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Helen Keller International - Job Announcement - Vice President, Africa (Dakar, Senegal)


Helen Keller International (HKI) is a global leader in developing and promoting evidence-based approaches to improve eye health and nutrition. We build programs based on scientific knowledge and local situational analyses, and rely on ongoing program evaluation to maximize our impact and develop new scientific and programmatic knowledge. 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 and reduce malnutrition.

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 supplementation, industrial-scale food fortification, point-of-use fortification and zinc supplementation), infant and young child feeding, community-based approaches for managing acute malnutrition, and agricultural-based solutions to undernutrition (including biofortification).

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 13 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. 

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. 

Specific Responsibilities 

Reporting to the Senior Vice President, Programs; working in close conjunction with colleagues across the organization; and ensuring consistency with HKI's mission, policies and guidelines, the VP, Africa will be responsible for the following: 

Strategic Planning and Vision   
  • Contribute to organization-wide planning and decision making;
  • Provide leadership and direction to the short-, medium- and long-term planning processes of HKI's programs in Africa and globally; and 
  • Identify trends, 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;
  1. Regional initiatives currently include large-scale food fortification programs, community-based management of acute malnutrition, vitamin A supplementation through child health events, a multi-country ‘agriculture for nutrition' program, and a pan-African initiative to promote the production and consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potato.
  • Provide guidance and oversight to the AFRO team to ensure:
  1. High-quality financial planning, management, reporting and auditing of all Africa offices and programs, including thorough budget oversight;
  2. Sound planning, implementation and evaluation of all Africa programs and operations;
  3. Compliance with HKI standards, policies and procedures, and processes across Africa region, including performance management; and
  4. Compliance with donor requirements, including timely and accurate reporting of results and expenditures, and required interim and final reports.
  • 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 
  • Proactively support and assure that the quality, impact, scale and cost-effectiveness of all Africa programs meet HKI technical standards; 
  • As HKI country program portfolios deepen and broaden, continually assess and address technical and operational needs to ensure quality programs that meet the highest management, scientific and ethical standards;
  • Assure the accurate and timely reporting of program results including regular highlights from country and regional programs; and 
  • Promote the publication and dissemination of HKI's work and results in Africa in peer review or industry journals, and presentations at key international meetings.

Research, Advocacy and Policy  
  • Identify operational research needs and opportunities for partnerships and funding to address these;
  • Lead 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, UNICEF, USAID, WFP, WHO and the World Bank; Vision 2020/International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB); WAHO; ECOWAS; UEMOA; regional elements of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement; and the REACH Sahel Alliance.


  • 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 and grow the organization's funding base, including specifically seeking out opportunities to develop eye health programming beyond NTDs in the region; 
  • Proactively identify and pursue program funding opportunities, including spearheading 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.

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

Staff Management and Development
  • Direct and coordinate 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, and ensure the minutes are circulated to HKI's Senior 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.


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, especially in areas relevant to HKI's mission, plus PhD in Public Health, 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;
  • Strong scientific and research skills, as evidenced by peer-reviewed publications and presentations at international conferences;
  • 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, strongly preferred.
To Apply

Qualified candidates should submit a cover letter and resume to HKI.Recruitment@hki.org noting the job title in the subject line. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

No calls, please.

Link: Helen Keller International
Document(s): Vacancy Announcement
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