Senior Program Officer – American Indian Health

The Montana Healthcare Foundation Montana

The Montana Healthcare Foundation

Montana Healthcare Foundation (MHCF) is a statewide 501(c)3 private foundation that makes strategic investments to improve the health and well-being of Montanans. MHCF partners with Native nations, communities, and nonprofits throughout the state to support access to quality and affordable health services and address the upstream influences on health and illness.  

The Foundation was established in 2013. Currently, MHCF has approximately $235 million in assets. MHCF manages these assets to serve as a permanent resource for the state, and has an annual budget of more than $11 million to support health and wellbeing in Montana.  

As a vibrant and dynamic organization, the MHCF program plan has been guided by a philosophy of active engagement with communities and long-term partnerships. The Foundation focuses on several key themes, including:  

  • Supporting Native nations and urban Indian health organizations to build a strong, Native-led health system  
  • Prevention and treatment of mental illness and harmful substance use 
  • Perinatal and school-based health care 
  • Partnering with communities to address the “upstream” determinants of health, such as food and housing 
  • Medicaid and Health Policy 
  • Building a stronger public health system  

Based in Bozeman, the Foundation is overseen by six dedicated trustees from across the state and run by an innovative, close-knit team led by its CEO, Dr. Aaron Wernham. MHCF is a permanent resource for Montana and catalyzes health innovation. Learn more about the Foundation, its board of trustees, and its staff.  

The Senior Program Officer Role

This position offers an opportunity to bring a passion for changing health outcomes to an organization with the dynamism of a startup— mission-driven, hard-working, focused, smart, innovative, action-oriented— and the credibility earned over the past 10 years.  The senior program officer (SPO) will report to the program director.  

The SPO will support the American Indian Health portfolio and manage the Reducing American Indian Health Disparities initiative through working closely with tribal health and Native-led nonprofit leaders across the state. They will also collaborate with their colleagues at the Foundation to support the development and implementation of other initiatives that improve and strengthen the health care system.  

The principal of self-determination guides our work with Native American communities. The SPO will build on the strong partnerships MHCF has established with Native nations, urban Indian health organizations, and Native led nonprofit organizations, to support the implementation of new health care programs and self-governance efforts. They will also develop and implement programming to address upstream determinants of health such as food sovereignty and safe, affordable housing.  


Manages the Reducing American Indian Health Disparities Initiative 

  • Support Native nations in the successful implementation and evaluation of the Medicaid Tribal Health Improvement Program (T-HIP). 
  • Maintain and advance productive collaboration and coalition meetings among the T-HIP directors, to support the planning and implementation of T-HIP programming. 
  • Develop and implement effective strategies to deploy Foundation resources to address food, housing, and other key social determinants of health, in partnership with tribal and urban Indian health partners. 
  • Identify consultants with relevant experience, negotiate contracts terms and scopes of work and manages consultant relationship to address specific technical and programmatic needs of Native nations and Native led nonprofits organizations.   

Supports the Strengthening American Indian Health Services Initiative 

  • Collaborate with the leaders of Native nations, tribal health departments and urban Indian health organizations and other organizations important to the health care system serving Native people in Montana to develop and implement new programs that contribute to a more effective health system. Such programs may include, for example, improving third-party billing revenue and program administration, supporting tribal “638” contracting to develop new programs and services, or addressing workforce shortages by forming new partnerships between private health care providers and the Indian Health Service, tribal, and urban Indian health organizations. 
  • Assist Native nations in planning, securing consultants, and advancing self-governance efforts under Title V of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.  
  • Manage relationships with the American Indian Health Leaders (AIHL) coalition and its individual members and help them advance their goals and priorities. 
  • Work closely with Native nations and urban Indian health leadership to identify and implement models that strengthen state-wide collaboration on policy, programs, and effective self-governance and drive toward continuously improving Native, Indian Health Service (IHS), and urban Indian health organizations. 

Additional Duties:

Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement 

  • Build strong working relationships with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), Medicaid, the Indian Health Service, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, medical and behavioral health care providers, Native nation’s health departments and governments, urban Indian health organizations, public health departments, housing agencies, corrections agencies, social service providers and other key constituents to advance the Foundation’s program plan and initiatives.  
  • Convene partners, stakeholders, and technical experts to build statewide awareness and support for T-HIP and other social determinants of health impacting Indian country and provide grantees with ongoing learning opportunities. 
  • Engage new and established partners to better understand strengths and challenges; represent the Foundation’s strategies and approach accurately; and identify opportunities for the Foundation to design programming to effectively respond and develop a diverse grant portfolio.   
  • Represent the Foundation at speaking engagements, with approval from the CEO. 

Grant Management

  • Support successful grant proposals, including application development. 
  • Disseminate opportunities, work with partners to cultivate high-quality proposals, and participate in grant review and selection.  
  • Manage a portfolio of assigned grants; review grant reports and communicate frequently with grantees and partners to monitor progress on grant work plans.  
  • Provide technical assistance to grantees and partners to advance the Foundation’s initiative goals and facilitate the successful completion of Foundation-funded projects. 
  • Assist grantees and the Foundation in formulating measurable outcomes. Evaluate the outcomes of grant-funded projects and synthesize the results for reports.  
  • Collaborate with the program directors, evaluation staff and contractors, and CEO to develop and provide periodic reports to convey concise and timely information to the board of trustees regarding the Foundation’s strategies, programming, and outcomes. 

Strategy and Evaluation

  • Leads assigned initiatives, in consultation with the program directors and CEO as appropriate; designs initiative strategy, identifies and engages partners.  
  • Assist in evaluating assigned initiatives; develop appropriate metrics and measurement systems, collect data, compile reports, and streamline measurement across initiatives. 
  • Develop and deploy relevant technical assistance resources (e.g., staff or consultants) to strategically support project and community needs.  
  • Advise and collaborate with the program director and other team members to design, implement, and align initiatives to ensure Foundation work is coordinated across projects and within communities. Analyze current projects; and identify and facilitate opportunities in communities for collaboration.   
  • Maintain current knowledge on health issues important to the Foundation; conduct literature reviews, establish a network of professional contacts, and participate in relevant conferences and other educational programs.   
  • Conduct programmatic research and “bright spotting” of programs relevant to Foundation priorities; compile information and data to inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of Foundation priorities and programs.   

Program Staff Support

  • Provide one on one coaching and support to program officers to guide programming work and daily operations; identify opportunities for professional development of the program team. 
  • Supervise junior staff as assigned and coordinate the work of program staff across initiatives.  
  • Facilitate overall positive staff experience; consult with program directors to develop solutions for improved efficiency and effectiveness of program staff. 

The Ideal Candidate

First and foremost, candidates should bring a passion for American Indian health and tribal sovereignty and a desire to improve the health and well-being of Montana communities. This is an opportunity for an innovative, experienced health professional with a passion for changing health outcomes to join a creative, dynamic organization. They bring to this role a broad knowledge of health issues, social determinants of health, and the health challenges facing American Indian people nationally and in Montana.  It is helpful for candidates to be familiar with Montana-based health and social service organizations, though relevant experience from similar work in other states is valued.  

A deep understanding of and respect for the complexities required to operate tribal health programs and the technical knowledge to design health and healthcare systems and population-based health improvement initiatives is essential. 

The successful candidate is relationship-oriented and a bridge builder. They have outstanding interpersonal and leadership skills and the political acumen to bring together those with divergent views to work collaboratively for common solutions. The ability to quickly establish trust and credibility with Native nations’ government, professional, and community stakeholders is crucial to this role, as is the facility for addressing politically sensitive health and policy questions with tact and poise. Exemplary verbal and writing skills are essential.  

The ideal candidate brings a willingness to work closely with Foundation colleagues and the intellectual agility to contribute to the full range of related issues the Foundation works to address. SPO candidates should have the analytical ability to understand and analyze the business, legal, and financial issues that drive health care administration and tribal health systems.  

Humility, empathy, and a bias toward listening are key attributes needed in this role. The successful candidate must demonstrate cultural competence, sensitivity, and awareness to be an effective emissary of a large funding entity serving all Montana residents. The ideal candidate has a demonstrated history of working with American Indian people that firmly grounds their understanding and passion for serving American Indian people in the State of Montana. 

Specific qualifications and experience we seek that will prepare candidates for this role include: 

  • A minimum of six years of professional experience in health administration, preferably in a tribal health program or Indian Health Service (IHS). Understanding of 638 contracting and Title V self-governance is an asset.  
  • Broad knowledge of health issues, needs, opportunities, and the policy environment in Montana.   
  • A bachelor’s degree, or equivalent experience, is preferred. A MPH, MHA, MHP, or JD would be an asset. 
  • Experience in the health industry, public health, tribal health systems, health policy and a track record of designing and implementing initiatives that have demonstrably improved healthcare systems would be beneficial. 
  • Extensive practical experience working with Native nations and the health systems that serve Native communities. 
  • A track record for advancing new initiatives and improvements within tribal health systems or IHS. 
  • Experience with policy, systems, and clinical approaches to the social determinants of health and care delivery systems.      

Characteristics for effectiveness as SPO include:

  • Ability to shift between high-level strategic thinking and unique, detailed, direct support to grantees. 
  • Discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance and confidential information. 
  • Comfort working independently, ability to exercise sound judgment in determining when to consult the program director. Ability to adapt to changing needs and priorities and assume new responsibilities. 
  • Track record of creativity, adaptability, personal accountability, and initiative. Capacity to deal with concepts and complexity comfortably. 
  • Collaborative contributor to a close-knit, supportive team environment and a collegial approach to work with people and organizations of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. 
  • Positive attitude and cheerful outlook. 
  • Reliability and commitment to established work hours and schedule. 

Additional Details

The salary range for the SPO position is anticipated to be $120,000-$140,000, based on experience. This is a 40 hour per week position that offers a competitive benefits package, including health insurance and a 401K retirement savings program. 

The Foundation’s office is in Bozeman, MT. This position may be considered for telecommuting within Montana. A relocation stipend is available if the selected candidate does not reside in Montana. 

While typically in an office environment, the SPO role requires visits to external environments that require walking, driving to and from various locations. Extensive travel by personal car, rental car, and air is required. Mileage reimbursed at allowed IRS rates or actual costs of an approved rental vehicle. The employee must maintain a driver’s license valid in Montana and private liability insurance with minimums outlined under MHCF’s policy. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the position. 

To Apply

Please submit your resume and cover letter expressing your interest in the position and fit for the role via the “Become a Candidate” button.   

Applicants applying by November 30th will be given priority consideration, with the position open until filled. 

Senior Program OfficerThe Montana Healthcare Foundation Montana

GoodCitizen is supporting the Montana Healthcare Foundation with this search. For questions, please contact:

Melissa Merritt 
Managing Partner
Direct: 206.792.4300

Mollie Smith
Engagement Manager
Direct: 206.462.6190

Keristian Farra
Operations Associate
Direct: 206.792.4311