Center Director (Education)
The Urban Institute - Washington, DC

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This is an exciting opportunity for an accomplished, dynamic, and entrepreneurial leader to design and direct a new research center within an established organization with a rich history and record of accomplishments, and through that work to have meaningful impact on national policy discourse and decisions. The Director will develop a strategic vision for the Center's research agenda, building on his or her own expertise and understanding of opportunities for impact.

Among the issues this agenda could address are evidence-based strategies for effective teaching and learning, the persistence of achievement gaps and strategies for narrowing them, measurement of school performance and quality, competing school reform and accountability strategies, and potential roles for technology. In addition, given the breadth and depth of expertise at the Urban Institute, we are exceptionallywell positioned to explore such cross-cutting policy challenges as school finance equity, barriers to school readiness, residential segregation and poverty concentration, housing affordability and instability, school-to-work and apprenticeship opportunities, and school-based strategies for helping at-risk youth.

The Director will lead the development of the new Center, including: developing a strategic vision, recruiting and hiring staff, raising funds from government, foundations, and individual and corporate donors, and defining and overseeing an initial portfolio of research projects and convenings. As the Center matures to full scale (20 to 30 researchers), the Director will be responsible for ongoing research leadership and management of Center staff and finances.

Center Directors at the Urban Institute play five inter-related roles: they provide strategic leadership within their centers, with the other Directors, and to the Institute as a whole; they manage the operations of their centers; they provide guidance and support to the researchers and staff in their centers; they advance their individual research agendas; and they serve as UI spokespersons and representatives to external audiences.

For this critical role, UI seeks a senior research professional who has at least 10 years experience leading research or evaluation work or in a high-level leadership role at the intersection of research and policy. The new Director must have a proven publication record, reaching both academic and broader policy audiences. S/he must be a strategic thinker, persuasive communicator, proven fundraiser, and excellent team builder. S/he will be creative, directed, and action-oriented and have a management style that is open and consultative. The successful candidate will have the demonstrated ability to interact with and build collaborative research relationships with researchers in diverse institutions and to represent the Education Policy Center internally and externally among government, business, media, and education leaders.

In addition, the ideal candidate will possess most of the following experiences and personal characteristics:

Professional Qualifications

  • An individual with a passion for and commitment to the Urban Institute's mission.
  • The personal stature, credibility and maturity to earn the trust and confidence of researchers, funders, and the policy community.
  • An appetite and talent for fundraising with a track record of securing grants and contracts from public and private sources.
  • Demonstrated capacity to lead a team of researchers.
  • A respected scholar with substantial experience working in the policy arena or a policy leader with extensive experience using research and working with researchers.
  • Demonstrated excellence as an external spokesperson, addressing public audiences and interacting effectively with the media.
  • Exceptional organizational skills with an eye for detail and commitment to follow-through.
  • An advanced degree in the social sciences is required; a Ph.D. in economics, planning, public policy, or closely related discipline is preferred.
Management Style and Personal Attributes

  • A management style that is open and collaborative yet results-oriented.
  • A seasoned administrator who is adept at managing multiple priorities, including budget oversight, the appropriate delegation of responsibilities and the efficient allocation of focus and attention.
  • The intellectual strength and curiosity to understand and appreciate the full range of research and policy pursuits of staff.
  • Strong interpersonal skills with a history of forging relationships with multiple constituencies.
The Urban Institute is an Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/V/H. We welcome diversity in the workplace and encourage all minorities, women and persons with disabilities to apply. To learn more about the Urban Institute and its work, please visit

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