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Senior Program Officer, Global Partnerships and Grand Challenges

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Sales & Business Development, Operations
Seattle, WA, USA
Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The Foundation

We are the largest nonprofit fighting poverty, disease, and inequity around the world. Founded on a simple premise: people everywhere, regardless of identity or circumstances, should have the chance to live healthy, productive lives. We believe our employees should reflect the rich diversity of the global populations we aim to serve. We provide an exceptional benefits package to employees and their families which include comprehensive medical, dental, and vision coverage with no premiums, generous paid time off, paid family leave, foundation-paid retirement contribution, regional holidays, and opportunities to engage in several employee communities. As a workplace, we’re committed to creating an environment for you to thrive both personally and professionally.

The Team

The mission of Discovery & Translational Sciences (DTS) is to catalyze innovation for the discovery and translation of transformative solutions to global health and development inequity. As such, the primary role of D&TS is to enable the foundation to achieve its ambitious global health equity goals as articulated by the disease-specific strategy teams (Program Strategy Teams; PSTs). For this, we exploit a unique advantage of the foundation in general and DTS in particular: the ability to invest in high-risk and/or long-timeline initiatives with potential for truly disruptive change. We channel resources into creating more practical (affordable, scalable, deliverable) versions of existing tools, develop transformative new tools where none exist, and speed the translation of scientific discovery into implementable solutions, seeking better ways to evaluate and refine potential interventions before they enter costly and time-consuming late-stage clinical trials.



Key functions in support of this R&D mission include identifying and filling gaps in scientific knowledge, creating or implementing new technology platforms that can accelerate research in support of our goals, investing in potentially transformative ideas, continuous surveying of an ever-changing scientific and technological innovation space, and the fostering of an effective ecosystem of global health innovation, funding, and partnership to advance the foundation’s mission. Our areas of focus include vaccines, biologics, drugs, microbiome interventions, and reproductive and sexual health.



The Global Partnerships & Grand Challenges (GP&GC) Program, within DTS, seeks to go further and faster together to achieve the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s mission by building a network of global health and development scientists, innovators, and leaders centered in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Through the flagship Grand Challenges program and other relevant programs, we help fund science and innovation projects around the world, build funding partnerships among key health and development institutions, track and analyze R&D-related expertise and resources in LMICs to maximize collective impact, and cultivate a community of innovators and innovation champions focused on addressing issues that affect the world’s most vulnerable people.

Your Role

The Gates Foundation is committed to supporting locally driven innovation in low-and middle-income countries. To help deliver on this commitment, the Senior Program Officer will lead the foundation’s Research & Development (R&D) ecosystem strengthening efforts, focusing especially on a portfolio of investments in African countries, including the Grand Challenges Africa program. As part of shaping ecosystem strengthening strategies and making and managing grants within those strategies, the Senior Program Officer will engage with a wide range of key partners, including major international funders and technical partners, national and regional governments, academics and science institutions, and internal foundation teams. To help deliver on the foundation’s commitment to working with a more diverse group of grantees and partners and shifting the center of gravity of its work to low- and middle-income countries, the Senior Program Officer will also help internal teams make connections and build relationships in key African countries. The Senior Program Officer will report to the GP&GC Deputy Director.

What You’ll Do

In collaboration with local African partners and internal foundation partners, shape and manage a portfolio of grants focused on strengthening the African R&D ecosystem. In addition to continually refining and strengthening the flagship Grand Challenges Africa program, this body of work includes:

  • Build a sustainability strategy that factors in the need for local and global agreement and funding commitments.

  • Be accountable for the identification and assessment of key portfolio risks and the development and management of mitigation/contingency plans at the portfolio level.

  • Establish communities of practice on the continent and opportunities for South-South collaboration with innovators from other continents (e.g., Asia, South America)

  • Provide relevant support to Africa based partners to help achieve their impact over time.

  • Work with interested national governments and regional partners to design and implement new programmatic Grand Challenges initiatives of foundation interest.

  • Contribute to efforts of developing the leadership skill strengthening program.

  • Collaborate closely with other foundation teams as they consider investments that might advance or interact with GP&GC.

  • Build measurement and evaluation systems to track and capture the impact of the strategy.

  • Contribute to conceptualizing, planning, executing, and evaluating the impact of the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting, a 1,000+ person scientific gathering, which also attracts key policymakers and decision-makers, with specific emphasis on LMIC participation broadly and African specifically.

  • Identify and respond to potential advocacy and funding opportunities (e.g., presenting at meetings, writing grants and op-eds, engaging national governments, etc.)

  • Organize and prepare for high-level internal and external meetings, contributing to background documents, articles, and presentations.

This role is anticipate to have at least 25% international/domestic travel

Your Experience

  • Personal qualities of integrity, empathy, credibility, and a commitment to the Gates Foundation mission

  • Passion for and demonstrated expertise in coalition-building.

  • Passion for the foundation's values with a commitment to deliver results against the foundation's mission.

  • Minimum requirement: A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent demonstrated experience.

  • Strongly Preferred: PhD in biomedical science and/or M.D.

  • Minimum 10 years directly relevant professional experience in Africa-based innovation & science programs

  • Significant experience working closely with partners in Africa including governments, bilateral and multilateral donors, implementing agencies, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, academic institutions.

  • Significant knowledge of the African Union’s innovation and health strategies (e.g., Agenda 2063, STISA 2024) and organs (e.g., African Union Development Agency/New Partnership for Africa’s Development, African Medicines Agency, etc.)

  • Knowledge of health innovation policies and public policy processes in one or more of the following African countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Senegal a plus

  • Ability to staff and advise senior leadership, being responsive to their concerns while giving them clear advice on the best courses of action.

  • Excellent communications skills, including listening, public speaking, writing, persuasion, and simplifying complex concepts for communication purposes.

  • Demonstrated success managing multiple complex and concurrent projects that require cross-team, cross-unit collaboration.

  • Fluency in English required, proficiency in French preferred.

The salary range for this role is $166,300 to $249,500 USD. We recognize high-wage market differences where our offices are located, in Seattle, Washington D.C., and Boston (Cambridge). The range for this role in these locations is $181,200 to $271,800 USD. As a mission-driven organization, we strive to balance competitive pay with our mission and new hires are typically brought into the organization at a salary range between the minimum and the midpoint salary range. Actual placement in the range will depend on a candidate’s job-related skills, experience, and expertise, as evaluated during the interview process.

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Hiring Requirements

As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

Candidate Accommodations

If you require assistance due to a disability in the application or recruitment process, please submit a request here.

Inclusion Statement

We are dedicated to the belief that all lives have equal value. We strive for a global and cultural workplace that supports ever greater diversity, equity, and inclusion — of voices, ideas, and approaches — and we support this diversity through all our employment practices.

All applicants and employees who are drawn to serve our mission will enjoy equality of opportunity and fair treatment without regard to race, color, age, religion, pregnancy, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and prior protected activity.