Senior Program Officer (SPO) – Americas Region

04 Sep, 2023


Senior Program Officer (SPO) – Americas Region

Mercy Corps
Portland, OR/Washington, DC/Remote
About Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps is powered by the belief that a better world is possible. To do this, we know our teams do their best work when they are diverse and every team member feels that they belong. We welcome diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be stronger and have long term impact.

The Program

Mercy Corps’ operations in The Americas are focused in Haiti, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, the Caribbean Basin (including Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and expansion into new islands) and the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington states). Within this collection of countries there are many different challenges and opportunities that are all undergoing dramatic transitions that have the potential to create  significant opportunities for development and change. Mercy Corps is well-placed to play a meaningful role in supporting  forces for positive change in these countries. Our path to being relevant and having significant impact will be through the  clear identification of high leverage strategies and related resource mobilization, learning about what works in the current  context and from our significant experience in the region, recruiting and developing exceptional regional team members  to lead our programs.

The primary role of the America’s Regional Program Team (RPT) is to provide essential headquarters support to Mercy Corps programs in the region. The Americas RPT is the key point of HQ contact for field management including Regional Director (RD), Country Directors, Program Managers and other staff. The RPT links country programs to a range of U.S. and international-based resources and represents the region to potential and  current funders and other organizations and institutions in the US. Additionally, the Americas Regional Program Team  provides targeted strategic support and management capacity to Mercy Corps’ growing portfolio of US domestic managed awards through regular engagement with key agency stakeholders and headquarters-based teams.

The Position 

The Senior Program Officer (SPO) supports strategic, impactful, high-quality programming in the Americas. The  SPO works closely with the Deputy Regional Director, Technical Director, and Regional Director and is an essential member of the Regional Management Team. They are the headquarter’s (HQ) focal point for regional and country level structures and transitions and updates and  progress on program implementation and impact. They lead, manage and mentor a team of Program Officers (POs) and Assistant Program Officers (APOs), ensuring quality work, and instilling a cohesive team dynamic.

The SPO supports country teams in multiple aspects of their programs, and plays a key role in connecting the field to HQ resources and represents country/regional interests internally with various HQ teams, as well as with external  stakeholders. They are ultimately responsible for overall monitoring of grants/programs for compliance with external  (donor) requirements, adherence to Mercy Corps’ internal policies and procedures, and direct desk engagement with relevant internal  stakeholders.

Essential Responsibilities 

  • The SPO is the HQ point of responsibility for overall monitoring on grants/programs for both external/donor requirements as well as Mercy Corps’ internal policies and requirements.
  • Provide ongoing monitoring of the status of programs and complete regular check-ins on grant  requirements across the region (such as co-financing/match, BVA, data aggregation, etc), with particular emphasis on program portfolio support the Colombia country program
  • Support country team’s adherence to Mercy Corps’ internal policies and Program Management  minimum standards as well as adherence to Mercy Corps’ Complex Programs management standards.


  • Lead HQ coordination and prioritization for development of concept notes and proposals (unless designated otherwise), monitor the timeline, status of proposal and communicate to the relevant parties as appropriate.
  • Review final draft for coherence and manage submission to the donor.
  • May be appointed a different role in the design process and travel to the field if needed, including writing entire or sections of proposals.
  • In the event of a major disaster or emergency in the region, work directly with Mercy Corps’ Global Response Unit, regional leaders, and Resource Development teams to coordinate an appropriate and timely response.


  • Coordinate partnership negotiation & development, ensuring necessary teams are engaged to help further  program, country and regional interests related to Americas regional programming and US domestic managed awards.
  • Collaborate with regional Senior Program Development Officer to conduct partner mapping and engagement activities, and donor scoping and relationship-building in new geographic areas or sector areas of interest


  • Develop the capacity of the Americas RPT, deepen their understanding of their roles, and support their career development.
  • Assist team members with information, tools and resources to improve performance & reach  objectives.
  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback informally and formally via regular one on ones and performance reviews.
  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.
  • Hire, orient and lead team members as necessary.
  • Provide support to RD and country teams on matters pertaining to strategy, planning, budgeting, programming, management and security incidents.
  • Engage in regular and timely communication with country team directors, managers, and operations leads, including travel to country offices as needed;
  • Support country, regional and agency leadership in adhering to Mercy Corps and donor policies and  procedures, including rollout of new initiatives and standards.


  • Represent regional interests and programs with external stakeholders, in concert with the country program teams.


  • Support country teams with strategy development and planning and travel to the field to support facilitation of the process as requested.
  • Facilitate learning across country portfolios and regions and share lessons learned and knowledge of agency resources/tools/best practices, etc.
  • Contribute to the development of compelling, coherent strategies that integrate and align with the regional strategy and agency strategy (where relevant), and support the agency’s impact, influence and innovation objectives in the Mercy Corps Pathway to Possibility strategy.
  • In coordination with the RD and other senior leaders, lead the planning and preparation  of agendas of regional gatherings.
  • In partnership with regional leadership, Legal, and other global teams, support the Americas’ region’s efforts to assess opportunities for geographic expansion into Central America, the Caribbean, and/or South America, in alignment with Mercy Corps’ global Pathway to Possibility


  • Ensure proper compliance with internal and external ethics and safeguarding standards and processes and liaise with country leadership, Regional Director and HQ Ethics and Finance and Compliance Unit to  manage and report on issues related to Ethics and Fraud as required.


  • Participate in the interview process, providing contextual information on Mercy Corps’ programs and realities of the position, and selection for key positions as identified with the  recruiting team.
  • For senior management field positions, participate in Mercy Corps’ LEAP process and support the process as needed.


  • Represent the Americas and RPT in cross-regional communities of practice and regular convenings with SPOs and RPTs from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East to learn about and adopt best practices, and advocate as a broader body for systems and process improvements within Mercy Corps
  • Oversee the A/PO with internal communications and ensure knowledge management systems  are up to date and accurate to support communication with other teams.
  • Play a greater and more direct role in internal communication management during periods of disaster response.
  • Oversee the A/PO for management of agency systems and adherence to HQ-related Program Management minimum standards, etc.


  • For new hires and other team members visiting US offices, provide briefings on context, country strategy and programs prior to their departure as an initial step in the onboarding process.
  • As requested, support supervisors with onboarding of new international team members.

Supervisory Responsibility

Oversee three Program Officers (two for MCG and one for MCE) and one Assistant Program Officer.

Reports Directly To:  Americas Deputy Regional Director
Works Directly With: Americas Regional Director; Americas Technical Director; Senior Program Development Officer; regional Accountability and Learning Advisor; other global program units and departments, including the Technical Support Unit, Monitoring, Evaluation and & Learning, Resource Development, Finance, Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness, Legal, Policy and Advocacy, People Team, and counterparts at MC offices in Europe; Mercy Corps donors and partners.

Accountability to Participants and Stakeholders
Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our program participants, community partners, other stakeholders, and to international standards guiding international relief and development work. We are committed to actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Minimum Qualifications & Transferable Skills

  • BA/S in relevant field required; MA/MS/MBA or equivalent preferred.
  • 3-5 years of field-based experience in international relief and development – ideally in the region; demonstrated knowledge of relevant sectoral and/or operational areas.
  • 3-5 years of experience managing the development, implementation, administration and  compliance (especially of US Government-funded grants); general program management experience required.
  • Experience with proposal development including support and writing with various donors, particularly US Government, private foundations and corporations.
  • Experience with monitoring and evaluation and other learning efforts.
  • Experience required representing an organization and its interests to a diverse range of local and international government officials, local civil society organizations, other international organizations, the media and/or the public.
  • Proficiency with MS Office software required (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Sharepoint).
  • Preference given to candidates with prior work experience in the Americas region.
  • Fluency in Spanish and/or French required.

Success Factors

The successful candidate demonstrates the skill, professional maturity and finesse required to manage the  desk team to provide excellent, timely support to the Americas. They are a problem solver, who is adept in  successfully dealing with issues of complexity and demonstrates the ability to serve as a mentor for the  Program Officers and Assistant Program Officer. The SPO is a skilled communicator, able to develop and  utilize strong relationships with staff, MC departments, partners and donors. They will coordinate with their  supervisor, the Director of Regional Support Services, and be skilled at building highly effective working relationships  with Country Directors and their teams. They will harness the expertise, experience and ideas of Mercy Corps’ diverse program support teams, including members of the TSU, Program Quality (PAQ), Resource Development, Innovations, and other teams and channel them into impactful partnerships with country programs and the region at large. The SPO will work with country teams to ensure that we learn from  experience, thoroughly research, analyze context and develop high impact strategies. They will be a skilled  writer and synthesizer of diverse and complex information, helping teams generate new insights into their  work, the needs of their countries and the region as well as how program impact can be scaled. A robust  sense of humor is greatly appreciated.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions 
The position is based remotely in the US. and is expected to travel up to 35% of  the time – sometimes on short notice— to areas with limited access to medical facilities and amenities.  There is the possibility that the SPO may be called upon to serve in short-term “Acting” roles for country positions, pending needs.
Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside work hours when deployed in a  field posting or on a visit/STA to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a  professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC’s policies, procedures, and values at all times  and in all in-country venues.
Fostering a diverse and open workplace is an important part of Mercy Corps’ vision. Mercy Corps is an Equal Opportunity Employer regardless of background. We are committed to creating an inclusive  environment.

Ongoing Learning
In support of our belief that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities we serve, we empower all team members to dedicate 5% of their time to learning activities that further their personal and/or professional growth and development

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.
We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.

Equal Employment Opportunity
Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact.
We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.

Safeguarding & Ethics
Mercy Corps is committed to ensuring that all individuals we come into contact with through our work, whether team members, community members, program participants or others, are treated with respect and dignity. We are committed to the core principles regarding prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse laid out by the UN Secretary General and IASC and have signed on to the Interagency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme. We will not tolerate child abuse, sexual exploitation, abuse, or harassment by or of our team members. As part of our commitment to a safe and inclusive work environment, team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, respect local laws and customs, and to adhere to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct Policies and values at all times. Team members are required to complete mandatory Code of Conduct elearning courses upon hire and on an annual basis.
As a safeguarding measure, Mercy Corps screens all potential US-Based employees. This is done following the conclusion of recruitment and prior to assuming full employment.
Our screening process is designed to be transparent and completed in partnership with new Team Members. You will have the opportunity to disclose any prior convictions at the conclusion of the recruitment process before the check is initiated. We ask that you do not disclose any prior convictions in your application materials or during the recruitment process.

Covid-19 Vaccine Policy for US-Based Employees
Mercy Corps has determined that, in an effort to protect the health, safety, and well-being of all Mercy Corps employees working in the United States, all U.S.-based employees must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, regardless of prior COVID-19 infection status. This policy is necessary to ensure not only the safety of our workforce, but the ongoing functionality of the organization.
This policy will be revised as needed to comply with federal, state, and local requirements, and to respond to changing guidance from public health authorities.
For new employees this requirement goes into effect within 10 business days of employment.  Team members that travel are expected to comply with host-country requirements, including vaccinations.  Failure to comply may impact your employment.  Proof of vaccination or exemption must be provided.


Job posted: 2023-09-04