Director of Research (WF)

The Wallace Foundation – an independent, national philanthropy with $1.5 billion in assets based in New York City – traces its origins back more than half a century to DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, founders of The Reader’s Digest Association.

The Wallace Foundation’s mission is to improve learning and enrichment for disadvantaged children and to foster the vitality of the arts for everyone.  In each of its focus areas – Arts, Education Leadership, and Learning and Enrichment – the Foundation seeks to achieve “dual goals” by simultaneously creating benefits:

  • at the local level through supporting its grantees in delivering and improving their services to their target beneficiaries, and
  • at the national level by identifying and helping to answer one or more significant questions whose answers are not known but which, if known, could help propel progress broadly in the field.

Using what is referred to as the “Wallace Approach,” the Foundation designs its initiatives based on efforts to understand the context of the fields in which they work, fund programmatic work in the field to generate improvements and insights, and catalyze broad impact through the creation and dissemination to practitioners and policy makers of a broad range of accessible and useful studies, reports and tools emanating from the work.

All Wallace initiatives are designed and implemented through interdisciplinary teams consisting of staff from its program, communications and research units. The team works collaboratively to create strategies that capture the synergy of its members’ diverse knowledge, skills, experience and ways of thinking. Team members from program, communications and research units are responsible for managing the grants in their respective disciplines and for collectively coordinating the work of grantees across disciplines.

The Role

The position of Director of Research at The Wallace Foundation offers an unusual opportunity at the most senior level of a well-resourced private foundation to apply the skills and experience of a seasoned social science researcher and manager across a broad range of types of research where s/he can make a meaningful contribution to improving the lives of disadvantaged children and the vitality of the arts at a national scale.

Reporting directly to the Foundation’s president, the Director of Research is a member of Wallace’s senior management team, with shared responsibility for strategic planning, policy, and organizational development. The Director is a significant contributor to the design of initiatives, integrating a research and policy analysis perspective with those of Wallace’s other disciplines as they seek to achieve “dual benefits” in their work.  In addition, s/he is a member of the Foundation’s Public Policy Engagement Working Group.

The Director leads a team of two senior research officers, a research officer and an administrative assistant, who are responsible for managing the research grantees and partners whose work they commission to support Wallace’s knowledge agenda.

The Wallace Foundation commissions a wide variety of types of research and practical tools in its focus areas – from literature reviews and knowledge syntheses that can inform both the field and the design of its initiatives; to implementation, cost, effects and sustainability studies of the Foundation’s funded work; to tools and guides that help policy makers and practitioners apply the results of what we learn in a variety of contexts.

Please visit the Foundation’s Knowledge Center at www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center for examples of the broad range of knowledge products we publish.

Responsibilities Include

Strategy, initiative design, and implementation through interdisciplinary teams

  • Actively contribute to strategy and initiative design through interdisciplinary teams, bringing a social science research and policy analysis perspective to the interdisciplinary team discussion.
  • Contribute to identifying important unanswered questions (“high-leverage knowledge gaps”) in the Foundation’s areas of focus for potential Wallace initiatives to support a fully integrated evidence-based approach.
  • Contribute to the design of large-scale research projects for each initiative, with a focus on generating results that would most benefit practitioners and policymakers, and advance knowledge in the field. These research projects often include: synthesis of existing evidence related to the initiative’s knowledge agenda, implementation evaluations, outcome studies, and opportunities and challenges for an initiative to inform policy.
  • Manage the work of research grantees, contractors and partners – primarily through leadership of the unit – to build a relationship of trust, candor and transparency so that discussion of challenges and problems leads to shared problem-solving and resolution, and progress and success is recognized and built on. Actively participate in the editorial review process for major reports to ensure credibility, clarity, organization, non-partisanship and usefulness while respecting and maintaining the independence of third-party researchers.
  • Fulfill Wallace’s responsibility as stewards of the Foundation’s resources by ensuring research grantee budgets cost-effectively reflect the scope and deliverables to support the initiative goals, spending is monitored, financial reports are reviewed, and up-to-date records are maintained in the grants management database.

Strategic approach, policy, organizational development and accountability

  • Actively engage in and contribute to the strategic thinking and planning for the Foundation’s overall approach to grantmaking and knowledge development as expressed in the Wallace Approach.
  • As a member of the Public Policy Engagement Working Group comprised of senior leaders at Wallace, contribute to the development of plans for policy work in areas where the evidence and policy window suggest it is warranted, consistent with Wallace’s policy engagement principles.
  • Actively contribute to building high-performing interdisciplinary teams across the foundation to improve how we work together, build trust, and advance Wallace’s mission. Demonstrate an approach to shared problem solving that is grounded in advancing the work, assumes good intentions, demonstrates respect, and welcomes a diversity of perspectives. Support the individual professional development of staff in the Research unit.
  • Aligned with Wallace’s values of accountability and being good stewards of its resources, provide thought leadership in the process to develop the foundation’s indicators of progress and impact in the Foundation’s initiatives and policy engagement work. This includes leading the analysis and discussion of responsive action plans for the Grantee Perception Report, and contributing to the identification of cross-cutting themes in the Year in Review Report to the Board.

Knowledge-sharing to catalyze broad impact

  • Working with the Program Directors and the Director of Communications, contribute to the development of appropriate knowledge dissemination strategies to further the foundation’s overall initiative goals.
  • Cultivate relationships with policy makers, practitioners, thought leaders, external networks such as funder collaborations, and professional associations to advance the thinking and dialogue in the fields relevant to the goals of the Foundation’s initiatives.
  • Contribute to sharing what we learn by representing Wallace at professional conferences, convenings and events.

Candidate Profile

The successful candidate will be a leading social science researcher and manager with demonstrated credibility, technical expertise, and managerial experience across a range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. S/he will have a strong track-record of applied research and of managing other researchers. As a member of several interdisciplinary teams, s/he will be a persuasive advocate for the value of rigorous, credible research while understanding the limits to research created by – and helping to find practical solutions that address – dynamics in the field and the realities confronting grantees.

We are looking for an innovative leader knowledgeable in a wide range of research methodologies and approaches and connected to a wide and diverse network of research partners; a collegial team member able to contribute to culture of collaboration and constructive dialogue between Research, Programs and Communications; and an inclusive and adept people manager able to instill the same spirit and skills in the members of the Research unit s/he manages.  Subject matter expertise in one of the focus areas of the Foundation is an advantage but not a requirement.

As with all members of the Wallace staff, we seek candidates who are highly skilled in their professions and derive energy from working collaboratively across disciplines. All Wallace employees need to be able to work collegially with others from different backgrounds, think analytically and communicate clearly.  We value the flexibility to adapt to change, a desire to learn, and the ability to work productively both on one’s own and with colleagues inside and outside the foundation.

In terms of the performance and personal competencies required for the position, we would highlight the following:

  • Demonstrated ability to effectively collaborate as part of a high-performing, integrated, interdisciplinary team of professionals in a goal-oriented environment, actively contributing across the foundation to improving how we work together, build trust and advance Wallace’s mission.
  • D. in a social science discipline with a focus on applied research and/or policy analysis in a field related to the Foundation’s grantmaking.
  • Fifteen or more years of substantive experience in managing and conducting a variety of research approaches employing both quantitative and qualitative methods.
  • Extensive experience managing a broad array of research projects and/or as a principal investigator on major multi-site longitudinal research projects.
  • Excellent analytical, conceptual thinking, interpersonal, strategic planning and project management skills.
  • Strong listening, written and oral communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively with grantees and partners.
  • Ability to both lead and collaborate with senior management team colleagues to achieve the Foundation’s goals.

The Wallace Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to maintaining a diverse workplace where differing perspectives are a source of strength. People of color are encouraged to apply.

To Apply

To submit an application, please contact Russell Reynolds Associate at Wallace_Research@russellreynolds.com. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

 


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