Senior Policy Researcher and Writer

Washington D.C | Washington D.C


Mercy Corps helps people turn the crises they confront into the opportunities they deserve. Driven by local needs, our programs provide communities in the world's toughest places - places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Haiti - with the tools and support they need to transform their own lives. Mercy Corps' Policy and Advocacy team works to create policy changes to achieve transformational impacts in the countries where we work.


Mercy Corps Global Policy and Advocacy (PA) team works to promote favorable policy discussions and outcomes in support of Mercy Corps' mission. The Senior Policy Researcher and Writer ensures that Mercy Corps produces compelling and timely thought leadership products including: reports, shorter policy briefs, testimony and other written products to enhance our influence and advocacy with key stakeholders.

Mercy Corps is committed to improving its ability to influence development policy and practice decisions among donors, the broader humanitarian community as well as global actors including multilateral institutions. A key element of this will be better harnessing Mercy Corps' internal expertise, analysis, programmatic outcomes and research to use with external audiences. Working under the guidance of the US Director of Policy and Advocacy, the Senior Policy Researcher will play a key role in this effort. The Senior Policy Researcher will lead the research and drafting of several major long papers and shorter reports as well as more opportunistic opinion editorials and blog posts per year. The Researcher will also contribute to the development of policy documents around fragile states, youth, prevention of conflict and resilience.


  • Produce 2-4 major externally focused written products per year on Mercy Corps priority issues. For example, see Youth & Consequences: Unemployment, Injustice and Violence.
  • Produce white papers, policy briefs, commentary pieces, blog posts, op-eds, and other shorter products tailored to key audiences and for multiple bylines.
  • Lead the Global Policy and Advocacy team's research and analysis efforts. Research agreed upon issues through a variety of means, including close collaboration with Mercy Corps staff, field visits, surveys, key informant interviews, literature reviews and desk research.
  • Collaborate with the Mercy Corps Research and Learning team on significant agency-wide research initiatives and with the Media Relations team on dissemination of products.
  • Support other Global PA team members in developing policy documents as needed.
  • Manage a small policy portfolio, which could include advocacy efforts around a defined policy objective.
  • Assist with the drafting of policy-related talking points, occasional congressional testimony and key messages to help guide and inform Mercy Corps' colleagues.
  • Represent, where appropriate and relevant, Mercy Corps at conferences, public and private events, advocacy meetings, and other fora.
  • Develop strong relationships with Mercy Corps' internal stakeholders, particularly field teams and technical support teams.
  • Cultivate external research partnerships as needed to support and strengthen Mercy Corps' policy initiatives and amplify the dissemination of thought leadership products. Establish and maintain strategic relationships with key external actors, including peer NGOs, think tanks, academic institutions, and government officials.
  • Other duties as assigned by the Supervisor.

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.

Accountability to Beneficiaries

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts towards 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: None on a regular basis, although research interns or fellows may be available.


REPORTS DIRECTLY TO: Director of Policy and Advocacy

WORKS DIRECTLY WITH: Policy & Advocacy US/UK team, Vice President of Global Engagement & Policy, Regional and Country teams, Thought Leadership Strategic Advisor, Technical Support Unit, Research and Learning team, Media Relations and Communications team and Digital Marketing Team.


  • Master's degree or higher in relevant field (international development, international relations, public policy, etc.) or relevant professional experience.
  • 5 to 10 years relevant experience in the public policy and international development arenas. Familiarity with humanitarian and development field work, the US government and Congress, the international humanitarian system, and/or development-related advocacy preferred.
  • Experience with quantitative and qualitative research methodologies including applying them in a development or humanitarian context.
  • Extremely strong writing skills, including experience generating substantive written products; excellent verbal communication and presentation skills.
  • Strong analytical know how and the ability to effectively gather and summarize large amounts of information from various sources.
  • Strong political and strategic abilities and a strong understanding of the links between broader politics, policy decisions, and development practice.
  • 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.


The successful Senior Policy Researcher and Writer will show the ability to build and maintain strong relationships with colleagues, peer groups, officials and stake-holders along with the motivation to seek out and establish new relationships. S/He will have the ability to quickly and effectively summarize complex information into clear, compelling and concise writing and will demonstrate strong grasp of linkages between research findings, policy outcomes, and field-level program impact.

This role requires a solid understanding of Mercy Corps' mission and collaborative style of working and will work in a fast-paced, often stressful environment and will be asked to meet deadlines under those conditions while keeping a good sense of humor. S/He will have a love of travel and the ability to work well as part of a diverse team and coordinate with colleagues from different cultures and backgrounds and will show flexibility. S/He is a computer literate, self-starter, with strong organizational skills who thrives with a significant degree of autonomy within agreed upon parameters.


This position is based in Washington, D.C. The role will require travel about 35% of the year to Mercy Corps' field programs to support research efforts.

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.

Please follow this link to apply:

Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.
  • Organization: Mercy Corps
  • Location: Washington D.C | Washington D.C
  • Grade: Mid/Senior
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Communication
    • Communication
    • Communication
    • Communication
    • Communication
    • Communication
    • Communication
    • Communication
    • Communication
    • Communication
    • Communication
    • Languages
    • Languages
    • Languages
    • Languages
    • Languages
    • Languages
    • Languages
    • Languages
    • Languages
    • Languages
    • Languages
  • Closing Date: 2016-02-28

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