Program Director – East Africa

Friday, 7 Jun 2024

The Program Director - East Africa will join the Judith Neilson Foundation's growing team to oversee the grant making cycle for our portfolio in East Africa.

About the Judith Neilson Foundation

Judith Neilson is an Australian businesswoman and dedicated philanthropist. Through the Judith Neilson Foundation, she invests in organisations working to create a fairer society where everyone has equal opportunities to thrive. Her work has led to the Foundation’s focus on supporting vulnerable communities in Sub-Saharan Africa and Australia, and backing innovative solutions for development challenges. We forge partnerships with organisations that understand the diverse and interconnected challenges experienced by disadvantaged and marginalised communities, delivering locally-led solutions to social, economic and resource inequities.

We work across the following priority focus areas:

In Africa:

  • Tackling critical health challenges
  • Advancing educational & economic equity
  • Supporting community development & environmental stewardship.

In Australia:

  • Addressing disadvantage for women and girls in Sydney
  • Investing in Northern Australia initiatives
  • Legal support for vulnerable women.

Position Summary

Commencing in January 2023, the Foundation has developed a philanthropic portfolio spanning nine countries in East and Southern Africa. In response to a growing budget and evolving strategy, the Foundation has strategically segmented its Africa portfolio into two distinct regions: East and Southern.

As a key member of the Foundation’s executive team, and joining the existing program team, the Program Director for East Africa will oversee the continued growth of the Foundation’s Africa footprint, focusing on Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The successful candidate will assume management of existing relationships and projects as well as developing new initiatives.


The Program Director for East Africa will be responsible for all stages of the grant making cycle, namely:

  • continuing refinement and development of the organisation’s giving strategy.
  • identifying suitable funding opportunities with a focus on locally led organisations.
  • identifying and developing networks and strategic partnerships.
  • engaging with the Founder and members of the executive team to assess and develop opportunities.
  • presentation to the board of directors.
  • ongoing management, review and evaluation.

The Program Director for East Africa will form part of the Foundation’s executive team to review, refine and expand the Foundation’s strategy and operating model. In addition, the successful candidate will work alongside the Chief Operating Officer to continue to develop systems and processes that facilitate the safe and successful delivery of the overall strategy. This role reports to the Chief Executive Officer, with no direct reports at this stage although the intention is the successful candidate will recruit for a direct report within 12 months.

Key skills and attributes

  • A strong understanding and experience of philanthropic strategy and grantmaking approaches.
  • Experience within International Development or International Philanthropy including first hand experience of working “on the ground” in the Global South.
  • Experience of working in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and/or Uganda will be regarded very highly.
  • Ability to communicate complex issues in a simple, persuasive manner.
  • Ability to produce high quality written and verbal presentations.
  • A natural multi-tasker with strong time management abilities.
  • Strong interpersonal and people management skills.
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Flexible and professional manner.
  • Receptive and open to giving and receiving feedback.


  • Any academic background will be considered, however, the right candidate will have a demonstrated track record of relevant experience.
  • Ability to speak Swahili or a commitment to learn the language (lessons will be provided at the Foundation’s cost) in desirable.
  • Must have or be eligible to apply for full working rights in Australia.

Values and behaviours

  • Team focus.
  • Ability to work autonomously.
  • Ethical, professional, and respectful behaviour.
  • Results driven.
  • Ability to perform within a “start up” environment.

Other information

  • This position is based at the Foundation’s offices in Chippendale, Sydney.
  • Substantial international travel will be required. The successful candidate should expect up to four international trips per year of up to three weeks each.
  • The salary package for this position is circa $250k inclusive of superannuation.

To apply

To apply for this role, please email your CV and a brief cover letter of no more than two pages to [email protected].

To learn more about the Judith Neilson Foundation please visit our website: or please email [email protected] with any specific questions.