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Chief Operating Officer

Evidence Action
District of Columbia, United States
Salary Not specified
Closing date
May 18, 2022

About Evidence Action

Evidence Action is a global nonprofit organization with an approach distinctive in international development - we exclusively scale interventions that are backed by strong evidence and can be delivered with exceptional cost-effectiveness. Our programs have grown since our founding in 2013 to reach over 280 million people annually. We deliver high impact for every dollar spent, as recognized by GiveWellThe Life You Can Save, and Charity Navigator.

We do development differently. We take a data-driven approach to identifying, scaling, and continuously improving programs which deliver immense impact, ensuring these solutions measurably improve the lives of millions. Our Deworm the World Initiative has helped governments in Africa and Asia deliver over 1.4 billion childhood deworming treatments, improving health, education, and incomes. Dispensers for Safe Water provides sustained safe water access to over 4 million people in rural Africa, preventing childhood illness and deaths. 

We drive innovation. Our Accelerator builds the next generation of exceptional programs, taking an approach most similar to a venture capital model. We are ruthless in exiting programs which do not meet our criteria; those that advance deliver outsized impact for millions of people. 

We are global. Across eight countries in Africa and Asia, our 400+ people are united by a tremendous passion for our mission and impact. We are strong because of our diversity of experience, geography, and background - with over 90% of our people in the countries where our impact is focused. 

We have big ambitions. Our goal is to double our impact by 2024, to fulfill our vision of a world where hundreds of millions of people in the poorest places have better opportunities and their lives are measurably improved. We believe in bold and urgent action - because poverty doesn’t wait, and neither should we. 

We need great people. Our success to date is due to the collective work of our amazing staff. To achieve our ambitious goals, we are looking for people who share our passion for evidence, cost-effectiveness, and scale. We seek individuals who take an entrepreneurial approach, enjoy tackling hard problems, and have a bias to action and results. If our vision and approach excite you as much as it does us, we invite you to join us. 


What We’re Looking For

Evidence Action is in the midst of an extremely rapid growth trajectory.  Given strong backing from our donors, we are on a path to roughly double our global impact and size by 2024, and then potentially double it again soon thereafter.  

Growth at this pace requires a leader who combines superb strategic and execution skills to strengthen our core operations - someone who understands that exceptionally performing people, finance, IT, and operations functions underpin high-caliber growth and impact. As such we are recruiting for a new senior executive position–a Chief Operations Officer (COO). The COO will lead these core support functions which serve as critical enablers of massive at-scale delivery.

As an example of our anticipated growth, we recently received our largest grant to date (up to $64.7M) to approximately double the size of our Dispensers for Safe Water program. This will entail expanding our geographic footprint in Uganda and Malawi by opening 6 new offices, installing 24,000 new dispensers to our existing distribution network, and hiring hundreds of new program and support staff. We’ll also be exploring potential expansion of this program to additional countries. This is just one of our programs - we have five programs with a growth agenda.  

Evidence Action is an organization unwavering in our focus on building highly cost-effective, data-driven, and high-performing global development programs, delivered at scale.  We are seeking an exceptional and driven leader who brings that same lens to systems, people, and processes - ensuring agile, efficient, and cost-effective support for program delivery.  

The COO will report into the CEO and oversee our global finance, operations, IT, legal, and people functions. Our preference is that the role be based in Washington, DC, but we would consider other locations. 


 The ideal candidate:

  • Has a proven track record of having led effective organizational systems-building, process, transformation, and change management in a high-growth or at-scale environment to drive strategic value and impact.
  • Is a highly results and impact-driven professional who views operational excellence on par with programmatic excellence, and seeks to consistently raise the bar on designing systems and processes with the end-user in mind.
  • Is deeply passionate about Evidence Action’s ability to measurably improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people, and believes in the twin goals of “Evidence” and “Action.”  S/he will drive effective and high-quality execution of organizational strategy, ensuring that internal operational practices (inclusive of traditional finance, operations, people, legal, and IT) are aligned to our organizational values and priorities.
  • Brings operations experience in varied contexts - an intuitive understanding and experience building and supporting cross-cultural teams and adhering to local laws and regulations, as well as experience supporting a shared, global culture and organization-wide practices.  This experience can be in a prior programmatic or operations role.  
  • Brings the mindset of an “inclusive architect,” to lead and co-create nimble and  cost-effective operations/people/HR/finance/legal processes and frameworks for our global organization in close consultation with global, regional, country, and program leadership.   
  • Brings experience in rapidly scaling organizations, ideally in a sub-Saharan African context.
  • Brings initiative, “closing power,” and speed of action to get things done in accordance with our “think big, act urgently” organizational value. Can, when appropriate, focus on execution and cascading processes and tools throughout the organization. 
  • Brings strong problem-solving and analytical approaches so that decisions are supported by available data and clear rationale. 
  • Has both a strategic and global mindset that is attuned to the rich diversity of programs and people across the geographies in which we operate; understands that solutions must be both sufficiently standardized and yet responsive to the diversity of the organization. 
  • Has high emotional intelligence and is adept at handling sensitive or nuanced issues as they arise. 
  • Serves as a thought partner and coach for senior leadership, providing support, accountability, and encouraging excellence and collaboration across the organization.   
  • Identifies strongly with Evidence Action’s mission, vision, and values including “economize without compromise,” which encompasses finding creative ways to deliver an ambitious growth effectively and cost-effectively.




  • Bachelor's degree (master’s preferred) with 12+ years’ experience leading a team in a fast-paced international organization; 5+ years in a senior leadership role preferred.
  • Proven ability to manage teams and develop leaders.
  • Knowledge of global people and operations practices, preferably in countries where Evidence Action operates and in a non-profit environment.
  • Demonstrated ability to identify system needs and risks, connect them to broader organizational strategy, and take the initiative to address them.
  • Action-oriented, flexible, and entrepreneurial problem-solver, with an ability to manage multiple competing deadlines, dynamically reprioritize as evolving needs and resources require, embrace and structure ambiguity, and drive tasks to completion in a fast-paced environment.
  • Experience creating, implementing, and managing structured but flexible processes across a diverse, multi-country, distributed organization.
  • Exceptional self-management and upward management skills, including proactive communication about deadlines and progress towards them.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills and demonstrated ability to communicate clearly with diverse audiences.
  • Availability for and willingness to travel up to 20% time (predominantly to Africa and Asia).
  • Willingness to, as needed, maintain flexible work hours to engage collaboratively with colleagues in different time zones.
  • Ability to work effectively in remote teams, including leveraging tools like Slack and other virtual platforms for frequent team communication.



  • Experience working in a similar operations management role.
  • Experience implementing end-to-end change management strategies.
  • Experience living and working in a developing country.


Washington, DC is the preferred location for this position with other locations possible.


Evidence Action is an Equal Opportunity Employer with a commitment to diversity. All individuals, regardless of personal characteristics, are encouraged to apply.

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