Director/Senior Gender & Youth Advisor

Mercy Corps

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’ 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.

The Director/Senior Gender and Youth Advisor is a member of the TSU and is a key position for the upcoming Gender and Youth Capacity Building, Learning and Small Grants Associate Award (AA) under Implementer Led Design, Evidence, Analysis, and Learning (IDEAL) program. This AA is an $8.8 million dollar program over 5 years designed to provide strategic capacity strengthening to implementing partners of USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and other food security stakeholders.

General Position Summary

The Director/Senior Gender and Youth Advisor will direct and manage the IDEAL Associate Award (AA) on Gender and Youth Capacity Building, Learning and Small Grants. IDEAL works to support BHA’s goal of improving food and nutrition security programming for the most vulnerable by strengthening the technical and operational capacity of implementing partners through promotion of best practices and support for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. The AA seeks to improve the quality of gender and youth programming and integration within food and nutrition security activities. The Director/Sr. Advisor will manage this AA, providing strategic vision, leadership and oversight. The Director/Sr Advisor is the lead technical position and a key personnel role, guiding the team to identify practitioner gaps, test new approaches, expand innovations, build capacities and share learnings and practices that improve food and nutrition security by challenging and shifting the structures that perpetuate inequality and that holistically support and engage young people as positive change agents

Essential Job Responsibilities

Technical Leadership & Program Quality

  • Lead Gender and Youth AA technical discussions with USAID representatives in the US, including bringing in the field’s perspective and IDEAL’s sectoral accomplishments into the discussions.
  • Ensure quality results and coordinated efforts across all components of the AA award and activities.
  • Coordinate with BHA, IDEAL and its associated support mechanisms, and gender and age related agencies, fora and communities of practice in the food and nutrition security areas. This includes AA’s supporting annual Gender Consultations.
  • Develop strategic plan for integrating gender and youth issues and opportunities through consultations. Explore innovative consultative methods and audiences to harvest effective practices and learnings and develop guidance for new programs in humanitarian responses, early recovery, risk reduction and resilience contexts.
  • Lead vision and workplan to support and strengthen gender and youth platforms and communities of practice in food and nutrition security programming. This means bringing a strong gender and positive youth development perspective to existing communities of practice and networks. Explore effective ways to bring in global participants for peer to peer learning.
  • Ensure that gender and youth analyses are improved and utilized throughout implementation partners’ program cycles. Identify contextual gaps, including but not limited to capacity gaps around analysis design, protocols, linkages to research agendas, methods and sampling, data collection and interpretation of results into actionable program activities or modifications, and develop tools and mechanisms for addressing these gaps.
  • Design and implement a small grants program aimed at identifying and addressing gender and youth knowledge and capacity gaps in food and nutrition security programs. These include research awards, micro-grants and program improvement awards.
  • Ensure cross-cutting principles and themes — adaptive management, resilience and sustainability — are effectively integrated throughout all AA activities and approaches.
  • Develop and maintain an adaptive technical staffing structure that will allow for change in technical emphasis over time, including a database of technical gender and youth experts and organizational expertise.
  • Liaise with different stakeholders at HQ level – and at the field level through regional facilitators – to ensure up-to-date knowledge of the global food security policy environment, including USAID policies and strategies, global trends, and barriers and enablers for gender and youth integration in food security and nutrition programming for the most vulnerable.
  • Develop and cultivate networks of technical and functional experts who IDEAL can access for long and short-term technical assistance.
  • Ensure both field perspectives and USAID/BHA’s strategy are reflected in all project results, activities and materials.

Learning and Impact

  • With the team track and monitor progress across all workstreams. Review indicators on a regular basis and convene regular reflection workshops to: review progress; identify challenges, barriers and gaps, discuss new and emerging opportunities for learning and skills development; and adapt workplans as needed.
  • Develop mechanism for collecting, analyzing and using on-going feedback from implementing partners on the status of their knowledge, skills and capacity around gender and youth integration, as well as feedback from participants of food and nutrition security programming to improve activities under the AA.
  • Work with the AA Team to ensure high quality, coordinated, and demand driven learning, knowledge management and capacity strengthening activities. Work with AA Team to complete high quality deliverables in a timely manner.
  • Coordinate with IDEAL consortium members’ technical teams and field programs to enable IDEAL members’ technical capacity to inform IDEAL implementation and ensure members understand and benefit from IDEAL and this AA’s activities.
  • Develop and maintain effective knowledge management systems to capture and apply field-level priorities and learning at a regional and country level, as well as technical information on what is working and what is not with IDEAL and other learning awards, provide directions and strategic technical priorities for regional and country support.


  • Contribute to knowledge management through participation in larger food security networks to facilitate the dissemination of products and project learning around effective gender and positive youth development integration into development and emergency programming.
  • Lead on representing and fostering relationships with implementing partners with BHA funding.
  • Leverage relationships with other global food security knowledge management mechanisms—for example, KDAD, FEWSNET, BEAM — to leverage and share effective learning and utilization strategies around gender and youth integration.
  • Participate in the development and implementation of a knowledge management and program learning strategy for both development and emergency BHA food and nutrition security programs.

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 as necessary.

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.

Supervisory Responsibility

Program Manager/Gender and Youth Advisor, Capacity Building and Stakeholder Engagement Specialist


Reports Directly To: Sr. Director, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion / Technical Support Unit

Works Directly With: IDEAL Team, Members of Mercy Corps’ Technical Support Unit; and technical focal points of IDEAL’s members, Implementing Partners

Knowledge and Experience

  • Advanced degree at Masters level or above (M.A., M.S., MPP, MPA, MBA, or Ph.D.)
  • 10-15 years of experience managing gender and age issues, food and nutrition security programming and org learning in a variety of contexts.
  • At least five years experience directly supporting gender and/or age activities. Strong knowledge and experience with integrating the Positive Youth Development approach and framework into programming.
  • Experience with food and nutrition security programming, notably those of BHA and its requirements.
  • Demonstrated ability to liaise with donor agencies, and USAID in particular at senior levels
  • Demonstrated ability to think strategically in difficult environments, and negotiate solutions
  • Demonstrated ability to function productively within a consortium.
  • Demonstrated ability to provide capacity building within teams and/or with government partners, such as ministries and NGOs so that the team is better able to achieve results.
  • Strong existing network within the Gender and/or Youth community.
  • French and/or Spanish fluency preferred.

Success Factors

The successful Director will combine technical skills in gender and youth inclusion with knowledge of food and nutrition security. Must be flexible, creative, curious and enthusiastic about improving food security and resilience outcomes for the most vulnerable segments of populations, with a commitment to unpacking different vulnerabilities and embracing diversity and intersectionality of gender and youth issues. A self-starter who works well in a non-hierarchical environment, and who is able to prioritize competing priorities, learn quickly, take initiative and be accountable for results will be necessary for this position. S/he will be dedicated to the principle of doing no harm to the beneficiaries, knowledgeable on how gender dynamics relate to food security, open to working with all actors across the spectrum, and balance sectoral goals depending on needs and context. The Director will be confident in providing support and advice, while understanding that beneficiary communities themselves can often identify the best strategies for success. S/he will demonstrate a strong understanding of how to work effectively in varying cultural, political and religious environments.

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

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The position will be based in Washington, D.C., and requires at least 30% travel both within the US and internationally. The Director may travel to field sites that may lack amenities or be in volatile environments where security protocols will need to be followed.

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.

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.

How to apply

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