-year strategies for country offices and major project countries and the associated resource prioritization across the portfolio, led by specific team members and in consultation with relevant functional departments
  • Oversee the development of an expansion strategy for Room to Read to work in 10 new countries over the next five years and associated entry and government engagement strategies
  • Oversee the development of country annual plans and budgets (AP&B) in coordination with relevant departments and collaborate with the Finance team to create better integration of project budgeting with AP&B
  • Lead the development of the agenda for the annual Country Management Conference, which serves as a strategic opportunity for global Room to Read leadership (Country Directors and senior management) to collaborate on important organizational issues and initiatives; and oversee logistics in partnership with the host country office

Leadership, Management and Coordination

  • Set a clear vision for the Program Operations team to deliver our programs and projects in an outcomes-driven, cost-effective, and evidence-based manner that is responsive to the local context, meets the needs of our key stakeholders and our performance targets, and is in alignment with Management Team guidance, organizational goals and Vision 2025
  • Manage Regional Directors, Global Program Operations Directors, and the India Country Director to ensure effective day-to-day management and oversight of our global program and project implementation and operations
  • Cultivate and maintain a positive work environment across the department and among global and country-level staff that aligns with the organization culture and creates a highly motivated team
  • Foster a spirit of improvement in which staff continually seek opportunities to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of systems and processes
  • In consultation with the Chief Financial Officer and VP of People Operations, ensure timely roll-out of all human resource and finance initiatives for country offices and projects
  • In consultation with Programs Development and Technical Assistance, ensure program designs can be effectively and efficiently implemented
  • Strengthen knowledge management and cross-departmental/cross-office coordination and communication, especially keeping relevant global departments informed on operational issues, challenges and changes
  • Supervise and mentor direct-report staff, including communicating clear expectations, setting performance objectives, providing regular and timely performance feedback, and leading documented semi-annual performance reviews; promote teamwork, common purpose, and continuous professional growth with direct report and “matrix managed” team members
  • Keep Management Team and appropriate staff up to date on all program operations and expansion plans
  • As needed, serve as a resource to the regional, country, and project teams for problem-solving, crisis management, policy creation and implementation, capacity building, strategy development and a myriad of other operational needs

Program Implementation and Monitoring

  • Monitor and support the implementation of quality programming, delivery against plans, and management of risk to ensure accountability against stated objectives
  • Oversee systemic budget monitoring in the country offices and ensure support or corrective actions are taken as needed to improve financial accountability
  • Oversee the various processes to gather project data and results and the utilization of that information for continuous improvement, course correction if needed, and learning
  • Manage internal reporting on all global projects, ensuring the Management Team and other key internal stakeholders have key information for decision-making and communicating to staff, the Board, and external stakeholders  
  • Guide the exploration and entry phases into new countries of operation, including overseeing feasibility studies, security reviews, staffing planning, and other steps
  • In consultation with People Operations and other relevant departments, ensure country offices and projects have the staffing and expertise required to implement Vision 2025 and that human resource policies, employee handbooks and administration policies for in-country operations are in place and up to date
  • With the support of the VP of People Operations, ensure systems are in place for recruitment, hiring, orientation, performance, management, terminations at the country office level and on project-based work outside of the country offices to ensure optimal performance
  • Ensure human resource initiatives like capacity building, professional development opportunities, staffing models and performance improvement strategies are developed and carried out in alignment with global and country strategies

Development, Communication, and External Representation

  • Collaborate with Development and Communication leadership to create strategies to increase program and project fundraising, and ensure information-sharing across Program Operations and Development and Communication necessary for fundraising efforts from proposal and budget development to implementation monitoring and reporting
  • Evaluate opportunities with the Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships to build partnerships with other international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and bilateral or multilateral prime contractors and make recommendations to the Management Team that help inform Go/No-Go decisions
  • Build effective relationships with key stakeholders in host country governments, partner organizations, and donor agencies
  • Stay informed about research and trends in international education implementation and recommend appropriate program implementation enhancements
  • Network with other peer non-profits or organizations that serve as partners to build relationships and identify potential opportunities
  • Maintain professional and positive public image of Room to Read

Compliance and Risk Management

  • Ensure Room to Read is maintaining appropriate legal standing in all implementing countries and is in compliance with local laws and regulations governing Room to Read operations
  • Monitor compliance with organization-wide operating policies; ensure country offices and projects have adequate internal financial, human resource, legal and program controls, and recommend additional controls as necessary
  • Support Director of Global Program Operations responsible for custom projects to ensure that projects, operations, and staff are in compliance with regulations of bilateral, multilateral, and other custom-project donors in addition to Room to Read’s internal policies
  • Oversee the safety and security framework for the organization, in cooperation with the Chief Operating Officer, and ensure timely communications relating to security or other critical country events between implementing countries and the global office
  • Ensure the protection of the children with whom we work under Room to Read’s Child Protection Policy
  • Other ad hoc duties, as required



  • Master’s degree in International Relations, Business, or a related field
  • 15 years progressive work experience with at least 5 years in senior level roles
  • At least 10 years of operations experience having demonstrated the ability to effectively and efficiently manage, lead and scale operations, preferably in the international development sector
  • International development experience in low income countries, preferably managing a country office or region or major donor-funded project
  • Proven track record of building and managing global teams across multiple locations
  • Experience building and maintaining constructive relationships with host governments, local partner organizations, and donor agencies
  • Commitment to operational excellence with demonstrated experience in enhancing systems, processes, and/or tools for better delivery of projects
  • Track record of experience and compliance with host government regulations on INGO registration, labor and tax laws, and bilateral and/or multilateral donor policies
  • Demonstrated ability developing staff capacity and effective teams
  • Strong budget management and resource planning skills
  • Strong problem-solving and communication skills
  • Entrepreneurial spirit and a growth mindset, e.g., management experience in a global, fast-growth organization
  • A passion for the mission of Room to Read and strong personal commitment to international development
  • Ability to travel 20% of the time
  • A commitment to achieving results with a demonstrated track record of achieving or exceeding objectives, under challenging circumstances. S/he will perform well under pressure and keep focused on key objectives and the core principles of the Room to Read.
  • Legally eligible to work in the United States; no sponsorship provided.


  • Experience setting up projects or opening offices in low-income countries
  • Project Management training or experience
  • Human Resources and/or Information Technology experience
  • Girls’ education and/or literacy program experience


Room to Read offers a competitive salary with excellent benefits. Benefits include health, dental, vision, long-term disability insurance, life insurance, commuter benefits and a 401K match. The non-monetary compensation includes a unique opportunity to be part of an innovative, meaningful, fun, and rapidly growing organization that is changing transforming the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. 

To be successful at Room to Read, you will also: 

  • Have passion for our mission and a strong desire to impact a dynamic nonprofit organization 
  • Be a proactive and innovative thinker who achieves results and creates positive change
  • Have a very high level of personal and professional integrity and trustworthiness  
  • Embrace diversity and a commitment to collaboration 
  • Thrive in a fast-paced and fun environment 

Application instructions

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