Associate Director of Policy - J-PAL North America

Country 
United States of America (the)
Education 
Master's
Other advanced degree
Language Requirement 
English
Length of Commitment 
Three years or more
Start Date 
ASAP

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

J-PAL North America seeks nominations and applications for a new Associate Director of Policy. J-PAL North America is a regional office of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. As a lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) economics department, J-PAL North America leverages scholarship from more than 170 affiliated professors at over 55 universities, and has a full-time staff of approximately 40 research, policy, and administrative professionals, that work together to conduct randomized impact evaluations, policy outreach, and training to generate and disseminate rigorous evidence about which anti-poverty social policies work and why. J-PAL North America works across a wide range of policy areas that relate to poverty including health, labor, crime, education and more. J-PAL’s work is regularly cited by major media outlets, like the New York Times, the Economist, and the Washington Post

J-PAL North America is uniquely positioned. J-PAL staff work closely with top researchers from MIT and many other universities. Staff describe the experience of working at J-PAL North America as being in a nimble, fast-paced team, but being hosted at MIT gives the staff access to MIT’s excellent benefits and institutional resources. At the same time, J-PAL’s work extends far beyond academia. Through its policy outreach and strategic partnerships with researchers, government leaders, not for profits, funders, and communities affected by poverty, J-PAL North America is growing the body of quality evidence and disseminating evidence to inform policies that address the complex causes and consequences of poverty. Leaders who want to have one foot in academia and another in policy/practice thrive with J-PAL’s unique approach. 

To help lead a recently expanded policy team and increase our policy impact, J-PAL North America is now poised to bring on a new Associate Director of Policy to join a vibrant, collaborative team that is committed to reducing poverty by spurring the development of rigorous research that can inform effective policy solutions. The new Associate Director of Policy will lead J-PAL North America’s work promoting and supporting the use of randomized evaluations in North America, disseminating evidence to inform social policy, and developing and managing high-level relationships with donors, policymakers, media, and researchers. This is a significant opportunity to advance J-PAL North America’s partnerships with key stakeholders to ensure that evidence contributes to public discourse around some of the most pressing questions in social policy. The Associate Director of Policy will also contribute broadly to J-PAL North America’s strategic, financial, and operational success as a member of its senior leadership team. 

Ideal candidates for the Associate Director of Policy role will bring deep passion for and commitment to J-PAL North America’s mission and at least 7 years (but we expect that many candidates will have significantly more experience) in a leadership or management position with direct responsibility for policy or strategic partnership building in service to communities affected by poverty. Additionally, they will be a proven partnership builder, a successful fundraiser, and will bring a broad, strong analytical skill set with experience conducting and/or supervising impact evaluations including randomized evaluations. A Master’s or advanced degree in a relevant field such as economics, political science, or public policy is required.

This search is being conducted by Allison Kupfer Poteet and Cara Pearsall of NPAG. Application instructions can be found at the end of this page.

ORGANIZATIONAL OVERVIEW

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of over 170 affiliated professors at universities around the world, J-PAL conducts randomized impact evaluations to answer critical questions in the fight against poverty. As a regional office based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, J-PAL North America leverages scholarship from those affiliated professors from over 55 universities, and a full-time staff of about 40 researchers, policy experts, and administrative professionals, to generate and disseminate rigorous evidence about which anti-poverty social policies work and why. J-PAL North America works closely with J-PAL’s global headquarters and five additional independent regional offices in Africa, Europe, Latin America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia to generate cutting-edge research, policy outreach, and training.

The scope of J-PAL North America’s impact is broad and deep, from providing evidence on effective ways to improve health care outcomes to identifying ways in which technology can revamp schoolsEvidence from randomized evaluations conducted by J-PAL North America’s affiliate researchers and implementing partners is regularly featured in mainstream media outlets such as the Washington Post and NY Times and helps J-PAL North America influence public thinking and inform high-level decision makers on effective policies and programs. Through its policy outreach and strategic partnerships with researchers, government leaders, not for profits, funders, and communities affected by poverty, J-PAL North America is growing the body of quality evidence and disseminating evidence to inform policies that address the complex causes and consequences of poverty. 

J-PAL North America currently runs five major initiatives to support randomized evaluations and evidence-informed policymaking. These initiatives target areas where there is demand from decision-makers for more evidence and aim to fill evidence gaps concerning innovative—if untested—interventions that seek to reduce poverty.

State & Local Innovation Initiative: Through the State & Local Innovation Initiative, J-PAL North America partners with leaders in government to answer their high-priority policy questions. J-PAL North America provides funding, technical support, and collaboration with preeminent researchers to implement randomized evaluations. J-PAL North America staff offer support to governments at an early stage to identify programs or interventions that policymakers want to evaluate and are also practical candidates for randomized evaluations. They then match these organizations with academics in the affiliate network to develop a detailed evaluation design that specifies outcomes of interest, sources of data, and timelines. Once a feasible evaluation is designed, organizations that have partnered with a J-PAL-affiliated academic can apply for funding to implement the evaluation. 

Health Care Delivery Initiative: Through the Health Care Delivery Initiative, J-PAL North America uses randomized evaluations to identify effective policies and programs in health care delivery. J-PAL-affiliated researchers, health care agencies, and nonprofits may submit proposals. Academics who have partnered with an implementing health organization may receive funding directly through the initiative. Government agencies and nonprofit organizations may apply to the Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition. J-PAL North America staff provide support to winners of the competition in designing and implementing randomized evaluations to test health care delivery models with potential to improve health outcomes, enhance access to care, and reduce healthcare costs for disadvantaged communities. 

Education, Technology, and Opportunity Initiative: Through the Education, Technology, and Opportunity Innovation Competition, J-PAL North America supports education leaders in using randomized evaluations to generate evidence on how and to what extent uses of technology and innovation work to improve student learning. The goal of the initiative is to identify scalable strategies to improve learning outcomes in the United States, particularly for disadvantaged students. 

Work of the Future Initiative: Through the Work of the Future Initiative, J-PAL North America supports randomized evaluations of strategies and innovations that address the changing nature of work in North America. Selected partners receive technical assistance from J-PAL staff in designing an evaluation, matchmaking with J-PAL’s network of affiliated researchers, and flexible funding to get an evaluation off the ground. 

Social Policy Research Initiative: Through the Social Policy Research Initiative, J-PAL North America supports impact evaluations that address important social policy questions across a broad range of sectors, including consumer finance, crime, education, technology, government efficiency, labor, and employment. 

To help lead a recently expanded policy team and increase our policy impact, J-PAL North America is now poised to bring on a new Associate Director of Policy to join a vibrant, collaborative team team that is committed to reducing poverty by spurring the development of rigorous research that can inform effective policy solutions.  

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FACING THE ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF POLICY 

Working closely with the Executive Director, the Associate Director of Policy will lead J-PAL North America’s work promoting and supporting the use of randomized evaluations in North America, disseminating evidence to inform social policy, and developing and managing high-level relationships with donors, policymakers, media, and researchers. This is a significant opportunity to advance J-PAL North America’s partnerships with key stakeholders to ensure that evidence contributes to public discourse around some of the most pressing questions in social policy. The Associate Director of Policy can expect to engage in the following opportunities and challenges:

Lead policy outreach strategy development and execution to scale effective social programs and policies.

The new Associate Director of Policy will work in collaboration with the J-PAL North America team to promote the value of evidence-based policy making, increase the demand for evidence, and translate research into policy. They will lead J-PAL North America staff in developing, launching, and managing projects that will effectively move research into action through expanded policy outreach and the creation of frameworks for scaling of effective social programs and policies. Additionally, the new Associate Director of Policy will provide strategic guidance to policy staff in managing major initiatives involving RFP processes that provide funding and technical assistance to support randomized evaluations.

Cultivate and manage inclusive collaborations with critical stakeholders and funders.

The new Associate Director of Policy will develop relationships with governments, not for profits, the private sector, media, the MIT community, J-PAL North America’s network of affiliated professors, and communities affected by poverty to disseminate lessons from randomized evaluations and promote evidence informed decision-making. They will also manage a portfolio of J-PAL North America individual, corporate, and foundation donors and will secure funding for J-PAL North America’s policy work by cultivating and managing relationships with local and national philanthropic funders who can help to underwrite projects. 

Provide strategic leadership to advance J-PAL North America’s goals.

As part of the senior leadership team, the new Associate Director of Policy will actively contribute to the overall strategic planning and leadership of J-PAL North America and collaborate with senior leadership at J-PAL’s global and other regional offices to ensure that best practices are shared and implemented. They will contribute to the design and creation of new systems and modifications to existing systems to maximize functionality and effectiveness across J-PAL North America and to the planning and management of J-PAL North America’s annual operating budget. Additionally, the Associate Director of Policy will represent J-PAL North America at high-profile events, lecture at training events, and participate in high stakes meetings as needed to effectively communicate J-PAL North America’s work and influence high-level decision makers.

Manage and support a talented policy team.

The new Associate Director of Policy will mentor and supervise the team on policy work, partnership development, and proposal writing. They will identify staffing needs and actively engage in recruiting and hiring of policy staff. Additionally, the new Associate Director of Policy will provide strategic leadership and direction to the policy and communications staff to set and meet clearly defined goals and to ensure quality of communications plans and policy publications.

QUALIFICATIONS OF THE IDEAL CANDIDATE

The ideal candidate will bring significant experience in policy and strategic partnership building with demonstrated commitment to reducing poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. They will possess many or all of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes and experiences:

  • Deep passion for and commitment to J-PAL North America’s mission to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence.
  • Master or advanced degree in a relevant field such as economics, political science, or public policy required.
  • A minimum of 10 years of relevant experience, including 7+ years of experience in a leadership or management position with direct responsibility for policy or strategic partnership building in service to communities affected by poverty. Experience in a government, an academic research setting, and/or non-profit management preferred.
  • Demonstrated understanding of the processes, drivers, and constraints of policy-making; deep experience working with government, developing or influencing policy preferred.
  • Strong analytical abilities and demonstrated ability to understand and communicate findings from rigorous quantitative research. Experience conducting and/or supervising impact evaluations including randomized evaluations strongly preferred. Understanding of economics and quantitative research is essential.
  • Ability to manage complex, multi-year projects from conception to completion. Strategic thinking and ability to handle multiple projects at once, push forward external stakeholders, meet deadlines, and effectively manage time.
  • Demonstrated fundraising success, including identifying, cultivating, closing and maintaining relationships with foundation, corporate or major donors.
  • Highly-developed emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills, including the ability to establish trust and effective communications with a wide array of internal and external stakeholders. 
  • Exceptional communication skills, both verbal and written, with an understanding of how to effectively communicate to both technical and non-technical audiences.
  • Demonstrated leadership and management experience, including hiring, training, and managing a diverse team to successfully complete projects on tight deadlines.
  • Willingness to travel and represent J-PAL North America as needed at conferences and stakeholder meetings.

How to Apply

This search is being conducted with assistance from Allison Kupfer Poteet and Cara Pearsall of NPAG. Due to the pace of this search, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

To apply, submit a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications and a resume via MIT’s human resources system. Visit http://jobs.mit.edu/external, search for job ID 16968 (Associate Director of Policy - J-PAL North America) to apply for this role.

MIT is an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, ancestry, or national or ethnic origin. J-PAL North America actively welcomes applicants from diverse backgrounds and from those with backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented in the field of economics.