Senior Program Officer, Learning and Evidence, Family Planning

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Seattle, WA, United States

Position Summary & Responsibilities

The Senior Program Officer (SPO), Learning and Evidence will provide strategic guidance and learning to the Family Planning team as a technical lead for the Evidence Initiative. The initiative seeks to break down barriers to family planning use and uptake by investing and diffusing innovative, disruptive, evidence-backed solutions to improve FP outcomes. The core of the evidence work includes efforts to a) support key learnings to accelerate market introduction of new products and services for increased uptake of voluntary family planning; b) address demand side barriers that ensure equitable and affordable access and reduce discontinuation of FP services and products in low-income countries; and c) assess key solution levers to drive sustainability, including through health financing solutions. The primary responsibilities include evidence generation and synthesis, driving uptake and knowledge management, developing innovative and cost-effective ways to address challenges and barriers in family planning programming, and working with a range of technical partners, donors, government agencies, and practitioners. In doing so, s/he develops and manages a portfolio of investments to enable learning and strategic course correction internally within the team and externally within the field, liaising across the family planning strategies with efforts in data generation and utilization of findings to shift policies and programs, as well as monitoring and evaluation to build a shared learning and evaluation agenda to advance the FP strategy’s theory of change.

The SPO’s responsibilities will focus on driving the Evidence Initiative, “big bets” to generate programmatic and policy learnings on specific areas where we have immediate knowledge gaps to accelerate progress towards FP2020 goals and build a dynamic pathway to achieve universal access. This initiative is designed to support the FP team’s strategy by bringing strong applied research and practical experience utilizing social, anthropological, user segmentation, human centered design and behavioral economics for evidence building coupled with a strong dissemination strategy to rapidly move findings to program implementation. The BMGF FP Strategy focuses on priority geographies and the SPO will contribute to efforts to integrate evidence and learning to support country theories of action and drive key priority global learning solutions.

The evidence initiative is anchored in the belief that by bearing some of the risk of experimentation and innovation, the Foundation can contribute in a catalytic way to address some of the most entrenched barriers to reaching women, adolescents and their male partners with quality FP services and information to support acceleration towards FP2020 and longer-term universal access goals... The responsibilities will include thoughtful coordination with other donors to develop, craft and guide a strategic learning and knowledge management agenda that will drive progress to the sector’s long term goals. contribute to moving the needle on FP programming.

Responsibilities include:

  • Provide leadership in shaping innovative, and iterative research and evaluation efforts shaping the field of FP and building a strong network of partners within and outside the foundation to inform as well as leverage the FP team’s evidence-building agenda;
  • Use high level strategic thinking, sectoral and contextual knowledge, partner management and finance skills to develop, manage, and support a portfolio of complex grants and contracts against that learning agenda. All grants must be designed with results-based performance objectives, using the foundation’s Outcome Investing based methodology that supports the 3-5 year and longer-term goals;
  • Identify and test novel demand-side interventions and associated delivery approaches to significantly accelerate modern contraceptive prevalence rate (MCPR) increases and significantly reduce unmet need, with a focus on rapid scalability and longer-term sustainability particularly for adolescents and youth.
  • Develop and build strategic donor partner relations to identify opportunities for leverage and to clearly refine the foundation’s comparative advantage in contributing to global FP evidence generation and utilization;
  • Provide leadership and guidance to strategic development of a learning agenda across the PST building on immediate acceleration efforts to ensure linkages across strategy initiatives;
  • Determine where evidence-building investments are necessary and feasible, including areas related to the supply, demand, and cost/financing for contraception and family planning services, discontinuation on modern methods, and the integration of family planning into other services;
  • Provide leadership across the FP PST (Program Strategy Team) to ensure that investments build from existing global evidence-base and that data driven solutions are incorporated across all areas of investment;
  • Monitor and evaluate the impact of grants at the investment and initiative level, and lead the refinement of the Evidence initiative based on these learnings to optimize the achievement of FP goals;
  • Maintain high quality interactions and clear and consistent communications with grantees and partners in the field. Consult with grantees and other partners to maximize impact of projects and ensure optimal learning. This may include: site visits, providing operational guidance and convening meetings of key stakeholders;
  • Conduct thorough analyses of grants and contracts including progress reports for grantees, grants analysis, briefing documents and portfolio reviews; synthesize and document results and lessons to leadership. Manage internal processes and portfolio progress while ensuring appropriate documentation, grant budgeting and reporting.

Leadership and Culture

We believe that energized people, working well together, fueled by great leadership in an inclusive environment in which they thrive, will do phenomenal things.


The successful candidate will be recognized by the global professional community as an expert in family planning evidence, evaluation research and innovation. S/he will have experience collaborating with international donors, private sector industry, research institutes, and other foundations working in the global health arena. The successful candidate will demonstrate a clear understanding of the complexities of transdisciplinary approaches to evidence generation, basic and clinical research, with proven ability to translate research findings into highly effective programs. Candidates should also have knowledge and experience in FP applied evidence, literature, and best practices and can draw from a wide range of existing evidence to determine critical gaps that are inhibiting the ability to reach Family Planning goals.

The candidate should have the following qualifications

  • MPH, MPP, MBA or PhD or equivalent advanced degree and minimum 10-15 years of experience applying scientific expertise to lead the development and implementation of research related to family planning, method use, discontinuation, social norms and behavioral science;
  • Demonstrated excellence in scientific writing and data analysis, written and oral communications skills and the ability to advocate and communicate with a broad and diverse audience;
  • Experience and knowledge of implementation science and operations research fields as applied to public health in low- and middle-income countries, utilizing rapid learning models to ensure adaptation of evidence findings to utilization and diffusion of best practices;
  • Experience in research and evidence building in one or more of the following areas; social analytics, human centered design, behavior economics, family planning costing and financing;
  • Preferred family planning and/or reproductive health research experience in the FP team’s key geographies (DRC, Ethiopia, India (UP and Bihar), Indonesia, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, with experience of leading innovative evidence approaches in the field, preferred;
  • Demonstrated experience designing and applying a variety of evaluation designs and approaches in low-resource settings, including process evaluation techniques;
  • Experience developing and facilitating application of logic models, logical frameworks, or similar devices for framing strategic objectives, articulating key assumptions, and articulating results in cross-team environment;
  • Demonstrated ability to work with diverse teams including scientists, business analysts, program implementers and developing country stakeholders is required.
  • Ambition to drive creative problem solving, ability to engage others with courageous inquiry and commitment to upholding the Foundation’s core values of optimism, collaboration, rigor and innovation;
  • Proven track record ability to prioritize, focus and achieve results in a fast paced, complex and matrixed environment;
  • Ability to travel internationally approximately 30% of the time.

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