Senior Director, Policy and Advocacy

Advocacy and Public Relations Washington, District of Columbia


About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible.
In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions
into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.
Now, and for the future.

Program / Department Summary

The Global Policy and Advocacy team believes that policy decisions can generate transformational change.  We want to improve the lives of the millions of people benefiting from Mercy Corps’ programs, as well as their larger communities.  We serve as a bridge between Mercy Corps’ impact in the field and its global influence; by relying on the insights and experiences of our programs, we generate and advance policy ideas to prevent conflict, to respond to humanitarian need, and to advance a more just, prosperous, and peaceful world.  Collaborating with our Global Policy and Advocacy colleagues, the U.S. Policy and Advocacy team focuses on influencing the U.S. government’s foreign policy and foreign assistance decisions, as well as other multilateral institutions, such as the United Nations and the World Bank.  We represent Mercy Corps within the NGO sector in Washington, and with other key stakeholders, including think tanks, the private sector, and foundations.  We are entrepreneurial, flexible, and analytical.  We leverage evidence and data to generate policy arguments and we embrace thought leadership as critical to our advocacy efforts.


General Position Summary

A senior leader within the Agency, the Senior Director for Policy and Advocacy manages the growing U.S. Policy and Advocacy team. S/he serves as a public thought leader and policy expert –influencing the policy and practices of the U.S. government’s Congressional and Executive branches and multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and the World Bank.  The Senior Director is deeply familiar with the conception, design, and implementation of U.S. foreign policy and foreign assistance policy, including the U.S. government budget process.  S/he is able to bring voices, stories, evidence, and analysis from the countries where Mercy Corps works in order to shape policy debates in Washington and globally.


Essential Job Responsibilities:

  • S/he must be capable of managing budgets, people, events, and coordinating across a global organization with many stakeholders.
  • Successfully develops and grows a team of experts, mentoring and teaching teammates how to affect change and how to shape decision-making at every level.
  • S/he is responsible for raising Mercy Corps’ profile on policy positions – including by speaking at external events and panels; by publishing policy documents and op-eds for external dissemination; by collaborating with the research team; by supporting Mercy Corps’ communications and fundraising work; and by liaising with and traveling to Mercy Corps field and HQ teams.
  • The Senior Director is a natural communicator who accepts direction and guidance, while pro-actively designing strategies to recommend to the Vice President for Policy and Research, other Executive Team members, and Mercy Corps’ global field leadership.
  • The Senior Director shares Mercy Corps’ concern about increasing global conflict and fragility.
  • S/he steers Mercy Corps’ policy and advocacy strategy with the objective of conflict resolution and mitigation, encouraging policy-makers to prioritize diplomacy, development, and other conflict prevention efforts.
  • Research findings into policy arguments and can move easily among different stakeholders – in the field, Congress, the State Department, USAID, other U.S. governmental agencies, and with other international governmental and non-governmental actors.
  • S/he has deep experience working with Congress on budgetary and policy issues, and has a record of influencing legislative outcomes.
  • Understand the complex interconnections between diplomacy, development, and defense and can translate humanitarian concerns across the civilian-military divide.


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.

Accountability to Beneficiaries

  • Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward 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.

Supervisory Responsibility

Four team members


Reports Directly To: Vice President of Policy and Research

 Works Directly With:  Global Policy and Advocacy Team; Washington DC office staff; Research and Learning Team; Media Relations Team, Digital Team; Fundraising Team; Regional and Country Teams; and Technical Support Unit. 


Knowledge and Experience

  • Unbridled passion to make the world a better place, combined with an experienced, careful advocacy approach that is strategic and outcome-oriented.
  • At least 15 years of relevant experience as a thought leader in foreign policy or development policy.
  • At least 5 years of relevant management experience.
  • Leadership roles within the U.S. government, including management experience designing and implementing foreign assistance programs.
  • Solutions-oriented individual, with political acumen and strategic thinking capabilities.
  • Demonstrated effectiveness as a thought leader, including successful record as a persuasive public speaker.
  • Excellent writing skills, including a record of authored publications related to policy issues.
  • Deep and proven high level expertise working with Congress, briefing staff and members.
  • Excellent verbal and inter-personal communications skills.
  • Experience working with field-based programmatic leaders around the world in diverse international settings.
  • Demonstrated ability to translate technical issues for broader policy audiences.
  • Demonstrated sensitivity, skill, and experience working within different cultural settings and navigating public affairs and communications on sensitive issues


Success Factors

Ability to manage a diverse team. Ability to build and maintain strong relationships with colleagues, peer agencies, senior officials and other public and private stake-holders. Ability to support the policy and advocacy needs of Mercy Corps’ field-based teams. Motivation to collaborate with government, private sector, foundation, and institutional partners. A clear understanding of Mercy Corps’ mission, collaborative style, and creative culture. Ability to work simultaneously on multiple tasks in a fast-paced environment and meet deadlines under those conditions. Ability to work as part of a team and coordinate with both HQ and global personnel. Computer literate with strong organizational skills. Ability to operate with a significant degree of autonomy within agreed upon parameters. Flexibility, commitment to transformative change, and a sense of humor.


Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This position is based in Washington, DC with the expectation the individual will travel up to 15% of his/her time to field locations that may include insecure or harsh environments.  Mercy Corps team members 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

Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside 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.