Director, Policy and Advocacy

Policy & Advocacy Washington, District of Columbia


The salary for this position is between $100,000 - $112,000/year, dependent on experinece.

About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is powered by the belief that a better world is possible. To do this, we know our teams do their best work when they are diverse and every team member feels that they belong. We welcome diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be stronger and have long term impact.

The Global Policy and Advocacy Team 

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 government and select multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and World Bank to  change, influence and improve relevant policies, practices and decisions affecting communities living in fragile and conflict-affected countries. 

The Position

A senior leader within the Agency, the Director for Policy and Advocacy is 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 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. They bring voices, stories, evidence, and analysis from the countries where Mercy Corps works in order to shape policy debates in Washington and globally. The Director will lead Mercy Corps advocacy portfolio for the Middle East region with a particular focus on Syria, Iraq, and West Bank/Gaza.  

The Director shares Mercy Corps’ concern about increasing global conflict, fragility, and humanitarian need. Given this strategic focus, they strategically shape and design Mercy Corps’ advocacy agenda on humanitarian policy. The Director is experienced in translating research findings into policy arguments and can move easily among different stakeholders – in the countries where we operate, Congress, the State Department, USAID, other U.S. governmental agencies, and with private sector colleagues. The Director understands the complex interconnections between diplomacy, development, and defense and can translate humanitarian concerns for diverse policy audiences. The day to day functions include: high-level representation and advocacy toward the U.S. Administration, Congress, and the United Nations; development of reports, briefing papers, and opinion pieces; support to Mercy Corps’ grassroots advocacy efforts; and lead liaison efforts with Mercy Corp’ country programs, Technical Support Unit, Research and Learning, and other headquarters teams on refining the PA’s work plan and annual priorities.

Essential Responsibilities 


  • Leads team’s advocacy on humanitarian policy and the Middle East, including coordinating the US team’s response to emergencies, either by directly leading the advocacy response to country-specific crises or by managing other teammates’ activities.
  • Develop strong relationships with Mercy Corps country teams, especially in Syria, Iraq, and West Bank/Gaza; track developments in key countries; and provide policy-level support to enable high-impact programs.
    • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with Mercy Corps staff and key external actors, including NGO colleagues, Congressional offices, administration officials, think tanks, and academic institutions.
  • Build effective, credible relationships with key Administration and Congressional contacts, including USAID, State Department, White House officials, and Members and staff from Foreign Relations/Foreign Affairs and Appropriations Committees.
  • Track legislative developments on Capitol Hill and monitor action alerts and legislative initiatives from colleague agencies, Interaction, advocacy organizations and coalitions, and think tanks.
  • Travel to key Mercy Corps country offices throughout the year. Understand and adapt to the cultural, political and religious environment during visits.


  • Write policy documents including public reports, opinion pieces, blog posts, and white papers.
    • In cooperation with the Media Relations and Digital teams, occasionally draft and tailor information products as appropriate for use with various audiences, including policy makers, media, web visitors, and the general public. Products will encompass a variety of formats, including policy briefs, case studies, op-eds, web stories, and 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.
  • When appropriate, and in coordination with the Media Relations team and relevant country team leader, represent the agency in dealings with the media.
  • Represent Mercy Corps in collective advocacy efforts through Interaction and other coalitions.
  • In cooperation with the Global Engagement, Communications and Web teams, help craft the agency’s legislative advocacy strategies and messaging for mobilizing grassroots audiences.
  • Support the agency’s participation in collaborative advocacy efforts, such as the US Global Leadership Campaign, aimed at influencing US foreign assistance policy and legislation.


  • For priority issues, work with Mercy Corps internal stakeholders to identify policy objectives and devise appropriate and impactful strategies to achieve those objectives. 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. The Director will play a significant role in helping to shape and implement the agency’s advocacy and outreach strategies.
  • Contribute to Mercy Corps’ external contacts database, archive correspondence and records of meetings.
  • Organizational Learning - As part of Mercy Corps’ agency-wide Organizational Learning Initiative, all team members are responsible for spending 5% of their work time in formal and/or non-formal professional learning activities.
  • Other duties as assigned by the Supervisor.

Supervisory Responsibility

Manage and direct the team, in coordination with the other Director for Policy and Advocacy, in the Senior Director’s Absence. Responsible for managing the US PA team’s humanitarian and Middle East policy portfolios. Manage interns and others as requested.


Reports Directly To: Senior 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; Regional and Country Teams; and Technical

Support Unit. 

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 

  • Master’s degree or higher in relevant field (international development, international relations, public policy, etc.).
  • 10 years’ relevant experience in the public policy and international development arenas. Experience with relief and development work, the U.S. Administration or Congress, and/or development-related advocacy preferred.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience in humanitarian and/or development sectors required.
  • Specific experience working on humanitarian policy priorities, (e.g., humanitarian access, sanctions relief or other sector reforms) required.
  • Regional expertise in the Middle East preferred, with focus on Syria, Iraq, and/or West Bank/Gaza.
  • Proven ability in researching, analyzing, and reporting on foreign assistance issues.
  • Strong analytical skills and the ability to effectively gather and summarize large amounts of information from various sources.
  • Strong political and strategic skills, with a demonstrated ability to effectively advance policy priorities.
  • 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.

Success Factors 

  • Ability to build and maintain strong relationships with colleagues, peer groups, officials and stake-holders.
  • Ability to think strategically and develop plans on how to advance Mercy Corps priorities.
  • Motivation to seek out and establish new relationships.
  • Ability to effectively summarize complex information into clear, concise talking points of briefing papers
  • 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 country team personnel.
  • Computer literate with strong organizational skills.
  • Ability to operate with a significant degree of autonomy within agreed upon parameters.
  • Flexibility and sense of humor.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The position is based in Washington, DC and it requires up to 10% travel to support country programs, which may include travel to insecure locations where freedom of movement is limited and areas where amenities are limited.  

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.