Senior Policy Advisor
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 (GPA) team advances policy changes to achieve transformational impact in the countries where we work. In support of Mercy Corps’ global mission, the GPA team’s work benefits Mercy Corps’ field programs. The U.S. Policy and Advocacy team focuses on the United States and select multi-lateral institutions to improve relevant policies, practices and decisions affecting vulnerable communities living in fragile and conflict-affected countries.
General Position Summary
The Senior Policy Advisor will lead Mercy Corps’ new policy portfolio on civilian-military issues, civilian protection, international humanitarian law, defense policy, and related issues. This Senior Advisor will also support policy and advocacy policy issues in Africa. The Senior. Policy Advisor will seek, in collaboration with Mercy Corps’ GPA team and relevant internal teams, to drive U.S. foreign policy and foreign assistance reforms in order to advance Mercy Corps’ global goals. Specifically, this will include drafting and helping to pass relevant legislation and engaging key Congressional leaders, as well as working with the United States government, particularly the national security community and Africa experts, to advance key policies. S/he will track and analyze policy initiatives on civilian-military issues and the Africa working with partner agencies in joint coalition advocacy and campaign initiatives and advocating on behalf of these issues at domestic and international fora, including the United Nations. The Senior Policy Advisor will also be responsible for raising Mercy Corps’ profile on policy positions including: representation at external events, panels; developing written policy documents for external dissemination; supporting Mercy Corps’ grassroots advocacy efforts; and liaising with and traveling to Mercy Corps field and HQ teams.
Essential Job Responsibilities
Strategy & Vision
- Shapes legislation and policies relevant to Mercy Corps’ mission to help people build secure, productive, and just communities.
- Develops and leads the Global Policy and Advocacy team’s portfolio on civilian protection, and civilian-military issues, and some country policy portfolios
- Develops strategies regarding influence and policy issues with relevant field teams in support of country-focused advocacy efforts.
- Develops and manages the civilian-military and Sahel policy and advocacy portfolios by:
- Implements policy-focused advocacy and outreach strategies, in cooperation with Mercy Corps colleagues and partner agencies
- Drafts policy documents in support of policy and advocacy goals:
- In cooperation with the Media Relations and Digital teams, support written products as appropriate for use with various audiences, including policymakers, web visitors, and the general public.
- For public dissemination, draft policy briefs, op-eds and case stories.
- Draft internal information and messaging for Mercy Corps staff.
- Tracks legislative developments on Capitol Hill, including the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and manage agency response.
- Leads advocacy efforts through collaborative work within the NGO sector and among other NGO, governmental, and private partners.
- Publishes and speaks publicly, when appropriate, to advance thought leadership on civilian-military issues and to elevate the importance of Mercy Corps’ work.
- Researches and analyzes selected issues through a variety of means, including field visits.
Influence & Representation
- Represents Mercy Corps with the US Administration and Congress as well as at public forums, think/policy tank panel discussions and briefings, and relevant international and multilateral institutional events.
- Builds and maintains strong relationships with senior level USG officials, including Defense Department, State Department, USAID, and Congressional staff.
- Contributes to or leads on written pieces including policy pieces, thought leadership and other external facing communications.
- 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.
Reports Directly To: Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy
Works Directly With: Global Policy and Advocacy Team, especially Director for Policy and Advocacy for Africa and Peace and Conflict; Washington DC office staff; Research and Learning Team; Media Relations Team, Digital Team; Matrix Root Causes of Conflict Team; Regional and Country Teams; and Technical Support Unit.
Knowledge and Experience
- Graduate degree in international relations, development, public policy or related fields of study.
- 7 to 10 years of relevant professional experience working on civilian-military issues and/or Sahel policy issues.
- Professional experience in humanitarian, development, and national security sectors.
- Strong political and strategic skills, with a demonstrated ability to advance policy priorities including through coalition work.
- Proven ability in researching, analyzing, and reporting on policy issues.
- Strong analytical skills and the ability to effectively gather and utilize large amounts of information from various sources towards clear policy goals.
- Excellent verbal and written communications skills.
- Demonstrated sensitivity, skill and experience in working diplomatically and effectively within different cultural settings and in public relations and correspondence with a wide variety of public constituents.
- Experience working in the U.S. Congress and/or the U.S. Executive Branch agencies;
- Familiarity and experience working with the U.S. Defense Department on policy issues;
- Experience with international relief and development fieldwork, and familiarity with emerging development and humanitarian issues.
Ability to build and maintain strong relationships with colleagues, peer groups, officials and relevant stakeholders. Motivation to seek out and establish new relationships. Motivation to find new solutions to pernicious policy problems. A clear understanding of Mercy Corps’ mission and collaborative style of operation. Ability to work simultaneously on multiple tasks in a fast paced, sometimes stressful 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, commit to transformative change, and sense of humor.
Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions
This position is based in Washington, DC with the expectation of travel up to 20% 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
Fostering a diverse and open workplace is an important part of Mercy Corps’ vision. Mercy Corps is an Equal Opportunity Employer regardless of background. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment