Date: 01-07-2021

ISSA Seeks Senior Program Manager

The International Step by Step Association (ISSA) is a vibrant international network that connects professionals and non-profit organizations working in the field of early childhood development. Established in the Netherlands in 1999, ISSA’s community today stretches across the globe with more than 90 member organizations coming from close to 40 countries, primarily located in Europe and Central Asia. In addition to providing network services to its Members (capacity building, learning exchanges, partnership projects, networking activities, etc.) ISSA also runs programs and offers services and resources to other stakeholders, increasingly acting as a broader platform for the early childhood development field. With a yearly budget of approximately 2 million EURO, ISSA’s operations are carried out through its programmatic and networking activities, with an emerging social enterprise division to generate unrestricted income.


ISSA seeks to hire a Senior Program Manager, based at its office in the Child Rights Home in Leiden, joining a team of 12 staff members. This is a full-time position. The Senior Program Manager holds management responsibilities and reports to the Program Director.

In close cooperation with the Program Director, the Senior Program Manager coordinates the development and implementation of ISSA’s programs. S/he supervises implementation of various programmatic activities, initiatives and projects and ensures high quality performance of the organisation.

Only candidates with permission to work in the EU will be considered at this point in time.


Program Development and Support

  • Coordinate program initiatives in order to reach the goals set out in ISSA’s multi-year Strategic Plan and the yearly Work Plan and contribute to increasing the innovation, efficiency and effectiveness of programs.
  • Under the leadership of the Program Director and in close cooperation with colleagues in the Program Department, work on strategy development and annual program plans, and ensure their high quality and timely implementation.
  • Coordinate and carry out activities aimed at building capacity and providing technical assistance that meet the needs of ISSA’s members and other clients.
  • Efficiently manage partnership projects, including hiring and supervising consultants.
  • Contribute to the work of ISSA’s Program Committee.
  • Stay abreast of developments in early childhood development and use this knowledge to influence the development of ISSA's programs.
  • Assist the Program Director in promoting ISSA’s professional capacity to potential clients, new countries and new members.
  • Develop strong collaborative links with stakeholders both within and outside the ISSA network, increasing ISSA’s reputation, visibility and success.

Fundraising and Budget Responsibilities

  • Propose new program activities and contribute to program-specific fundraising activities (e.g., develop project proposals, technical assistance/consultancy offerings, etc.).
  • Design and oversee the budget of program initiatives for which s/he has primary responsibility.
  • Monitor spending related to specific program initiatives for which s/he is responsible.
  • Report to donors for the program initiatives for which s/he has primary responsibility and contribute to donor reporting on initiatives where s/he is involved.


Education and Knowledge:

  • A Master’s Degree or equivalent academic qualification in a relevant field of study; early childhood studies and/or doctoral degree are an advantage.
  • Knowledge of early childhood education policy and practice at the national and regional level (i.e., Europe and Central Asia).
  • Good understanding of the situation of young children and their families in Europe and Central Asia.     
  • Knowledge of current critical issues, priorities and developments in the early childhood field in the Europe and Central Asia regions. Additional experience on the global level is an advantage.  


  • A successful track record of at least 10 years of designing and managing international early childhood programs in at least some of the areas covered by ISSA’s programs: quality, equity, cross-sectoral approaches, parenting and the early childhood workforce.
  • At least 5 years of experience in conducting literature review and qualitative research, and of writing scientific studies, policy briefs, manuals/guidebooks.
  • At least 10 years of experience in contributing to international fora and presenting at international conferences on early childhood development.
  • Demonstrated success in fundraising and experience in working with large donor organizations.

Abilities and Skills

  • A strong commitment to ISSA’s vision, mission and values
  • Ability to work effectively with a wide range of stakeholders, including civil society, international organizations, donors and governments
  • Fluency in English. Knowledge of languages spoken in regions where ISSA is active is an advantage
  • Excellent writing skills in English for reports, studies, articles in journals, blogs etc. 
  • Strong interpersonal and communications skills in a multicultural environment
  • Experience with online tools (MS Office, platforms for facilitating meetings, learning, surveys etc.)
  • Readiness to learn new skills and content
  • Analytical skills and thoroughness in task performance
  • Organizational and management skills combined with leadership skills
  • Ability to efficiently manage the working time, prioritize work and meet tight deadlines
  • Outstanding team player and supportive character
  • Ability and willingness to travel as required

All applications will be considered on their merit against the criteria above.

Commensurate with experience. The terms of the contract will be determined on the basis of the applicable Dutch Labor Code.

Application Deadline: July 19, 2021. Applicants should send: 

  • a letter of interest of up to 1000 words indicating why they are ideally qualified for the position and how they would contribute to ISSA’s programmatic work
  • a CV
  • two writing samples (in English)
  • and contact information for two referees

Applications should be sent via email to indicating in the subject line: Senior Program Manager Search.

All applicants will receive an acknowledgment of receipt, but only shortlisted candidates will be contacted in the course of the selection process.

Recruitment will continue until a suitable candidate is found.

More information about ISSA can be found at:


ISSA is an equal opportunity employer, which supports diversity and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation.