Senior Program Officer - Middle East Region (Open to Portland or Washington, DC)

Programming Portland, Oregon Washington, District of Columbia


This position can be based either in Portland, OR or Washington, DC. US Work Authorization is required. This position will require up to 35% travel between Portland and DC and within the Middle East Region where Mercy Corps operates. 

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 implements a variety of programming throughout the Middle East in response to the diverse humanitarian and long-term development challenges of the region. Mercy Corps has ongoing programs in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine. 

General Position Summary 

The Senior Program Officer (SPO) supports strategic direction, vision and leadership to ensure impactful, high-quality programming in the Middle East. The SPO works closely with the Regional Director and Deputy Regional Director and is an essential member of the Regional Management Team. They are the headquarters (HQ) focal point for regional and country level strategic plan processes; regional and country structures and transitions 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 have the ultimate responsibility of overall monitoring of grants/programs for compliance with external (donor) requirements, and adherence to Mercy Corps’ internal policies and procedures.

Essential Job Responsibilities 

  • Support regional and country teams with strategy development, planning and progress tracking.
  • Travel to support facilitation of the process and work with teams to finalize strategic plans.
  • Work with the regional and country teams to ensure active and proposed programs are aligned with and contribute to strategy.
  • Assist Regional Director in identifying and securing support and resources for the region. 
  • Coordinate the flow of information between country programs, the regional management team, relevant HQ departments and donors.
  • Build and maintain strong working relationships with country offices, resolving issues and maintaining regular contact regarding program implementation, grant regulations, training/ support needs and incident tracking.
  • Regularly engage with donors on behalf of country programs and/or the region to represent strategies.
  • Ensure field teams are aware of relevant Mercy Corps resources/tools/best practices.
  • Actively participate in relevant coordination forums, networks and donor events.
  • Provide written or verbal briefings on context, country strategy and programs as needed.
  • Responsible for managing overall desk support to the region.
  • Develop individual and/or team work plans or other internal management tools for the efficient use of desk team resources and time; set standards and priorities for the team.
  • Check the quality and timeliness of all work of the regional desk team at HQ.
  • Mentor and oversee the onboarding, learning and career progression of POs and APOs.
  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.
  • Supervise ongoing monitoring of programs, including ensuring regular check-ins with country teams on contractual, legal and financial requirements (such as co-financing/match, BvA, etc).
  • Actively provide assessment of risk associated with program implementation; mitigation measures and problem solving based on patterns of knowledge across portfolios.
  • Contribute to complex program management hand in hand with the Regional Director and Deputy Regional Director.
  • Support field teams in adhering to internal and external policies (e.g. PM@MC minimum standards, donor compliance regulations, etc.).
  • Ensure timely sign off and submission of proposals, as well as both narrative and financial reports, and follow up with donors as necessary.
  • Ensure Mercy Corps knowledge management systems (e.g. Grant Award Information Tracker) are up to date and accurate. 
  • Identify and highlight promising funding opportunities for country programs and regional initiatives, in line with country strategies.
  • Identify contractual risk and develop mitigation strategies.
  • Ensure that proposals are developed in accordance with defined internal processes.
  • Ensure that lessons learned are incorporated into new program design.
  • Oversee submission of proposals and concept notes to donors, and serve as the focal point during any negotiations with donor HQ representatives.
  • Travel to the field to support country programs as requested.
  • Support the recruitment, deployment and onboarding process for any Mercy Corps new hires, as needed.
  • Any other duties as assigned. 
  • 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. 
  • Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically
    to our partners and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging participant communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Supervisory Responsibility

Supervise Program Officers and Assistant Program Officers


  • Reports Directly To: Deputy Regional Director – Middle East
  • Works Directly With: Mercy Corps country teams, 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 

  • Bachelor’s degree in relevant field. Master’s or equivalent experience preferred.
  • Minimum 5 years experience in international relief or development, particularly in grant administration and compliance.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills; ability to develop relationships with a wide range of actors required. 
  • Demonstrated experience with proposal development, program management, monitoring and evaluation, and external representation.
  • Strong management skills, with good knowledge of relevant cross-cultural issues. 
  • Previous Middle East field experience preferred.
  • Arabic proficiency or knowledge is a plus.

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 Middle East field teams. 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 Officer and Assistant Program Officer. The SPO is a skilled communicator, able to develop and utilize strong relationships with staff, partners and donors. They will analyze context and develop high impact strategies, and will be a skilled writer and synthesizer of complex information, helping teams generate new insights into their work, the needs of their countries and the region, and how program impact can be scaled. A sense of humor is greatly appreciated.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions 

The position will be based in Portland, OR or Washington, DC 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 to support and fill-in during senior staff gaps.

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.