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Senior Program Officer, Lead Job

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation | Washington DC 20066 USA | Full Time - 12 Month | Revised: 11/06/2013

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Foundation Overview        

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people-especially those with the fewest resources-have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

Group Summary 

The foundation's U.S. Program works with a range of partners toward greater opportunity for all Americans largely through the attainment of secondary and postsecondary education. By making college and other forms of education both accessible to and successful for all, we hope to help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty that prevents families and communities from opportunities to reach their full potential. The U.S. Program works to advance: 

- College Readiness and Success. Education is the broadest avenue to opportunity and the most influential factor in ensuring that children will grow up to do as well or better than their parents. Today, a postsecondary education is the most important requirement for jobs that pay a family wage. Our goal is to ensure that 80 percent of students will graduate from high school prepared for college, with a focus on low-income and minority students reaching this target, and to double the number of low-income young adults who earn postsecondary degrees or certificates by age 26 each year.

- Strong Communities in the Pacific Northwest. As a family foundation, we are committed to strengthening our communities and providing new avenues of opportunity for those most in need in Washington State, the foundation's home. Our main goal in the state is to help all children begin kindergarten ready to succeed and cut family homelessness in half over the next decade.


The Senior Program Officer for Empowering Effective Teachers will be responsible for leading the foundation's emerging effort to improve the preparation and entry of new teachers serving low-income and minority students in US public schools, as well as its efforts to provide effective teachers opportunities to take on leadership responsibilities within their schools and their profession.

Specific Responsibilities Include: 

- Develop and update on an ongoing basis the foundation's strategy in teacher preparation and entry based on new research and developments in the field in consultation with colleagues and foundation leadership.

- Lead a team of two program officers in the management of a portfolio of complex grants, contracts and/or policy projects requiring high-level grant management skills, monitoring, and evaluation.

- Manage relationships with 15-20 major grantees to achieve desired impact of grants; conduct site visits, provide technical guidance, convene meetings, and apply and evaluate milestone-based performance objectives.

- Act as thought partner to a strong team of Senior Program Officers and Program Officers. Provide feedback, coaching and career development.

- Lead cross-cutting work across teams within the US Program.

- 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.

- Represent the Foundation to key external stakeholders; grantees, other funders, universities, think tanks, policymakers, governmental agencies, software developers and vendors. This interaction could include presenting the Foundations views on particular strategies, providing technical assistance to policymakers or governmental agencies, or bringing together disparate entities to see if a coalition can be formed.

- Requires interaction and providing guidance to partner districts and states about capacity and system needs and data management solutions, often interfacing with senior leaders in those environments. Develop and maintain relationships with key national intermediary organizations.

- In general all interactions require conciseness, negotiation skills, diplomacy, good judgment on how much information to convey and when, and the ability to cultivate trust in order to maintain the relationship. 


Knowledge and Core Skills:

- Deep knowledge of strategic communications, messaging and media strategy.

- Experience with being deliberate about managing all aspect of grant and portfolio life cycle, including pre-development (making new grants), development (managing multi-year grants), post development (dissemination, scale and disposition of grants in portfolio).

- Innovator: Ability to create novel solutions; experimenting with new ways to solve work problems and seize opportunities.

- Visionary: Clearly communicate a consistent view of the strategic goal or functional long-range goal in a way that helps others understand and inspires action toward the vision.

- Excellent written & oral communications skills effective with a broad & diverse audience.

- Ability to be highly effective while managing shifting internal expectations.

- Strong program management and strategic thinking skills.

- Strong ability to ingrate thinking.

- Prioritize and manage large amounts of information relevant to the work.

- Ability to work with a variety of local, state, and federal entities and grantees.

- Strong presentation and speaking skills.

- Project management skills.

- Critical thinking & problem solving skills are paramount.

- Ability to manage diverse teams.

- Ability to negotiate and mediate.


- Master's degree with 10+ years of relevant experience.

- Experience managing a teacher preparation institution overseeing the recruitment, screening and hiring of new teachers preferred.

- Familiarity with K-12 education reform required.

- Familiarity with relevant policy and regulation that govern the sector required (direct policy development or advocacy experience preferred).

- Familiarity with key stakeholders in teacher preparation, including AACTE, CAEP and other actors required.

- Strong analytical, writing & verbal skills for communicating with a broad & diverse audience.

- Effective as a collaborator in complex internal & external organizations.

- Extensive project management experience required.

- Works with efficiency & diplomacy.

- Ability to accommodate 20-35% travel.

As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.


To apply, please visit:



Job Detailstop

Location Washington, DC, United States
Categories Director/Manager/Coordinator
Organization Type Non-profit Organization
Grade Level Elementary 1-3, Elementary 4-6, Middle School/Junior High, High School
Teaching field Other
Experience Years 10 yrs

Location Maptop

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