Vice President, Africa

Job Type
Full Time
Job ID
Date Posted
Dakar, Senegal
Company Information
Helen Keller International

Co-founded in 1915 by Helen Keller, Helen Keller International is dedicated to saving the sight and lives of the world’s vulnerable. We combat the causes and consequences of preventable blindness, malnutrition and diseases of poverty with more than 120 programs in 20 African and Asian countries, as well as in the United States. Renowned for its reliability, efficiency and high level of technical expertise, Helen Keller International promotes the development of large-scale, sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing issues in public health. We deliver scientific rigor and effectively leverage donor dollars with our hallmark characteristics of grit, compassion and integrity.

HKI is headquartered in New York City with regional offices in Africa and Asia Pacific, and
an affiliate in Europe. With an annual operating budget of about $82 million, HKI’s programs are supported by a diverse array of donors, including the governments of the United States, Canada and the UK, the European Commission, as well as numerous foundations and corporate partners. HKI’s Africa Regional Office (AFRO) was established in 1997 and has been instrumental in expanding the reach and scope of our programs throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Today, HKI AFRO has a country office presence in 12 African countries, operates limited regional activities in other non-presence countries, and has an annual budget of $34 million (excluding gifts-in-kind) with 500 staff based across the region.

HKI is a global leader in developing and promoting evidence-based approaches to improve eye health, nutrition and neglected tropical diseases. We build programs based on scientific knowledge and local situational analyses, and rely on ongoing program monitoring and evaluation, as well as operations research, to maximize our impact and develop new scientific and programmatic knowledge. We place high value on documentation and sharing our work particularly through peer-reviewed publications and presentations at scientific fora.

Partnerships are a central tenet in HKI’s strategic plan and the organization works with hundreds of program partners around the world – including local communities, international and local NGOs and civil society groups, academia, multilateral and bilateral partners, and the private sector – to help achieve maximum impact in our global efforts to prevent blindness, improve health and reduce malnutrition.

HKI places high priority on developing the capacity of African health systems, civil society, and nutrition training and research institutions. We maintain strong institutional partnerships with regional bodies, including the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) and West African Economic and Monetary Union (ECOWAS), and East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC). Partnering with local governments and communities not only amplifies our impact, it also helps to ensure the programs are sustained for the long term.

HKI’s nutrition programs are based on Essential Nutrition Actions, an overarching framework of proven, cost-effective interventions to reduce maternal and child undernutrition. In Africa, HKI is renowned for expertise in micronutrients (particularly national vitamin A supplemen-tation, industrial-scale food fortification and biofortification, infant and young child feeding, community-based approaches for managing acute malnutrition, and agricultural-based solutions to undernutrition.

Most of HKI’s eye health programs in Africa focus on the control of blinding neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that are preventable or treatable by combining current mass drug administration strategies to deliver robust, safe and low-cost treatments. Complementary actions address morbidity, behavior change and environmental factors to achieve lasting impact.

Key elements that cut across our program portfolio are the implementation of multi-country initiatives, operational research and information sharing. The latter includes two widely disseminated newsletters, Nutrition News for Africa and NTD News for Africa, that reach thousands of people in the region and globally.

Scope of the Position
The Vice President (VP), Africa position serves as both a geographic and global leader for HKI. As a member of HKI’s Executive Management Team (EMT), s/he is a key contributor to strategic global development initiatives, and organization-wide planning and decision making.

As HKI’s top position in the region, the VP, Africa will drive the future direction and growth of HKI’s Africa portfolio, providing the leadership needed to both deepen and broaden the organization’s work regionally and in the 12 African countries where HKI has a presence.
S/he will nurture, oversee and expand HKI’s rich mix of regional partnerships and initiatives and will be ultimately responsible for the quality of HKI’s technical programs and operational research as well as administrative and financial support systems, compliance and risk management across the entirety of HKI’s program in Africa. The VP, Africa will provide high-level regional leadership and represent HKI in policy fora and relevant conferences and meetings both within Africa and internationally.

The VP, Africa will be expected to promote an integrated approach, identifying cross-cutting themes and synergies across the three pillars of our activities (i.e., eye health, nutrition and NTDs). Emphasis also will be placed on undertaking operational research, often with renowned research partners, to establish the evidence base whenever needed, and to leverage evidence into policy changes and ensure full integration of gender equity and social inclusion.

The VP, Africa 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 spearhead proposal submissions. At the same time, s/he will ensure that necessary attention is also given to strengthening the technical and operational dimensions, including human resources, in order to ensure quality programs at the country and regional levels. The VP, Africa will be supported in these efforts by a senior regional management team of operational, management and technical experts whom s/he will lead and directly supervise. The position is based in HKI’s Africa Regional Office in Dakar, Senegal, with considerable regional and international travel.

Functional Relationships
Reporting to the Senior Vice President, Programs, the VP, Africa serves on the Executive Management Team for the global organization and leads the Regional Management Team (RMT) for Africa. The position directly supervises a high level regional team currently comprising three regional directors and three technical experts.

HKI has a matrixed reporting structure that respects both the line management and authority within country office and regional hierarchies; and the accountability and oversight duties of subject matter experts and multi-country program managers at the regional and
global management level. Strong communication skills and a spirit of teamwork among colleagues, both hierarchically and laterally, are essential to thrive within this structure.

HKI’s programs require close relations with governments, partner NGOs, private industry, donors and UN agencies. The Vice President plays a key role in nurturing and overseeing many of these cooperative relationships and representing HKI to donors and the international community, as needed.

Key Responsibilities

Strategic Planning and Vision
• Contribute to organization-wide planning and decision making in support of HKI’s new
2017-2021 strategic plan;
• Provide leadership and direction to the short-, medium- and long-term planning
processes of HKI’s programs in Africa and globally; and
• Identify trends in the region and their programmatic consequences (e.g. increasing overweight, rising urbanization, climate change, etc).
• Identify strategic opportunities and potential partnerships to maintain and expand HKI’s leadership in nutrition, NTD and eye health programs both regionally and globally.

Management and Operations
• Provide leadership and oversight of all regional and country programs in Africa, including overseeing critical partnerships;
• Directly supervise the Regional Directors and Technical Advisors
• Provide guidance and oversight to the highly-skilled AFRO team to ensure:
o High-quality financial planning, management, reporting and auditing of all Africa offices and programs, including thorough budget oversight;
o Sound planning, implementation and evaluation of all Africa programs and operations;
o Compliance with HKI standards, policies and procedures, and processes across Africa region, including for all aspects of human resource planning and performance management;
o Compliance with donor requirements, including timely and accurate reporting of results and expenditures, and required interim and final reports; and
o Collaborate in the development and implementation of infrastructure improvements to enhance efficiency, risk management, communications and consistency of program operations worldwide.

Program Management and Quality Assurance
• Provide guidance and oversight to the highly-skilled AFRO team to ensure:
o High quality, optimal impact, sustainability, scalability and cost-effectiveness of all Africa programs.
o Technical and operational needs are proactively addressed to ensure quality programs that meet the highest management, scientific and ethical standards.
o The accurate and timely reporting of program results including regular highlights from country and regional programs.
o HKI’s work and results from Africa are presented in peer reviewed or industry journals, and at presentations at key international meetings.

Business Development
• Nurture existing donor relationships and actively scope and identify new partnerships and collaborative opportunities that enhance the quality, depth and reach of HKI’s work
in Africa;
• Grow and diversify the organization’s funding base, including looking for new donors
within Africa;
• Proactively identify and pursue program funding opportunities, including spearheading proposal preparation;
• Maintain a list of qualified consultants to call on for proposal preparation; and
• Work with EMT to develop and implement strategies to meet long-term restricted and unrestricted funding needs both in Africa and globally, including meeting with key donors during travel.

Research, Advocacy and Policy
• Identify operational research needs and opportunities for partnerships and funding to address these;
• Lead or support partnerships for Africa-focused research in HKI 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; and other scientific and academic institutions as appropriate.
• Engage with key regional bodies and fora to foster a supportive policy, planning and funding climate, including the African offices of bi- and multilateral donor groups such as FAO, UNFPA, UNICEF, USAID, WFP, WHO and the World Bank; WAHO; ECOWAS; African Development Bank, ESCA-HC, and African Union; regional elements of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement; and the REACH Sahel Alliance.

• Leverage public health and development expertise to ensure HKI maintains a position of technical excellence and prominence both in Africa and globally;
• Attend or ensure HKI representation at key regional events and maintain visibility and
leadership of HKI in the region; and
• Establish and maintain a network of key institutions, country government officials, local donors, national civil society groups and other colleagues that support HKI programs.

Staff Management and Development
• Lead a team of senior regional staff across professional disciplines to ensure the
strategic and annual goals for HKI’s activities in Africa are achieved;
• Chair the meetings of the Africa Regional Management Team;
• Plan and convene periodic meetings and events to promote Africa staff development, disseminate best practices, launch new initiatives, etc.;
• Carry out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the organization’s policies and applicable laws. Responsibilities include interviewing, hiring and training employees; planning, assigning and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and
disciplining employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems; and
• Collaborate with relevant staff to identify and develop opportunities for HKI staff training, orientation and development within the context of available resources.

Qualifications Seeking a recognized public health professional with a proven track record of leadership and multifaceted expertise, and a weight of experience as demonstrated by a: • 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; • Deep understanding of working with relevant institutions and partners in Africa – candidates are expected to bring their own network of relevant partners; • Demonstrated ability to forge productive relationships with donors and partners across sectors, industries and borders based on mutual credibility and trust and to successfully negotiate policy changes, memoranda of understanding, partner commitments, etc.; • Strong background in the management of complex international and regional programming and operations; • Direct field experience in public health programming, including significant experience in Africa, preferably in nutrition, NTDs and/or eye health; • Current knowledge of the funding landscape in Africa in areas aligned with HKI’s mission; • Proven track record leading successful public health business development and proposal efforts that have secured substantial funding from government, non-government and private donors; • Demonstrated ability to write articles and make effective, persuasive speeches and presentations on controversial or complex topics to top management, public groups, and/or boards of directors; • 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; • Ability to resourcefully adapt and plan within circumstances of limited unrestricted resources; • Ability to undertake international and field travel (approximately 40-50%); and • High level of fluency in French, speaking and writing highly preferred.
To Apply Qualified candidates should submit a cover letter and resume to noting the job title in the subject line.