Administration, Foundations and Philanthropy, Nonprofit and Social Impact, Social Justice and Advocacy

Senior Research Officer, Civil Society

  • Wellspring Philanthropic Fund
  • Washington, DC
About Wellspring Philanthropic Fund

Wellspring Philanthropic Fund is a private grantmaking foundation dedicated to advancing the realization of human rights and social and economic justice for all people. With offices in Washington, DC and New York, NY, Wellspring’s work is rooted in respect for the dignity and worth of every human being and is informed by the following beliefs:

  • Social institutions and structures should promote the full realization of human rights and human potential and should be accountable to these ends.
  • The rights of all people are advanced when the rights of the most marginalized and vulnerable peoples are protected.
  • Social justice movements should employ means that are consistent with their ideals and should give agency to the people whose interests they seek to advance.
  • As responsible stewards, we must strive to maximize the impact of our charitable investments.

For more information on Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, please visit website.

The Civil Society program at Wellspring works to engage historically disenfranchised communities in the democratic process, to expand access to the ballot for those constituencies, and to protect their ability to participate. Strategies include voter engagement activities such as voter engagement, mobilization and education; community organizing and empowerment; nonpartisan advocacy to defend the right to vote and expand voter participation; and more.

The Opportunity

Wellspring Philanthropic Fund’s Civil Society Program seeks a strategic Senior Research Officer to lead the grant evaluations and strategy assessments within a dynamic Civil Society (CS) team.  The Senior Research Officer will be responsible for facilitating a learning environment that will help to analyze the U.S. voter engagement and democratic system through research, innovation, and engagement. This position will be based in the Washington, DC Office and will report to the Program Director.

The role will manage research program projects to assess and evaluate data trends in the field. The Senior Research Officer must have a strong base of technical skills that can be flexibly adapted to meet the needs of many different internal and external stakeholders.

Candidate Profile and Responsibilities

While it is understood that no single candidate will offer every desired attribute and competency, the following is a representative list of the ideal candidate profile and priority tasks and responsibilities.

Strategy Development & Implementation

  • Stay well-informed of new developments and trends in the voter/elections field to find emerging needs, gaps, and opportunities, and ensure insights are actively integrated into team grantmaking strategy.
  • Explore emerging grantmaking strategies that encourage and expand the knowledge and outcome of voter rights.
  • Lead the Civil Society team on the specific functions of creating and implementing evaluation workstreams, such that evaluation data is meaningfully integrated into strategy.
  • Manage grant evaluations and strategy assessments for the Civil Society team.
  • Act as the liaison to the Learning and Evaluation team and Communications team to collaborate and ensure consistent and thoughtful communication of learnings externally. Prepare reports and other materials for internal groups including WPF leadership and Donors.

Research & Learning

  • Work closely with the Civil Society PD and Learning and Evaluation team to collaboratively develop and incorporate a method for internal learning, including ongoing internal reflection of Civil Society grantmaking strategies.
  • Lead projects that include analyzing information, summarizing findings, and presenting them in ways easily understandable to decision-makers, providing clear and useful reports for staff and other stakeholders as needed to move forward on Civil Society goals as outlined in the strategic plan.
  • Manage specific research projects to support the development of new efforts within the program and identify trends and new publications in the field to inform the Elections strategy.
  • Manage the engagement of external Civil Society evaluation consultants and researchers.

Grantee Learning

  • In collaboration with program staff, serve as the CS team lead in supporting grantees with projects related to field research and technical challenges.
  • Provide technical and capacity-building support as needed to grantees around learning.

Ideal candidates will possess the following knowledge, skills, and qualifications:

  • Minimum 8 years of relevant experience in Research, Learning and Evaluation.
  • Master’s degree or equivalent experience required; PhD preferred.
  • Experience working with a human rights or humanitarian aid, or advocacy organization dedicated to Voter Rights.
  • Strong background in research methodology with relevance to the field of voting and elections.
  • Familiarity with both civic engagement (voter registration, mobilization, turnout) AND voting rights (policy reform, voting laws, and electoral systems).
  • Aptitude in both Quantitative (statistical analysis, etc.) + Qualitative (surveys, etc.) methods and demonstrated expertise in successfully designing and carrying out quantitative and qualitative research and evaluation processes in the nonprofit field.
  • Excellent research, writing, editing, and communications skills.
  • Initiative, resourcefulness, and flexibility.
  • Ability to handle confidential information with complete discretion.
  • Experience with and a commitment to continued learning on demographic data on race, ethnicity, gender, diversity, and equity.
  • Experience conducting research on civic engagement, voting rights, and/or election reform issues in partnership with or within organizations representing historically disenfranchised communities.
  • Experience conducting civic engagement, voting rights, and/or election reform research with an equity lens on behalf of historically disenfranchised communities.
  • Skilled in data visualization & presentation (software skills a plus).
  • Must thrive when working under deadlines, have strong project and time management skills, and be able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously without sacrificing attention to detail.
  • Existing presence in civic engagement and voter right’s field and relationships or familiarity with funders and/or fellow academics.


The above job description is meant to describe the general nature and level of work being performed; it is not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required for the position. The team member may be required to perform duties outside of their normal responsibilities from time to time, as needed.

NOTE: At this time, all applicants must be authorized to work in the United States at the time of hire.

Compensation & Benefits

Salary range of $135,000 – $165,000 commensurate with experience.

Wellspring offers a very generous benefits package including payment of 100% of the health insurance premiums for employees (and 80% of the premiums for spouses, domestic partners, and qualified family members). Wellspring also offers other benefits including life insurance, long‐term disability protection, a group 401(k) retirement plan (with an employer match), support for continuing education, up to $5,250 in annual student loan repayment or college savings assistance for qualified dependents and is committed to providing transgender‐inclusive healthcare.


Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Molly Brennan and Turner Delano of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Koya Partners is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals living with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual living with a disability and need assistance expressing interest online, please email If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.

Wellspring’s Institutional Culture of Respect, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

Wellspring Philanthropic Fund believes we are strengthened by the diversity of our staff, and welcomes such diversity including race, gender identity or expression, educational attainment, disability, veteran status, and personal experience with the criminal justice system. We welcome applications from people of all cultures, backgrounds, and experiences, and we strongly encourage people of color and persons with disabilities to apply. We actively cultivate an institutional culture that reflects the values of respect, equity, and inclusion that we seek through our work to amplify in the larger world.

Wellspring hires, promotes, and retains employees based on their professional qualifications, demonstrated abilities and work performance, as well as on the degree to which these qualities are required in the employment positions made available by the Foundations’ service needs and business requirements. All personnel decisions, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, compensation, assignment, training, promotion, discipline and discharge, are made without discrimination based on any protected characteristic as defined by law (e.g., race, color, religion, national origin, citizenship, ancestry, age, disability, gender identity or expression, sex, sexual orientation, marital or familial status, domestic partner status, veteran or military status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, and prior criminal convictions, as well as educational attainment.)

Covid-19 Hiring Update

This role is expected to work from Wellspring Philanthropic Fund’s DC office on a hybrid schedule, with Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in-person. Mondays and Fridays may be worked remotely from a location outside of the office. To ensure the safety and well-being of our employees, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part of Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

For more information about Koya Partners, visit