Director of Policy and Advocacy

Advocacy and Public Relations Washington, District of Columbia



The Mercy Corps Global Policy and Advocacy (PA) team works to support Mercy Corps’ mission by advocating for  better policies and practices of bi-lateral donors, as well as multi-lateral institutions to enable Mercy Corps’ programs in fragile and conflict-affected countries to achieve greater impact.  The US-based PA team is seeking a Director, with proven ability to influence the US government including the White House, NSC, Congress, USAID, State Department, Treasury, as well as the World Bank and the United Nations; and who will help ensure that Mercy Corps has a strong, credible, and  relevant voice in influencing foreign aid policy and advocacy arenas. 



The Director of Policy & Advocacy will lead, in consultation with the Vice President for Policy and Advocacy, setting the strategic vision of the US Policy & Advocacy team and ensuring the team is working effectively in order to achieve policy and advocacy goals in support of Mercy Corps’ mission.  In addition to managing a team of four, the Director will also support elevating Mercy Corps’ thought leadership objectives around complex crises, resilience and violence prevention.  Experience and deep understanding of the federal budget process is required as the Director leads the team in its annual advocacy with the Administration and Congress in support of foreign aid appropriations, as well as authorizing legislation such as the Farm bill. The Director is also expected to represent Mercy Corps in a variety of public and private events and briefings and to travel when needed to the field and Mercy Corps headquarters in Portland, Oregon.   



Strategy and Vision

  • Work closely with the Vice President for Policy and Advocacy to develop key priorities and strategies for achieving policy and advocacy goals.
  • Identify, track, and participate in policy and advocacy campaigns critical to the agency, including but not limited to providing leadership in coalition efforts, educating the Administration and Congress on the benefits of effective foreign aid programming, tracking and influencing legislative initiatives, and building strong relationships with key legislative staff and administration officials such as USAID, State Department and the NSC.
  • Guide the PA Team’s research, writing and analysis of key policy issues, as well as the formulation and communication of Mercy Corps positions to target audiences through Mercy Corps-branded efforts, coalition outreach, and constituency building and media communication.
  • Work with Media Relations, Research & Learning, TSU and field teams to plan and produce consistent, thoughtful and timely written products that advance policy perspectives important to our mission.


Influence and Collaboration:

  • Ensure that the PA Team builds and maintains effective relationships with Congressional leaders and key committees.
  • Advise relevant HQ teams and field offices on key policy and legislative issues that affect Mercy Corps’ work.
  • Support country teams with advocacy training workshops.
  • Integrate, unify, and communicate positions on critical issues in concert with the UK Policy and Advocacy team, Marketing and Communications and Digital teams, Technical Support Unit, Emergency Operations, and field offices, especially during emergencies.
  • Work with the global PA team and Resource Development team to develop grassroots advocacy outreach on priority issue as appropriate.
  • Represent the agency present Mercy Corps’ best thinking to various audiences, including Congress, Administration officials, the UN, peer groups, think tanks, foreign embassies, the media, and the general public.
  • Develop and maintain timely and relevant outreach materials such as advocacy tools, issue briefs, position statements, and talking points in close collaboration with Communications, Program Operations, and field offices.


Team Management

  • Ensure the team’s implementation of Theories of Changes of top Mercy Corps advocacy objectives in line with Mercy Corps’ mission.
  • Day-to-day management responsibility for US Policy & Advocacy team, including 4 direct reports.
  • Establishes a high performing team culture.
  • Coaches, mentors, and creates professional development plans and provides timely feedback to all team members.



Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts towards accountability, specifically to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.


Organizational Learning:  

As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve - we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.


SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITY:  the 4 member US Policy and Advocacy team. 



REPORTS DIRECTLY TO:  Vice President for Policy and Advocacy

WORKS DIRECTLY WITH: Various teams including: Technical Support team members, Media Relations, Digital Emergency Operations, and Research & Learning.



  • Minimum of 7-10 years of experience in legislative advocacy, US Congress, governmental affairs, policy analysis, preferably in an international relief and development context.
  • Proven track record of accomplishments in policy and advocacy preferably in international relief and development.
  • Strong understanding of relief and development fieldwork, and understanding of the connections between policy considerations to their field-level implications.
  • Clear and strategic thinker with a proven ability to work independently and effectively.
  • Demonstrated success in managing relationships in a complex inter-agency context.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Strong knowledge of, and relationships with, key networks in the Washington, DC area on issues related to international relief and development.
  • Master’s degree in International Relations, Public Policy, or Public or Business Administration or equivalent preferred.
  • Team management and development experience required.



The successful Director of Policy and Advocacy will demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of governmental and legislative processes, especially the Appropriations process, and will be able to build strategic alliances both inside and outside the agency to achieve key goals.  The Director will also be able to work within a complex organizational structure that embraces a collaborative and consultative framework for decision-making. S/he will have superb interpersonal skills and will be an accomplished and effective presenter.



This position is based in Washington DC.  It may require up to 15-20% regular travel to visit Mercy Corps programs globally as well as some domestic travel in the US.  Travel may occasionally be on short notice and require visits to unstable or difficult areas.


Mercy Corps staff represent the agency both during and outside of work hours, when deployed in a field posting or on a visit/TDY to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.