Job Title: Higher Education Specialist

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Regular: Full time Position


  1. About the University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota (, UMN) is a large, comprehensive R1 research university in the United States. Our commitment to collaborative equity permeates every global initiative and partnership, yielding meaningful sustainable relationships, processes, and results. University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and protected veterans are strongly encouraged to apply.  UMN is leading the Key Kenya proposal as prime.


  1. About the USAID Key Kenya Project.  

USAID has issued a RFA for the Kenya Empowered Youth (KEY) project ($15M Ceiling).  KEY’s overall objective is to empower youth as partners in development and help them to connect with social and economic opportunities. This activity will be delivered predominantly through partnerships with Kenyan HEIs, public and private sector employers (formal or informal), county and national government, and youth organizations. This will be achieved through three areas of focus: 1. Increase economic prospects for youth, 2. Through a partnership between U.S. and Kenyan HEIs, build the capacity of technical training institutions along high growth value chains to increase workforce competitiveness, conduct research, and increase the use of reliable data to inform youth development training, policy, and investments. 3. Develop and/or strengthen local, holistic and sustainable youth-serving systems in select counties to measurably and sustainably impact the lives of those youth who are most vulnerable.


  1. Position Description


Position Overview: The Higher Education Specialist will cultivate and manage relationships with universities, as well as other higher education institutions (including polytechnics, technical training institutes, colleagues, and vocational training centers), senior Government of Kenya officials, and development partners. S/he will oversee curriculum revision and development and capacity development of higher education institutions.  Employment for this position will be contingent upon University of Minnesota receiving the Key Kenya award.


Duties & Responsibilities:


Foster, strengthen and implement youth-centric training programs that meet country workforce needs in Kenyan HEIs

  • Manage technical experts to review and strengthen existing curricula to meet workforce needs in Kenyan HEIs

  • Implement and strengthen faculty training programs to improve teaching in the classroom, online and in the field.  

  • Work with university partners to develop (individually or cooperatively) new training programs targeted to known workforce needs.

  • Work with university partners to establish or strengthen competency-based training programs including skill-based teaching and training.

  • Support the development and implementation of remote-learning programs and strategies where appropriate.

  • Strengthen HEI institutional capacity to meet youth and workforce needs in Kenya through quality assurance, organizational development and evidence-based and adaptive learning strategies.


Identifying and managing academic partnerships with public and private entities to advance project goals and program sustainability

  • Work with university partners to cultivate public and private partnerships to maximize opportunities for youth skill-building, align university programs to meet country needs and assure long-term programmatic sustainability.

  • Work closely with partner universities,  public and private partners and the Partnership Specialist to build HEI capacity to identify, initiate and sustain productive public-private-academic partnerships.

  • Support the university partners to liaise with public and private partners to foster innovative new strategies for sustainable support of youth-led initiatives in Kenyan HEIs.


Supporting the establishment and strengthening of a university-housed center of excellence for youth advancement

  • Work with Kenyan HEI partners and public/private stakeholders to establish a center of excellence in an academic institution that will foster partnerships among HEI institutions, public agencies, private sector partners, youth-led organizations and networks in order to foster new, innovative strategies, share training materials and programs, and support a robust evidence-based approach to advancing youth employment and fostering youth-led development in Kenya. 


Build HEI capacity to better meet youth needs

  • Strengthen HEI institutional capacity to meet youth and workforce needs in Kenya through quality assurance, organizational development and evidence-based and adaptive learning strategies.

  • Foster institutional capacity building and change through HEI engagement with the center of excellence.

  • Where appropriate work with and provide training to project recipients, sub awardees and stakeholders to support robust MEL across all project activities and outcomes.

  • Where appropriate, work with and provide training to project recipients, sub awardees and stakeholders to support robust adaptive management strategies across all project activities and outcomes.


Required and Preferred Qualifications 


Required Qualifications:

  • A graduate degree in a relevant field such as higher education/TVET, distance learning, youth/adult learning, curriculum development, ICT and education, international development, or other related social/behavioral sciences;

  •  Strong understanding of higher education institutions, both in Kenya and the United States;

  •  Eight years of relevant and progressively increasing responsibility leading programs focused on research, technical training, youth development, workforce development, higher education, livelihoods, private sector engagement, or other fields related to the program with at least four of those years in Kenya or countries similar to Kenya;

  • Demonstrated success working with senior higher education officials, university leadership, national ministry, development partners, and international organization partners;

  • Demonstrated track record of working in teams and fostering partnerships;

  • Leadership in capacity development of host county higher education institutions (TVETs, colleges, polytechnics and universities); and

  • Demonstrated commitment to leadership and career results for women and girls.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience managing staff to assure timely, accurate and impactful reporting and communications.

  • Experience working with a US prime, particularly a US academic institution.

  • Experience working on large-scale federally funded projects (e.g. USAID, CDC) (over $10 million).

  • Experience collaborating with diverse stakeholders with varying capacity in HEI engagement strategies.

  • Experience building public-private partnerships with HEIs

  • Experience with organizational development, quality assurance, curriculum mapping/strengthening or other HEI strengthening strategies.  

  • Experience implementing innovative approaches to online and remote education programs.

  • Experience with competency-based educational program development


How To Apply

Interested applicants should send a copy of their CV and a cover letter to For more information on this opportunity, please contact Katey Pelican, DVM, PhD at; cc  Employment for this position will be contingent upon the University of Minnesota receiving the award and approval of the donor.