Senior Program Officer-South and East Asia

Programming Washington, District of Columbia


About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.
Now, and for the future.

Program / Department Summary

Mercy Corps’ South and East Asia region comprises Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal and Timor Leste. Programming in these countries focuses on economic and market systems development, resilience, financial inclusion, sustainable energy, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), among others. Common themes include community engagement, inclusive development, gender, and working in partnership with local government, the private sector and civil society actors. The region is committed to using data-driven evidence to articulate country-level impact and contributions towards solving complex global challenges.

General Position Summary

The Senior Program Officer (SPO) supports strategic, impactful, high-quality programming in the South and East Asia Region. S/he supports Country Directors in aspects of their country program and grant administration, plays a key role in connecting the field to HQ resources and represents the country/regional interests internally with various HQ teams as well as with external stakeholders.  The SPO provides the secondary check and supports the field (ultimate point of responsibility) in adhering to internal and external policies and regulations.  S/he is responsible for managing overall desk support to the region. S/he mentors and oversees the Program Officer (PO) and Assistant Program Officer (APO). 

Essential Job Responsibilities

Program & Grant Administration
  • 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 (such as co-financing/match, BVA, data aggregation, etc).
  • 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.

 Proposal Development

  • Lead HQ coordination for 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 field if needed.

 Partnership Development & Management

  • Coordinate partnership negotiation & development, ensuring necessary teams are engaged to help further program, country and regional interests.

 External Representation

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

 Strategy, Planning & Learning

  • 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.


  • 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.

 Internal Communication

  • Oversee the APO 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.


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

 Organizational Learning 

  • As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve, we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.

Accountability to Beneficiaries

  • Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically
    to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Supervisory Responsibility:  2


Reports Directly To: Regional Program Director – (South and East Asia)

Works Directly With: Other HQ Program units and other departments, including Resource Development, Finance, Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness, Legal, Policy and Advocacy, Mercy Corps Counterparts at MC HQ offices in Europe; MC donors and partners.

 Knowledge and Experience

  • 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 representing the organization and its interests to a diverse range of local and international government officials, local civil society organizations, other international organizations, the media and the public – required.
  • Proficiency with MS Office software required (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint).

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 (REGION). S/he is 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 Officer and Assistant Program Officer. The SPO is a skilled communicator, able to develop and utilize strong relationships with staff, partners and donors. S/he will coordinate with his/her supervisor, the Regional Program Director, and be skilled at building highly effective working relationships with Country Directors and their teams.  S/he will harness the expertise, experience and ideas of Mercy Corps’ diverse program support teams, including members of the TSU, Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness and Social Innovations 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.  S/he 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 in Portland OR or Washington D.C. 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.

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.