Director of research and special projects

Washington D.C.
Dec 07, 2018
Institution Type
Other Organizations


Opportunity America is seeking a director of research and special projects who will work closely with the organization’s president to coordinate a range of initiatives, including several research projects and the launch of a career-focused charter school.

Opportunity America is a Washington-based nonprofit promoting economic mobility – work, skills, careers, ownership and entrepreneurship for poor and working Americans. The organization’s principal activities are research, policy development, dissemination of policy ideas and working to build consensus around policy proposals.

Staff split their time between OA and a sister nonprofit, ImmigrationWorks USA, which works to advance immigration reform.

The joint operation is small but growing and focused increasingly on issues of economic mobility. The director of research and special projects will have an opportunity to grow with the organization.

Among the organization’s current activities:

  • Opportunity America is working on several yearlong research projects – on community college workforce education, career-focused charter schools and barriers to minority entrepreneurship, among other topics. All of these projects involve conventional policy research, often with an emphasis on qualitative assessment and case studies. They also include convening stakeholders, frequently beyond the Beltway, to discuss policy, implementation of policy or their experience as educators or employers. The director of research and special projects will work closely with president Tamar Jacoby to coordinate this research, organizing stakeholder convenings, arranging site visits, finding source material, mining scholarly and other literature, compiling bibliographies and other related tasks.
  • Opportunity America is working to launch a career-focused charter school in Indianapolis. The director of research and special projects will work closely with president Tamar Jacoby to engage employer sponsors, prepare an application to the Indianapolis charter authorizer and coordinate a yearlong process of developing curriculum and planning the school.
  • Both organizations maintain websites. Both produce promotional material, including event readouts and recruitment flyers. Both are required to produce grant reports for foundations, and both cull news clips on a daily basis for posting on a website. The director of research and special projects has primary responsibility for most of these activities.

The job consists of a range of duties, and the ideal candidate will be a person with a range of skills, eager to take on new challenges but also to pitch in on routine tasks. He or she should be engaged with and committed to the issues the organization is working to advance.


Duties include but are not limited to:

  • Working with the president to coordinate research projects
  • Working with the president to coordinate stakeholder outreach and convenings and the incubation of a career-focused charter school
  • Attending and participating in meetings with stakeholders
  • An array of research tasks – from finding and mining data to day-to-day spot research
  • Helping to prepare and disseminate fact sheets, briefing documents, event readouts, press statements and promotional material
  • Producing grant reports
  • Maintaining the organization’s website
  • Working with vendors to coordinate the production and printing of reports
  • Supervising an intern A typical day might include a conference call with a group of stakeholders invited to a policy roundtable, searching for data on a government website and supervising an intern culling news clips – or perhaps crafting an event readout, updating the organization’s website, fact-checking and proofreading a document.


The director of research and special projects must be a self-starter, able to work independently, but also comfortable in a small-office setting where everyone pitches in.

He or she must be organized, detail-oriented and able to solve problems independently. Also essential: excellent oral and written communication skills and an eye for graphic design and webpage layout.

Candidates must be able to operate unflustered in a fast-paced work environment, managing multiple projects and prioritizing responsibilities and deliverables. They must also be able to think creatively, solve unforeseen problems and show initiative in taking on responsibility.

Some experience with website management is essential. Also highly desirable: knowledge of HTML and Adobe Photoshop and some familiarity with database management.

For more information about the organization, please visit our websites, and

If you are interested in this position, please send a cover letter, a resume, a writing sample and your salary requirements to [email protected]

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