Humanitarian Senior Policy Advisor

Policy & Advocacy Washington, District of Columbia


Location: Washington, DC 

Position Status: Full-time, Exempt, Regular  

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 Program / Department / Team 

The Global Policy and Advocacy (GPA) team advances policy changes to achieve transformational  impact in the countries where we work and for the populations Mercy Corps serves. The U.S. Policy and Advocacy team influences the United  States government and select multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and World Bank to adopt,  and improve relevant policies, practices and decisions affecting vulnerable communities living in fragile,  conflict-affected and disaster impacted countries. 

The Position (General Position Summary) 

The Senior Policy Advisor will lead Mercy Corps’ portfolio on humanitarian policy issues and select priority crises, as appropriate. 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, as informed by the organization’s ten year strategy. 

Specifically, this will include shaping relevant U.S. legislation and engaging key Congressional leaders, as well as working with the United States government, particularly with national security, humanitarian, development and peacebuilding experts, to advance  key humanitarian priorities and policies. S/he will track and analyze humanitarian policy issues , independently and through working groups with partner agencies to advance joint coalition advocacy and campaign  initiatives in U.S. and international fora, including those involving relevant United Nations agencies (eg OCHA, WFP, etc). 

The role will also collaborate with and support policy advisors as appropriate in other Mercy Corps offices (including in European capitals and in Mercy Corps program countries) to influence relevant humanitarian policies and response.  The Senior Policy Advisor will also be responsible for raising Mercy Corps’ profile and humanitarian policy positions including through: representation at  external events, panels; developing written policy documents for external dissemination; supporting Mercy Corps’ grassroots advocacy efforts; and liaising with Mercy Corps field and HQ teams.  

Essential Responsibilities  


  • Leads strategy development and coordination for both the Global and U.S. Policy and Advocacy teams’ portfolio on humanitarian policy, including on priority thematic areas and humanitarian response to selected crises.  
  • Collaborates as appropriate with the Humanitarian Leadership and Response Team (HLR),  technical and research teams to develop Mercy Corps overall strategy on influencing humanitarian policy and practice on issues including, but not limited to: the intersection of humanitarian and development assistance, humanitarian access, protection of civilians, and timely and effective response.   
  • Collaborates with policy advisors in the global team, HLR and relevant regional and country teams to craft strategies and messaging  to influence and improve the response to specific humanitarian crises. 


  • Implements policy-focused advocacy and outreach strategies, in cooperation with Mercy Corps colleagues and partner agencies 
  • Drafts documents in support of policy and advocacy goals (for influence both in the US and globally) with the input of relevant teams and stakeholders within Mercy Corps including: 
    • Policy briefs, op-eds and Congressional testimony
    • Internal and external messaging
    • Web materials and products for the general public as needed
  • Stays abreast of policy and practice developments and approaches within the US government humanitarian offices and the overall humanitarian system (as appropriate)
  • Tracks legislative developments on Capitol Hill, including hearings, authorizing bills, country-specific provisions in the annual appropriations act and National Defense Authorization Act.
  • Shapes legislation and policies relevant to Mercy Corps’ mission to help people cope, adapt and thrive in fragile, conflict and disaster affected places.
  • Leads advocacy efforts through collaborative work within the NGO sector and among other  NGO, governmental, and private partners. 
  • Researches and analyzes selected issues through a variety of means, including field visits. 


  • 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 US government officials, including State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration, USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, and Congressional staff. 
  • Supports Mercy Corps senior leadership’s engagement on humanitarian issues at high level events, through media engagement, and other fora, including through drafting remarks, developing policy positions, and providing staffing assistance.

Supervisory Responsibility 

None, except for occasional interns.


Reports Directly To: Senior Director of U.S. Policy and Advocacy 

Works Directly With: Global Policy and Advocacy Team; Humanitarian Leadership and Response 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  

  • Bachelors or Masters degree(preferred but not required) in international relations, development, public policy, law or related fields of  study.  
  • 5+ years of relevant professional experience working on humanitarian policy issues and/or implementation of humanitarian programming. 
  • Familiarity with emerging development and humanitarian issues.
  • Professional experience in humanitarian, development, or 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 shaping 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  internal and external constituents   
  • Experience working in the U.S. Congress and/or the U.S. foreign affairs executive government agencies preferred.
  • Experience with international relief and development fieldwork, humanitarian policy at the country or regional level preferred.
  • Proficiency in one or more foreign languages including French, Spanish or Arabic preferred.

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, commitment 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 10-15% of the time to field  locations that may include insecure or harsh environments. Mercy Corps US Policy and Advocacy team members are expected to be based in Washington, DC, with opportunities for periodic remote work, as appropriate. 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 Mercy Corps policies,  procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues. 

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 and have signed on to the Interagency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme. 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.

As a safeguarding measure, Mercy Corps screens all potential US-Based employees. Any offers of employment or continued employment are dependent on the successful completion of the screens which include, but are not limited to our Background Check and Interagency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme processes,

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.

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

Covid-19 Vaccine Policy for US-Based Employees

Mercy Corps has determined that, in an effort to protect the health, safety, and well-being of all Mercy Corps employees working in the United States, all U.S.-based employees must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, regardless of prior COVID-19 infection status.

This policy will be revised as needed to comply with federal, state, and local requirements, and to respond to changing guidance from public health authorities.

For new employees this requirement goes into effect within 10 business days of employment.  Team members that travel are expected to comply with host-country requirements, including vaccinations.  Failure to comply may impact your employment.  Proof of vaccination or exemption must be provided.