Research Assistant – Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, Washington DC, USA

Job Description

About Mercy Corps

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

Program / Department Summary

Mercy Corps works to influence the policy, priorities, and
practices that affect the people we serve in fragile contexts and
living through complex humanitarian crises. Our most compelling
influence relies on substantive research and evidence, leveraging
our expertise and credible voice, combined with targeted and
sustained engagement of policymakers, donors, peer organizations
and other leaders. Priority issues for Mercy Corps’ influence
efforts currently include root causes of conflict and violence,
governance challenges in fragile and post-conflict contexts,
climate change and resilience in complex crises.

General Position Summary

The Research Assistant will focus on two main tasks. First, s/he
will provide high-level executive and administrative support to the
Vice President for Policy and Research, including executive
staffing, travel assistance, and scheduling support. Second, the
research assistant will work on research and writing projects based
on the Vice President’s key priorities, including conflict,
governance, and climate change and migration issues. Research and
writing projects may be fast turnaround or long-term projects.

To succeed at this job will require exceptional leadership
skills, talent, creativity and the ability to work quickly across
teams, synthesizing information and expertise. The ideal candidate
will enjoy both short deadline tasks and sustaining long term
research questions. S/he will be motivated by Mercy Corps’ mission
and humble and collaborative. The candidate will be familiar and
interested in global and U.S. policy debates and research questions
related to foreign assistance, complex crises such as Yemen, Syria,
Nigeria and South Sudan, and key policy issues related to our work,
including conflict, migration, climate-related debates, and the
global refugee crisis. S/he will work closely with (1) Mercy Corps’
Policy and Advocacy team, who drive policy and advocacy work on
crisis specific and sectoral priorities; and (2) Mercy Corps’
Research team, who generate independent research findings both to
inform and influence the sector, as well as to improve Mercy Corps’
programs in the field. The candidate will work closely with other
teams, including the Media and Communications and Resource
Development teams.

Essential Job Responsibilities

High-Level Support to the Vice President

  • Provide primary administrative and executive support for the
    Vice President, including coordination and maintenance of her
    appointment and travel schedule, expense reports, visa
    applications, itineraries, etc.
  • Staff Vice President for external engagements, including
    preparation and compilation of briefing materials, power point
    presentations, as needed.
  • Provide Vice President with memos and other draft materials as
  • Liaise with the D.C., Portland and field teams, in order to
    provide information and follow-up on key inter-team meetings.
  • Manage key projects of importance to the Vice President.

Research and Writing

  • Support the Vice President for Policy and Research by
    researching key policy and programmatic related topics and drafting
    key communications including but not limited to executive
    summaries, policy briefs, and op-eds.
  • Conduct longer-term research projects on key issues affecting
    the field of foreign assistance, international humanitarian law,
    and U.S. foreign policy.
  • Support the development of petitions by helping to draft
    content in-line with key policy positions.
  • Support the development of new research by compiling short
    literature reviews.
  • Write drafts of speeches and op-eds for the Executive

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.


Reports Directly To: Vice President of Policy
and Research

Works Directly With: Policy and Research Senior
Directors and team members, DC office manager and other
administrative staff, other Executive Assistants across the agency,
field teams.

Knowledge and Experience

  • B.A. or B.S. in a relevant field required; M.A. in a relevant
    field preferred.
  • A minimum of 1-3 year of professional experience in a
    fast-paced environment.
  • Excellent interpersonal, verbal, research, and written
    communication skills.
  • Strong writing and editing skills, including significant
    expertise editing other people’s writing.
  • Strong analytical skills and the ability to effectively gather
    and summarize large amounts of information from various
  • Prior experience with executive staffing, including executive
    meeting preparation, schedule management and travel arrangements
    strongly desired.
  • Strong analytical skills, able to work with, synthesize,
    interpret and meaningfully report on data using Excel, data
    visualization software, and other tools.
  • Excellent computer skills required, including familiarity with
    MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Google tools; comfort with IT
    functions a plus.
  • Multi-tasking, organizational, and prioritization skills.
  • Ability to take initiative and complete work or solve problems
    with minimal guidance; self-starter.
  • Sensitivity, skill and experience with public relations and
    correspondence to a wide variety of public constituents including
    media, donors, U.S. Government officials and international
    delegates necessary.
  • Demonstrated ability to work well under pressure and
    cooperatively with team members.
  • The ability to take direction as well as work
  • Experience maintaining a high level of confidentiality on
    sensitive matters.
  • Previous overseas, international, non-profit, or government
    experience preferred.

Success Factors

Ability to build and maintain strong relationships with
colleagues, peer groups, and officials; and motivation to seek out
and establish new relationships. Ability to quickly and effectively
summarize complex information into clear, concise writing. A clear
understanding of Mercy Corps’ mission and collaborative style of
operation. Ability to work simultaneously on multiple tasks in a
fast-paced 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 ability
to adapt to changing conditions and requirements

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This position will be based in Washington, DC. The role may
involve some travel to Portland, Oregon. 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

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

Mercy Corps

United States

Washington, United States

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