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Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Senior Program Officer, Early Childhood Development, East & Southern Africa

Explore Company PosterThe Conrad N. Hilton Foundation seeks to recruit a Senior Program Officer, Early Childhood Development - East & Southern Africa to be based in Westlake Village, California.


The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation (“The Foundation”) works to improve the lives of individuals living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage throughout the world. Conrad N. Hilton, founder of Hilton Hotels, established the Hilton Foundation as a philanthropic trust in 1944. The Foundation continues to be guided by the founder’s mandate to “relieve the suffering, the distressed and destitute.

From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.8 billion in grants, distributing approximately $200 million in 2020.Foundation assets increased from approximately $2.9 billion to over $6 billion following the 2019 passing of Barron Hilton who, like his father, pledged virtually his entire estate to the Foundation. The growth in financial resources presents the Foundation with an exciting opportunity to scale the impact of its work globally. The Foundation is a family foundation. Governed by an 11-person board of directors of which a majority are direct descendants of Conrad Hilton, the Foundation has thoughtfully adhered to the wishes of its founder. The Foundation invests in 7 Initiatives that include the areas of early child development (US and East and Southern Africa), older youth development (foster youth and opportunity youth), refugees, safe water, Catholic Sisters, and homelessness. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. The Hilton Humanitarian Prize is the world’s largest annual humanitarian award. Guiding the grantmaking, workplace culture and values of the Foundation is an overarching philanthropic approach, which employs four key pillars: grantmaking, communication and advocacy, collaboration, and learning. Together, these global and interrelated channels work to achieve impact by supporting programmatic solutions to sustain and test recognized and exploratory approaches. Along with direct services, the Foundation realizes they must also support reducing the systemic barriers that create the need for such programs, strengthen and align the systems that can create pathways of opportunity, and share knowledge about the best ways to achieve lasting change.

For more information about the Hilton Foundation, please visit: www.hiltonfoundation.org.


The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has brought global recognition that the future health, prosperity, peace, and freedom depend not only on children surviving, but also thriving. In everyplace in the world, to thrive, children need the five inter-related and indivisible components of nurturing care during the first few years of life: good health, adequate nutrition, safety and security, responsive caregiving, and opportunities for learning. Science tells us that early experiences affect brain architecture – particularly during the first 1,000 days of life which then influences future health, educational outcomes, and behavior. In many lower income settings, access to health and childcare services, information and support for parents and caregivers is severely constrained and multiple adversities may negatively impact both the wellbeing of the caregiver and the development of young children. The burden and cost of inaction is high: A staggering 43 percent of children under five years of age—an estimated 250 million—living in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of suboptimal development due to poverty and stunting.

The Senior Program Officer (SPO) is a strategic leader and portfolio manager for the Foundation’s Global Early Childhood Development – East and Southern Africa (ESA) Sub-Initiative – which is part of the Global ECD Initiative that also includes work in the United States. This role will serve to advance the Foundation’s goal to support efforts aimed at improving the developmental outcomes of young children (from birth to age three) and the well-being of their caregivers with a focus on young mothers. The Conrad Hilton Foundation is launching a new five-year strategy in 2021 that builds upon work since 2012. Going forward, the geographic focus will be on continued support in Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania, while also contributing to building an international movement. Investments will demonstrate approaches to scaling parenting support as part of existing systems – including the health system and work with faith and community-based organizations. The Conrad Hilton Foundation will also seek to impact policy and financing to support young children and to enable population-based measurement of child developmental status. The SPO for the Global ECD-ESA Sub-Initiative is the content expert and thought leader on early childhood development and two generation approaches to serve both caregivers and young children within the East and Southern Africa region and s/he provides creative thinking in both strategy direction and in the day-to-day management of the sub-initiative portfolio. In addition to strategic leadership and portfolio management, the SPO is responsible for supporting the management of the eventual three-person team and for providing guidance on learning and evaluation and advocacy efforts that will inform strategy implementation, grant monitoring, management, integration across the portfolio and future strategy development. The SPO will initiate and sustain external partnerships with grantees, stakeholders, policy decision makers, and other funders. The Global EDC grant allocation is approximately $42 million annually, with the ECD East & Southern appropriation approximately $24 million annually. The SPO reports to the Director, Global ECD Initiative.

The Senior Program Officer will embrace a core belief that the Foundation has an important role to play in contributing to systemic change to create a more equitable world. The Foundation employs a strategic philanthropic approach, and in doing so, they plan, implement, evaluate, and adapt and ask the same of its partners. To do this effectively, the Foundation must share power and elevate the voices of partners and those with lived experience.


The broad strategic goals and objectives facing the new ECD-ESA Senior Program Officer are:

  • Provide leadership to ensure that the Foundation’s grant making aligns with the goals and objectives in the sub-initiative strategy and with emerging learnings and innovative approaches to improve early childhood development in East and Southern Africa.

  • Engage and develop partnerships to strengthen strategic coalition-building within the sector and convene meetings of key government, philanthropic, and nonprofit leaders to mobilize coordinated efforts and funding in strategic initiatives.

  • Build collaborative and positive working relationships and effective communication channels with team members and staff from other departments (to include other initiatives that are also working in Eastern and Southern Africa).

  • Guide support provided by the Strategy Learning and Evaluation Department (SLED) to further monitoring and evaluation of the sub-initiative and to keep the Foundation’s Board of Directors apprised of sub-initiative progress.

  • Guide support provided by the Partnerships, Advocacy and Communication (PAC) Department to further the advocacy and communications of the sub-initiative.

  • Lead and/or participate in team meetings to review grant recommendations, provide updates on grantee progress; determine technical assistance needs of grantees; plan convening, evaluation, and communications activities; and share and reflect on experiences in the field and related program activity.


The Senior Program Officer should ideally embody the following professional qualifications and personal attributes:

Professional Qualifications:

  • A graduate degree in public health, public policy, education, social welfare, or a related field.

  • Demonstrated success working with multilateral and development organizations, foundations, and other nonprofit enterprises, as well as government officials and technical personnel in developing countries.

  • Exceptional ability to articulate and realize an inspired vision, to motivate and mentor others, and to work collaboratively with a high-caliber team of staff and external partners.

  • Capacity to learn from experience, to adapt as needed, to co-generate new ideas, to listen, and to work with others to shape emerging issues.

  • Excellent organizational skills, with a demonstrated track record of consistently meeting deadlines.

  • Natural talent for bridging differences, finding common ground, and building dynamic relationships.

  • Experience working and living in the East or Southern Africa region.

  • Knowledgeable regarding the systems that affect young children and their caregivers and approaches to foster systems change and greater equity at sub-national, national, regional, and global levels.

  • Excellent written/oral communication, presentation, and public speaking skills.

  • A high level of cross-cultural competency, including a thorough understanding of multicultural audiences and the ways in which one operates effectively amid a broad assortment of grantees, donors, community representatives, policy makers, business leaders, etc.

Personal Attributes:

  • A deep commitment to the mission, and values of the Conrad Hilton Foundation.

  • Possess integrity and an ability to build dynamic teams and to motivate them to work well together.

  • Committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • Personal creativity and strategic vision coupled with an ability to listen to others and learn from their best ideas – a sense of inquisitiveness and eagerness to improve.

  • Persuasive communicator with excellent listening, speaking, and writing skills.

  • Personable, articulate, and diplomatic, but also honest in identifying challenges, problems, and risks.

  • Intellectually humble, open to constructive feedback and personally grounded.


Compensation for the Senior Program Officer ECD ESA includes a competitive base salary, and an excellent package of health and employee benefits.


Candidates should submit a resume and cover letter, responding specifically to the experience and qualifications required, to:

Daniel Sherman
President, Explore Company

Refer to Hilton Foundation/SPO ECD ESA in the subject line.
No phone inquiries please.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is an equal opportunity employer with values grounded in promoting equality and inclusion and embracing diversity. We welcome qualified applicants of all races, colors, gender identities, sexual orientations, economic classes, ages, religions, national origins, and ability/disability statuses. Veterans and individuals with lived expertise are encouraged to apply. We respect and seek to empower every member of our Foundation community. We support and celebrate our collective array of cultures, backgrounds, perspectives, skills, and experiences; fully realizing that such diversity is what makes our organization flourish and better enables us to fulfill our mission in the world.

All correspondence will remain confidential.


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