Who we are:

At the nonprofit Urban Institute, we believe in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities.  Our employees are empowered to open minds, shape decisions and offer solutions.  We encourage intellectual honesty, innovation, diversity, and mutual respect, and our analysis elevates the debate, wherever it takes place.

Urban’s greatest asset is our people. We strive to attract and cultivate a vibrant, creative, and diverse community.  Our employees drive Urban’s mission through entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership, effective communication, results-orientation, and relationship cultivation.  Our success depends on engaging individuals who possess and value these attributes. 

Urban has launched the District of Columbia Education Research Collaborative, an education research-practice partnership, with a consortium of 15 organizations. The Collaborative will support education equity and student improvement by producing high-quality independent research in partnership with an Advisory Committee of teachers, parents, policymakers, and district and school leaders.

As the Collaborative’s managing entity, Urban will provide both intellectual and operational leadership, managing finances and logistics, leading community outreach and engagement, and ensuring research projects meet high standards of quality, rigor, and collaboration.

How You’ll Contribute:

The Collaborative is seeking a Research Director to coordinate the research process from concept to publication. The Research Director will work with research and practice partners to conceptualize and execute research projects and will be responsible for ensuring all research products meet the Collaborative’s quality standards.

In this highly collaborative role, the Research Director will work with researchers across the 15 partner organizations to create research teams and plans and will ensure that community voice is heard and integrated through the life cycle of a project. Reporting to the Executive Director of the Collaborative, the Research Director should have deep experience working on K-12 education issues in DC schools and be comfortable talking about complex research and education policy with a wide range of audiences. Though the Research Director will have the opportunity to conduct research and analysis, their primary responsibility will be to manage and coordinate all aspects of the Collaborative’s research operations and projects.


  • With the Executive Director, provide leadership and strategic direction for the new District of Columbia research practice partnership.
  • Support the engagement of DC stakeholders in the conceptualization and creation of a multi-year research agenda.
  • Establish and manage processes for ensuring the Collaborative’s research meets high standards of rigor, independence, quality, collaboration, inclusiveness, and transparency.
  • Coordinate and consult with research teams composed of researchers from across Collaborative partner organizations and representatives of the District’s education community.
  • Support the building and management of the Collaborative’s data system and function as liaison between the Collaborative and DC public schools on issues related to research approvals, IRB applications and data agreements.
  • Develop in consultation with project teams, supporting materials that make research accessible and tangible to non-technical audiences.
  • Occasionally represent the Collaborative’s research in interactions with elected officials, city education agencies, education practitioners, and other key stakeholders, including members of the community.
  • Lead fundraising for specific research projects.

What you’ll bring:

The ideal candidate for the Research Director position will be a skilled researcher with knowledge of the DC education ecosystem and experience managing research projects and teams. They should bring knowledge of both quantitative and qualitative research methods, along with an understanding of how to translate complex research findings for different audiences. They will be committed to the distinct kind of research conducted by RPPs and the potential of research done in partnership with practitioners to drive change that improves outcomes for students.

The successful candidate will:

  • Have at least 10 years of experience working in a leadership role in k-12 education research and policy, including substantial experience managing people and projects
  • Possess a doctoral degree in education, public policy, or a related discipline, or have the academic knowledge and experience generally associated with attainment of a doctoral degree
  • Demonstrate expertise and comfort working with quantitative research methods and understand how education research, including the design, analysis, and use of multidimensional data systems, can inform decision-making
  • Be an adept communicator with experience translating complex social science research into public presentations and written publications for non-technical audiences
  • Demonstrate a commitment to creating and advancing equitable opportunities for students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and other groups traditionally underserved by the education system
  • Be excited to be part of a small team building a new institution.

We are especially interested in candidates who have prior experience working for and/or partnering with the District of Columbia’s public school system. Given the local nature of this work and the expectation to attend regular in-person meetings in DC once conditions allow, the selected candidate should live in or be willing to relocate to the DC area. Candidates who meet some, but not all, of these qualifications are encouraged to apply.

Salary range is $160,000 to $190,000.

What You’ll Experience:

Working in the Nation’s Capital, the epicenter of public policy among a network of policy experts, you can expect to have an impact on policy areas you care about and work with great colleagues who are smart, mission-driven, and collaborative. You will blend academic rigor with on-the-ground collaboration, be encouraged and supported to fulfill your potential through meaningful work that matters, and enjoy a welcoming workplace free from harassment, discrimination, and intolerance.

Also, we offer a comprehensive benefits package that includes: medical, dental, disability, and life insurance coverage, competitive paid time off allowance, and eligibility to participate in a generous retirement savings plan and reimbursable commuting expense program.

The Urban Institute is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity without regard for race, ethnicity, gender, protected veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other protected status under applicable law.

The Urban Institute is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer Minorities/Women/Disabilities/Veterans.