Behavior Change Senior Advisor - Technical Support Unit

Programs Portland, Oregon Washington, District of Columbia


This position may be based in Portland, Or, Washington, DC, or London, UK

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 

Mercy Corps alleviates poverty, suffering, and oppression and works to build secure, productive, and just communities in over 40 countries around the world. Our Program Department supports field-led work that delivers measurable impact. 

Mercy Corps’ Technical Support Unit (TSU) is a key part of the Program Department. TSU subject-matter experts help set agency strategy and provide consultation – from assessment and design through project implementation and results measurement – to field offices worldwide, in some of the world’s toughest places. TSU team members lead research, foster organizational learning, represent Mercy Corps to external audiences, and develop partnerships. The TSU is also integral to global business development and revenue. This position will sit under the Peace and Governance Team working closely with the agency’s COVID team, the rest of the TSU.   

General Position Summary 

The Behaviour Change Senior Technical Advisor position focuses on providing expert technical support and capacity building to Mercy Corps field teams in the area of Behaviour Change. The Behavior Change Senior Technical Advisor will develop guidance that integrates new methods and approaches into Mercy Corps’ strategic programming and provides leadership in the design, integration, institutionalization, and quality assurance of Behaviour Change (BC) using a human centered design (HCD) approach. The Senior Adviser will identify best and emerging practices in BC, for example human centered design, integration of BC and digital/social media, social media listening, behavioral economics, the development of social norms, building social movements, systems and design thinking, and measuring impact of BC interventions. 

This position’s orientation to behavior change will be wide in scope, including both point-in-time behavioral design interventions (drawing on social marketing and integration of psychological principles), in addition to viewing behavior change through an iterative orientation that interacts dynamically with existing institutions and norms. Key for this position’s success will be the ability to apply BC concepts and approaches to the wide variety of humanitarian and development sectors in which Mercy Corps operates—spanning health, peace and conflict, governance, resilience, and others.  Evidence-based behavior Change is at the heart of Mercy Corps efforts to promote effective COVID-19 prevention practices and to help overcome vaccine hesitancy in the places where we work.  As such, the Senior Technical Advisor plays a central role on Mercy Corps COVID team, collaborating closely with teams addressing internal, duty of care, issues as well as the design and delivery of new programming in the field. 

The position further includes program design and development, network and partnership development, representation at key sector forums and events, helping to monitor and improve program quality and relevance, staying current on industry innovation and best practices, writing competitive proposals for submission to donors, delivering training, and disseminating information to internal and external partners. The senior advisor will also participate in matrixed teams, share and build the capacity of others, and help integrate their technical areas with others.

Essential Job Responsibilities 

Strategy & Vision

  • Sets a distinctive strategic vision for Behaviour Change in close coordination with the field and other agency departments and ensures that it is continuously updated to reflect trends in the field, learning over time and emerging capacities.

  • Influences Agency-wide strategy, as well as country and regional strategies, based on technical expertise, practical experience and understanding of MC comparative advantages, with an eye towards both impact and growth.

  • Plays a key role in the development and adaptation of the COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy strategy.

  • Identifies internal and external trends with potential to inform or affect TSU work across sectors and assure team readiness to adapt to changing conditions and expectations.  

  • Build and maintain external partnerships and serve as key external communicator for Mercy Corps in a wide range of public fora.  

  • Ensure maximum impact of TSU, engaging in regular cross team meetings to maximize collaboration and cross team coherence, annual planning and quarterly reviews of TSU levels of effort across its priority work elements. 

Program & Proposal Development

  • Write/review proposals and concept notes for funding from donors including foundations, corporations and US, European, and UN agencies. 

  • Gather/analyze data and complete assessments to determine community needs and priorities and Mercy Corps’ competitive advantage for funding. 

  • Work with programs, country/regional teams, and technical support units on prepositioning and development of strategies. 

  • Work with other TSU members on the design and support of multi-sectoral programs that encompass elements of broader agency goals such as COVID-19 prevention, vaccine hesitancy, resilience, food security, and youth development.

  • Keep up to date on relevant strategies being developed or applied by significant governmental, academic, and non-profit groups. Work with Mercy Corps to determine how the agency can best work with and/or influence such materials.

  • Lead complex, competitive proposals and large integrated teams following Mercy Corps’ best practices in proposal development, team management, and the appropriate sectoral area.

  • Cultivate and nurture donor relationships and strategic partnerships that positively impact Mercy Corps ability to influence program strategies and proposal design, as well as strategic partnerships that result in stronger and impactful program development efforts.

  • Work closely with field leaders to influence their engagement and support of program pre-positioning, development and implementation.  

Program Quality

  • Participate as an active, integrated member of the team providing technical support to a portfolio of field programs including those in complex crisis environments. 

  • Support effective interventions in the areas of the assigned team’s focus, using integrated approaches and applying systems thinking.

  • Help maintain standards of program delivery that apply agency priorities and comply with relevant regulations and requirements. 

  • Build capacity with Mercy Corps staff and partners to better design and implement programs.

  • Take leadership in identifying and addressing program quality needs. Collaborate with field leaders to problem solve. 

  • Help set strategies and execute plans to address agency-wide program quality needs together with the Director.

Learning & Impact 

  • Work with the Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) team and the field to ensure that monitoring and evaluation is practical and reflects best practices.

  • Contribute to agency-wide initiatives such as the research agenda around Thought Leadership priority topics. 

  • Provide in-country and remote training and support for Mercy Corps staff, partners, and others.

  • Develop a deep understanding of the shared incentives and values that will entice partners to connect and work across sectors, both internally and within field projects. 

  • Support new and ongoing programs with best practice advice and assistance on assessment, implementation, research, and evaluation needs.

  • Conduct assessments; write case studies, learning documents, short articles, and blogs; and develop internal and external dissemination plan for all products.

  • Nurture partnerships with universities, research institutions, and other organizations to produce case studies, assessments, and other learning documentation, as well as enhance program quality.

Policy, Advocacy & Representation 

  • Represent Mercy Corps at academic events, conferences, media forums, and other events; contribute to thought leadership in area of expertise. 

  • Identify and nurture strategic partnerships with other organizations and institutions.

  • Develop and implement a targeted policy and advocacy agenda with assistance from other Mercy Corps teams.

  • Present concepts and ideas to donors, partners, and peer organizations that influence them to drive innovation and positive change.

Team Management

  • Develop the capacity of the team, deepen understanding of their roles and assist with career development.

  • Assist team members with information, tools and resources to improve performance & reach objectives.

  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback informally and formally via regular one on ones and performance reviews.

  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.

  • Hire, orient and lead team members like the Behaviour Change consultant who will be responsible for providing additional COVID specific program support. 

Supervisory Responsibility

The position has supervisory responsibility over interns and/or volunteers (or other team members when called on by the Sr. Director). 


Reports Directly To: Senior Director, Peace and Governance, Technical Support Unit

Works Directly With: the agency’s COVID team, other TSU teams, HQ, and field teams

Accountability to Participants and Stakeholders

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our program participants, community partners, other stakeholders, and to international standards guiding international relief and development work. We are committed to actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Minimum Qualification & Transferable Skills 

  • Bachelor’s degree required. M.A, M.S., M.Sc., or equivalent in a field related to the TSU team specialty and relevant technical certifications are preferred. 
    • Preferred: Experience/training  in applying behavioral principles to at least two fields (nutrition, governance, health, peace and conflict, etc.) 
    • At least six years of relevant experience demonstrating technical excellence, thought leadership, and innovation in BC, preferably including end-to-end experience applying behavioral theory, insight gathering, design, and oversight of implementation.
    • Post-graduate studies in social or behavioral science, design or systems thinking, communication, social marketing, public health with a focus on health communication, or another related field.
    • Strong understanding of qualitative and quantitative methods for understanding and measuring behavior change.
    • Preparing writing and analysis on proposal development.
    • Producing and publishing influential articles and blogs.
    • Leading all aspects of large and complex proposals and managing integrated proposal teams.
    • Demonstrating strong theoretical and applied knowledge of the field of expertise.
    • Using integrated approaches and applying systems thinking.
  • Practical field experience, typically over the course of 2 years, that includes:
    • Preferred: experience applying behavior principles to at least two distinct development-related programmatic areas (nutrition, governance, health, peace and conflict, etc.) 
    • Familiarity with emerging BC approaches, including behavioral science, behavioral economics, nudges, and HCD.
    • Experience at the nexus of behavior change for commercial and public good, specifically behavior change for positive public service outcomes, HCD; and research, and monitoring agencies.
    • Ability to strategically and appropriately apply state-of-the-art BC thinking to serve, adapt, and sharpen Mercy Corps vision for technical excellence in program implementation.
    • Demonstrated experience working effectively across a diverse organization to provide technical thought leadership.
    • Established relationships with BC thought leaders to facilitate access to emerging approaches to BC and to identify appropriate positioning for Mercy Corps’ program portfolio.
    • A combination of successful temporary duration field assignments (under two weeks), longer-term field assignments (two or more weeks), and/or living in a field location for an extended period to work in a country or field office.
    • A number of emergency response assignments or other crisis response work that demonstrates the ability to successfully adapt support and assistance methodologies to real-world complexities.
    • Managing and implementing successful programs in the field.
    • Delivering Capacity Building curriculum or other processes for field teams
  • Willingness and ability to travel frequently to Mercy Corps project sites and field locations, including traveling to insecure environments, is required.
  • Familiarity with major donors such as USAID, DFID, the EC and relevant foundations and corporations.
  • Fluency in English is required; fluency in a foreign language is preferred.

Success Factors 

The senior advisor will demonstrate significant experience managing programs in the field, further enhancing their ability to adjust technical theories to meet real world complexities. The individual should have the proven ability to influence donors, partners, and peer organizations toward innovative programs and best practices. Through significant experience managing all aspects of large or complex proposals, the individual will be able to advise and coach other Mercy Corps staff on how to adjust their methodology. The senior advisor must take a lead role in building and maintaining external relationships as well as demonstrating the drive and initiative to contribute to internal team efforts. All TSU positions require strong interpersonal and cross-cultural communication skills, and a level of emotional intelligence proficiency that quickly builds and maintains productive relationships across teams. Being aware and sensitive to international development issues and diverse cultures is critical.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions 

This position has locations in Portland, OR; Washington D.C.; and London, UK. The position requires travel at least 30% time to the field where living conditions may be exceptionally rugged or be in volatile environments where security protocols will need to be followed. Team members must be ready to deploy to field environments on short notice in response to any emergency or crisis. When in the field the team member must be able to work in remote settings, over weekends and/or evening as required by the schedule, and in settings with limited infrastructure, food options, and living conditions. 

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.

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.

Ongoing Learning

In support of our belief that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities we serve, we empower all team members to dedicate 5% of their time to learning activities that further their personal and/or professional growth and development

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.

We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact.

We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.

Safeguarding & Ethics

Mercy Corps is committed to ensuring that all individuals we come into contact with through our work, whether team members, community members, program participants or others, are treated with respect and dignity. We are committed to the core principles regarding prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse laid out by the UN Secretary General and IASC. We will not tolerate child abuse, sexual exploitation, abuse, or harassment by or of our team members. As part of our commitment to a safe and inclusive work environment, team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, respect local laws and customs, and to adhere to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct Policies and values at all times. Team members are required to complete mandatory Code of Conduct elearning courses upon hire and on an annual basis.