Program Performance, Quality and Learning Director

Programs Kasai, Congo (the Democratic Republic of)


About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is powered by the belief that a better world is possible. To create a better world, 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 has been operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since August 2007, with a staff of around 400 people working in Eastern DRC, with the overall country goal being to support vulnerable communities through crises, while fostering programs that build resilience and promote long-term change. Mercy Corps’ national office is in Goma with sub-field offices in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri. Mercy Corps DRC’s key programming areas include a combination of longer-term development and immediate humanitarian response programs in order to 1) Improve water service delivery and ensuring equitable access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene services, in urban and rural areas; 2) Improve food security and nutrition; 3) Promote diversified livelihoods, economic recovery and development; 4) Support peacebuilding and local governance. Mercy Corps DRC’s humanitarian programs aim specifically to assist populations affected by the conflict and crisis in Eastern Congo. 
In September of 2023, Mercy Corps signed an agreement with the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA-USAID) for the implementation of the Graduating to sustainable Agriculture, Income, Nutrition, and food Security (GAINS) Program. The overarching goal of this 5-year Resilience Food Security Activity (RFSA), with a start date of October 1st, 2023, and an end date of September 30, 2028, is: Food, nutrition and economic security is sustainably improved among vulnerable households. 
Mercy Corps is seeking a Program Performance, Quality and Learning Director (PPD) to lead the Program Performance Team, manage subgrants and local partner capacity sharing , foster coordination across M&E and CLA systems, and to ensure GAINS benefits from the systems already created for the BHA-funded Food Security Project (FSP) - Mercy Corps previous RFSA implemented for from 2016 to 2023 in the South Kivu Province, while also drawing on regional learning and innovation. 

General Position Summary 

The Program Performance, Quality and Learning Director oversees all program performance, quality and learning functions for the GAINS program. A member of the GAINS leadership team, s/he will be responsible for building, adapting and implementing the program performance architecture to ensure effective efficiency and program delivery.  S/he will be responsible for overseeing and guiding systems, processes and structures responsive to program needs and design, while ensuring accountability and adherence to Mercy Corps’ minimum standards and USG regulations. Working in close partnership with the DCoP, s/he will guide the program in high quality planning and implementation processes backed by standard operating procedures, technical quality standards, activity concept notes, and strong reporting, communications and knowledge management systems. In line with Mercy Corps’ commitment to locally-led development, the PPD will lead a team supporting GAINS’ partnership engagement through proven organizational capacity sharing and management tools and processes. The PPD will drive a culture of adaptive management and learning, championing an evidence-based practice to improve program performance, generate learning and leverage our program’s impact both internally and externally. With oversight of the Strategic Learning Advisor, s/he will foster the implementation and adaptation of the program’s learning agenda, and ensure that GAINS’ M&E system is linked and responsive to the overall strategic learning and adaptive management strategy.  
The PPD will ensure Mercy Corps’ program management standards and USG regulations are followed at every step to improve implementation quality and performance. 

Essential Job Responsibilities

Program Performance Management
  • In partnership with the CoP, oversee the development and roll out the program performance architecture, including systems and structures for coordination, decision-making, communication, learning and adaptive management.  
  • Ensure all program meetings and coordination mechanisms are backed by terms of reference with clear roles and responsibilities.  
  • Guide the design, roll out and adherence to tools and processes that facilitate high quality implementation, learning and adaptive management, including standard operating procedures, workflow processes and design, technical quality standards, ensure SOPs remain aligned to routine monitoring data generated, and review and reflection (in respect of PM@MC standards).  
  • Maintain program performance metrics in line with Mercy Corps and USAID expectations to track and improve performance and quality.  
  • Ensure that program team members are trained in Quality Improvement and Verification Checklist (QIVC), and the program’s quality assurance charter (QAC) process (MC DRC process) including the development of activity concept notes. 
  • Development and maintenance of online QAC system, ensuring compliance with Mercy Corps’ deliverable quality assurance check process. 
  • Lead donor related processes the development of quarterly reports and Annual Results Report, coordinating across senior team members. 
Partnerships and Representation 
  • Lead governance and partnership team members to implement comprehensive partner support and engagement mechanisms linked to technical and operational performance. 
  • Ensure local partners are adequately supported with organizational capacity strengthening tools, accompaniment plan, and tailor capacity strengthening plans to unique needs of program and partners. 
  • Facilitate active management of partner agreements, with regular performance reviews. 
  • Ensure all partners have clear performance metrics and milestones, and adhere to all technical and operational program performance standards; put in place remedial action when required. 
  • With the CoP, organize and facilitate partner coordination meetings. 
  • Facilitate and set the agenda for  the GAINS Steering Committee meeting and represent the program in Tshikapa program coordination frameworks. 
  • Oversee programmatic monitoring of sub-awardees ensuring that monitoring and quality assurance is conducted across performance, quality and organizational aspects of implementation. 
  • Develop relationships and linkages with organizations implementing other donor-funded programs allocating grants in the GAINS participants’ ecosystem. 
Learning and Adaptive Management
  • Facilitate a culture of curiosity, learning and adaptive work planning and implementation with program teams. 
  • Throughout the R&I phase and beyond, ensure that existing knowledge and evidence gaps within the program’s ToC are filled and pathways within the ToC are adapted based on emerging contextual and programmatic evidence.  
  • Actively contribute to the quarterly Technical Working Groups organized by the Purpose Leads, ensuring learning across Purposes and adaptation.  
  • Organize and facilitate after-action reviews, regular learning meetings, or strategy workshops. 
  • With the M&E Lead,  set-up program performance metrics for progress, results and quality monitoring.  
  • With the Strategic Learning Advisor (SLA) , and in close partnership with the M&E Lead, guide and oversee the learning agenda for the program; partner across units to ensure appropriate metrics of success and learning protocols are in place, including qualitative monitoring tools and research. 
  • Oversee SLA to establish a performance monitoring framework with continuous feedback systems, and CLA processes that facilitate knowledge capture, sharing, and application, such as Pause and Reflect sessions that intentionally embed a resilience lens.  
  • With the Communications and SLA Advisor, support knowledge-sharing, success stories capturing, lessons learned and best practices documentation for the GAINS program to build an understanding of results, impact, and contribution to outcomes.  
  • Maintain regular communication with the RFSA Complex Program Board, and country-level PaQ focal points to identify opportunities for innovative collaboration with other departments and programs and advise senior leadership on ways to drive forward quality programming and leverage cross-program learning. 
  • Working closely with the M&E Team, the PPD will oversee adherence between interventions and the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Plan, while ensuring smooth and efficient sequencing, layering, and integrating throughout the two Purposes and interventions. 
  • Support and ensure the integrating cross-program learning and new insights in strategy design and implementation. 
  • In collaboration with the M&E Lead and SLA, identify and develop research and learning priorities that are connected to programmatic and country strategic objectives. 
  • Ensure the quality of learning materials, methodologies, and delivery methods used in Strategic Learning meets the program's standards and objectives. 
  • Partner with the M&E Lead to ensure activities are aligned with the broader program goals and objectives, collaborating to establish M&E and learning frameworks that support the program's success. 
  • Work with the M&E Lead to translate findings into actionable insights that inform program adjustments and improvements and allow programmatic decision-making. This includes working with the M&E Lead to review recurrent monitoring system data to advise on programmatic adaptations and/or changes to the program’s resilience pathways.  
Communications and Knowledge Management 
  • Oversee the development of a knowledge management and communication strategy for the program, and ensure adherence to protocols 
  • Ensure program compliance with Mercy Corps document retention and archiving practices (Program Record Management & Retention policy)  
  • Guide and manage the roll out of key internal and external program communications, including regular flows of decisions and action points within and across offices, program coordination structures, and partners;  
  • In partnership with the CoP, hold team members accountable to communication flow. 
  • With the GAINS Sr Communications Officer, ensure that external communications products are in line with GAINS messaging and influence plan, are regularly developed and disseminated with relevant stakeholders in languages, formats and media that are appropriate for, accessible, and can be understood by the target population. 
  • Support the Sr. Communications Officer to implement the GAINS Communication Workplan in addition to delivering on donor communications and visibility requirements. 
  • Collect and share learnings and best practices from this program both internally and externally. 
  • Communicate effectively to ensure overall program targets and donor obligations are met. 
Team management 
  • Hire, supervise and orient new Grants Manager, Local Partnership Manager, and Sr Communications Officer, and provide guidance for deepening the understanding of their roles. 
  • Provide continued capacity sharing to the Program Performance Team, and broader program team members and create a pleasant work environment that promotes learning, accountability and ownership. 
  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations, and provide constructive feedback informally and formally via regular one on ones and performance reviews.  
  • Monitor team members’ performance, and take remedial action as required 
  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.  
Supervisory Responsibility 
She (he) will supervise the SLA Advisor, Senior Communication Officer, GISY Manager, Grants & Local Partnerships Manager, Grants and Compliance Manager. Further potential supervisory responsibilities will be evaluated at the beginning of the onboarding process.  


Reports Directly To: Chief of Party 
Works Directly With: Deputy Chief of Party, M&E Lead, SLA, partner organizations, HQ Regional Program Team, HQ Technical Support Unit  
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 projects. 

Knowledge and Experience / Qualification and Transferable Skills

  • MA/S or equivalent experience in project/program management, social science, political science, international development, or another relevant field.  
  • At least 7 - 10 years of experience in international development programming, preferably in Africa. 
  • At least 5 years’ experience with CLA and USAID projects, including strengths in grant management, coordination and donor reporting. 
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and guide a program’s CLA strategy and processes.  
  • Certified in program management. 
  • Patient and committed to capacity sharing, training and coaching of a team with diverse skill sets. 
  • Experience in implementing and managing programs including work-planning, food security, agricultural development, nutrition, governance and resource management. 
  • Demonstrated practitioner level capability in time-based planning tools – such as Microsoft Project or similar – or an in-depth understanding in how to approach their use.  
  • Demonstrable ability to produce high quality deliverables at speed and with minimal direction. 
  • Excellent communication and stakeholder management skills, and the capacity to work at a strategic level with senior leaders (both internal and external) is essential. 
  • Ability to multi-task and juggle several tasks and relationships at one time, with little to no direction. 
  • Proven ability to work effectively in multicultural teams and with technical and administrative staff and consultants. 
  • Fluent English required and fluent French highly desirable. 
  • Ability to work in a hardship environment with moderate to high levels of insecurity and significant restrictions on personal movement.  
  • Prior work experience in the DRC and demonstrable understanding of the context a significant advantage 
Success Factors
This  challenging and complex  role  requires flexibility, strong management, leadership and communication skills as well as the ability to think critically and collaborate across different stakeholders and partners. This role requires a deep understanding of partnership building and capacity sharing across partners. The successful candidate will have excellent team and interpersonal relationship skills, with demonstrated ability to work effectively in complex environments. S/he will combine strong communication skills, creativity, initiative, participatory leadership and tactful decisiveness to assist in program implementation. Multi tasking, prioritizing, problem solving and simultaneous attention to detail and strategic vision are essential. S/he must have the confidence and humility to work effectively with a diverse group of people – as well as be sensitive to political and cultural nuance. S/he must ­ be able to consistently apply excellent judgment to a variety of demanding and fast-­changing situations while working as part of a team and coordinating with program personnel. 
Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions 
Mercy Corps offers a competitive benefits package for positions based in the Kasai province, which is an unaccompanied duty station. Tshikapa is the capital of the Kasai Province, a lively rural city of 971,000 inhabitants where humanitarian actors are present. In the city center, water and power are quite stable thanks to the cash power system and hotels, small restaurants, shops and banks are reasonably accessible. There are three main hospitals which provide adequate health care services, with evacuation options to Kinshasa or surrounding areas as required. Telephone landlines, internet and mobile network capacity exist but are frequently at a less than optimal level. The temperature is often between 30-35 degrees.  
Mercy Corps' sub-offices experience variable levels of insecurity, with the situation closely monitored by UN peacekeepers. Air travel is necessary to get from one end of the country to the other. Mobile phones and cellular service are widely available. Internet is available in all Mercy Corps offices. Travel to field sites will be required where living conditions are clean and secure, but basic. There are a number of health services available with evacuation options for serious illnesses. There’s reasonable access to most consumer goods, although they can be expensive. 
Mercy Corps Team members represent the agency both during and outside of work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit/TDY to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and Mercy Corps' policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues. 
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. 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.