Senior Program Officer, Early Childhood Development | East & Southern Africa

Strategy & Programs Westlake Village, California


Position at Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

About the role...
The Senior Program Officer (SPO) is a strategic leader and portfolio manager for the Foundation’s Global Early Childhood Development – East and Southern Africa (ESA) Sub-Initiative – which is part of the Global ECD Initiative that also includes work in the United States. This role will serve to advance the Foundation’s mission of impacting those experiencing disadvantage specifically by supporting efforts aimed at improving the developmental outcomes of young children (from birth to age three) and the well-being of their caregivers with a focus on young mothers. The Hilton Foundation is launching a new five year strategy in 2021 that builds upon work since 2012. Going forward, the geographic focus will be on continued support in Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania, while also contributing to building an international movement. Investments will demonstrate approaches to scaling parenting support as part of existing systems – including the health system and work with faith and community-based organizations. We also seek to impact policy and financing to support young children and to enable population-based measurement of child developmental status.

The SPO for the Global ECD-ESA Sub-Initiative is the content expert and thought leader on early childhood development and two generation approaches to serve young parents within the East and Southern Africa region and s/he provides creative thinking in both strategy direction and in the day-to-day management of the sub-initiative portfolio. In addition to strategic leadership and portfolio management, the SPO is responsible for supporting the management of the eventual three person team while providing guidance on learning and evaluation efforts that will inform strategy implementation, grant monitoring, management, integration across the portfolio and future strategy development.

The SPO will initiate and sustain external partnerships with grantees, stakeholders, policy decision makers, and other funders.

This position reports to the Director, Global ECD Initiative.

What you'll do...

  • Work in partnership with and leads the sub-initiative team
  • Identify potential grantees and projects
  • Investigate and evaluates grant proposals and presents recommended proposals for funding at Board meetings
  • Monitor and evaluate strategic sub-initiative and grantee performance
  • Conduct site visits
  • Conduct due diligence to assess grantee work
  • Provide advice/area expertise assistance to and maintains an open, ongoing relationship with grantees
  • Nurture partnerships among grantees and linkages to key stakeholders to promote systems change
  • Remain informed of current research, policy, activities, and trends in the issues related to early childhood development, gender equity and two generation approaches as well as the other related program priority areas of the Foundation
  • Respond effectively to the broader knowledge in the field by aligning grant making with emerging learning and opportunities to strengthen the early childhood field both within the East and Southern Africa and globally
  • Pursue and promote learning throughout the field
  • Engage and develop relationships to strengthen strategic coalition-building within the sector
  • Convene meetings of key government, philanthropic, and nonprofit leaders to mobilize coordinated efforts and funding in strategic initiatives
  • Represent the Foundation to various constituencies through verbal and written communications (annual reports, brochures, correspondence) and through participating in outside conferences and meetings
  • Develop partnerships to ensure that the voices of parents and local community leaders are heard
  • Collaborate with other public and private funders to advance strategic priorities and to leverage resources
  • Work with the communications team to develop communication strategy for the ECD-ESA Sub-Initiative
  • Write informative and engaging blogs/articles for the website, and supervise website content and updates
  • Manage and mentor a team
  • Guide support provided by the Advocacy Officer and Strategy Learning and Evaluation Department (SLED) 
  • Participate in team meetings to review grant recommendations, provide updates on grantee progress, determine technical assistance needs of grantees, plan convening, evaluation and communications activities, and share and reflect on experiences in the field and related program activity
  • Identify the need and scope of work for consultants within the sub-initiative and monitors work as required
What you need...
  • A graduate degree in public health, public policy, education, social welfare or a related field
  • Minimum of 10 years of relevant experience in grantmaking and/or program development/management.
  • Demonstrated expertise and work experience with approaches to improving early childhood development at program, research, and public policy levels
  • Experience working and living in the East or Southern Africa region
  • Commitment and belief in strategic philanthropy and to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Ability to travel internationally
  • Knowledgeable regarding the systems that affect young children and their caregivers and approaches to foster systems change and greater equity at sub-national, national, regional and global levels
  • Experience, or relevant experience, in strategic planning and implementation and in coordinating public/private efforts for long-term, systemic social impact
  • A passion for and a commitment to the Foundation's mission, social justice and the development of young children
  • Excellent written/oral communication, presentation and public speaking skills
  • Ability to develop effective and professional relationships with internal and external colleagues and partners from the grassroots to the grasstops
  • Strong strategic, conceptual and critical thinking abilities; capacity to navigate through ambiguity
  • Strong organizational, analytical, and time management skills with high attention to priority and detail
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively 
  • Strong managerial skills and ability to professionally develop team members

About our culture and benefits...

Our employees are inspired by the Foundation’s mission, and are committed to support our program areas in a thoughtful and effective way. Everyone is expected to cultivate the work environment in a way that contributes to respectful, open, and engaging dialogue, and connection that supports meaningful innovation, learning, progress and productive outcomes.

We value the health and well-being of our employees, and offer:
  • Comprehensive and generous health care coverage options
  • Fitness benefits
  • Disability coverage
  • Paid holidays, time off, and parental leave
  • Flexible work schedules and technology benefits
  • Professional learning and development and educational assistance
  • The Foundation triple-matches employee gifts to qualified non-profit organizations

International hotelier Conrad N. Hilton established the grantmaking foundation that bears his name in 1944 to help people living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage worldwide. Today, the work continues, concentrating on efforts to improve early childhood development outcomes, support older youth as they transition from foster care, ensure opportunity youth can access career pathways, prevent homelessness, identify solutions to safe-water access, help integrate refugees into society and lift the work of Catholic sisters. Additionally, following selection by an independent, international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to an organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. The Foundation is one of the world’s largest, with assets recently growing to approximately $7.5 billion. It has awarded grants to date totaling more than $2 billion, $207 million worldwide in 2020. Please visit for more information.