Vice President for 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 (PA) team focuses on influencing bi-lateral donors and select multi-lateral institutions and foundations to improve relevant policies, practices and decisions impacting vulnerable communities living in fragile and conflict-affected countries. Our ultimate goal is to leverage policy change to achieve transformational impact in the countries where we work.

General Position Summary

The Vice President for Policy and Advocacy leads Mercy Corps’ global Policy and Advocacy team and is the Head of the Washington DC office.  Reporting to the CEO, s/he is responsible for US government relations and implementation of an integrated strategy for influencing policy and practice of global bi-lateral and multi-lateral institutions as they affect humanitarian assistance and fragile and conflict-affected states.   S/he plays a key role in steering the organization’s research agenda. An invaluable senior representative, s/he stewards Mercy Corps’ reputation amongst these key stakeholders as an essential, innovative, thoughtful, high impact leader in the field of humanitarian assistance, countering state fragility and building resilience.  S/he ensures the agency can meaningfully influence public policy debates in support of the agency’s priorities. S/he works closely with the CEO and the Board of Directors, serves as a member of the Executive Team, coordinates with program leadership and leads a team of public affairs professionals. 

Essential Job Responsibilities

Strategy & Vision

  • Identify trends and policy issues relevant to the agency's mission, and future strategic positioning with CEO and Executive team and other key stakeholders.
  • Works to ensure Executive-level commitments and resourcing of our global influencing efforts.
  • Leads the Global Policy and Advocacy teams in managing the scope and vision of the agency’s policy and influencing work.
  • Provides strategic guidance and oversight of integrated advocacy campaigns as well as other issues and supports country-focused advocacy efforts.
  • Ensures strong relationships and collaboration with all of Mercy Corps, including Resource Development, Marketing & Communications, Global Partnerships, Research and Learning, Programs (HQ and field) and the Technical Support Teams.

 Team Management

  • Hire, lead, and mentor teams; deepen understanding of their roles and support career development.
  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback informally and formally via regular one on ones and annual performance reviews.
  • Provide support to the Executive Director of the National Committee for North Korea, a membership organization dedicated to constructive engagement with the DPRK and housed within Mercy Corps.
  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence, while feeling valued and respected.

 Influence & Representation

  • Represents Mercy Corps with the US Administration and Congress as well as at high level forums, primarily, but not limited to the annual UN General Assembly, think/policy tank panel discussions and briefings, World Bank Annual & Spring meetings, and World Economic Forum gathering.
  • Builds and maintains strong relationships with senior level USG officials, including State Department, Treasury Department, OMB, USAID, as well as with Congressional staff.
  • Works closely with Mercy Corps Europe’s Executive Director to ensure our efforts reflect our "one agency" global approach to influence, representation and outreach.
  • Contribute to or lead on written pieces including policy pieces, thought leadership and other external facing communications.

 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: US Policy & Advocacy Teams, Assistant to the VP/Office Manager, Executive Director, NCNK


Reports Directly To: CEO

Works Directly With: Executive Team, Board of Directors, Regional Director, Department Heads,


Knowledge and Experience

  • Graduate degree in international relations, development, public policy, or related fields of study.
  • 15 – 20 years of experience, with overseas and field experience highly desirable and the ability to clearly articulate, and ‘translate’ complex issues and concepts, especially the linkage between practice and policies, to different audiences including donors and the general public.
  • Demonstrated understanding of the relief and development industry including emergency and development issues, humanitarian practice and policy, and in affecting change in policy and/or practice.
  • A DC-insider with strong relationships across the Executive and Legislative branches as well as among the most influential opinion leaders in the humanitarian space will be essential.
  • Demonstrated strong team leadership skills and commitment to individual development.
  • A clear and compelling writer who enjoys writing blogs, the occasional op-ed and other thought pieces.
  • Strong communication skills and a commitment to "inclusiveness" and “consensus-building”; however, someone unafraid of making the hard-decisions and then leads the team to achieve them.
  • A resourceful and proven leader whose views will be sought and heard, and is more than just a vocal and articulate advocate for policy change.
  • Demonstrated ability to open doors. Has a successful track record building partnerships with a broad and relevant network of key influencers including in the private sector, policy-makers and other major international stakeholders.

Success Factors

The successful VP will be a dynamic and compelling leader with demonstrated deep expertise and credibility in the complex issues surrounding humanitarian assistance, the relief to resilience continuum and state fragility -- including critical policy issues, key actors and institutions. S/he will be a strategic thinker, capable of developing and executing on an ambitious, yet realistic influence plan to achieve targeted change in policy and practice. S/he will be a skilled communicator and debater, able to distinguish herself in the highest-level fora and debates.  S/he is able to build consensus among colleagues and team members, with different expertise and objectives, to shape organizational direction for greater impact. S/he will have the confidence to respectfully disagree and challenge peers to dig into complex and challenging issues in search of better outcomes.  S/he will have an inquisitive and questioning mind -- someone who is both patient, yet ambitious -- in pursuit of effective strategies to contribute to "industry" impact and relevance. S/he is an inspiring leader, committed to advancing the organization's mission and ensuring that our voice is among the leaders in shaping global policies.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This position is based in Washington, DC with the expectation the VP will travel up to 30% 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.