Emergency Response Lead – Humanitarian Leadership and Response (1 Year Position, Open to Multiple Locations)

Location: Any Mercy Corps location. Candidates must have existing work authorization within this location.

Please note that this is a one year position (through June 30, 2024).

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 Team

Mercy Corps works to achieve real and lasting impact in the world’s toughest humanitarian emergencies. We save lives and help people live with dignity in crises of all kinds. At the same time, we create the conditions to pivot to recovery quickly and effectively. We work wherever local capacity is overwhelmed, connecting people to the opportunities they need to strengthen their community in recovery. Whether it is a sudden shock or a slowly emerging crisis, whether the threat is natural or man-made, Mercy Corps is committed to rapid, needs-driven assistance. Mercy Corps supports a response that is market-driven and leverages the capacities of both traditional and non-traditional aid partners—and ultimately gives people the ability to make their own decisions and secure their own lives and livelihoods.

The Humanitarian Leadership and Response (HLR) team provides the agency with timely and effective leadership to prepare for, respond to, and learn from humanitarian emergencies, develops sharp, well-timed and influential humanitarian analysis to inform program design and implementation, and supports agency leadership and regional and country teams with safety and security expertise.

The Position

The Emergency Response Lead is a member of the Global Response Team and is responsible for the leadership of Mercy Corps operations in a specific emergency response and supervision of a response team. This includes strategy development (in support of the overall regional strategy), oversight of resources, operations, safety and security, program quality and accountability, and performance management – all aspects of a rapid, high quality response. The Response Lead is an experienced emergency responder who can effectively navigate within the humanitarian system and acts as Mercy Corps’ representative to the government, donors, international organizations, other NGOs, and the media.

The incumbent will respond effectively to an evolving environment with impactful and high quality humanitarian programs. They will be directly responsible for coordinating the country/response team and developing the response strategy; negotiating with donors, supervising team members; leading teams to identify, design, fundraise for and deliver high-quality programs and ensuring the necessary support structures to sustain those programs; ensuring efficient management of funds and timely reporting; and oversight of finance and compliance systems. The Response Lead may also deploy to support an existing Mercy Corps country team starting-up an emergency response and report into the country leadership structure. When not leading an emergency response, the Response Lead will work on various projects, including emergency procedures, tools, and systems and providing technical advisory support to existing high-risk country programs and start-up emergency programs, including in assessment phase.

Essential Responsibilities


  • In alignment with global and regional strategies, formulate, plan, and communicate a clear strategy for the response to team members and stakeholders that translates into concrete programs and work plans which meet the immediate needs of the affected community.
  • Ensure alignment of response programs with Mercy Corps’ Pathway to Possibility and the Humanitarian Response Approach, ensuring sound and context-relevant consideration of the most appropriate modalities of implementation (partner-led programming vs direct implementation, cash vs in-kind, etc.).
  • Set response direction by outlining priority actions and mobilizing internal resources to enable the response team to effectively achieve objectives.
  • Explore and evaluate funding opportunities that leverage impact and integrate initiatives and activities; support and direct related fundraising activities to secure resources from institutional and private donors.
  • Recognize opportunities for innovative action and create an environment where alternative viewpoints are welcomed.


  • Proactively manage the response senior management team (RSMT) and provide an example of inclusive leadership to the whole response.
  • Hire and supervise team emergency response team members, communicating clear expectations, providing regular and timely positive and constructive feedback, and providing documented performance reviews.
  • Establish and sustain a positive, collaborate work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence and cultivate resilience and well-being under challenging situations.
  • Contribute to team-building efforts, help team members identify problem solving options and ensure the integration of all team members into relevant decision-making processes.
  • When applicable, play a leadership role in training sessions for global response team, standing team, and talent pool members, as well as capacity strengthening efforts for high-risk country programs on emergency program management systems and protocols.


  • Oversee program quality and effectiveness by ensuring programs are based on assessment of emergency needs, sound design principles, robust technical quality and utilize Mercy Corps and donor required M&E systems.
  • Ensure effective, transparent use of resources in compliance with Mercy Corps and donor policies and procedures.
  • Oversee budget management of sub-grantees/sub-contractors, if applicable.
  • Build and maintain operational systems that ensure proper support for programs, as well as segregation of duties between finance and operations.
  • Ensure technical quality of response programming through collaboration with, and drawing on support from, Mercy Corps’ Technical Support Unit, where needed. Fulfill Mercy Corps’ Program Management and MEL Minimum Standards based on organization-wide guidance.
  • Ensure all interventions adhere to Mercy Corps’ policies, including our Ethics Policies and associated guidance.
  • Ensure all interventions adhere to Sphere standards, Do No Harm principles and program participant accountability standards.


  • Develop strong relationships with relevant authorities and donors at various levels, including UNOCHA, UN agencies and other international organizations, international and local NGOs; and relevant networks.
  • Develop and maintain a high level of understanding of donor priorities, planned funding streams, and be a strong negotiation for emergency funding with donors.
  • Advocate with and/or advise peer agencies, local governments, donors, and other partners to influence responses, promoting delivery of high-quality humanitarian services. Coordinate with VP HLR and VP Policy and Advocacy on influence efforts.
  • Building on a deep understanding of the humanitarian architecture at regional and country levels, actively participate in, and lead efforts to improve, humanitarian coordination mechanisms.
  • Represent Mercy Corps with national and international media and participate in community activities to ensure appropriate level of visibility and support for emergency initiatives.
  • Demonstrate flexibility, resilience and ability to maintain positive relationships and composure.


  • Take primary responsibility for overall management of safety and security for all staff and assets involved in the emergency response.
  • Working closely with the Safety & Security Manager/Director, oversee the management of all security issues, including appropriate response to emergency situations as they arise.
  • Contribute to a culture of safety and security during the response, including rapid establishment, regular updating, and dissemination of security, evacuation, and contingency plans, trainings and briefings that prepare all response staff for security incident prevention and response.
  • Maintain close coordination and communication with the Regional Safety and Security Advisor on relevant concerns and evolving issues that could adversely affect Mercy Corps team members or operations.
  • Ensure compliance with security procedures and policies as determined by country leadership.


  • Working closely with the Finance Manager/Director, establish and maintain systems ensuring effective and transparent use of financial resources for timely and informative reporting in line with donor and Mercy Corps policies and procedures.
  • Ensure compliance with donor and Mercy Corps regulations related to emergency programming.
  • Draft and/or review scope of work to hire and manage any technical consultants, including review for technical efficacy and contract budget.


  • Ensure good people practices in our emergency responses. Promote and monitor staff care and well-being. Model healthy work-life balance practices. Support appropriate interventions in response to identified staff care needs of both national and international staff.
  • Ensure Mercy Corps’ ethics policies and associated guidance is followed and that related systems, approaches and understanding is in place at the outset into every response.
  • Collaborate with the People Manger/Director to support the on-boarding of senior team members, ensuring they are set up for success and familiar with agency systems, procedures, and protocols.
  • Support Mercy Corps global and regional initiatives for human resources, including safeguarding and diversity, and talent development.

Supervisory Responsibility

When deployed, the Response Lead will manage the Response Senior Management Team (RSMT), comprised of senior team members representing each response function/department.


Reports Directly To: Senior Director, Global Response Team

Works Directly With: Global response team and wider HLR team members, regional and country leadership, relevant HQ departments and technical teams.

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

  • A minimum of seven years of field experience in international emergency response programs required, including demonstrable success in managing programs in active conflict zones and transitional environments.
  • Proven management and supervisory experience that includes:
    • Effective coaching, development, and management of individual staff and teams.
    • Proven leadership, self-motivation, and interpersonal skills.
    • Leading matrixed teams for successful results in non-hierarchical settings.
    • Working with teams of diverse backgrounds.
    • Ability to lead teams, handle negotiations and facilitate planning processes, including delicate transitions.
  • Demonstrated ability to launch emergency responses, including the establishment of new country programs in response to rapid onset emergencies. Experience in implementing partnership-led responses is desirable.
  • Significant experience leading complex emergency response projects and/or programs requiring extensive judgment and interpretation.
  • Demonstrated ability to influence peer agencies, local government, and community leaders to work effectively towards a common and agreed upon result.
  • Proven ability to evaluate and implement best practices and processes affecting multiple technical specialties to achieve rapid, consistent and high-quality outcomes.
  • Strong knowledge of Sphere standards, Do No Harm principles and program accountability standards.
  • Experience developing, resourcing, and leading large budget, complex projects spanning multiple technical sectors.
  • Exceptionally strong verbal and written communications skills and organizational skills are required.
  • Ability to deploy within 72 hours of an event for up to three months at a time, dependent on ability to secure relevant visa (up to 65% travel).
  • Ability to work effectively under tight deadlines and in sparse working environments.
  • Willingness and ability to travel frequently to Mercy Corps’ project sites and field locations, including traveling to insecure environments, is required.
  • HEAT training certification (or equivalent) or commitment to obtain within first month of the role.
  • Excellent oral and written skills in English and in a second language, preferably French, Arabic or Spanish.

Success Factors

The successful Response Lead will skillfully lead high impact and high quality Mercy Corps’ responses that align with our organizational Pathway to Possibility, our Humanitarian Response Approach and regional priorities. They will represent the programmatic priorities of the agency to donors and other key stakeholders while providing exemplary leadership to Mercy Corps teams. They will have a strong commitment to teamwork and accountability and enjoy developing networks to build partnerships and diversify program resources. They will be capable of multitasking, rapid decision-making, have initiative and drive, as well as high emotional intelligence, constructive mentoring skills and proven experience with capacity strengthening. The candidate should have significant experience working in complex, insecure operating environments, be attentive to risk management, and have a proven track record in successfully managing emergency programming in diverse locations and contexts.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The roving position is based ideally in a Mercy Corps HQ location, or MC location where the candiate already has the requried work authorization. This role requires up to 65% travel, which may include travel to insecure locations where freedom of movement is limited and areas where amenities are limited. Base location requires ability to deploy within 72 hours, dependent on visa, and connectivity to enable remote work from home.

How to apply

Apply here – http://app.jobvite.com/m?3kvtUmw3

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