Program Performance and Learning Director, Nawiri Program - Kenya
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
Nawiri is a eight year USAID-Resilience Food Security Activity (RFSA) funded program implemented by a consortium of international and national partners led by Mercy Corps. The goal of the program is to reduce persistent acute malnutrition in the two counties of Turkana and Samburu in northern Kenya. Nawiri has just started its fifth year of implementation which included two and half years of operational research which informed the design of the programs.
Nawiri is a multi -sectoral program that integrates resilient livelihoods, access to improved water, health and sanitation services, strengthening community health systems, conflict and natural resource management, strengthening community and government institutions and systems amongst others.
General Position Summary
Mercy Corps is seeking a Program Performance and Learning Director (PPLD), who oversees all program performance, quality and learning functions for the $147 million USAID-Funded Resilience Food Security Activity (RFSA), Nawiri. Reporting directly to the Chief of Party and as a member of the Nawiri leadership team, s/he will be responsible for building, adapting and implementing the program performance architecture to ensure high quality and effective program delivery and learning. 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. Ss/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 support Nawiri’ partnership engagement through proven organizational capacity strengthening 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 the program’s impact both internally and externally for improved practice, influence and scale. With oversight of the Strategic Learning Advisor and MEL, s/he will foster the implementation and adaptation of the program’s learning agenda, and ensure that Nawiri’ M&E system is linked and responsive to the overall strategic learning and adaptive management strategy.
Essential Job Responsibilities
Program Performance Management
● In partnership with the CoP, oversee the development and roll out of, as well as compliance with, the program performance architecture, including systems and structures for coordination, decision-making, communication, learning and adaptive management,
● Ensure all program meeting and coordination mechanisms are backed by terms of reference with clear roles and responsibilities and systems that support behavior nudges towards update. Proactively raise and address challenges as necessary.
● 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, routine monitoring, and review and reflection.
● Maintain program performance metrics in line with Mercy Corps and USAID expectations to track and improve performance and quality.
● Lead and oversee all processes related to donor deliverables, including PREP, quarterly reports, Annual Results Report, review and reflection meetings, and key donor workshops coordinating across the leadership team as necessary.
● Ensure that program team members are trained in Quality Improvement and Verification Checklist (QIVC), DQA, and the program’s quality assurance charter (QAC) process.
● Develop and maintain online quality assurance charter (QAC) system, ensuring compliance with Mercy Corps’ deliverable quality assurance check process.
● 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.
Partnerships and Representation
● Regularly liaise with external stakeholders, including the donor to represent Nawiri’s program performance and systems. Deputize CoP when required.
● In partnership with the Director of Implementation and the P4 lead, provide program performance guidance for comprehensive partner support and engagement mechanisms linked to technical and operational performance.
● Facilitate the Nawiri Steering Committee meeting and representing the project in project coordination frameworks,
● Support the CoP in managing and organizing 4-corners calls, partnering with and including NLT members as necessary to set agenda and address key issues.
● Support DoI and P4 Lead with tools and processes to ensure local partners are adequately supported with organizational capacity strengthening assessments and capacity strengthening plan.
● Facilitate active management of partner agreements, with regular performance reviews
● Support the DoI, P4 lead and DCoP/TD in developing 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 facilitating partner coordination meetings
● 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 Nawiri participants’ ecosystem.
Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Adaptive Management
● With direct oversight over the MEL Lead, ensure the implementation of program responsive tech-enabled, high performing MEL and SLL systems that support both donor deliverables and regular program learning and adaptive management
● Guide and oversee the roll out of a learning agenda for the program; partner across units to ensure appropriate metrics of success and learning protocols are in place, including quantitative and qualitative monitoring tools and research.
● Facilitate a culture of curiosity, learning and adaptive work planning and implementation with program teams
● Organize and facilitate after-action reviews, regular learning meetings, or strategy workshops.
● With the Communications and SLL Advisors, support knowledge-sharing, success stories capture , lessons learned and best practices documentation for the Nawiri program to build an understanding of results, impact, and contribution to outcomes. This includes production of learning, research and/or technical briefs, drawing on DCoP/TD and DoI as needed.
● Oversees and guides the engagement of shared learning with the CRS Nawiri consortium and other partners.
● Working closely with the MEL 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 MEL and Research team, 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 MEL Lead to ensure activities are aligned with the broader program goals and objectives, collaborating to establish MEL frameworks that support the program's success.
● Work with the MEL Lead to translate findings into actionable insights that inform program adjustments and improvements and allow programmatic decision-making.
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 Nawiri Comms Advisor ensure that external communications products are in line with Nawiri 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 Communications Advisor to implement the Nawiri Communication Work Plan 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.
Influence, representation/internal and external coordination
● Contribute to program visibility and advocacy work by assisting in the dissemination of program data and learning and regularly reflecting program results.
● Represent Nawiri in donor meetings as required, and lead representation in areas related to MEL, SLL and program performance.
● Identify, build and manage collaborative partnerships with consortium partners, sub-grantees, donors, local governments and other stakeholders towards improved program performance.
● Communicate effectively across teams and partners to ensure overall project targets and donor obligations are met.
● Effectively oversee senior management team members for program performance, including MEL, SLL and Program Quality.
● Put in place effective management practice that build team coherence and trust, while ensuring accountability and performance.
● Provide continued capacity building 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.
Will supervise the MEL Lead, SLL Lead, Senior Communication Officer, Program Quality Manager
Reports Directly To: Chief of Party
Works Directly With: DCoP/TD, Director of Implementation, Purpose Leads, Field Directors, Finance Manager
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 years of experience in international development programming, preferably in Africa.
● At least 5 years’ experience with managing USAID projects, including strengths in grant management, coordination and donor reporting.
● Extensive experience in and understanding Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, including MEL Tech tools and how to apply them effectively.
● Certified in program management and/or proven ability to apply and adapt program management systems and standards for team and program performance.
● Proven ability to drive learning agendas and a culture of adaptive management across program teams.
● Patient and committed to capacity building, 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 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
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, expertise in critical thinking and partnership. 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
Between 30 and 40% of field travel required.
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.
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.