Director of Center Operations (UI)

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 influence policy, 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. 

This position is based in the Research to Action Lab (Lab) and also provides support to the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy (CNP). Within the Urban Institute, the Lab is an innovation hub serving decision makers and creative thinkers eager to effect social change. We draw on the breadth and depth of Urban’s research insights to test new strategies and develop cutting-edge tools, programs, and trainings, as well as to provide strategic and philanthropic advice to public, nonprofit, and private sector leaders.

How you’ll contribute:

We are seeking a Director of Center Operations to lead the operations team and provide project management, proposal development, and center management support to both the Lab and CNP. This person will lead the Lab’s and CNP’s Operations work, which supports staff through project management, overseeing center budgets, advising on administrative and operations tasks, and communicating with internal and external stakeholders and experts. In addition to running the daily operations, the Director will provide direction, coaching, and technical expertise to staff and work collaboratively with other operations staff throughout the Urban Institute.

Responsibilities include:

  • Manage the overall operations of the Lab/CNP and workflow of the operations team, including supervision of a direct report
  • Serve as a trusted advisor to center staff on Urban policies and procedures
  • Innovate and adapt center practices and procedures to anticipate and respond to changes in Urban policies
  • Support center leadership by proactively monitoring and tracking center performance across a variety of metrics, including budget, fundraising, and hiring
  • Guide staff throughout grant proposal processes, including drafting budgets (using Excel templates); managing deadlines; compiling submission packages; and conducting final proposal reviews with a strong attention to detail
  • Work with project leads and their teams to ensure that projects stay on target, meet deliverable expectations, manage budgets, and track deadlines
  • Troubleshoot project issues and apply a solutions-oriented mindset to operations challenges
  • Build effective relationships with centers, business units, and senior leadership across the organization through frequent communications that enable efficient and productive interactions that support center and project needs
  • Direct and support project leads and research teams in the development of proposal, project, cost-to-complete budgets, tracking hours billed to projects, and monitoring associated invoices
  • Assist with and oversee timecards, reimbursements, payment of invoices, consultant agreements, purchase orders, and subawards
  • Foster a workplace culture respecting and supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in alignment with Urban Institute and Lab goals

What you’ll bring:

The successful candidate will:

  • Demonstrate a track record of at least seven years of operations and/or management experience, with increasing levels of authority and responsibility over time
  • Display strong organization, relationship management, and communication skills
  • Demonstrate the ability to take the initiative and work quickly, innovatively, and show initiative to reinvent and/or improve processes and are comfortable adapting to rapidly shifting goals/priorities
  • Exhibit experience with preparation and analysis of budgets and ability to read and analyze financial reports, business correspondence, and managing the submission of foundation and/or federal proposals
  • Demonstrate experience managing a small team, while working effectively both as part of a group and independently
  • Possess advanced skills in using Excel, MS Word, Outlook, Salesforce and other CRM applications; experience with JAMIS and Workday is a plus
  • Work successfully on multiple assignments while using strong organizational skills and maintaining close attention to detail and a passion for continuous improvement, ongoing learning, and testing new ideas 

What you’ll experience:

The Urban Institute strives to be a vibrant, creative community of skilled and committed people who bring to their work a whole range of different experiences. Accordingly, 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.

In addition, 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 plus elect a pretax benefit for commuting expenses.


To Apply

Please follow instructions online here.


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.

For more information about the Urban Institute, please visit our website at


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  • Reed Young
    published this page in Job Board 2020-10-26 13:14:52 -0400