Project Development Associate, Lab for Economic Opportunities - (LEO)

  • United States of America
Start Date (Earliest):

Summary of the Organization: 

The Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) at the University of Notre Dame is a research center dedicated to reducing poverty and improving lives in the United States through evidence-based programs and policies. We are dedicated to…

  • Partnership – We thoughtfully engage with partners and commit to a collaborative process on this road to creating and using evidence. We believe the best solutions lie with those closest to the problem, and that our partners are the ones that know best the needs of the communities they serve. We embed that belief into every step of the evidence-to-impact journey.
  • Rigor - We believe service, philanthropy, and public policy must be aligned with what actually helps people the most. Our partisanship is to those in poverty. We produce rigorous research because we believe an accurate answer, whether inspiring or challenging, makes us all better.
  • Dignity - We prioritize the dignity of every person with a preferential option for those struggling in poverty and with awareness of the additional struggles facing marginalized communities. We approach our work with respect to those participating in research and structure our work in service to those individuals. Our research serves people, not the other way around.
  • Hope - The complexities of poverty can be overwhelming, but we don’t respond by believing that solving poverty is a hopeless endeavor. We respond by building evidence to uncover solutions that reflect an environment of opportunity for all people. We diligently pursue what works to reduce poverty with a hopeful confidence that evidence enlightening action will alter the path ahead.

Summary of the Role: 

LEO is looking for a proactive, self-starter who desires to be part of solving one of the most critical issues our nation faces today – poverty. The Project Development Associate will be part of LEO’s Project Development team, which is responsible for identifying and vetting organizations who are fighting poverty with creative and effective programs, ultimately facilitating their entry into the research pipeline. This position’s responsibilities will include building relationships and identifying the right partners for LEO by telling our story, asking questions, and helping organizations find the right project. They will support potential partners through the application process and continue to cultivate relationships with organizations that choose not to apply in order to maintain a robust network of potential future partners.


The Project Development Associate’s top priorities will be:

  • To support the project development process by vetting potential organizations to become new LEO partners; responsibilities will include telling the LEO story in a compelling way, clearly explaining the LEO processes, gauging interest in conducting rigorous research, identifying potential projects, and helping potential partners prepare for in-depth evaluation by LEO research faculty; expectations will include meeting ambitious goals and benchmarks related to the overall growth of LEO’s project portfolio.
  • To implement a relationship management strategy for organizations that are not currently ready to conduct rigorous research with LEO but demonstrate high potential to become partners in the future; responsibilities will include identifying organizations with long-term potential, maintaining appropriate engagement with these organizations at a regular cadence in order to keep LEO top-of-mind, and resuming the vetting process as new opportunities arise.
  • To support a key project development vetting strategy by fostering and expanding LEO’s network of super-connectors in line with plans for future partnerships; responsibilities will include identifying and regularly engaging with well-connected, highly-respected individuals and facilitating warm introductions to high-potential organizations within their networks.
  • To execute project development tasks for LEO; responsibilities will include coordinating with external partners, summarizing proposed research projects and providing context and recommendations to research faculty, creating presentations and proposals, and providing support for communications and fundraising needs related to project development.
  • To support the implementation of LEO’s partner experience plan; responsibilities will include providing recommendations on process improvements in response to feedback from LEO partners.

Please note: This is a five-year, limited term position. Contingent on funding, the position may be extended.


The ideal candidate will have strong communication and relationship management skills, excellent project management abilities, and a readiness to develop pertinent analytical capabilities as required.


  • A deep commitment to the mission of both LEO and the University
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • 2+ years of relevant work experience, including but not limited to the nonprofit sector, education, and the public sector
  • Proven ability to thrive in a fast-paced and evolving organization with a dynamic team
  • Detail-oriented and highly organized with ability to juggle multiple demands simultaneously
  • Self-directed, with willingness to take initiative
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Creativity and problem-solving skills
  • Proven resourcefulness and independence
  • Ability to communicate and engage with leadership and executive officers, both internally and externally
  • Proficient in Microsoft Suite and Google Workspace


  • Working knowledge of impact evaluation
  • Experience with sales/recruitment
  • Experience working for or with social service providers