Job Opportunity: The Bill & Melinda Foundation is hiring a Senior Program Officer, Africa Program Advocacy& Communications (PAC)

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Be part of a diverse global community, working toward our vision that everyone should have the chance to live a healthy and productive life.

Application deadline: 19 November 2023

About the Bill & Melinda Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people especially those with the fewest resources have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman, under the direction of co-chairs Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates and the board of trustees.

The Team

The Africa Team works to enable the foundation’s ambitious goals of scaling evidence-based interventions that target a range of disease and socio-economic conditions which are endemic across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The team executes its responsibility through direct country engagement to deploy interventions and delivery models, and by building the partner architecture to replicate successful interventions and models across multiple countries.

Your Role

The Senior Program Officer (SPO), Africa, Program Advocacy & Communications (PAC) partners with the members of the PAC Team and the Africa Team to advance policy and advocacy priorities across Africa in support to the foundation’s programmatic goals. Specifically, the role will serve as the Africa Team liaison for major cross-cutting policy and financing initiatives across the Global Policy & Advocacy (GPA) division and serve as the overall liaison for the Africa PAC team in Seattle.

The work includes supporting projects such as regional and country strategy development, grant development and management, leadership engagements and trips. In addition to the core day-to-day responsibilities, the SPO will lead the African Union (AU) Chair portfolio and overall foundation AU coordination efforts, a portfolio of policy and advocacy investments in collaboration with GPA colleagues, and will coordinate Africa PAC’s input and perspectives to ongoing foundation initiatives as needed.

This role reports to the Director, PAC in Africa. The postholder will be based at the foundation’s office in Johannesburg.

What You’ll Do

a) Policy, Advocacy & Communications

  • Contribute to continental, regional and country advocacy strategy development processes, working closely with colleagues to ensure inputs from a range of Africa Regional Office (ARO), Program Strategy, and GPA teams, and develop strategy materials with advocacy lens.
  • Input and ensure Africa Team colleagues’ feedback is reflected in issue advocacy strategies (multi-country efforts).
  • Support efforts to improve regional consultant support model, structure/streamline document templates, services we can lean-on with consultants etc.
  • Lead or develop Africa Team cross-cutting investments as needed (AU, gender etc.).
  • Support and track direct engagement opportunities, including partner and grantee calls.

b) Global Policy & Advocacy liaison

  • Act as point of contact within the Africa Team for the GPA Division.
  • Represent Africa PAC in GPA meetings and maintain relationships with relevant GPA colleagues.
  • Lead monthly Africa advocacy and communications meetings.
  • Provide oversight and coordination of advocacy investments in Africa, including coordination of Africa Team inputs/concepts for pooled funding and coordination with PAC colleagues on joint investment opportunities.
  • Act as secondary Program Officer for investments in selected countries in Africa.

c) Africa Team Gender Equality Division lead/liaison

  • Act as main point of contact for Africa team within the Gender Equality (GE) Division, focusing on GE PAC, Women’s Economic Empowerment, Data and Insights.
  • Coordinate Africa Team contributions to GE processes and strategies.
  • Support Regional Leads on gender work, including some support to post-Generation Equality Forum engagement.
  • Coordination of PAC/GE investments, with government engagement in moderate or selective engagement countries.

d) Leadership Engagement and Annual Planning

  • Coordinate and prepare annual leadership trip submissions, socialize and incorporate feedback to Africa Team (regional/multi-country) on advocacy and policy opportunities.
  • Liaise with other foundation teams to coordinate/align leadership asks.

e) Regional Platforms for Scale Advocacy & Comms Support and Engagement

  • Develop strategy and manage AU-related investments.
  • Manage ongoing discussions with program teams and GPA on AU engagement.
  • Manage internal AU coordination, including quarterly meetings and follow up.
  • Support other Africa Team’s AU and regional institution engagements on policy and advocacy efforts.

f) Communications

  • Support issue-specific communications, in service of advocacy goals; and work closely with Communications Leads in the global PAC Team.
  • Also work with the Africa Team Communications Lead(s) on broader reputational or leadership related communications activities and visits.

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Your Experience

  • The ideal candidate will preferably hold an advanced degree in public policy, political science, public health, or economics.
  • A minimum of 10 years of experience is preferred, ideally, with a strong mix of service in either the public or non-profit sectors. Experience working in the Global South and some private sector experience, a plus.
  • Strong understanding, experience and expertise in global development policy and advocacy efforts, working with governments, civil society organizations, private sector, coalitions, and the media.
  • An in-depth understanding of SSA’s political economy (e.g. national and regional issues, trends, actors, opportunities and nuances).
  • Experience in the conception, design and management of advocacy strategies, initiatives and programs for health, and/or agriculture, and/or financial services for the poor.
  • Significant experience in working with policymakers and knowledge of major donor and multilateral institutions. Track record of building positive relationships with governments and donors is critical.
  • Experienced in crafting a strategic advocacy and communications portfolio, partner capacity building, and developing communications and media or donor partnerships.
  • Experience in a dynamic, target-centric environment, with demonstrated ability to juggle multiple and competing demands and establish priorities, and effectively manage and adapt within a complex and changing environment.
  • Strong initiative, organizational skills, and ability to work autonomously and cross-functionally while remaining flexible to changing tasks, priorities, and roles and responsibilities.
  • Strong interpersonal and group communications skills. Ability to quickly and thoughtfully synthesize information from multiple sources for senior leadership briefings and excellent overall writing and communications skills in English.

Other Attributes

  • Comfortable in a wide range of cultural, geographic and operational situations, demonstrating culturally sensitive behaviour with a diverse range of people and a deep commitment to development issues and high standards of personal integrity.
  • Ability to travel up to 40% domestically and internationally.

Hiring Requirements

As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

Candidate Accommodations

If you require assistance due to a disability in the application or recruitment process, please submit a request here.


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