Chief of Party (Rural Water Research and Learning Activity)

Mercy Corps

Washington, DC, US



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 is seeking a Chief of Party for an anticipated Rural Water Research and Learning Activity (CW – Research 2 (Rural Water and WRM)). The purpose of the Rural Water Research and Learning Activity is to build the evidence base across three areas: rural water supply services, water quality monitoring and water resources management. Research findings will be used to inform rural water policy and programming in collaboration with partners, to increase the availability and sustainable management of safe drinking water for the undeserved and most vulnerable. The Activity’s approach includes 1). Implementation research; 2). Use of Evidence in Decision-Making; and 3). Coordination and Collaboration with other USAID research and learning programs.

General Position Summary

The Chief of Party will provide overall technical leadership, management and strategic vision for the implementation of the anticipated WASH Research and Learning Activity. S/he will manage staff, resources and partnerships to ensure that the program meets its targets and deliverables on-time and within budget, and in alignment with democratic and good governance values based on respect and equity. The COP will supervise program staff and ensure accountability to Mercy Corps’ policies and donor rules and regulations. S/he will be the primary program representative to donors, relevant government entities, partners, other implementers and external stakeholders.

This position is contingent on funding.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Strategy & Vision
  • Lead the development of a vision and strategy for the program shared with consortia partners, program team and key stakeholders.
  • Play an active role in developing a comprehensive research and learning agenda that achieves the shared consortium vision and identifies and develops new water research initiatives that foster and/or improve strategic objectives of the program and USAID HQ and USAID mission priorities.
  • Actively contribute to and support the development of a plan to translate evidence into practice. The plan should outline critical steps within the research design and implementation process that are critical learning and reflection moments, key stakeholders that should be involved and how, and specific decisions or adaptations that might be made as a result of the research
  • Recognize opportunities for innovative action and create an environment where alternative viewpoints are welcomed.
Program Management
  • Oversee program start-up, management and administration. Ensure program implementation is on time, target and budget, using effective M&E systems to reach desired impacts.
  • Manage relationships and inputs from consortium partners and ensure a consistent overall programmatic direction.
  • Coordinate and collaborate with other USAID implementing partners including USAID’s Communications and Knowledge Management Activity.
  • Ensure program implementation is responsive to communities and partners and consistent with Mercy Corps’ relevant program guidelines, principles, values, quality standards and strategic plan.
  • Ensure activities consider diversity and inclusion during all stages of the research design, implementation, and dissemination including creating diverse research teams
  • Develop partnership frameworks, partner agreements/Memorandum of Understandings, and oversee partner capacity building.
  • Integrate community approaches, gender sensitivity and capacity building into all activities as appropriate. Certify all interventions adhere to Mercy Corps’ Gender Policy, Do No Harm principles, and beneficiary accountability standards.
  • Ensure program strategies and activities represent global good practice in WASH
  • Supervise and/or review the work of program staff, consortia partners and consultants.
  • Supervise procurement, logistics, security, administration, and human resources teams to ensure operational systems support research activities.
  • Fulfill Mercy Corps’ Program Management Minimum Standards based on the organization-wide guide.
Team Management
  • As needed, develop the capacity of Mercy Corps project 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.
Finance & Compliance Management
  • Ensure compliance with donor and Mercy Corps’ regulations.
  • Create and maintain systems to ensure effective and transparent use of financial resources for timely and informative reporting in line with program, donor and Mercy Corps’ needs.
Influence & Representation
  • Represent Mercy Corps at program, government, USAID, NGO and other relevant influence events.
  • Coordinate activities with consortium partners, subgrantees, local government and other implementers, as well as with other USAID programs.
  • Present research findings at key external donor and technical forums.
  • Ensure that programs are designed and implemented with a clear analysis and understanding of security.
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

  • Rural Water Research and Learning team


Reports Directly To: Director, EEC
Works Directly With: HQ Regional Program Team members, Technical Support Unit, Research and Learning team, Communications and Advocacy teams, and partner staff.

Knowledge and Experience

  • Master’s degree in a related field (Water Resources, Engineering, Economics, International Development or Public Health with a water focus). PhD preferred.
  • A minimum of 10 years of experience in research and management of water-related programming including demonstrated experience leading USAID-funded programs. Experience with water governance and/or institutional strengthening and/or socio-economics preferred.
  • Minimum of five (5) years of in-country experience in rural water service delivery or water resources programming.
  • Experience leading implementation research, particularly related to rural water service delivery, water quality monitoring, and water resources management.
  • Strong experience in designing and implementing monitoring and evaluation systems for water-related programming.
  • Strong skills and a track record in strategic visioning, leadership, and inspiring teams.
  • Effective personnel management, coordination, and decision-making skills, with proven ability to be accountable for all components of the program.
  • Competent in building networks, strong problem-solving skills, and ability to influence with effective listening, persuasion, negotiation and other techniques.
  • Strong understanding of USAID compliance issues.
  • Internationally recognized qualification in project or program management or a commitment to obtain the qualification in the early months of work.
  • Persuasive written and oral communication in English, including technical writing/documentation of water-related programming and research.
  • Demonstrated attention to detail, ability to follow procedures, meet deadlines and work independently and cooperatively with team members.

Success Factors

The successful CoP will combine exceptional management skills and experience in maintaining donor and partner relationships.  S/he will have an outstanding ability to develop, implement and manage innovative programs within the current and future program structure of Mercy Corps in the region. S/he will also have proven experience with cross-cultural teams and capacity building, individual staff development, and strong mentoring skills. Multi-tasking, prioritizing, problem solving and simultaneous attention to detail and strategic vision are essential.  The most successful Mercy Corps staff members have a strong commitment to teamwork and accountability, thrive in evolving and changing environments and make effective written and verbal communication a priority in all situations.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The COP is anticipated to be based in Washington, DC. This position anticipates at least 20% travel. 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 venues.

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.

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

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 E-learning courses upon hire and on an annual basis.





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development