Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa (MENA)


Heartland Alliance International (HAI) is the youngest and fastest growing part of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, which is a family of organizations that has been leading anti-poverty and social justice work in Chicago for more than 125 years. HAI is comprised of nearly a dozen country offices operating programs on a broad range of human rights issues globally. HAI is making significant investments in its programming and leadership in the fields of trauma-informed mental health care and access to justice for marginalized people. It is also an industry leader in access to high-quality and stigma-free health care.


The incumbent will be responsible for leading the establishment and management of a MENA regional strategy to support growth. She or he will be responsible for managing a dedicated human rights team that is delivering high quality programs in existing country offices throughout the region, as well as growing new country offices, in line with HAI strategies and priorities. The new director must be extremely versatile, interested in inaugurating a regional strategy and working in a “start-up” environment, and prepared to aggressively pursue program development for the region. Collaborative, hard-working, and visionary, the candidate will have exceptional leadership skills and the ability to grow HAI’s portfolio in the MENA region.


Reporting to: Executive Director (Chicago)

Posts that this job manages: Country Directors (in HAI country offices throughout the MENA region) and a program associate/officer (Chicago).

Post that this job collaborates closely with: Director of Program Development (Chicago), Chief Operating Office (Chicago)


This position could be located at HAI’s headquarters in Chicago, IL, USA or in one of the existing country offices within the MENA region (preferred). Travel 30-50% time is expected.


HAI has country programs in Iraq (Kurdistan and remote supervision of partners in Baghdad) and Lebanon. The existing portfolio includes mental health services to victims or torture and trauma, gender-based violence, access to justice, migration issues (IDPs and refuges), youth work, women’s rights and leadership, policy advocacy, access to equitable services for LGBT populations, among other technical areas.


This is not an exhaustive list of duties. The need for flexibility is required and the incumbent is expected to carry out any other related duties that are within the employee’s skills and capabilities whenever reasonably instructed.

Leadership and Management

  • Lead the establishment and oversee the management of a MENA regional strategy in line with HAI’s global strategy
  • Scan the operating environment for opportunities and threats, maintain an overview of legal, political, human rights and other relevant developments within the region
  • Recruit and manage country directors, including those working remotely, ensure performance is managed and talent is nurtured; this requires coaching and mentoring
  • Lead on promoting regional cohesion by engaging with all HAI country offices and affiliates in the MENA region and promoting adherence to globally agreed standards and priorities
  • Ensure that the values, standards, priorities of HAI are instilled and adhered to; be able to promote organizational culture across varied country programs

Program Development

  • Aggressively pursue program development and a growth strategy for the region consistent with the global strategic plan
  • Enhance HAI’s profile and presence in the MENA region by developing cutting edge human rights programs that respond to development challenges, and by representing HAI before various forums and donors in the region
  • Conduct the strategic positioning necessary to ensure growth; this includes visioning, donor mapping, cultivation of key relationships, proposal submission, and required follow-up

Quality Assurance and Reporting

  • Ensure compliance with globally developed quality assurance and assessment methodologies to ensure consistency, quality, and measure impact
  • Ensure that the regional team reports with sufficient clarity and detail on the impact of their work, including to funders
  • Ensure the timely delivery of work plans and reports
  • Be accountable for all outputs from the regional team in line with globally agreed standards, including research, policy, and publication standards

Finance and Risk Management

  • With support from the Finance Team and Chief Operating Officer, ensure regional compliance with relevant laws, policies and practices and ensure best practice, including good financial management and regular financial audits as required
  • Assist the Country Directors in setting, monitoring, managing and reporting on budget and expenditure for the region
  • Develop and fundraise for a regional presence and budget
  • Accountable for duty of care of staff, including where necessary, development of internal security, health & safety and human resources polices and standards, supported by the Chief Operating Officer and the Heartland Alliance Business Services Team


Part one: Knowledge and experience

  • A Master’s Degree (or equivalent education and years of experience) in international relations, social work, public health, development studies, political science or a related field;
  • 5-10 years of work experience in international development/humanitarian relief/international human rights work, preferably in an international non-government organization; experience must include program design, field assessments, evaluations, and developing M&E systems;
  • Experience working in a key leadership role in a complex organization ideally based outside the organization’s global head office and preferably with experience of maintaining a successful operation during times of organizational change, and matrix managing a cross-functional and multi-cultural team
  • Demonstrated ability to craft a regionally-specific program development strategy, write grants and secure funds for work in development and human rights programming in the region
  • Demonstrate experience winning and managing large scale multi-million dollar grants and/or contracts from the US government and other funders;
  • Extensive experience training staff in project management, M&E, and related topics;
  • Experience developing, reviewing and tracking budgets and burn rates;
  • Experience with USAID and/or State Department funding;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to advancing human rights; demonstrate knowledge and experience of the human rights, development, and political context in the region
  • Demonstrate experience and capability as a leader who can influence the direction of HAI’s impact within the region, and who maintains an active network of contacts in governments, NGOs and other stakeholders locally
  • A passion for as well as experience living and working in the MENA region is required

Part two: Competencies

  • Strategic thinking with a developed capacity to build and convey the “big picture” while enabling others to identify the implications of this for their daily work
  • Ability to inspire and motivate others; guiding delivery under pressure while building collaboration and cooperation
  • Well-developed communication, presentation, spokesperson, and representational skills appropriate for diverse audiences, particularly funders, including the ability to make effective arguments and explain HAI’s complex service-based approach to human rights work
  • Ability to lead and manage staff and financial resources including generating, setting, managing and monitoring plans and budgets
  • Significant programming experience in either trauma-informed mental health care or access to justice desirable
  • Excellent political judgment as well as security and risk analysis skills
  • Fluency in spoken English essential; exceptional writing and editing skills in English required
  • Fluency in Arabic required
  • Willingness to be accountable and to receive and give performance related feedback
  • Ability to work in a manner that is consistent with the organization’s core values
  • Proven ability to work under pressure including the ability to cope with deadlines, multiple tasks, and competing demands

Part three: Personal style and attributes

  • Personally credible, with a professional demeanor that generates the trust and confidence of Country Directors, staff, partners and donors
  • Leads by example and possesses a high degree of integrity
  • Possesses a high level of resilience and drive, able to be flexible and change orientation as required; must have the ability to work in an resource-poor environment
  • Sets themselves and others challenging but achievable targets
  • Looks to the future – is able to see links and opportunities that others might miss
  • Uses new approaches, theory and technologies to develop innovative service solutions
  • Applies concepts and learning from outside own field/environment, looking ahead over the long-term to deliver improvements and avoid problems
  • Passionate about and personally engaged with human rights and social justice
  • Ability to use participatory approaches and methodologies when working with HAI staff, partners, and participants

Language Skills:

  • Fluency in spoken English essential
  • Exceptional writing and editing skills in English required
  • Fluency in Arabic strongly preferred

Physical Demands: The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to sit; use hands to handle or feel and reach with hands and arms.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; climb or balance and stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl.
  • The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 10 pounds.

Heartland Alliance makes all hiring and employment decisions, and operates all programs, services, and functions without regard to race, receipt of an order of protection, creed, color, age, gender, gender identity, marital or parental status, religion, ancestry, national origin, amnesty, physical or mental disability, protected veterans status, genetic information, sexual orientation, immigrant status, political affiliation or belief, use of FMLA, VESSA, military, and family military rights, ex-offender status (depending on the offense and position to be filled), unfavorable military discharge, membership in an organization whose primary purpose is the protection of civil rights or improvement of living conditions and human relations, height, weight, or HIV infection, in accord with the organization’s AIDS Policy Statement of September 1987.

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