Note: This position is for J-PAL North America at MIT, based in Cambridge, MA, and is for those interested in policy related to the United States and Canada. For those interested in both international development and poverty issues in developed countries, please see our job posting for Policy Manager - J-PAL Global.
The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a network of 92 affiliated professors from over 30 universities who conduct randomized evaluations (randomized controlled trials, RCTs) of social policies aimed at ensuring that policy is based on scientific evidence. J-PAL’s three core activities are:
- Conducting Rigorous Impact Evaluations: J-PAL conducts randomized evaluations to test and improve the effectiveness of programs and social policies.
- Building Capacity: Providing expertise for people interested in rigorous program evaluation and training others to conduct randomized evaluations.
- Informing Policy: Disseminating the results of J-PAL affiliates’ research to policymakers, identifying the most cost-effective ways to achieve policy goals, and promoting the scale-up of highly effective policies and programs.
J-PAL North America (J-PAL NA) is the newest regional center at J-PAL and focuses on promoting and supporting randomized evaluations in the United States and Canada, advocating for evidence informed social policy, and building capacity of policymakers and researchers from these countries in using and commissioning such evidence.
J-PAL NA is led by two Scientific Directors, Amy Finkelstein (MIT) and Lawrence Katz (Harvard). Please listen to this short interview with Lawrence Katz, where he explains his vision for J-PAL North America: http://govinnovator.com/lawrence_katz/
J-PAL NA seeks a Policy Manager to support its mission of promoting evidence based policy by contributing significantly to the design and execution of J-PAL’s policy outreach work. The Policy Manager is a mid-level position based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge, MA. Policy Managers are eligible for internal promotion to Senior Policy Manager after three or four years of work at J-PAL, and such promotions are based on their performance and ability.
Please note: This position will focus exclusively on U.S. and Canadian domestic policy. If you are interested in international development, please see the job description for Policy Manager - J-PAL Global.
- Research relationships: Building and maintaining strong relationships with researchers working on randomized evaluations in North America. Serving as a “matchmaker” connecting and building relationships with senior policymakers, researchers, practitioners, and donors. Serving as a resource for J-PAL NA affiliates interested in conducting randomized evaluations. Maintaining strong and effective relationships between J-PAL NA and J-PAL Global (the headquarters of J-PAL, also based at MIT) and other regional offices, especially J-PAL Europe at Paris School of Economics and J-PAL Latin America at PUC-Chile to ensure that J-PAL NA uses and contributes to the research generated by J-PAL’s international network.
- Policy Outreach: Meeting with and building relationships with key partners in governments, legislatures, non-profits, foundations, multilateral aid agencies, and the private sector across the United States and Canada. Giving presentations on J-PAL NA’s work, disseminating research findings to policymakers and the media, and encouraging the scale up of evidence-based policies.
- Policy Publications and Analysis: Working with J-PAL’s Global Policy Group to (a) create policy memos and publications that “translate” J-PAL’s economic research into policy lessons for dissemination to policy makers around the world, and (b) reviewing academic literature on randomized evaluations to draw out policy lessons, conducting literature reviews, undertaking cross-sectoral comparative cost-effectiveness analyses of J-PAL’s randomized evaluations, identifying the most cost-effective policies and programs that are candidates for scale-ups (see for example http://www.povertyactionlab.org/policy-lessons)
- Program Management: Policy Managers act as Lead Staff on J-PAL’s seven Program areas of Agriculture, Education, Environment, Finance, Health, Governance, and Labor Markets. In that role they work with Program Chairs (affiliated professors) in creating review papers that describe the current state of knowledge in the sector, organizing seminars and conferences for policymakers, raising funds for special initiatives, administering Request for Proposals (RFPs), and disbursing funds.
- Organizational: Helping in recruiting, supervising and mentoring junior staff, organizing regional and thematic conferences, and helping to teach J-PAL’s capacity building courses.
- Education: Master’s degree in economics, public policy or a closely related field. Graduate level coursework in microeconomics and econometrics is required. A strong technical understanding of economics is necessary to ensure that J-PAL’s findings are translated into general policy conclusions in a way that is both simple to follow but also accurate and undistorted. Strong interest in domestic policy as demonstrated by coursework and/or professional experience is strongly preferred.
- Experience: 4 or more years of relevant experience working in a research or policy organization with a mission and organizational profile similar to J-PAL NA. The ideal candidate for this position will be very knowledgeable about domestic public policy issues in the U.S. and Canada. Interest in international development issues is preferred (though not essential) to better understand the work of other J-PAL centers worldwide.
- Communication: Attention to detail and advanced writing and presentation skills for communicating policy lessons from academic papers in ways that policymakers understand. This requires clear, precise, non-technical writing, and confident, effective public speaking skills.
- Time Management: Proven ability to multitask and successfully complete projects on tight deadlines with little supervision. A willingness to work hard, be self-motivated, and learn will be essential for doing well in this position.
- Ability to supervise staff and manage projects independently.
- Willingness to travel mostly within the US and Canada, but sometimes internationally as well.
Note: This position is not eligible for any type of Visa sponsorship via MIT. This position is based at the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA and telecommuting from another city is not an option.
For applicants with 7-10 years of experience, please see our job posting for Executive Director, J-PAL North America.