Senior Policy Advisor

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 (GPA) team works to support Mercy Corps’ global mission by fostering a policy environment that enables the success of Mercy Corps’ field programs.  The 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. The U.S. Policy and Advocacy team focuses on influencing the foreign policy and foreign assistance policies of the United States and select multi-lateral institutions. 

General Position Summary

The Sr. Policy Advisor will lead Mercy Corps’ global policy and advocacy efforts for peace and conflict policy, and will manage the U.S. policy portfolios of peace and conflict (including peacebuilding, violence reduction, civilian protection, violent extremism, and atrocity and genocide prevention), governance, fragility, as well as a few select country policy portfolios to be determined. This position 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 goal of helping reduce global levels of violence against civilians by 10% by 2030. 

Specifically, this will include supporting the passage of legislation to improve and reform U.S. foreign assistance, supporting the International Affairs Budget, and engaging with the Administration on key policies and countries of concern. 
S/he will track and analyze key policy initiatives, working with partner agencies in joint coalition advocacy and campaign initiatives. The Sr. 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

  • Identify trends and policy issues relevant to the agency's mission and its global goal of reducing global levels of violence by 10% by 2030
  • Leads the Global Policy and Advocacy teams in managing the scope and vision of the agency’s policy and influencing work for peace and conflict, governance, and fragility issues
  • Provides strategic guidance and oversight of integrated advocacy campaigns and supports country-focused advocacy efforts
  • Support the agency’s participation in collaborative advocacy efforts, such as InterAction, the US Global Leadership Campaign, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, etc. aimed at influencing US foreign assistance policy and legislation


  • Manages the peace and conflict policy portfolio for Mercy Corps, including peacebuilding, violence reduction, civilian protection, violent extremism, and atrocity and genocide prevention, which will include driving a coalition around passing U.S. foreign assistance reform legislation
  • Manages the policy portfolio on governance, fragility, and country-specific issues to be determined for Mercy Corps
  • Manages the policy portfolio on governance policy issues for Mercy Corps
  • For all of the lead policy issues:
    • Assist in devising and carrying out policy-focused advocacy and outreach strategies, both unilaterally and/or in cooperation with Mercy Corps colleagues and partner agencies
    • Write policy documents including policy briefs, public reports, blog posts, and white papers
      • In cooperation with the Media Relations and Digital teams, occasionally draft and tailor written products as appropriate for use with various audiences, including policymakers, web visitors, and the general public
      • Products will encompass a variety of formats, including policy briefs, case studies, web stories, talking points, etc. for external consumption and to help guide and inform Mercy Corps staff
    • Assist with the drafting of policy-related talking points and key messages to help guide and inform Mercy Corps staff members
    • Track legislative developments on Capitol Hill and monitor action alerts and legislative initiatives from colleague agencies, Interaction, advocacy organizations and coalitions, and think tanks
    • In cooperation with the Media Relations and Digital teams, help craft the agency’s legislative advocacy strategies and messaging for mobilizing grassroots audiences
    • Research and analyze selected issues through a variety of means, including field visits, key informant interviews, literature reviews, etc.

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
  • 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



Reports Directly To: Director of Policy and Advocacy

Works Directly With: Global Policy and Advocacy Team; 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

  • Bachelors degree in related field
  • 4 to 7 years relevant experience in peace and conflict policy, public policy, and advocacy
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience in humanitarian and/or development sectors
  • Demonstrated effectiveness in moving forward complex ideas through broad based coalitions and interest groups
  • Strong political and strategic skills, with a demonstrated ability to effectively advance policy priorities through complex, large coalitions and interest groups
  • Proven ability in researching, analyzing, and reporting on foreign assistance 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 for Congress, including an understanding of the various foreign policy authorizing and foreign assistance authorizing processes, strongly preferred
  • Experience with international relief and development fieldwork, the US Administration and/or development related advocacy
  • Experience successfully designing and implementing conflict mitigation and management, peacebuilding and good governance programming in fragile states
  • Graduate degree in international relations, development, public policy, or related fields of study

Success Factors

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.