Associate Director of Policy – J-PAL North America

Associate Director of Policy – J-PAL North America

Website J-PAL North America at MIT

J-PAL North America, a research center within the Economics department at MIT, is actively seeking an Associate Director of Policy to join its team and contribute to its mission to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. J-PAL North America conducts randomized evaluations, builds partnerships for evidence-informed policymaking, and helps partners scale up effective programs. As a regional office of the global Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, J-PAL North America leverages research by affiliated professors from universities across the world to generate and disseminate rigorous evidence about which anti-poverty social policies work and why.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential to address the complex causes and consequences of poverty. To advance our mission, J-PAL North America must draw on diverse experiences from our staff and affiliated researchers in order to ask better questions and identify better solutions. We are working to increase the limited representation of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in the economics profession. Our organization is implementing strategies to attract, develop, and advance a diverse staff and building a pipeline to increase diversity among economic researchers. We are committed to engaging in self-reflection, learning, and dialogue to nurture understanding across differences. Together, we will build an equitable, inclusive culture where everyone is respected, empowered, and heard. To learn more about our work and team culture, see our Join Our Team brochure or visit 

Opportunity Overview

As a member of J-PAL North America’s senior leadership team, the Associate Director of Policy is part of a scientific movement that can strengthen the wider research community and transform US policy making. The Associate Director of Policy leads the policy vertical and plays an important part in this work by maintaining a standard of excellence and a culture of continuous learning, ensuring J-PAL North America’s policy team accurately and effectively communicates research results, conducts external training activities, and supports the scale-up of effective programs. Key programmatic activities overseen by the Associate Director of Policy include:

– Partnership development to support new research and policy outreach activities, particularly in the areas of education, labor, health, and social protection
– Policy outreach and media communications to share evidence with decision-makers and advance the evidence-based policymaking movement
– Writing policy publications that synthesize research findings 
– External trainings for governments and non-profit organizations on how to use data and evidence]
– Technical support to scale up evidence-based programs
– Fundraising to help launch new funding initiatives and projects

Throughout this work, the Associate Director of Policy will maintain a focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and will advise on strategy for how to incorporate a racial equity lens into J-PAL North America’s policy outreach and partnership-building activities.

Key Responsibilities:

60% – Lead J-PAL North America’s policy operations, strategy, and partnership development

Manage and support a talented policy team.
The Associate Director of Policy supervises a team of managers and senior managers, providing timely, ongoing feedback, coaching and training and maintaining a positive, inclusive, and equitable environment. They identify staffing needs and actively engage in recruiting and hiring of policy staff. Additionally, the Associate Director of Policy provides strategic leadership and direction to the policy staff to set and meet clearly defined objectives and key results, conduct work planning, and ensure work plans, staffing allocations, budgets and priorities are coordinated across the policy vertical. 

Cultivate and manage inclusive collaborations with critical stakeholders 
The Associate Director of Policy develops and maintains relationships with governments, not for profits, the private sector, media, the MIT community, J-PAL North America’s network of affiliated professors, and communities affected by poverty to disseminate lessons from randomized evaluations and promote evidence informed decision-making. They will also manage a portfolio of J-PAL North America individual, corporate, and foundation donors and will secure funding for J-PAL North America’s policy work by cultivating and managing relationships with local and national philanthropic funders who can help to underwrite projects. 

Provide leadership and guidance on fundraising and donor relations
The Associate Director of Policy serves as one of the primary front-line fundraisers for J-PAL North America and represents J-PAL North America in fundraising meetings and at conferences. The ideal candidate is able to converse fluently with funders and partners on J-PAL North America’s work in education, health, labor, and social protection and understand how this fits with policymaker priorities. Key responsibilities include developing fundraising collateral, including concept notes, slide decks, and grant proposals in order to secure major gifts and grants and advising and building the capacity of policy managers and senior policy managers to effectively fundraise for their respective areas of work.

Maintain high standards in policy activities
The Associate Director of Policy maintains minimum competencies and standards on the policy team, including for policy writing, presentations, partnership development, and fundraising.

Oversee financial planning and management for policy team activities
The Associate Director of Policy, in close collaboration with the co-Executive Director and Director of Finance & Operations, sets, leads, and monitors the progress of the policy team’s finance and fundraising strategies, to ensure all projects and activities in the policy portfolio are fully funded. 

20% – Serve as a leader in the evidence-based policymaking community and demonstrate thought leadership on how to advance evidence based policy

The Associate Director of Policy leads a major area of J-PAL North America’s external-facing policy work in order to maintain policy outreach skills and a public presence that enables them to serve as an effective leader in the evidence-based policymaking space. The nature of this work will vary based on the needs of J-PAL North America and interests of the Associate Director of Policy. Responsibilities may include such activities as leading or closely advising J-PAL North America’s work in one of its core policy areas (e.g., education, health, labor, social protection) or leading or closely advising J-PAL North America’s work in one of its core policy outreach strategies (e.g., external training, communications, scale-up support). The Associate Director of Policy also maintains a working knowledge and keeps abreast of evidence-based policy trends, including major policy windows at the federal, state, and local levels, proactively identifies and develops strategic new opportunities, and orients the policy team’s work to leverage these policy windows.

20% – Provide strategic leadership to advance J-PAL North America’s mission and improve operational effectiveness.

As part of the senior leadership team, the Associate Director of Policy will actively contribute to the overall strategic planning and leadership of J-PAL North America and collaborate with senior leadership at J-PAL’s global and other regional offices to ensure that best practices are shared and implemented. They will contribute to the design and creation of new systems and modifications to existing systems to maximize functionality and effectiveness across J-PAL North America and participate in the planning and management of J-PAL North America’s annual operating budget.

Additionally, the Associate Director of Policy will represent J-PAL North America at high-profile events and participate in high stakes meetings as needed to effectively communicate J-PAL North America’s work, build J-PAL North America’s brand and reputation, and influence high-level decision makers.

Compensation & Benefits

This full-time, exempt position is classified by MIT as a Research Associate position and currently offers a competitive market-based salary range that is based on experience.

J-PAL North America staff are MIT employees, which means they are eligible for a wide array of institutional benefits. Some of these MIT benefits include comprehensive health insurance, a 401(k) match up to 5% of salary plus a pension-based retirement plan, tuition assistance up to $5,250 per calendar year, commuter benefits, access to MyLifeServices, a generous vacation policy (3 weeks of paid vacation in your first year, and 4 weeks every year after that), plus an additional 12+ paid Institute-wide holidays per year), paid leave for sick time, maternity and parental leave, back-up child care benefits and much more.

Professional Development

J-PAL North America supports a culture of learning, with opportunities to attend weekly seminars, engage in small-group discussions with other J-PAL staff, participate in workshops, and take classes for credit at MIT or elsewhere with our generous tuition assistance program. Staff have the opportunity to work with J-PAL affiliates and directors, as well as interact with policymakers and practitioners.  


Commitment to Mission & Values: Cares personally and deeply about policy that has the potential to reduce poverty and the rigorous research that informs it. Demonstrates interest in poverty alleviation in the North American (primarily the United States) context in particular. Demonstrates a commitment to J-PAL North America’s values and shares our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Education: Holds a master’s degree in economics, statistics, public policy or a closely related field that includes significant training in economics and statistics or quantitative methods of program evaluation. 

Experience: A minimum of 8 years of relevant experience, including experience in a leadership or management position in an organization focused on social issues. Demonstrated track record of building and maintaining partnerships with external organizations and in publicly representing an organization in a manager/leadership role. Track record of successful fundraising is required. Experience working with government, developing or influencing policy preferred. Prior demonstrated experience working with communities of color and/or those experiencing poverty in North America is a plus. Work experience should demonstrate a high level of responsibility and ownership.

Technical understanding of policy research: Strong analytical abilities and demonstrated ability to understand and communicate findings from rigorous quantitative research. Understanding of economics, quantitative research, and randomized evaluations is essential.

Written and Oral Communication: Ability to effectively communicate, both in verbal and written forms, with a range of stakeholders (e.g. government policymakers, donors, non-profit leaders etc) on a wide range of issues, including organizational strategy, evidence-based policy, and research results. Strong public speaking ability across a range of settings, including presentations, panel discussions, and one-on-one meetings. Track record of effectively writing for donors and policymakers preferred. 

External Stakeholder Relations: Strong track record of building partnerships with external stakeholders, which may include donors, government and not-for-profit leaders, and researchers. Ability to advise managers and junior staff on stakeholder relations.

Project Management: Ability to plan and manage multiple complex, multi-year projects from conception to completion. Able to push forward external stakeholders, meet deadlines, manage budgets, and manage staff time and resources. Familiar with project management tools and software (e.g. Gantt charts, Asana) and builds systems where tools do not already exist. Incorporates long term or big picture implications of each option or constraint in decision-making. Takes responsibility for decisions made and executed. 

People Management: Demonstrated leadership and management experience, including hiring, training, and managing a diverse team to successfully complete projects on tight deadlines. Demonstrates effectiveness in leading, inspiring and supervising direct reports or teams. 

Travel:  Willingness to travel and represent J-PAL North America as needed at conferences and stakeholder meetings.

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