US-Based Senior Program Officer - East Asia
Mercy Corps - Portland, OR

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Mercy Corps’ strategy in East Asia consists of: 1) rigorous study, evaluation, and measurement of the root causes of poverty in those urban, rural, conflict and disaster affected communities with whom we work; 2) identification of the convergence of clearly identified needs or gaps in access to services, and transformational capacity of existing systems or institutions, and 3) transformation of the system or institution to create greater access for the poor at scale through private, public and civil society partnerships and leveraged resources. The East Asia desk provides essential headquarters support to Mercy Corps programs in the East Asia region including China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste and the Philippines. The desk is a key point of U.S. contact for field management including Regional Program Director, Country Directors, Program Managers and other expatriate and national staff. The East Asia desk links the country programs to a range of U.S.-based resources and represents the region to potential and current funders, and other organizations and institutions in the US.

Desk staff supports country programs directly and through various MC departments in the areas of technical assistance, emergency operations, new initiatives, finance and compliance, Procurement, Administration and Logistics Management (PALM), material aid, human resources, global engagement, recruitment and resource development.

The Senior Program Officer effectively backstops existing grants, directs internal and external program information flow, nurtures relations with donor and colleague institutions and organizations who are involved in the country programming and participates in new proposal development. The East Asia Senior Program Officer is a key coordination point for headquarters support for this region. The Senior Program Officer will work in a team environment, with Mercy Corps systems and staff from a range of backgrounds and departments including other HQ offices in Scotland. Further s/he will participate in and actively work with the wider program operations team in the U.S. to ensure effective worldwide planning, programming, and implementation of projects.

Program Support

In cooperation with the Regional Program Director, the Regional Finance Officer and other technical resources, backstop current program operations to ensure that quality standards are maintained or improved and that programs adhere to Mercy Corps and donor requirements.

Travel to the field as required, to support ongoing operations and be familiar with the field programs and teams.

Serve as an informed resource on assigned MC countries, including country and regional issues, and provide project updates to other Mercy Corps departments and external organizations.


Track and manage communication with field offices and research current developments in relevant field areas and anticipate, identify, prevent and solve problems.

Ensure that Mercy Corps’ field teams are kept current and informed on issues and work to provide a system for communication between field and country headquarters that is open and responsive.

Staff Recruitment and Training

In coordination with the recruiting team take a lead role in the recruiting process, including developing and reviewing position descriptions, and screening and interviewing of candidates.

Orient new staff to Mercy Corps and provide ongoing support and guidance.

Proposal Development and New Initiatives

Lead, or support, the proposal development process, under the direction of the Regional Program Director.

In close collaboration with Resource Development and other departments, assist in donor relations to facilitate program implementation and identify new opportunities.

Identify, pursue and research new initiatives and funding sources as directed by senior management.

Program Reporting and Record Keeping

Ensure that field reports, including donor, financial, board, and annual reports, are completed and submitted in a timely manner, including editing and writing when needed.

Coordinate within the department to maintain filing systems and program records.


Serve as key interlocutor with internal and external audiences including embassies, institutional donors, Congressional Offices, World Bank, and the United Nations by maintaining and cultivating productive relationships with all relevant stakeholders. This includes providing briefings, presentations, and information on the East Asia programs and the organization’s impact within the region. This will extend to advocacy and public information dissemination on key topics/issues.


Participate in activities that support overall agency mission including program operations and agency working groups, regular program operations meetings, and learning events including brown bags and other agency initiatives and events.

Other duties as assigned and agreed upon with the Regional Program Director.

Conduct himself/herself both professionally and personally in such a manner as to bring credit to Mercy Corps and to not jeopardize its humanitarian mission.

Organizational Learning: As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve - we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.

Accountability to Beneficiaries: Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts towards accountability, specifically to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITY: Program Officer and the Assistant Program Officer for East Asia

ACCOUNTABILITY: Regional Program Director, Position Description, and Grants and Agreements

REPORTS DIRECTLY TO: Regional Program Director

WORKS DIRECTLY WITH: Country and Deputy Directors, expatriate and national staff, relevant headquarters department heads and teams.

BA/S or equivalent in international development, political or social science management or other relevant field.

Minimum of 4-6 years of International Relief and Development program experience, including program development, strategic planning, program implementation and evaluation, staff supervision and development, training, team building, finance and administration, donor relations, and inter-agency and intra-agency communications. This includes experience living and working overseas in relief or development environment.

Experience managing the development, implementation, administration and compliance of US Government, ECHO/ EC, UN, private foundation and corporate grants, and related programs.

Ability to effectively represent the organization and its interests to a diverse range of local and international government officials, local civil society organizations, other international organizations, the media and the public.

Knowledge of current political, economic, social conditions and historical context of target countries and regions, along with the ability to obtain, analyze and act on large amounts of information from a diverse range of sources.

Demonstrated proficiency in using computers, basic software systems, and email. Knowledge of communications equipment (e.g., radio and satellite telephone systems), protocols, systems and usage.

Willingness to travel regularly to the field program areas.

Experience working with host governments and their agents, INGOs and national NGOs.

Firm grasp of humanitarian standards and codes.

The successful Senior Program Officer will be conscientious and exercise excellent judgment. S/he will display an entrepreneurial spirit that is creative, flexible and accountable and will combine strong communication skills, creativity, initiative, participatory leadership and tactful decisiveness to assist in the development and implementation of Mercy Corps’ programming strategy. 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 large variety of people who will be diverse culturally, economically and in social status and must be sensitive to political and cultural nuance and able to consistently apply excellent judgment to a variety of demanding and fast-changing situations. The ability to foster solid working relationships with GOs, INGOs, and NGOs and to work as part of a team and coordinate with project personnel are critical, as are fluency in both spoken and written English and strong organizational skills. The most successful Mercy Corps staff members make effective communication a priority in all situations and maintain a sense of humor.

This position is based in Portland, Oregon, with international travel to potentially harsh environments with high insecurity. While traveling, short-term overseas housing will also vary depending on the situation, but expect basic, communal accommodations.

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. Staff are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.

Required Skills

Required Experience

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Mercy Corps is dedicated to helping the poor and oppressed in developing countries. The not-for-profit organization offers emergency relief...