Senior Research Associate - MDRC

Full Time

About MDRC 

MDRC’s mission is to conduct primary research to identify public policies and programs that improve the lives of individuals and families with low incomes. MDRC designs promising new interventions, studies existing programs, and provides technical assistance to help practitioners build better programs. With an annual budget of about $66 million, a staff of more than 300 people, and offices in New York City, Oakland, Washington, and Los Angeles, MDRC seeks to provide reliable, nonpartisan evidence to its partners in the public and private sectors.

About the Opportunity 

MDRC is seeking a Senior Research Associate with expertise in culturally responsive evaluation and in qualitative or mixed methods. This opportunity involves working with MDRC colleagues on research projects and on organization-wide initiatives, and with external communities and constituencies. It involves leading interdisciplinary teams in one or more of MDRC’s core areas of work: family well-being, child development, pre-kindergarten to grade 12 education, postsecondary education, youth development, criminal and juvenile justice, employment and income security, economic mobility, housing, and communities. Examples of current research can be found here.

The Senior Research Associate will bring expertise in qualitative research methodology, with experience applying the principles of culturally responsive research or evaluation to new and ongoing research projects. Candidates should have knowledge and understanding of research designs; communication, organizational, and analytical skills; the ability to lead and manage research projects involving external partners that include communities served or affected by the research; and interest and experience in explaining, teaching, or mentoring about both qualitative research methods and culturally responsive evaluation.

Areas of Leadership

  • Research project development, study design, and analysis: Conduct qualitative or mixed methods empirical research on policies and programs, centering culturally responsive approaches in one or more policy areas such as family well-being, child development, pre-kindergarten to grade 12 education, postsecondary education, youth development, criminal and juvenile justice, employment and income security, economic mobility, housing, and communities. Develop research proposals and build a portfolio of new projects funded through public and private grants and contracts. Analyze data, synthesize findings, and disseminate results to research participants and communities, policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and funders.
  • Thought partnership: Contribute to ongoing organizational commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracist practices. Contribute to building team cultures that meld insights from both qualitative and quantitative research. Engage with MDRC leaders and working groups, such as the MDRC Equity Collaborative and Implementation Research Group, to support learning throughout the organization about culturally responsive evaluation, qualitative methods, and mixed methods
  • Outreach and relationship building: Develop and foster relationships with funders, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and communities to support and participate in program evaluation and technical assistance projects.

Key Qualifications 

●    Mission and Values Alignment

Required: Demonstrated commitment to developing and sharing rigorous, nonpartisan, credible evidence on the effectiveness of programs and policies affecting people with low incomes and reducing inequities in social, educational, and economic institutions and systems.

●    Applied Research Expertise

Required: Ph.D., Ed.D., or equivalent with research expertise as evidenced through publications, presentations, and overall body of work. Expertise and experience in: culturally responsive applied or field-based research that provides insight into racial or social equity, research design, qualitative methods, and implementation/process research. Demonstrated ability to conduct research with an understanding of the lived experiences of participants, program staff, and research staff.

Preferred: Knowledge of research designs for causal inference and mixed methods. Publications and presentations about research on programs and policies in areas of education, public policy, sociology, anthropology, public health, or related fields.

  • Capacity Building

Required: Relationship-driven, effective communicator and leader with strong interpersonal skills, desire to work in a team-oriented environment, and ability to collaborate with research team staff who have varied levels of experience. Ability to translate research and solicit feedback to and from an array of audiences. Demonstrated ability to build relationships with external constituents including funders, the research community, policymakers, practitioners, and participants.

Preferred: Experience with developing organizational capacity and providing guidance and expertise in qualitative research design and methods, project management, client relationships, and research publication preferred.

  • Program or Field Experience

Preferred: Direct experience working in nonprofit or public social or human service programs or education settings (e.g., as a volunteer, service provider, manager, administrator, or board member).

●    Grants & Contracts Experience

Preferred: Experience applying for competitive research grants or contracts from various funding sources (e.g., federal government agencies, philanthropic organizations). Experience directing or managing research grants or contracts from various funding sources.

Location: The position is ideally based in MDRC’s offices in New York City, DC, Oakland, or Los Angeles, but location is flexible. Some travel will be required at least quarterly to the NYC office and conferences.

Compensation & Benefits: The salary range for this role is $125-160k. Salary will be determined based on candidate’s credentials and qualifications. Comprehensive benefits and relocation assistance offered.


MDRC is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. No qualified applicant, employee, intern, volunteer, or apprenticeship trainee will be discriminated against on the basis of his, her, or their race (including traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and protective hairstyles), color, national origin (including physical, cultural or linguistic characteristics), marriage to or association with persons of a national origin group, tribal affiliation, membership in or association with an organization identified with or seeking to promote the interests of a national origin group, name that is associated with a national origin group, accent, language use, immigration status, citizenship, possession of a driver’s license issued to persons unable to prove their lawful presence in the United States, and other definitions under California or other states’ laws, ancestry, creed, religion, religious creed (including religious dress and grooming practices), age, citizenship, veteran and/or military status, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender, gender identity (including transgender status), gender expression, gender transitioning or perceived gender transitioning, marital status or civil partnership/union status, physical or mental disability (actual or perceived), medical condition (including cancer and genetic characteristics), genetic information, protected medical leaves (requesting or being approved for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act) or similar state family medical leave laws, domestic violence victim status, political affiliation, or any other basis prohibited by applicable federal, state or local law. Legal work authorization is required. To request a reasonable accommodation during any stage of MDRC's employment process due to a disability, please contact

MDRC’s dedication to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion exceeds compliance requirements. We believe that recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce of all backgrounds and perspectives improves the quality and relevance of our research, as well as the daily experiences of our staff. By fostering an equitable culture of inclusivity and belonging, we seek an environment in which staff feel welcomed, valued, and engaged in their work.


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