Sr. Policy and Legislative Specialist

Catholic Relief Services
  • Location
    Washington, D.C.
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    May 01

Position description

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. CRS works to save, protect, and transform lives in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS' relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding.

Job Summary:

Based in Catholic Relief Services' Washington, DC office and as a member of CRS' advocacy team, manage and conduct a range of advocacy efforts with staff and Members of Congress and the U.S. Administration.

As Catholic Relief Services is the overseas relief, development, social justice and solidarity agency of the American Catholic community. The Advocacy Department advances CRS' social justice vision and presence on Capitol Hill and with foreign affairs agencies of the USG, with particular emphasis on reducing global poverty and contributing to a more just world.

The Position will focus on the following priority advocacy issues for CRS:

  • The enactment of reforms for the goals, operation, and funding for foreign assistance programs-especially humanitarian, disaster, and development assistance.
  • Significant experience and expertise in issues related to humanitarian and development programs in Central America, trafficking, migration, and a comprehensive knowledge of the budget and appropriations process of the U.S. government


The Candidate must also have general knowledge or experience in the following areas:

  • The role of the United States development programming (food security, climate, resilience) and knowledge in peace-building, humanitarian relief, and reconstruction in a variety of developing countries (i.e., the Middle East, South Sudan, CAR, Congo, Afghanistan, and Haiti).
  • The global hunger and food security crisis, including the reform, structure, operation, and funding levels of Food for Peace, Feed the Future and other programs that are addressed in the Global Food Security Act. Oversight and reauthorization of the Farm Bill as it related to international food assistance, and the Global Food Security Act. Advancing annual food security appropriations, and any relevant authorizations.
  • Oversight of and funding for U.S.-funded global HIV prevention, treatment and care, as well as related nutrition needs.
  • Other international policy issues that affect the poorest nations (i.e., global climate change, human trafficking, and immigration and refugees).

Job Responsibilities:

  • Effectively position CRS to influence decision-makers in Administration and Congress as thought leader on priority issues. Proactively build strong relationships with relevant personal and committee staff and Members. Primary responsibilities will include management of food security, climate and resilience portfolio.
  • Develop and implement advocacy strategies for achieving CRS priority issue policy change and advocacy goals. Organize CRS policy, media, and field staff buy-in and support for those strategies. Provide input to constituency engagement efforts.
  • Effectively represent CRS positions to Executive branch and Congress through advocacy letters, messages, calls, testimony, and visits. With other CRS staff, draft and review advocacy and sign-on letters for U.S. Congress and Administration.
  • Monitor, track, and analyze priority issues and their progress in Congress and the Executive branch. Attend, monitor, and report on relevant briefings and committee hearings. Analyze legislation related to those positions.
  • Communicate policy and legislative developments and opportunities on those issues within CRS, especially to other Advocacy Team members.
  • Monitor, and report on other policy and legislative developments of significance to CRS and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
  • Contribute to issue planning meetings, working groups, and strategy sessions with the USCCB, Interaction, and other partners. Collaborate with such partners in implementing effective advocacy strategies.
  • Initiate and arrange Administration and Hill meetings for CRS board members, executives, senior managers, and visiting CRS field staff and partners as part of advocacy strategy. Plan and coordinate CRS participation in congressional briefings and hearings.
  • Solicit, analyze, and synthesize CRS experience overseas as input to development of policy positions and evidence-based advocacy, alone or with Deputy Director for Policy.
  • Monitor, review, analyze and discuss perspectives on issue areas from think tanks, academics, NGOs, and other issue experts.
  • Discuss CRS' perspective with USCCB, inform Bishops' policy-making process, and dialogue with USCCB about policy positions.
  • Write or participate in writing position papers, white papers, policy papers and other documents to summarize CRS experience and analysis for priority issues.
  • Educate and inform overseas programs and staff about relevant elements of issue area, identifying connections with programming and partners.
  • Present CRS' positions in public, especially at Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, University and Diocesan events, as needed.

Key Working Relationships:

Internal: Director of Government Relations and other CRS DC based staff, Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy, Deputy Director for Policy, department grassroots/grasstops outreach staff, other U.S. Operations and Overseas Operations, HQ staff, and Media Department.

External: Members of Congress, Congressional committee and personal office staff, Executive branch staff, USCCB, Interaction, US Global Leadership Campaign, and other PVO/NGO Government Relations colleagues and working groups.

Personal Skills:

  • Accomplished advocacy skills including working effectively in a bi-partisan manner.
  • Demonstrated excellent writing skills for advocacy.
  • Accomplished verbal communication and representation skills.
  • Accomplished interpersonal skills, especially the ability to work in teams and collaborate effectively and proactively in a complex organization.
  • Ability to work independently and demonstrate initiative.
  • Ability to respond flexibly and with perseverance to challenges of advocacy.
  • Ability to work under pressure to meet deadlines and willingness to work according to the Congressional calendar and schedule.
  • Strong knowledge of the workings of the U.S. Congress and political environment.
  • Demonstrated judgment in strategic relationship management.
  • Effective representation of Catholic teaching in all public settings.
  • Excellent computer skills including fluency in MS Office, list-serve creation, Constituency-Relationship Management database, as well as such web-based research tools.
  • Knowledge/familiarity with social networking for advocacy

Professional Qualifications:

  • Master's degree in international relations, economics, or public policy/administration or a law degree strongly preferred.
  • Minimum of 2 years of successful Hill experience, coupled with other significant advocacy and/or legislative strategy experience required.
  • Demonstrated performance in developing and implementing issue advocacy strategies, including constituency and media components.
  • Strong knowledge of foreign policy and foreign assistance issues.
  • Demonstrated working knowledge of: (1) Catholic Church organizational structures and (2) Catholic Social Teaching.
  • Overseas economic development/humanitarian relief experience helpful.

Agency-wide Competencies:

These are rooted in the mission, values, and guiding principles of CRS and used by each staff member to fulfill his or her responsibilities and achieve the desired results.

  • Integrity
  • Continuous Improvement & Innovation
  • Builds Relationships
  • Develops Talent
  • Strategic Mindset
  • Accountability & Stewardship

Work Conditions:

  • Willingness to travel overseas (1-2 trips/year) and to Baltimore (once every two weeks).

Application instructions

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