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South & Central America Project Manager, Field Operations

Summary
Spirit of America seeks an exceptional individual with US military and/or government leadership experience to serve as a Project Manager for our work in South and Central America – a field ready individual with a proven track record of success that we can trust to operate in dynamic, austere, and insecure environments. The Project Manager will work in close cooperation and coordination with US military, development, and diplomatic personnel in security and stability operations. He/she will be responsible for providing targeted private assistance in response to needs identified at the local level in challenging security and stability environments.  This Project Manager position is regionally aligned with South and Central America but the PM must be willing and able to support projects and efforts worldwide: Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East in addition to Latin America.

This is an opportunity to see immediate results from one's work and directly impact US national security and foreign policy objectives. The Project Manager will improve the safety and success of our troops and diplomats and the well-being of local populations. The Spirit of America Project Manager must have boots-on-the-ground experience in Latin America as well as experience working on recent US stability and security operations combined with optimism, patience, an entrepreneurial mindset, and a great sense of humor in the face of adversity. Experience in special operations and Spanish language proficiency are strongly preferred.

This position includes a ninety day training and probationary period at the Spirit of America headquarters in Arlington, VA and alongside US Government (USG) partners in both domestic and overseas locations. Upon completion of training, the Project Manager will be based out of the Arlington, VA office where he/she will manage Spirit of America programs and projects throughout the assigned region.

The Position & Responsibilities
The Project Manager will work alongside deployed US troops and diplomats in their assigned region to identify local needs where Spirit of America's assistance can make a rapid and important impact on mission success, as well as complement, or fill gaps in, US government and military programs.

This position will require 50-70% travel to the Project Manager's assigned area of responsibility. Cross-regional initiatives are also possible based upon the needs of the organization. While some project development may be conducted from the home office in Arlington, VA, there is no substitute for getting on the ground to understand local realities and dynamics.

The Project Manager will:

  • Collaboratively develop projects and initiatives in response to local needs identified by US military and/or government partners in support of US mission effects and objectives. 
  • Manage local projects supported with Spirit of America funds, including negotiating, budgeting, handling and documenting the use of cash payments and keeping records in accordance with industry-standard practices.
  • Serve as a conduit for American private-sector expertise to provide input to, and to help develop solutions for, local projects (agriculture, education, health, economic development, etc.) when needed.
  • Identify questions that need to be answered and solicit a range of input to develop answers.
  • Write up the results of and lessons learned from projects supported by Spirit of America.
  • Continuously seek the input and advice of US military and civilian personnel and coordinate and de-conflict potential redundant efforts.
  • Coordinate the delivery of donated goods to ensure they are used where needed.
  • Keep senior officials at the Department of Defense, Department of State, USAID, and other government partners informed of Spirit of America projects and activities.
  • Document with photos, video, blog posts and stories the results from Spirit of America supported projects.
  • Create appropriate content to engage donors and partners through social media, email, and other media.
  • Communicate and closely coordinate activities and projects with all levels of US military and civilian personnel – from Team to Headquarters and Country Team level.
  • Work closely with Spirit of America staff in the United States to develop creative ways that the support of the American people can be used to make a rapid, tangible difference on the ground.
  • Engage journalists in covering Spirit of America's work, as appropriate.

Experience and Qualifications
SoA's Project Manager will have experience 1) working on the ground in pre-conflict, conflict, or post-conflict environments; 2) engaging directly with local populations and issues; and 3) partnering with host nation militaries, governments, and NGOs.  The Project Manager must also have significant, direct counterinsurgency, stability operations, humanitarian/disaster relief, and/or non-lethal-effects experience at the field level in current US stability and security operations and/or Latin America.

A solid understanding of America’s 3Ds of foreign affairs – defense, diplomacy, and development – and of USG interagency entities, roles, and processes is essential. Substantive experience working in a US Embassy, in close collaboration with a US Country Team, or in a Department of State/USAID regional bureau is a plus. 

The Project Manager will have at least a BA/BS degree. Foreign travel outside of military service and to South and Central America (study abroad, NGO work, USG experience) is strongly preferred.

Program/project management experience for small- to medium-scale projects ($1,000 to $100,000) is also very relevant. Experience in or with the Department of State, interagency, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and/or private sector will be very useful.

The Project Manager must instinctively look beyond his/her own expertise to solve problems, asking "who knows more about this than me" and listening patiently to understand what local partners and military personnel know. He/she must tap into and rely heavily upon local military and civilian know-how.

With the help of Spirit of America staff in the US, the Project Manager will look to private-sector expertise in the US to help address local needs. The Project Manager must be skilled at synthesizing different inputs in determining a course of action. Thus, he/she must have an outstanding sense of the "art of the possible."

Excellent written and oral communication skills, a strong attention to detail, and excellent organizational skills are required.

Individuals with overseas experience with the US Department of State, USAID, and other US Government civilian agencies as well as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers are highly encouraged to apply. 

Personal Qualities
The Project Manager's personal qualities are as important as his/her prior experience. They must be friendly, outgoing, natural relationship builders. The Project Manager needs to have exemplary patience and outstanding listening skills. They must understand that personal initiative, optimism, and a good sense of humor are "secret weapons" that they must employ in abundance.

He/she must combine a keen intellect with genuine humility and understand that "we" is smarter than "me." "Know-it-alls" need not apply. Neither should those who like to work at a desk. The Project Manager will have very high personal initiative. He/she will spend the majority of his/her time interacting with US personnel and the local population. Success is measured partly by the number of boots that the Project Manager wears out.

The Project Manager must build and maintain highly positive relations with US troops and diplomats, host nation partners, and local stakeholders at all levels. He/she must take direction from US personnel regarding where they can/can't go and which projects are not advisable. The need to communicate easily and credibly with all levels of the military chain of command, civilian personnel, and journalists is critical.

The Project Manager will not only be a representative of Spirit of America but an ambassador of the goodwill of the American people. He/she must operate with the highest levels of integrity and cultural sensitivity. The Project Manager must also have a deep understanding and appreciation of Spirit of America's decentralized, non-bureaucratic approach for rapid local progress worldwide.

Spirit of America
Spirit of America is a Congressionally-recognized, privately-funded 501c3 non-profit organization. Our mission is to support the safety and success of US troops and diplomats and the local people and partners they seek to help. Since being founded in 2003, we have provided millions in targeted assistance to help US troops and diplomats assist vulnerable local people in over 60 countries across Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. We've established a groundbreaking model for partnership of a nonprofit organization with the US military. Our support is fast, flexible and decentralized. It makes our troops and diplomats safer and more successful. It helps them improve security and stability, build goodwill, and increase the wellbeing of those most at risk of extremism and conflict. And, our support helps local people help themselves.

Contact
Interested candidates: please take the time to understand Spirit of America and this position before completing an application or sending a résumé and cover letter to jobs@spiritofamerica.org. Relevant experience, skills, and expertise should be clearly articulated.   

Please direct any questions or further inquiries to jobs@spiritofamerica.org. 
 

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