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Vice President & Research Director - Strada Institute for the Future of Work

Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network

Washington, DC, USA
Posted on Wednesday, May 15, 2024
The Vice President & Research Director of the Strada Institute for the Future of Work (VP-Institute) is a full-time leadership position within Strada Education Foundation (Strada) responsible for developing, managing, and delivering on the Institute’s research agenda in partnership with the incumbent's manager, the SVP Employer Engagement / Executive Director of the Institute (SVP-EE). The incumbent in this role will be a Vice President-level position at Strada.
The VP-Institute will develop research ideas, lead research projects, and produce research products including reports, presentations, dashboards, and data visualizations. The VP-Institute will partner with others and maintain strong relationships both internally and externally. Additionally, the VP-Institute will work with their manager, the SVP-EE to build a research team for the Institute and provide supervision and mentoring to that team.
The Institute will develop actionable research on strengthening workforce competitiveness for employers and pathways to opportunity for individuals. The primary research audiences for the Institute’s work are employers and policymakers. The Institute is envisioned as a lighthouse/exemplar for how to leverage analytics and collaboration to drive improved labor market outcomes for learners, job seekers, employers, regions, and states. The Institute will support internal research and inquiry as well as produce research and products for public consumption. The Institute will be one of two complementary research teams at Strada – the other is Strada’s existing Research team, which has postsecondary education as its primary audience.
The Institute will conduct some research on its own and some in partnership with leading external groups, researchers from universities, and think tanks. The Institute team will also collaborate with Strada’s Research team. Illustrative future projects include developing:
-A model of employment outcomes for postsecondary education and training that would enable learners to make well-informed choices and promote upward mobility, while mitigating negative outcomes (e.g., underemployment).
-Research and tools examining skill alignments by major/ course taking and occupation (e.g., quantitative skills).
-Research products and tools examining typical occupational outcomes by major and differences by states and regions.
-Custom analyses of labor market supply/demand gaps and research on other education-to-employment (E2E) topics for selected states, regions, chambers, trade associations, economic development groups, and employers with which Strada partners.
-A more robust understanding of predictors of interstate migration of talent to enable policymakers to take actions to increase retention and reverse out-migration.
-A model that illustrates how differences in program cost by field of study can unwittingly result in talent supply/demand gaps, as well as how states can adjust their funding programs to improve employment outcomes for individuals and employers.
-Benchmarks of promising education and workforce/talent development efforts in states and regions.
This position requires a creative research leader who understands the important connections between data, research, and policy. This leader should be able to translate complex research findings to lay audiences in clear and concise written formats as well as through tables, charts, and visualizations. The VP-Institute should have a robust understanding of the education-to-employment landscape and the myriad of barriers, challenges, and opportunities employers, students, and workers across a range of demographics face in this ecosystem. The VP-Institute should have a strong understanding of employers, talent development pipelines, education-to-employment transitions, and trends and opportunities in postsecondary education and training. Knowledge of state policy in these areas is also a plus. The VP-Institute should have a strong grounding in quantitative research methods and data analysis. The VP-Institute will need to be able to identify and cultivate strategic and innovative research partnerships. They should possess outstanding people and management skills. They should also have experience building research capacity and research teams.
The successful candidate may be based in either Strada’s headquarters in Indianapolis or its regional hub in Washington, D.C. Strada currently has a hybrid work schedule, with team members working in the office at least two days per week.
In late 2022, Strada adopted an ambitious North Star – to collaborate with learners, educators, employers, and policymakers across the U.S. to bring to life a postsecondary education and training ecosystem that provides equitable pathways to opportunity – as well as a comprehensive strategic plan to achieve it. Five areas of emphasis (strategic pillars) have been identified, and operational plans for specific initiatives that will help the field advance have been developed, aligned with the five pillars.
Strada supports programs, policies, and organizations that strengthen connections between education and employment in the U.S., with a special focus on helping those who have faced the greatest challenges securing economic opportunity through postsecondary education or training (PSET). Our strategic plan (2023-2026) focuses on five pillars: clear outcomes, quality coaching, affordable PSET, work-based learning, and employer alignment. We work with partners in education and training, nonprofit organizations, industry, startups, and public policy. We leverage strategic philanthropy, investments, research, communications, policy solutions, and nonprofit subsidiaries as tools to help advance equitable pathways to opportunity. Strada offers a dynamic, collaborative, and inspiring professional environment that provides learning and professional development opportunities, both within the organization and with external partners.
The VP-Institute has four core responsibility areas, listed below with approximate time required.

Area 1: Develop a research strategy and annual research agenda for the Strada Institute for the Future of Work in partnership with the SVP-EE (15%)

  • With input from leaders across Strada and external stakeholders, identify and execute a research strategy that will optimize impact for Strada’s Employer Alignment stakeholders and state partners. Work with the SVP-EE to garner feedback from key stakeholders in an iterative design process to set the Institute’s research agenda, including how research endeavors are designed, conducted, and reviewed; design process of determining specific content areas / industries / topics of focus; and identify mechanisms for partnering with external stakeholders to deliver on specific research agenda deliverables. Use the State Opportunity Index metrics as a guide.
  • Using this input, work with the SVP-EE to identify important research questions and projects annually. The Institute should produce at least 3-5 products each year. At least two of these products should be geared to a national audience.
  • Incorporate internal and external partners in identification of the annual research agenda. External partners include employers and states. Internal partners include pillar leaders and the research team.
  • Ensure that the Institute’s agenda complements the work of Strada’s existing Research team and the pillar leads. The Institute will have a largely employer-centric and policy maker audience, whereas Strada’s existing (and continuing) research largely has a postsecondary-centric audience. Both will prioritize learners and workers. The Institute and Strada’s Research team likely will have opportunities to collaborate from time to time on topics of mutual interest.

Area 2: Execute Research Agenda (60%)

  • Ensure development and execution of a high-quality, impactful, actionable research program.
  • Lead at least 3-5 research projects annually and deliver on the annual research plan.
  • Supervise and mentor research staff as they work to deliver on the research agenda.
  • Identify methods, data sets and strategies for executing each research project.
  • Identify appropriate partners and experts to advise or help execute each product.
  • Seek expert/peer review of all products. Develop products that can be consumed by a wide variety of audiences. Products should use a succinct executive level communication style, be structured for a non-research audience, and be visual where possible. Products could take many forms including reports, policy briefs, web-based tools, applications, etc. Rigor and academic excellence are essential and detailed methods should be provided for those with interest.
  • Lead and/or support specific initiatives and workstreams, as needed.
  • Oversee the development of standardized systems and structures, develop guidelines and processes for engagement, manage budgets, contracts, and team workflow, and execute other operational needs.

Area 3: Lead Direct Reports and Third-Party Consultants, as well as Support DEI (15%)

  • Build and continuously coach a team of direct reports to deliver on the mission and project-manage initiatives and strategic activities (3-5 team members over the next 3 years).
  • Carry out supervisory responsibilities, including assigning and directing work of staff and contractors (if applicable), evaluating performance, and delivering timely and constructive feedback, in accordance with policies and applicable laws. Oversee staff workloads and assignments. Provide professional development and coaching, to initiative staff, and to other colleagues, where applicable.
  • Work in close alignment and connect the Institute team to pillar teams and others across Strada.
  • Manage day-to-day Institute activities.
  • Support an inclusive workplace culture through actively engaging in the diversity, equity, and inclusion learning agenda within the organization.
  • Partner with Human Resources and the DEI leadership to support policies and programs that attract, promote, develop, and retain underrepresented talent in the workforce, inclusive of multiple dimensions of diversity.
  • Incorporate principles and practices of diversity, equity, and inclusion into research design, research topic selection, analysis, and writing.

Area 4: Represent Strada externally and share research widely (10%)

  • Seek opportunities to share the Institute’s work across Strada, including helping to ensure that our insights are infused across Strada’s work.
  • Represent Strada in relevant external contexts, with a focus on sharing the Institute’s work products with stakeholders and researchers in the field.
  • The time allocation estimates above reflect the anticipated focus for the first 12 months in the role. Over time, these allocations may evolve.

The Person: Qualifications and Experience

  • Education: Advanced degree in economics, education, public policy and/or another relevant field required; doctoral degree in labor economics, public policy, education and/or another relevant field preferred

Experience Required:

  • At least 10-15 years of research experience and five years of experience managing teams and projects. Strong experience developing actionable research focused on strengthening the linkages between education/training and employment.
  • Experience with state and national data sets.
  • Knowledge of policies and practices that improve the alignment of education and training with workforce demands, employment pathways, higher education, workforce development, and state policy.
  • Excellent organizational skills: demonstrated ability to prioritize work and manage time on multiple projects and tasks to meet deadlines.
  • Strong writing and editing skills: demonstrated ability to communicate ideas clearly and concisely for public audiences. Preference for visualization skills or interest.
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively: track record of being a motivated, enthusiastic team player open to feedback and collaboration.
  • Curiosity, eagerness, and ability to develop new knowledge and skills.
  • Preferred: Working knowledge of equity-based practices in research (e.g. disaggregating data, participatory methods in research, system-level change theories, etc.).

Travel Requirements:

  • The VP-Institute will provide leadership and represent Strada in varied settings across the country. It is likely the role will naturally entail some travel for conferences and other meetings up to 10-15%.

Typical Physical & Mental Demands:

  • Requires prolonged sitting with some bending, stooping and stretching; eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity sufficient to operate a keyboard, telephone, and other office equipment. Requires normal range of hearing and eyesight to record, prepare and communicate appropriate reports. Also requires moderate to intense concentration due to complexity and/or need to meet deadlines, and flexibility to readily adapt to a changing environment.
Mission and Values Alignment:
Committed to providing equitable pathways to opportunity through PSET, particularly for individuals who have faced significant barriers. Demonstrated alignment with Strada's guiding values, commitment to building a strong and healthy workplace culture, and working in a collaborative environment.
Strategy and Innovation Leadership:
Adept at operationalizing strategy and effectively communicating strategic endeavors within the organization and in external contexts, both verbally and in writing. Particular skill in designing annual plans, monitoring progress, and refining plans as needed. Adaptable with tolerance for ambiguity. Able to problem-solve and navigate varied viewpoints. Capacity to refine efforts based on evidence that change is needed. Ability to lead efforts to visualize and monitor change. Capability to see and support innovative ideas and opportunities across the organization, and to embed innovation within operational plans. Capabilities in taking the perspective of others and adapting an agenda and approach – toward a shared aim - accordingly.
Strategic Problem Solving:
Ability to effectively utilize a hypothesis-driven approach to problem solving, with effective quantitative and communication skills. Ability to take on broad-reaching and sometimes ambiguous questions while working collaboratively and cross-functionally with Strada team members across the organization.
Execution and Operations Leadership:
Ability to translate innovative, strategic ideas into tangible, actionable steps, as well as to effectively monitor progress and partner with others on identifying improvements during implementation to increase the likelihood of successful execution.
DEI Commitment:
Commitment and professional experience advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within and organization, including incorporating stakeholder perspectives in the design, implementation, and evaluation of strategic efforts.
Relationship Building and Collaborative Capabilities:
Demonstrated ability to cultivate, grow, and manage positive, mutually beneficial relationships at all levels of an organization and with partners outside the organization. Strong communication, interpersonal and relationship management skills—including identifying and working through challenges—underscored by strong judgment and emotional intelligence. Proven collaborator, able to work with colleagues at all levels in the organization.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to Strada’s organizational vibrancy, employee experience, and mission. Strada is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workplace-certified by Diversity for Social Impact, a strategic professional and organization development company dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion to drive social impact worldwide. We strongly encourage applicants from people of color/the global majority, immigrant, bilingual, and bicultural individuals; people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQIA2S+ and gender nonconforming communities; and people with other diverse backgrounds and lived experiences. We believe every member on the team enriches our workplace by exposing us to a broad range of ways to understand and engage with the world, identify challenges, and discover, design, and deliver critical insights and solutions.