Program Officer (Global Lead Initiative)

Pure Earth
New York, NY, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
5-7 Years
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


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Before applying for this position, please note the specific requirements in the How to Apply section below.


Pure Earth is a leading international not-for-profit organization dedicated to solving pollution problems that affect public health in developing countries ( The organization focuses on reducing exposures to toxic chemical pollutants such as heavy metals and obsolete pesticides resulting from industrial, commercial, or informal/artisanal activities. Pure Earth identifies and cleans up severely polluted places, advises governments and development agencies on related issues, and conducts groundbreaking research on pollution and its devastating impacts on public health and economic development. Since 1999, Pure Earth has completed 110 environmental remediation/risk-reduction projects in 27 countries, impacting 5 million lives. In addition to our field work, Pure Earth recently spearheaded two landmark reports that have advanced the global dialogue around pollution: a joint report with UNICEF on children’s exposures to lead titled The Toxic Truth: Children’s Exposure to Lead Pollution Undermines a Generation of Future Potential; and the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health—one of the most cited works from the world-renowned medical journal, The Lancet.


Pure Earth is building on its extensive experience working on lead pollution and exposure to launch an ambitious Global Lead Initiative and seeks qualified candidates for the new position of Program Officer, Global Lead Initiative. The Program Officer will work in Pure Earth’s New York City headquarters office and will report to Pure Earth’s Director of Global Policy and Planning, who oversees the Initiative.

Lead is a heavy metal used in a variety of products around the world. It is also a potent neurotoxin. When children are exposed to lead, it can result in lifelong health problems including permanent neurological damage. Each year, exposures to lead result in more than one million premature deaths, globally. These impacts are disproportionately experienced in low-income communities, where awareness of risks and resources to protect children may be limited.

The Global Lead Initiative is a grant-funded program that seeks to reduce childhood exposures to lead from some of the most prevalent sources, including substandard recycling of lead acid batteries (e.g. automobile batteries), spices contaminated with lead, and pottery made with leaded glaze. The initiative is initially structured as a four-year, five-country program spanning Latin America, Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, and is expected to expand in duration, funding, and geographic scope.

The Program Officer will have a central role in administering this global program and working with country teams to ensure high-quality planning, execution, and reporting of associated activities. The position will entail both intellectually stimulating elements that draw on the candidate’s experience and provide unique learning and leadership opportunities, as well as administrative duties associated with grant and personnel management that are necessary to achieve the programmatic goals. The ideal candidate will have experience in chemical pollution, environmental health, and international development projects, be extremely detail oriented, have superb organizational and report writing skills, and be effective at coordinating a geographically and culturally diverse team.


Key responsibilities include:

  • Assist with the management of grant-funded toxic pollution assessments, remediation and exposure mitigation projects, trainings, and community education projects, including overseeing staff and monitoring project progress against grant agreements
  • Financial management including tracking budgets; compiling and reviewing expense reports; and ensuring internal and external reporting deadlines are met
  • Communications including drafting and editing formal reports for donors; publicizing projects, results, and local activities through blog posts, press releases and other media outlets; and acting as Pure Earth’s liaison to overseas staff and partners
  • Develop and maintain contacts within relevant national governments, multilateral organizations and agencies, universities, scientific organizations and partners in project countries
  • Assist the research team in drafting peer-reviewed papers analyzing environmental health data collected through Pure Earth’s work


  • Language
    • Fluency in English (written and spoken). Foreign language skills (Spanish, Bengali, Georgian, Bahasa, Hindi, French) may be considered as assets, but are not required
  • Education
    • Master’s degree in environmental science, public health, environmental engineering, public administration, international development or related field. Education or professional experience related to chemical pollutants, toxicology, environmental assessment/remediation, and/or lead exposures is highly desired
  • Professional experience
    • Minimum of five years of relevant work experience
    • Experience leading or assisting in complex programs/projects with diverse teams working on multiple deliverables
    • Demonstrated ability to coordinate an international team and operate comfortably and effectively in diverse cultural settings
  • Required Skills
    • Ability to develop and deliver on goals; identify priority activities and assignments; anticipate risks; demonstrate flexibility and problem-solving skills in adjusting plans and activities as necessary
    • Excellent report writing and editing skills. Ability to write effectively for diverse audiences, including donors, technical audiences, and project partners. Ability to adapt technical language into appropriate, compelling narratives
    • Self-starter with proven ability to use time efficiently and accomplish tasks with minimal oversight
    • Team player with a willingness to learn and adapt quickly to change (supervisory experience a plus)
    • Ability and willingness to travel alone internationally for up to 2 weeks at a time
  • Preferred Skills
    • Grants management and donor reporting
    • Experience with specialized statistical analysis, mapping, and project management software
    • Experience conducting research and writing peer-reviewed manuscripts for publication


Candidates must have existing authorization to work in the U.S.


Travel to international locations, possibly including contaminated sites, is possible, and will become increasingly likely over time. Experience in international travel with local or international organizations is a plus. Travel is frequently to rural areas in low-income or middle-income countries where accommodations and amenities may be fairly basic. Applicants must be willing to adjust to, and operate in diverse cultural and economic environments that may have practices and beliefs related to religion, food, clothing, gender and other issues that are different from those of the applicant.


This is a full-time position that requires a minimum of forty hours per week. Work is performed at a desk in an office environment, with the exception of travel. Pure Earth’s office is located at 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 860, New York City. Applicant must live in, or within commuting distance of, the New York City office, or be willing to relocate at her or his own expense. Note that the supervisor for this position works remotely from the West Coast, and that most communications with the supervisor will be via video/phone/email.


It is the policy of Pure Earth to provide equal opportunity for all qualified persons and not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, gender, age, national origin, veteran status, disability, sexual orientation or any other protected status.

Salary commensurate with experience.


Email a resume, cover letter, and writing sample as a single attachment to Do not apply directly through Indeed or any other job aggregator, as such applications will not be reviewed. The subject line of your email must read: “Program Officer, Global Lead Initiative.” The application deadline is October 2, 2020, at 5pm ET.

Interviews are likely to begin in mid-October. Only candidates selected for interviews will be contacted. No phone calls will be accepted.

The start date is somewhat flexible based on the candidate’s availability, but is expected to be in November 2020.