Director of Programs - Puerto Rico

Programs San Juan, Puerto Rico


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.

Program / Department Summary 

Mercy Corps works in places of transition, where conflict, disaster, political upheaval, or economic collapse present opportunities to build more secure, productive, and just communities. Providing emergency relief in times of crisis, we move quickly to help communities recover and build resilience to future shocks, and promote sustainable change by supporting community-led and market-driven initiatives.  Following Hurricane Maria, Mercy Corps is supporting relief and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. Mercy Corps’ Puerto Rico local team is working with community based organizations to deliver humanitarian assistance and rebuild communities affected by the recent emergencies. As we see elsewhere around the world, disaster recovery and resilience requires a concerted, multi-stakeholder effort that involves meaningful coordination among local organizations, government agencies, and communities. Mercy Corps Puerto Rico is implementing a $7M+ portfolio focused on building resilience, supporting emergency responses and institutional preparedness, facilitating equitable access to clean energy, water, and connectivity in case of urgent need, and livelihoods recovery and economic resilience.

General Position Summary 

The Puerto Rico Director of Programs is directly responsible for the proper management of the Mercy Corps Puerto Rico program portfolio that includes a diverse group of projects, programs, subsidiary portfolios. They have supervisory responsibility for a growing program portfolio of $7.5+ Million that is divided among several US and private donor grants of varying sizes from $50,000 to $5+ Million. The Director of Programs oversees the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) and Program teams to ensure the achievement of Mercy Corps Puerto Rico programmatic strategic goals.

They mobilize the internal and external technical resources to ensure the quality of the programs implemented under his/her supervision; works closely with the Operations, Finance, and HR departments to ensure that all the aspects of the program portfolio implementation under his/her responsibility are compliant with MC and donors standards, rules and regulations. They will ensure that the program and MEL team working in Puerto Rico are properly set up to deliver at scale and that they are managed to achieve excellence. 

The Director of Programs leads the development and implementation of sustainable, multi-sector programming and is accountable to participants and donors. They are an innovative and visionary leader responsible for resourcefully directing, strategizing and planning all programming in Mercy Corps areas of operations. The position will support the strategic positioning of Mercy Corps and ensures all Mercy Corps work is planned and executed with quality, accountability and measurable impact. 

They will engage widely with external stakeholders relevant to the Puerto Rico and Caribbean context. They will represent Mercy Corps Puerto Rico at the highest level and are able to articulate and deliver a strategic vision in line with the rapid evolution of the context and MC strategy. This role will also support new business development opportunities and partnerships supporting Mercy Corps Puerto Rico strategy. In the scenario of an emergency the Director will lead the design and implementation of an emergency response plan.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Strategic Vision & Leadership

  • Communicate a clear vision of present and future program goals and strategies to Puerto Rico program team members and stakeholders, translating into the systematic management of program portfolios.
  • Contribute to Mercy Corps Puerto Rico strategy development and prioritize and organize actions and resources to achieve objectives set through those processes; 
  • Ensure that analytical and technical support teams representing Mercy Corps Global and Mercy Corps Puerto Rico are collaborating with program and other internal stakeholders effectively, adding value to the program and maintaining strategic focus; 
  • Recognize opportunities for innovative action and create an environment where alternative viewpoints are welcomed. 
  • Helps the Puerto Rico Director to ensure that all levels of the organization understand the strategic vision, and the initiatives that support Mercy Corps Puerto Rico vision, objectives and deliverables.

Program Leadership

  • Work closely with the Puerto Rico and Caribbean Initiative Director and other Senior Members of the Puerto Rico Team to ensure that Mercy Corps’ strategy is understood and guides decision-making throughout the response; 
  • Provide leadership to increase coordination, collaboration, communication and harmonization of Mercy Corps programming, finance and operations.
  • Build consensus around a common vision of what shared success looks like, including development and tracking of appropriate indicators; 
  • Build consensus around priorities to improve the delivery of assistance in Puerto Rico and to make program strategies and frameworks consistent across the response; 
  • Oversight to ensure programs are able to meet donor and internal obligations on scope, time and budget, including efficient coordination on common program, operational and funding issues; 
  • Ensures that project, program and portfolio management are integrated.
  • Facilitate sharing and learning across Mercy Corps Puerto Rico and support teams to incorporate learning from the response, and other regions, in project design and management; 
  • Engages program team in ongoing context analysis that enables programs and teams to adapt to significant changes in the geopolitical and emergency environment; 
  • Create and maintain systems to ensure efficient and transparent capture of program data for management decision-making and timely and informative internal and external reporting; 
  • Create and maintain systems to ensure technical coherence and synergies amongst programs and promote creative programming across the programs portfolio. 
  • In coordination with the Puerto Rico Director and other senior leadership, engage in strong regional-level representation with donors, international and local NGOs and networks; 
  • In coordination with the Director, lead the identification of new initiatives and opportunities that respond to identified needs and the country strategy; and  if needed leads the development of solicited proposals and concept notes.
  • Plan and lead assessments to better understand needs for program design and to further develop Puerto Rico country level strategy;
  • Ensure that robust design, monitoring, evaluation and learning (DMEL) and quality assurance and control (QAC) systems are in place, adhered to and used as a decision-making tool, encouraging consistency and best practice across programs;
  • Ensure that the MEL team in Puerto Rico is actively linked to those at HQ to ensure that global indicators and practices are considered and adhered to where necessary

Team Management

  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.
  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback via regular performance reviews.
  • Supervise, hire and orient new team members as necessary.
  • Provide team members with information, tools and other resources to improve performance and reach objectives.
  • Contribute to country team-building efforts, help team members identify problem-solving options and ensure the integration of all team members into relevant decision-making processes.

Finance & Compliance Management

  • Recognize the high level of donor scrutiny imposed on Puerto Rico programming and ensure continuing effective, transparent and responsive compliance mechanisms are in place.
  • Supports the oversight of overall operational support budgets and procurement plans ensuring appropriate allocation of resources to meet programmatic objectives.
  • Ensure adequate technical support for Program and MEL management and staff.
  • Ensure compliance with donor and Mercy Corps regulations.

Influence & Representation

  • Represent Mercy Corps with national and international media and participate in community activities as appropriate.
  • Work with formal government structures and representatives, maintain and develop relevant and productive relationships with a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Ensure that Mercy Corps maintains a high degree of risk awareness and impartiality.
  • Respect and understand differing cultural and ethnic differences and nuances and have the ability to navigate between them, recognizing the complexities involved.
  • Identify, build and manage collaborative partnerships with consortium partners, sub-grantees, donors, governments and other stakeholders.


  • Manage Humanitarian Access mechanisms to ensure Mercy Corps’ continued ability to access our most vulnerable and hard-to-reach beneficiaries.
  • Ensure compliance with security procedures and policies.
  • Proactively ensure that team members operate in a secure environment and are aware of policies.

Supervisory Responsibility:  
2+ Program managers, MEL manager, with potential to additional responsibilities in program and MEL team units. When requested fills the Acting Country Director role.


Reports Directly To: Puerto Rico and Caribbean Initiative Director

Works Directly With: Americas Desk, Puerto Rico Senior Leadership Team, Regional Support Advisors, additional headquarters-based support departments as needed.

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.

Knowledge and Experience

  • PMI Program Portfolio Management (PfMP) or PMP certifications preferred;
  • BA/S or equivalent in relevant field required, MA/S preferred; 
  • At least 7 years of senior-level leadership and management experience in large and complex programs, previous work experience in Puerto Rico NGO and non profit sector preferred; 
  • Substantial knowledge of the US and international humanitarian systems, institutions and donors, and of compliance requirements, accountability frameworks and best practices; prior experience with funding from HUD, FEMA, USAid, EDA, CDC and other private and institutional leading donors; 
  • Robust experience in developing, operationalizing, and implementing program portfolio strategies; 
  • Robust experience in program initiation, planning, implementation, monitoring and control and closeout phases. 
  • Robust experience in developing, operationalizing, and implementing operational support strategies
  • Demonstrated expertise in representation and negotiation resulting in securing significant new opportunities for the organization; 
  • Demonstrated success working effectively and respectfully with country government, private sector, INGO, NGO partners and other stakeholders; 
  • Highly-developed interpersonal and communication skills including influencing, negotiation and coaching; 
  • Solid project, program and portfolio management skills related to international, cross-functional teams; 
  • Experience of solving complex issues collegially, defining a clear way forward, and utilizing best practices in management to ensure shared success; 
  • Outstanding analytical and strategic thinking skills, with a focus on results and impact; 
  • Excellent oral and written English and Spanish skills required. 

Success Factors

The successful candidate is an opinionated, fast thinking, experienced leader. They have a thorough understanding of what it takes to deliver operational support in challenging environments. They are an excellent communicator who can inspire broad and diverse teams towards achieving a shared goal and drive a fast-paced and adaptive support to programs. They are able to create a stimulating working environment encouraging innovation and accountability. They are a confident representative in public settings, able to speak up when needed to defend Mercy Corps’ positions and influence key stakeholders internally and externally to further and expand MC Puerto Rico’s  goals in the response. They are able to work effectively with an ethnically diverse team in a sensitive environment and prioritize team-building and capacity-building of national staff. They have an excellent information management skills, is a strategic thinker. They have an outstanding ability to design, implement and manage innovative programs that respond to current needs and reinforce the future program structure of Mercy Corps in Puerto Rico.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The Director of Programs position is based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This position requires 30% of time travelling to field offices, some in insecure environments.

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 how we 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 team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our stakeholders and to international standards guiding relief and development work, while actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects. 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. As part of our commitment to a safe and inclusive work environment, team members are expected to adhere to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct policies and are required to complete mandatory corresponding elearning courses upon hire and on an annual basis.