Policy Manager and Agriculture Technology Adoption Donor Liaison - J-PAL Global

United States of America (the)
Other advanced degree
Language Requirement 
Length of Commitment 
One year
Start Date 

Introduction: Agricultural development remains one of the cornerstones of the fight against global poverty. A majority of the world’s poor work as farmers, and investments in the sector can significantly improve their lives. However, some of the most essential components of productive farming systems – access to credit, insurance, inputs, or markets – underperform throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The international community has mobilized to address these challenges, but little is known about what projects and strategies can actually produce the transformative change the sector needs. 

Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative: In a unique collaboration, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at UC-Berkeley lead the Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI), a transformative research program generating the knowledge needed to inform agricultural investments in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Over nine successive funding rounds, ATAI has sponsored more than 50 randomized evaluations in 17 different countries, leveraging the expertise and experience of 50 implementing partners and more than 100 faculty researchers. ATAI’s work focuses on unlocking the constraints to smallholder agriculture, specifically including credit and savings, risk and insurance, inputs and outputs markets, information, land and labor. ATAI researchers and staff host trainings and share our findings with leading practitioners and policymakers. ATAI is implemented with generous support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UK Aid from the British People. 

Policy Manager and Liaison: ATAI is committed to funding high-quality research related to agricultural transformation, increasingly a core component of the strategies of major agricultural donors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UK Aid, the US Agency for International Development, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, among others. As part of these efforts, ATAI aims to increase its connections to its primary donors -- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UK Aid from the British People -- to both support the generation of new research partnerships and to ensure that the results of existing and ongoing ATAI studies inform the donors’ strategy development and programming priorities. The Policy Manager and Liaison will be key to achieving these goals. 

Working under the direction of J-PAL’s Agriculture Sector Policy Manager and as part of J-PAL Global’s Policy and Communications group, the Associate and Liaison will execute tasks critical to enhancing ATAI’s connections with its primary donors. This member of the team will coordinate ATAI’s responses to new research opportunities, work closely with ATAI staff, academic leadership, and donor representatives to understand key research priorities, and create policy-oriented summaries of the ATAI evidence on short turnarounds to inform donor strategy and implementation.  

This position will be based at J-PAL’s Global Offices at MIT in Cambridge, MA and will require periodic domestic and international travel. The position is for a term of 18 months.  

Roles and responsibilities:

Specific tasks for this position include: 


  • Serve as a point-of-contact for key partners looking to collaborate with ATAI researchers on new initiatives, reviewing possible opportunities for fit and relevance, and directing new partnership options to members of the ATAI faculty network.
  • Support and coordinate timely responses to new partnership opportunities, including the facilitation of meetings and dialogue among stakeholders as needed and spreading awareness about matchmaking opportunities among ATAI’s key partners, especially including program officers at our donor agencies.
  • Work with ATAI colleagues to actively identify new donor investments that might benefit from faculty partnership and support engagement with program officers to advance these opportunities
  • Share with funded proposals with program officers to keep program officers updated on applicable research and explore additional connections 


  • Identify and map relationships and potential dissemination opportunities with key partners, including units within ATAI’s donor and other organizations funded by ATAI’s donors
  • Respond to specific and timely requests for evidence and other materials from program officers in collaboration with ATAI faculty leaders and staff, including tailoring ATAI research publications, drafting evidence briefs, and preparing other outputs
  • Identify opportunities for ATAI faculty to present at the headquarters and field offices of our donors. Support event preparations on behalf of both faculty and donors, including implementation and follow ups
  • Coordinate ATAI’s annual update of its “emerging insights” series, setting timelines, allocating work, and ensuring high-quality outputs 
  • Author publications that “translate” J-PAL’s economic research into lessons for policymakers around the world. You will create materials for policy outreach, including publications, evaluation summaries, and website content. 


  • Conduct research and analysis for policy memos, grant proposals, and other dissemination opportunities.
  • Collect and examine project implementation data to conduct cost-effectiveness analyses. 

Core functions:

  • Support ATAI secretariat on core functions for the initiative, including website updates, competition planning, event preparations, grant reporting
  • Participate in weekly coordination meetings with ATAI Secretariat
  • Support the development of policy-outputs for ATAI faculty directors, including writing drafts of blogs, policy briefs, preparing PowerPoint decks, and evaluation summaries.
  • Participate as a full member of the J-PAL Policy and Communications group including other duties related to the Policy Manager job description here.  

Professional Development

The Policy Group invests in your professional development. As a Policy Manager, you will learn, engage, travel, and grow.

Learn: J-PAL  supports a culture of learning, with opportunities to attend weekly MIT–Harvard Development Seminars and take classes for credit at MIT or elsewhere with our generous tuition assistance program. All J-PAL staff are also eligible to take the innovative online MITx MicroMasters credential in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP) free of charge.

Engage: Managers have the opportunity to work directly with J-PAL affiliates and directors by disseminating lessons learned to policymakers and practitioners. Managers also have the opportunity to TA or lecture at J-PAL’s capacity building sessions offered around the world.

Travel: Managers have the opportunity to present at J-PAL’s regional offices and attend and organize policy events worldwide.

Grow: Managers can expect to join a peer group eager to build institutional knowledge, focused on sharing and implementing best practices and lessons learned. In addition, managers receive one-on-one mentorship from senior J-PAL leadership and have the opportunity to work directly with affiliated professors.


As a member of the MIT community, you benefit from more than just your salary.

J-PAL hires highly qualified staff and rewards them accordingly. Total compensation packages are competitive for the non-profit international development field with excellent MIT benefits, including comprehensive health insurance, a 401(k) match and pension-based retirement plan, tuition assistance, commuter benefits, MIT community discounts, a generous vacation policy, and more. We like working at MIT and think you will too.

Desired qualifications:

Education: You have earned at least a Master’s degree with significant training in economics, including intermediate-level economics, econometrics, impact evaluation methods, and calculus.

Experience: You have least five years of professional experience, working in the field of international agricultural development, philanthropy, management consulting, or international development more broadly. Particularly valuable experiences include work with organizations who have carried out randomized evaluations and field experience working on agricultural development programs or evaluations in developing countries, especially Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia. Strongly preferred are candidates with prior experience in J-PAL, IPA, or other partner organizations.

Technical expertise: Through your educational or professional experiences, you developed a strong familiarity with:

  • Smallholder agriculture, including the organizations, issues, and interventions involved in supporting agricultural development and knowledge of experimental literature on themes critical to agricultural development;
  • Randomized evaluations, including methods, tools of analysis, and the state of the experimental literature.
  • Philanthropy, including process and strategies driving cutting-edge grant making

Communication: You possess strong written and oral communication, the ability to distill complex information or research findings into summaries appropriate for fast-moving policy environments

Demonstrated strong interpersonal and networking skills: You are detail-oriented and have advanced writing skills. You understand how to communicate policy lessons from technical academic research in ways that policymakers and practitioners understand. You are precise, clear, and creative.

Organization: You are a strategic thinker. You can handle multiple projects at once, meet deadlines, and effectively manage your time.

Attitude: You love learning. You are passionate about international development policy and the rigorous research that informs it. You are self-motivated, work hard, and enjoy working in teams.

How to Apply

Ready to join a team of supportive, engaging, and fun colleagues? Have permanent U.S. work authorization? Apply now.

1. Create a single PDF with the filename “ATAI_SPADL_LastName_FirstName” that includes:

  • One-page cover letter stating:
    • Why you’re interested
    • Why you’re qualified
  • Curriculum vitae or resume (no more than two pages), including references.
  • Transcripts of your undergraduate and graduate courses (unofficial transcripts accepted) 

2. E-mail the PDF to [email protected] with the subject line “ATAI_SPADL_LastName_FirstName”

3. As this position is based at MIT, please take 10 minutes to do a separate MIT application by going to: https://careers.peopleclick.com/careerscp/client_mit/external/search/search.html and applying for Job ID 16809. You only need to upload your CV and cover letter and provide the minimum required data.

Please note: Candidates must be legally authorized to work in the United States. This position is not eligible for visa sponsorship. Given the volume of applications received, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview.