Research Director (Palo Alto, CA)

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Who We Are

The Learning Policy Institute (LPI) is a national organization that conducts and communicates independent, high-quality research to shape education policies and improve learning for each and every child. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, LPI connects policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels with the evidence, ideas, and actions needed to strengthen the pre-k to grade 12 education system and address the complex realities facing public schools and their communities. Working with policymakers, researchers, educators, community groups, and others who care about improving public schools, the Institute advances evidence-based policies that support empowering and equitable learning for all children. 

The Position

LPI seeks an experienced Research Director to join its team of research, policy, and communications staff. Reporting to the President of the organization, the Palo Alto-based Research Director will oversee research teams in our four focus areas: educator quality, early childhood education, deeper learning, and equitable access.

The Research Director will manage and mentor research and project staff, provide direction, and ensure the rigor and quality of all work. In addition to its staff, LPI also has access to the expert advice of more than 40 Senior Fellows representing a range of methodologies and substantive areas with whom we collaborate for research support when appropriate. All research goes through both internal and external peer review processes.

In collaboration with LPI’s President, Executive Director, and research managers, the Research Director will oversee the work of project leads with respect to research design, data collection, analysis, and reporting. The candidate should be skilled at supervising and mentoring teams of researchers and should also work well as a member of a team. The successful candidate will work collaboratively with the research teams, relevant communications and policy staff, and the leadership team. The successful candidate also will work well with external organizations. 

The ideal candidate will combine an exceptional track record of conducting and managing high-quality research projects and will be conversant with both qualitative and quantitative methods. Ideally, the candidate will have knowledge of and experience with research aimed at policy solutions and audiences.

LPI’s research agenda is shaped by policymakers’ needs, our commitment to an equitable education for all, and opportunities to influence policy and practice on a wide scale. The design of our research reflects the specific questions we are addressing and the strength of the existing research base. When solid research is available, we conduct rigorous syntheses. When secondary data sets are available, we conduct secondary analyses. (We have access to NCES and other data sets in a secure setting.) When necessary, we launch original data collection—primarily through interviews, surveys, and/or case studies.

Qualifications and Experience

The ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:

  • Doctoral degree in the social or behavioral sciences with at least 10 years of post-doctoral research experience
  • Demonstrated experience conducting and managing multi-method research studies
  • A track record of scholarly publications, preferably in one or more of our four focus areas: educator quality, early childhood education, deeper learning, or equitable access
  • Strong methodological skills (both quantitative and qualitative)
  • Experience conducting policy-oriented research and communicating it to policy audiences
  • Knowledge of and experience working in state and/or federal education policy arenas
  • A strong knowledge of k–12 education issues and existing relationships in the field
  • Excellent and persuasive written and oral communication skills
  • Strategic leadership skills
  • Ability and willingness to work productively in a fast-paced and often demanding environment, with deadlines
  • Authorization to work in the United States for any employer

In addition to these basic qualifications, the ideal candidate will have a deep commitment to the importance of developing data and empirical analyses to inform public policymakers and other stakeholders and a strong desire to produce research results that are both highly relevant to public policy debates and credible to and understandable by a non-technical audience, as well as research peers.

The ideal candidate will also have leadership stature in a relevant applied area of research, as recognized by authorities in the field, and the technical ability, knowledge, and temperament required to recruit, mentor, and lead a multidisciplinary research staff of high quality and dedication, including the leadership qualities necessary to provide guidance and constructive criticism in ways that reinforce rigorous quality standards and motivate professional growth.


  • Passion for ensuring that all children receive empowering and equitable learning, especially historically underserved students
  • Self-starter mentality and the ability to both work independently and foster collaborative working relationships, and to work well in a team setting
  • A demonstrated commitment to excellence and equity
  • Ability to execute and exhibit good judgment
  • An understanding and appreciation of the varied and complex educational policy landscape and the ability to translate that understanding to policymaker and lay audiences
  • An optimistic outlook and a flexible, innovative nature

To Apply

Learning Policy Institute has retained the services of Insight Executive Search to assist with recruitment for this position.  For more information or to apply, please contact:

Aaron Schmidt, President, Insight Executive Search
[email protected]

The Learning Policy Institute is deeply committed to its staff’s health and well-being and strives to embody the organization’s values within the organizational structure. LPI offers competitive compensation and benefits; prioritizes and provides financial support for professional development; supports diversity, equity, and inclusion work internally; and values a collaborative culture. LPI is an equal opportunity employer. Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply but must be authorized to work in the United States for any employer.