Background: The Wallace Foundation — an independent, national, New York-based philanthropy with $2 billion in assets – traces its origins back more than half a century to DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, founders of The Reader’s Digest Association. The Foundation’s mission is to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people, and in the arts for everyone. Their work is grounded by their core values, which guide how they work together, and their mission and approach, which describes what they do. They aim to create a workplace where all can thrive and contribute to support the mission.
Wallace Foundation Core Values
The Wallace Foundation seeks to improve complex social systems in ways that are meaningful, measurable, and sustainable. They value behavior that demonstrates a commitment to Mutual Respect and Support, Diversity, Continuous Learning, Collaboration, Excellence, and Accountability.
Wallace Foundation Approach
The Foundation has an unusual approach that is reflected in the way the Foundation develops its strategies and designs its initiatives. In each of their focus areas – Arts, Education Leadership, and Youth Development – the Foundation begins by attempting to understand the context of the fields in which they work in order to identify and help answer one or more significant questions whose answers are not known but which, if known, could help propel progress more broadly. The Foundation then works with a small number of grant recipients both to help them test new ideas and generate improvements for those they serve and, through commissioning related research studies, generate evidence and insights that, when shared broadly, can improve policy and practice in an entire field. The public reports emanating from this work support our strategy of catalyzing broad impact, acting as a source of credible, useful lessons to be disseminated to key audiences.
Wallace works in education leadership with approximately 100 districts in 32 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. For more information on The Wallace Foundation and to see examples of their work, please visit http://www.wallacefoundation.org
Position: The Foundation is seeking a Research Officer to manage its portfolio of research grants and grantees associated with its investments in Education Leadership. Reporting to the Director of Research, the Officer’s initial responsibilities will include managing a suite of grants for the Equity-Centered Pipeline Initiative, a new five-year initiative focused on equity-centered leadership. The Officer must have experience designing and leading a range of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies. They will serve as a key member of the education leadership strategy and implementation teams, where the Foundation’s education leadership direction, including research directions, are collaboratively developed and refined.
The Research Officer, Education Leadership will bring deep research knowledge, expertise, and experience at the intersection of education leadership, equity, and research methods to the strategic discussions that shape Wallace’s initiatives. They will work with the Director of Research to identify gaps in the knowledge base, develop RFPs, manage the grantee selection and award process, and then manage funded studies.
The Research Officer manages all aspects of Education Leadership research grants, including contracts management; review and analysis of analytic memos, reports, and other research deliverables; and budget or timeline changes. Specifically, they will:
- Oversee grantee selection and award processes, including contributing to the development of new RFPs, co-leading the identification, review, and selection of researchers with appropriate scholarship and methodological expertise necessary to address the scope of the RFP, and managing the award process
- Foster positive working relationships with grantees that are built on trust, candor, and transparency, as well as an open exchange about challenges and problems that leads to shared problem-solving and resolution. This includes:
- Communicating clearly with and supporting the research grantees in their work to ensure mutual understanding about the scope of work and deliverables
- Ensuring an understanding of how the funded studies are aligned with the Foundation’s strategy and knowledge agenda
- Preparing timely analysis and updates of work that advance both the research grantee work and the Foundation's strategy team processes
- Monitor grant progress throughout the year through periodic calls, meetings, contributions to PLCs and review of reports, sharing feedback with grantees
- Build researchers’ understanding of the Foundation’s strategy and knowledge agenda
- Lead research briefings to share findings and lessons with the Foundation’s Education Leadership Strategy Team for cross-initiative and foundation-wide learning
- Coordinate commissioned researchers’ data collection with relevant program officers when it involves complicated interactions with site grantees, including the collection of complicated and sensitive data in public school systems and youth-serving organizations
Support Effective Dissemination of Lessons Learned
- Identify the kinds of knowledge emerging from research grants that can support learning among grantees, researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and field leaders, as well as the formats that would best support their intended use (e.g., policy briefs, infographics, design principles, data charts, etc.)
- Conduct careful reviews of draft research reports and knowledge products to ensure that they are accurate, credible, clear, and meet the Foundation’s quality standards
- Represent the Foundation-funded education leadership research and overall strategy at conferences, briefings, workshops and on webinars
Collaboration within Education Leadership Strategy and Implementation Teams
As an active contributor to the educational leadership interdisciplinary teams, the Research Officer will:
- Bring knowledge and understanding of the education research literature, specifically at the intersection of education leadership, equity, research methods, and needs in the field, into discussions and collaboratively developed work products that reflect the best thinking of the team
- Demonstrate a deep understanding of equity with respect to education leadership issues, challenges, trends, leading researchers, and practices
- Working with the Director of Research, identify key knowledge gaps and research approaches that could most benefit practitioners and policy makers, and advance knowledge in the field
- Contribute to discussions about potential education leadership program and communication grantees and technical assistance providers, providing substantive, research-based input
- Stay current with relevant research literature, writing RFPs that reflect this research and accurately frames the problem and research questions; identify relevant scholars to invite to respond to RFPs or to commission directly
- As a representative of the research unit and interdisciplinary team, fully understand and support emerging directions in the strategy and implementation teams, as well as the strengths, weaknesses, and gaps of current and past Wallace-funded research in education leadership
- Be proactive and responsive to current and emerging needs and interests in the strategy and implementation teams, and in the respective program and communication units by alerting staff to existing research findings or efforts, and identifying proactive scans and evidence reviews that could be conducted to inform anticipated needs or discussions
Contribute to the Research Unit’s Capacity
The research unit, consisting of researchers working in the three areas of arts, youth development, and education leadership, shares relevant findings of interest with one another, troubleshoots methodological and process issues related to the design and management of research grants, and seeks to develop a coherent approach to issues that cut across the distinct focus areas, such as equity, research use, and research methods. As a part of the research unit, the Research Officer, Education Leadership specifically will:
- Work collaboratively with colleagues to stay abreast of emerging research methods and strategies, e.g., new forms of data visualization, research tools or protocols, or theory development
- Work collaboratively with colleagues to identify new ways the unit can contribute to the strategy and implementation teams’ work in timely and useful ways, including new processes or protocols for evidence reviews or proposal reviews, or identifying external researchers whose work aligns with the Foundation’s directions
- Provide intellectual and management support to the director, by keeping him or her abreast of relevant research findings or developments in the field and possible implications for the work of the Foundation
- Represent the broader research unit to others inside and outside of the Foundation, as well as cultivate relationships and participate in external networks and professional associations
Experience and Qualifications
The Research Officer will bring current knowledge of research in education leadership and equity, as well as a depth of experience with both qualitative and quantitative methods. In addition, they will have:
- A PhD in a relevant social science discipline
- Scholarly history of conducting research and publishing peer-reviewed papers in the context of education and equity, and preferably in education leadership and equity
- At least 10 years’ experience designing and conducting education research (serving as a PI, co-PI, or project director) using a range of methods
- Experience working in or with school district central offices
- Grasp of the education leadership field at-large including current issues it is engaged with, and how research could advance practice
- Excellent writing skills, spanning academic and more public/practitioner related audiences
- Capacity to work productively in a collaborative team structure
- Demonstrated commitment to accountability and transparency
- Excellent conceptual, analytic, and forward-thinking skills
- Exceptional project management skills and ability to multi-task in a fast-paced environment
- Willingness to travel to grantee sites, meetings, conferences, and other events
- Outstanding ability to connect, convey and receive complex ideas, and drive consensus and mutual understanding in writing, speaking, active listening, and synthesis
The Wallace Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to maintaining a diverse workplace where differing perspectives are a source of strength.
Compensation and Benefits
The salary for this position is $160,000.
- Health, dental and vision for employee and covered dependents at hire
- 403(b) Retirement Plan with employer contribution
- Generous Paid Time Off (PTO) and schedule of annual holidays
- Professional development initiatives for growth
- Leaves of Absence providing employees time to manage personal or family responsibilities, recover from an illness or injury, or respond to civic duties
COVID-19: The Wallace Foundation office is currently open on a voluntary basis with the expectation that staff will return in a hybrid environment in early 2022. Applicants will therefore be expected to move to and live in the New York metropolitan area.
To Apply: The Wallace Foundation has retained the services of Harris Rand Lusk to conduct this search. Inquiries, nominations, and applications may be directed in confidence to:
Anne McCarthy, COO
Elly Kirschner, Senior Director
Harris Rand Lusk Executive Search
Please put “Wallace Research Officer” in the subject line of your emailed application