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J-PAL North America, a research center within the Economics department at MIT, seeks a Policy and Training Associate 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.
As a member of the J-PAL North America team, you’ll be part of a Nobel-prize winning scientific movement that can transform US policy making. The Policy and Training Associate works closely with both the Policy and Training teams. The Policy team translates insights from rigorous research to inform policy change, connects researchers with implementers to spur research on key questions related to poverty, synthesizes findings from research, conducts targeted policy outreach to share insights, and collaborates with partners to scale evidence-based approaches. The Training team creates resources and teaching materials, and delivers courses and trainings to promote the production and use of rigorous evidence. The Training team also leads the Economics Transformation Project, a pipeline project that aims to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in economics. As a Policy and Training Associate, your primary tasks will involve developing content for and supporting capacity building events, stakeholder engagement, evaluation support, project and process management, policy writing and outreach, and other capacity building activities.
For this position, we are looking for candidates with an understanding of impact evaluation, familiarity with economics and statistics, knowledge of social policy, public administration, and program implementation, excellent oral and written communication skills, attention to detail, strong project management skills, and who can take ownership of their work independently and collaborate effectively with other members of the team. We seek applicants from diverse backgrounds and especially encourage candidates with lived or direct experience with the social policy issues that J-PAL North America aims to address through its work. As we are seeking to expand the capacity of our team to work with Spanish-speaking populations, including the ability to deliver training programs in Spanish, Spanish language fluency is a plus.
- Develop content for capacity building events: Prepare original content and curate existing content for presentations, case studies, and tools for different policy and research audiences. Assist in developing J-PAL’s internal stock of training resources. Support content development for training programs and workshops geared at policy audiences such as J-PAL’s annual course on Evaluating Social Programs.
- Facilitate and support capacity building events: Present highly technical content and teach/facilitate discussions and small breakout sessions at events and conferences. Coordinate with administrative staff to execute training and capacity building events.
- Create resources: Create, maintain, and disseminate guides, documents, and other knowledge products on research and policy processes and methods that can serve as resources for a variety of audiences including J-PAL staff, academics, policymakers, and implementing partners. Create communications plans an products that share resources and capacity building opportunities with policy and research stakeholders.
- Policy writing and outreach: Draft publications and presentations that summarize and synthesize the policy implications of key research results. Support the Policy team in identifying opportunities for informing policy development and strategically sharing evidence with policymakers, philanthropic partners, and other stakeholders. Provide guidance and assistance to practitioners working to scale up evidence-based programs.
- Evaluation support: Manage processes related to collaborations with policymakers and practitioners to design randomized evaluations of innovative policies and programs. Explore policies and programs that might benefit from and be well-suited for rigorous evaluation. Share feasibility assessments and initial analyses with policymakers and researchers through in-person meetings, memos, and phone calls. Support partners in identifying their target population, defining eligibility criteria, refining their program’s theory of change, and identifying constraints and potential threats to the integrity of the study.
- Stakeholder engagement: Build and maintain strong relationships with key partners in government, non-profits, foundations, and the private sector. Hold initial conversations with prospective partners to identify promising opportunities for randomized evaluations or evidence dissemination activities.
- Project management: Manage Request for Proposal process, stakeholder interviews and research agenda development. Organize and attend convenings designed to bring policymakers, practitioners, and researchers together to spur new research collaborations or scale-up collaborations and share policy lessons from completed research. Draft reports to philanthropic funders and policymakers on the progress of evaluations and on lessons learned from program implementation. Maintain funding initiative records and track compliance in Salesforce.
Compensation & Benefits
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. Policy and Training Associates 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.
Education: A bachelor’s degree in economics, public policy or administration, statistics, or a closely related field is required, as is training in statistics and quantitative methods and training in effective non-technical writing.
Experience: This position requires 2 years of relevant experience, which can include experience gained through part-time work, college level coursework, related internships, volunteer experiences, research assistant or teaching assistant experience and/or policy work. Project management experience is highly valued. Prior experience with mentorship programs, pipeline programs, teaching/tutoring high school or college aged students is a plus. Prior lived or direct experience working with communities of color and/or those experiencing poverty in North America is a plus.
Technical Skills: Demonstrates the ability to accurately explain basic concepts related to randomized evaluation, other impact evaluation methodologies, and research generalizability with minimal support. Is able to understand and communicate details on research design, study implementation, results and their implications, and/or data systems on assigned projects.
Demonstrate proficiency in using office computer applications, software and systems to perform key responsibilities; demonstrate ability and willingness to learn new computer skills as needed to complete assignments.
Ownership of Work: Takes responsibility/is accountable for effectively completing assigned discrete tasks or projects with high attention to detail under direct supervision. Produces high quality work in the time expected; identifies and follows up with stakeholders as needed to ensure assignments are completed on time.
Written Communication: Accurately and succinctly communicates in writing with J-PAL staff and stakeholders on assigned projects with minimal supervision from senior-level staff. Clearly communicates technical information to non-technical audiences. Spanish language skills are a plus.
Oral Communication: Demonstrates strong active listening skills and accurately and succinctly communicates information orally to staff and external partners with minimal supervision from senior-level staff. Spanish language skills are a plus.
External Stakeholder Relations: Supports partnership development between researchers and potential implementing partners and/or maintains relationships with existing stakeholders under supervision from researchers or managers. Demonstrates experience exercising general stakeholder management skills in the context of policymaking or program implementation. Able to effectively support partnership development through events and projects.
Task & Project Management: Takes on a process-oriented task, plans and organizes work, delegates appropriately, coordinates with others, establishes appropriate priorities and timelines, exercises follow through, and adds overall value to the process.
Problem Solving/Decision Making: Demonstrates adeptness at analyzing facts, judgment, and strong decision-making ability. Responds to problems, issues, and opportunities that are identified by supervisors. Collaborates to identify a solution or response.
Travel: Willingness and ability to travel as needed locally and in the US (usually minimal) to attend events or participate in meetings. Please note that in the short term, travel may be extremely limited due to Covid concerns.