Chief Program Officer (NYC; DC; or hosted by a Helen Keller project office)

Chief Program Officer (NYC; DC; or hosted by a Helen Keller project office)

Chief Program Officer (NYC; DC; or hosted by a Helen Keller project office)

Chief Program Officer (NYC; DC; or hosted by a Helen Keller project office)

This job posting expired and applications are no longer accepted.
Helen Keller International
July 7, 2022
New York, New York
Position type
Experience (minimum)
10+ Years
Education (minimum)
Travel required?
Not specified
Base salary (minimum)
Not specified


Helen Keller Intl

Job Announcement

Chief Program Officer

(NYC; DC; or hosted by a Helen Keller project office)



Guided by the remarkable legacy of its co-founder, Helen Keller, Helen Keller Intl partners with communities striving to overcome longstanding cycles of poverty.  By delivering the essential building blocks of good health, sound nutrition and clear vision, we help millions of people create lasting change in their own lives.  Working in more than 20 countries – across Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States – and together with a global community of supporters, we are ensuring every person has the opportunity – as Helen did – to reach their true potential.


Helen Keller is seeking a Chief Program Officer to lead a vibrant portfolio and guide our evolution to a systems approach to developing solutions in food and health, ensuring superior program quality, and promoting idea generation and innovation to enhance achievement of our mission.


Functional Relationships

Reporting to the President & CEO, the Chief Program Officer (CPO) serves on the Executive Management Team (EMT) for the global organization and is the primary liaison to the Program Committee of the Board of Trustees.  The CPO also serves on the organization’s Funding Decisions Group, a strategic leadership team that reviews and approves business development activities. The CPO directly supervises a team of senior technical staff and works closely with colleagues at all levels of our organization.  Helen Keller has a matrixed reporting structure. Regular communication and a spirit of teamwork among colleagues, both hierarchically and laterally are essential to make this structure thrive.


Helen Keller’s programs require close relations with governments, partner NGOs, private industry, donors, UN agencies, universities and research partners. The CPO plays a key role in nurturing and overseeing many of these cooperative relationships and representing Helen Keller to donors and the international community.


Scope of the Position

As one of Helen Keller’s global leaders, the CPO acts as an advisor to the President and CEO and collaborates with members of the EMT on strategic global development initiatives, and organization-wide planning and decision making.  S/he facilitates and fosters effective collaboration to ensure healthy and robust information flow and knowledge sharing in our multi-dimensional organization.


As Helen Keller’s top program position, the CPO will drive innovation and program development, ensure program quality, and position Helen Keller as a thought leader and implementing partner for systems-oriented solutions to global health and nutrition challenges. S/he will weave together the pillars of Helen Keller’s work in nutrition, neglected tropical diseases and vision to ensure an integrated approach where appropriate, and the identification of cross-cutting themes and synergies.  In partnership with the CEO, the CPO will forge and articulate Helen Keller’s programmatic vision, strategy and external positioning among all internal stakeholders in order to communicate it effectively with all donors and external stakeholders.


The CPO will nurture, oversee and expand Helen Keller’s rich mix of partnerships and initiatives and ensure an inclusive approach to program design, including potential partners and clients in key aspects of program design from the start.  Working closely with program vice presidents, the CPO will be ultimately responsible for the quality of our technical programs and implementation research.


S/he will provide and/or ensure high-level leadership and representation of Helen Keller in policy fora and relevant conferences and meetings both within the regions where we work and internationally. In addition, the position will be instrumental in efforts to mobilize resources – both restricted and unrestricted – and to this end will nurture existing donor relationships, proactively identify new opportunities and drive excellence, innovation and scale in program design and delivery.


We will consider a flexible location in the US or hosted by one of our country offices.  Regardless of where the position is posted, considerable international travel, including quarterly travel to NY will be expected.


Specific Responsibilities


Strategic Planning and Vision

  • Contribute vision and expert input into organization-wide strategic and annual planning and decision makin
  • Lead the implementation of our recently refreshed strategy which embraces a systems approach in food and health.
  • Promote technological and program design innovations to continually enhance program impact; and introduce group tools and processes that encourage creative thinking.
  • Identify and nurture strategic opportunities and potential partnerships to develop and expand Helen Keller’s leadership in food systems (expanding beyond production and consumption to include value chain and marketing) and in deploying a health systems approach to tackling problems in nutrition, NTDs and eye healt
  • Identify and nurture strategic opportunities and potential partnerships to advance Helen Keller’s focus on operational research, guiding the prioritization of research to support organizational strategy.
  • Identify and analyze trends and their programmatic consequences (e.g., climate change, localization, increasing childhood overweight, rising urbanization, other disease burden, etc.) and search for emerging opportunities that correlate with the mission and expertise of Helen Keller.
  • Build on Helen Keller’s legacy of forging a rigorous approach to measuring and sharing our impact and programmatic outcomes for both internal and external audiences by leading the continuous improvement of both program monitoring and evaluation, program information systems, and strategic metrics. Inspire ownership of data and promote its use at all levels, including ongoing learning and reflection to inform future action.
  • Lead the development of program relevant policies, standards and guidelines.
  • Lead proactive collaboration and integration of technical staff across program offices and across departments.
  • As primary liaison to the Board Program Committee, work with Committee Chair to prepare agendas. Present and/or arrange for presentations by other program experts to the Board of Trustees.


Management and Quality Assurance

  • Provide leadership and oversight of technical quality of all programs, in close collaboration with the COO who leads program implementation.
  • Lead a team of senior staff across technical disciplines to align annual goals with our strategic plan for program activities and to ensure optimal collaboration and cross-fertilization.
  • Lead a constant cycle of reflection and learning based on evidence generated by Helen Keller and the global health community.
  • Provide guidance and oversight to highly-skilled program and cross-disciplinary teams to ensure:
    • Technically sound and innovative design, high quality implementation and evaluation of all programs;
    • Optimal impact, sustainability, scalability and cost-effectiveness of all programs;
    • Inclusive approach to program design, including potential partners and beneficiaries;
    • Compliance with Helen Keller standards, policies and procedures, and processes;
    • Compliance with donor requirements, including timely and accurate reporting of results;
    • Presentation of Helen Keller’s work and results in peer reviewed or industry journals, and at key international meetings; and
    • The gathering of regular highlights and success stories from programs for internal and external communications.
  • Model collaboration for your matrixed team: effectively consult and inform colleagues to maximize efficiency and knowledge sharing and integrate guidance and direction from subject matter experts across the global organization to maximize performance.
  • Lead the development of mechanisms to pro-actively solicit partner and beneficiary feedback.
  • Collaborate in the development and implementation of initiatives to enhance efficiency, risk management, communications and consistency of program operations worldwide.
  • Plan and convene and/or attend and present at periodic internal meetings and events to promote staff development, disseminate best practices, launch new initiatives, foster innovation, etc.
  • Interview, hire and develop employees; plan, assign and direct work; manage performance of direct reports and support them to effectively manage their own teams.
  • Delegate authority, consult with, and guide staff to achieve goals and contribute to an atmosphere conducive to professional growth and development.
  • Ensure accountability to beneficiaries, partners, colleagues, and donors by providing ongoing feedback in a context of mutual respect.


Business Development

  • Proactively nurture existing donor relationships and actively scope and identify new partnerships and collaborative opportunities that may lead to new concepts, and differentiation of Helen Keller’s offerings to drive new business development and/or enhance the quality, depth and reach of Helen Keller’s w
  • Ensure the highest quality technical components and innovative program design in all proposal development.
  • As a member of the EMT, monitor effectiveness of the organization’s business development activities and work with leadership to address issues that impede successful business development outcomes.



Representation, Research, Advocacy and Policy

  • Leverage public health and development expertise to ensure Helen Keller maintains a position of technical excellence and promine
  • Partner with Helen Keller’s CEO and Director of Advocacy to maximize the organization’s ability to influence relevant policy and funding decision, both with western donors and in countries where Helen Keller works.
  • Identify operational research needs and opportunities for partnerships and funding to address these, and publication of results.
  • Lead or support partnerships for research in Helen Keller program areas with organizations under the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR), such as the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the International Potato Center (CIP) and HarvestPlus; relevant universities and academic programs, including those from the global south; and other scientific and academic institutions as appropriate.
  • Engage with and/or guide engagement with key global and regional bodies and fora to maintain visibility and leadership of Helen Keller and to foster a supportive policy, planning and funding climate, including the regional offices of bi- and multilateral donor groups such as FAO, UNFPA, UNICEF, USAID, WFP, WHO and the World Bank; International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB); Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network; International Coalition for Trachoma Control; ESPEN; ASEAN, WAHO; NEPAD; ECOWAS; ESCA-HC, and African Union; the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement; among others.



Seeking a recognized public health professional with a proven track record of leadership and multifaceted expertise, and a weight of experience as demonstrated by the following:



  • Minimum of 15 years progressively responsible management positions in public health, plus an advanced degree in a relevant field of study, or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Direct field experience in public health programming, including significant experience living and working in Africa and/or Asia, preferably in food systems and/or health systems, with a focus on nutrition, NTDs and/or eye health.
  • Deep understanding of working with relevant institutions and partners in global public health – candidates are expected to bring their own network of relevant partners.
  • Proven track record leading successful public health business development and proposal efforts that have secured substantial funding from government, non-government and private donors.
  • Strong background in the management of complex programming and operations.


Key Competencies and Attributes

  • Demonstrated strategic mindset with the ability to resourcefully adapt, plan and innovate.
  • A deep systems-thinker with strength and experience in knowledge management and knowledge sharing.
  • Strong scientific and research skills (as evidenced by peer-reviewed publications and presentations at international conferences).
  • Ability to manage a thought-leadership and external networking agenda.
  • Entrepreneurial and innovative spirit.
  • A committed life-long learner who will support all knowledge-sharing and learning initiatives within Helen Keller.
  • Tech savvy in advocating for and using cutting-edge practices and technology in programming and operations.
  • Strong financial management acumen.
  • Current knowledge of the funding landscape in areas aligned with Helen Keller’s mission;
  • Demonstrated writing ability and superb communication skills to make effective, persuasive speeches and presentations on controversial or complex topics to top management, public groups, and/or boards of directors.
  • High level of fluency in French, speaking and writing, a strong plus.
  • Willingness and ability to undertake international and field travel to the developing world (approximately 30%).


Social Intelligence and Management Acumen

  • In regard to internal Helen Keller stakeholder relationships, the ability to embrace and thrive in a matrixed structure through building respectful relationships of trust and collaboration;
  • In regard to the teams and staff that you directly supervise, the ability to foster a creative, professional, “open door” management culture; to empower senior staff, managers and staff members to fulfill their potential; and to encourage staff to challenge assumptions;
  • In regard to leadership on the EMT, the ability to go above and beyond to support the work and roles of your senior colleagues;
  • In regard to the Board of Directors, the ability to support the CEO and the EMT in ensuring excellence in communications, engagement and partnership;
  • In regard to external donors and partners, the ability forge innovative and productive relationships across sectors, industries and borders based on mutual credibility and trust and to successfully negotiate policy changes, memoranda of understanding, partner commitments, etc.


To Apply

Qualified candidates should submit a cover letter and resume to noting the job title in the subject line.


In the spirit of our founder and namesake, Helen Keller is dedicated to

building an inclusive workforce where diversity in all its forms is fully valued.


We are an Equal Opportunity Employer where all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, disability, or protected veteran status.


We are committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities.  If you are a qualified individual with a disability and need to request an accommodation during the application or interview process, please contact us at the email above or call: +1 646-356-1789.

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