Senior Program Officer, Polio

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Location
    Seattle, Washington
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career / Advanced
  • Posted
    Jun 12

Position description

Position Summary & Responsibilities

The SPO will work with a team to develop, manage and implement foundation-supported strategies to improve polio surveillance sensitivity, VDPV outbreak response and routine immunization in the Africa region, in coordination with National EPI programs and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This will include directing a range of existing contracts and grants to strengthen AFP, environmental and community-based surveillance; improve SIA quality and surveillance activities during outbreak response; and manage provincial-level relations to improve routine immunization in a select number of countries, in partnership with Vaccine Delivery. The position will manage consultants and contractors across various countries, participate regularly in country-specific polio surveillance reviews, and support polio outbreak response plans and assessments. The SPO will contribute to regional efforts to document and certify Africa’s polio-free status by 2020. In the global management structure, the SPO will represent the foundation on the Outbreak and Preparedness Response Task Team.

Key duties and responsibilities:

  • Manage a portfolio of grants and contracts in several African countries designed to improve polio surveillance sensitivity. These include support to EPI programs and implementing partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to strengthen AFP (Acute Flaccid Paralysis), environmental and community-based surveillance activities in order to achieve certification-level standards for polio eradication;
  • Support the scale-up and review of innovations designed to improve surveillance reporting in multiple countries in Africa using ODK, GIS and other information platforms, such as AVADAR, eSERV and the Vaccinator Tracking System (VTS);
  • Contribute to the design of new strategies, collaborations and implementation plans to ensure long-term sustainability and impact of polio surveillance in the Africa region post-certification;
  • Consult with grantees and other partners in the Africa region to maximize impact of projects and ensure optimal learning. This will include conducting site visits, participation in surveillance reviews, providing operational guidance and convening meetings of key stakeholders;
  • Support outbreak response immunization plans in the Africa region, with a focus on intensification of surveillance activities to detect ongoing virus circulation;
  • Represent the foundation on the GPEI Outbreak Preparedness and Response Task Team, track GPEI’s progress in delivering on outbreak Standard Operating Procedures and timelines, and identify foundation resources that can help ensure better quality outbreak response immunization campaigns and surveillance activities;
  • Solicit and review letters of inquiry & grant proposals; provide clear, concise & insightful written analyses & recommendations for funding, including drafting & editing proposal summaries & progress reports for existing grants for review by Foundation leadership;
  • Manage internal processes and portfolio progress while ensuring appropriate documentation, grant budgeting and reporting;
  • This role manages consultants and contractors across several countries, tracks deliverables and communicates performance expectations, gives and seeks feedback, measures progress and holds people accountable, and recognizes achievement and lessons learned.

This is a limited term assignment with an estimated duration of 12 months.

Reports to: Deputy Director, Polio Program Strategy & Implementation


  • Advanced degree preferred and minimum 12 plus years of experience in polio eradication/vaccine delivery/public health programs, with an emphasis on public health program implementation in African countries;
  • Strong management experience leading and directing a group of highly talented and motivated team members;
  • Ability to prioritize, focus and achieve results in a fast paced and complex environment;
  • Ability to assess and manage the risks inherent in complex bodies of work;
  • Demonstrated strategic thinking paired with an ability to develop scale up in the context of a complex portfolio of activities and an evolving political environment;
  • Passion for critical thinking, and developing creative approaches to analyze and solve problems that block progress;
  • Strong record of engagement with major donors/partners (e.g. CDC, UNICEF, WHO, Rotary, etc.) and country level familiarity with funding and planning process, goal setting, implementation and evaluation of activities;
  • Demonstrated ability to work with diverse stakeholders and teams including elected officials, bureaucrats, public health specialists, business analysts, program implementers and developing country stakeholders;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills and ability to communicate with a broad and diverse audience;
  • Experience in developing and managing strong partnerships and relationships inside and outside the organization, managing conflicts, and building consensus. Interactions involve very senior decision makers within organization;
  • Ability to travel up to 60% internationally.

Application instructions

Please be sure to indicate that you saw this position on

follow us on Twitter