The Gates Foundation is committed to supporting locally driven innovation in low-and middle-income countries. To help deliver on this commitment, the Senior Program Officer will lead the foundation’s Research & Development (R&D) ecosystem strengthening efforts, focusing especially on a portfolio of investments in African countries, including the Grand Challenges Africa program. As part of shaping ecosystem strengthening strategies and making and managing grants within those strategies, the Senior Program Officer will engage with a wide range of key partners, including major international funders and technical partners, national and regional governments, academics and science institutions, and internal foundation teams. To help deliver on the foundation’s commitment to working with a more diverse group of grantees and partners and shifting the center of gravity of its work to low- and middle-income countries, the Senior Program Officer will also help internal teams make connections and build relationships in key African countries. The Senior Program Officer will report to the GP&GC Deputy Director.
What You’ll Do
In collaboration with local African partners and internal foundation partners, shape and manage a portfolio of grants focused on strengthening the African R&D ecosystem. In addition to continually refining and strengthening the flagship Grand Challenges Africa program, this body of work includes:
- Build a sustainability strategy that factors in the need for local and global agreement and funding commitments.
- Be accountable for the identification and assessment of key portfolio risks and the development and management of mitigation/contingency plans at the portfolio level.
- Establish communities of practice on the continent and opportunities for South-South collaboration with innovators from other continents (e.g., Asia, South America)
- Provide relevant support to Africa based partners to help achieve their impact over time.
- Work with interested national governments and regional partners to design and implement new programmatic Grand Challenges initiatives of foundation interest.
- Contribute to efforts of developing the leadership skill strengthening program.
- Collaborate closely with other foundation teams as they consider investments that might advance or interact with GP&GC.
- Build measurement and evaluation systems to track and capture the impact of the strategy.
- Contribute to conceptualizing, planning, executing, and evaluating the impact of the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting, a 1,000+ person scientific gathering, which also attracts key policymakers and decision-makers, with specific emphasis on LMIC participation broadly and African specifically.
- Identify and respond to potential advocacy and funding opportunities (e.g., presenting at meetings, writing grants and op-eds, engaging national governments, etc.).
- Organize and prepare for high-level internal and external meetings, contributing to background documents, articles, and presentations.
This role is anticipate to have at least 25% international/domestic travel
- Personal qualities of integrity, empathy, credibility, and a commitment to the Gates Foundation mission.
- Passion for and demonstrated expertise in coalition-building.
- Passion for the foundation's values with a commitment to deliver results against the foundation's mission.
- Minimum requirement: A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent demonstrated experience.
- Strongly Preferred: PhD in biomedical science and/or M.D.
- Minimum 10 years directly relevant professional experience in Africa-based innovation & science programs.
- Significant experience working closely with partners in Africa including governments, bilateral and multilateral donors, implementing agencies, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, academic institutions.
- Significant knowledge of the African Union’s innovation and health strategies (e.g., Agenda 2063, STISA 2024) and organs (e.g., African Union Development Agency/New Partnership for Africa’s Development, African Medicines Agency, etc.).
- Knowledge of health innovation policies and public policy processes in one or more of the following African countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Senegal a plus.
- Ability to staff and advise senior leadership, being responsive to their concerns while giving them clear advice on the best courses of action.
- Excellent communications skills, including listening, public speaking, writing, persuasion, and simplifying complex concepts for communication purposes.
- Demonstrated success managing multiple complex and concurrent projects that require cross-team, cross-unit collaboration.
- Fluency in English required, proficiency in French preferred.
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