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Postsecondary Education Senior Research Associate - MDRC

About MDRC

MDRC’s mission is to conduct primary research to identify public policies and program services that improve the lives of low-income individuals, families, and children. We not only carry out the research but also strive to make sure policymakers and practitioners understand and can use our research findings. MDRC designs promising new interventions, studies existing programs, and provides technical assistance to help practitioners build better programs. With an annual budget of about $100 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 public and private partners. We constantly seek ways to do our work better, including designing new tools to help partner organizations improve their programs and pioneering new quantitative and qualitative research methods. MDRC is recognized as a national leader in postsecondary education research and technical assistance.

About the Opportunity

MDRC is seeking a Postsecondary Education Senior Research Associate to lead multiple interdisciplinary research teams on policy issues, including institutional reform, comprehensive student services, financial aid, and developmental education interventions. At its core, this is a position with a strong emphasis on research expertise in racial and social equity. It covers a range of possible activities within MDRC’s national and state-level postsecondary work, including research, technical assistance, project development, and dissemination. Examples of current research in the Postsecondary Education policy area can be found here.

The Senior Associate will bring interest and experience in postsecondary education programs and research, alongside expertise in applying a racial equity lens and strong analytical, communication, management, and organizational skills. Our ideal candidate will also have experience applying the principles of culturally responsive research or evaluation to projects already underway.

Areas of Leadership

  • Project leadership, development, and management: Apply racial and social equity lenses to our postsecondary education research, such as development, design, implementation, and evaluation activities. Develop proposal ideas and build a portfolio of new projects funded through public and private grants and contracts.
  • Postsecondary education thought partnership: Support the Postsecondary Education policy area’s efforts to incorporate the lived experiences of college staff and students into our work. Design creative and scalable solutions in partnership with implementing agencies to improve outcomes for students, particularly those who have been historically marginalized. Apply knowledge from postsecondary education research and practice, including technology and methodology of intervention development and evaluation.
  • Team leadership and management: Work colleagues at all levels of the organization and develop organizational capacity, including mentoring junior staff in research design and methods, project management, client relationships, and research publication.
  • Communication and relationship building with various constituencies: Develop and manage relationships with funders, government agencies, education institutions, and nonprofit organizations to participate in program evaluation and technical assistance projects. Develop and lead strategies to disseminate results related to MDRC’s postsecondary projects to funders, policymakers, practitioners, social scientists, and potential new audiences.

Key Qualifications

  • Mission and Values Alignment: Demonstrated commitment to education and social policy issues affecting people with low incomes and people of color, and application of a racial equity lens to postsecondary education issues.
  • Applied Research Expertise: 7-10 years relevant leadership and development experience in applied postsecondary education research and field-based research projects focused on racial and social equity. Ph.D. in education, economics, psychology, sociology, policy analysis, or another social science preferred. Demonstrated ability to conduct research with an understanding of the lived experiences of students with low incomes, first generation college students, and students of color. Knowledge of and experience with research design and analytic methods for causal inference, quantitative, qualitative, mixed-methods, and implementation or process research.
  • Thought Leadership and Partnership: Research expertise in postsecondary education, as evidenced through publications/presentations and overall body of work. Proven track record of winning competitive contracts/grants from various funding organizations (e.g., federal, state, and local governments and foundations).
  • Inclusive Team Management: Relationship-driven leader with strong interpersonal skills, desire to work in a team-oriented environment, and ability to collaborate with many levels of staff and postsecondary partners. Experience with developing organizational capacity and mentoring junior staff in research design and methods, project management, client relationships, and research publication preferred.
  • External Partnership Development: Outstanding communicator with the ability to translate research to a wide array of audiences and to build relationships with various external constituents, including funders, the research community, policymakers, practitioners, and participants.

The position requires travel and is ideally based in MDRC’s New York City, Oakland, Los Angeles, or D.C. office, but location is flexible. Salary and level will be commensurate with education and experience. Comprehensive benefits offered.

Applicants with lived experiences of the students, communities, and institutions that MDRC projects serve are strongly encouraged to apply.

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