Research, Social Justice and Advocacy

Senior or Principal Research Associate, Office of Race and Equity Research

  • Urban Institute
  • Flexible, Washington DC Preferred
About Urban Institute

At the Urban Institute (Urban), we believe in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities. As a nonprofit focusing on social and economic policy, our researchers and policy entrepreneurs open minds, shape decisions, and identify transformative solutions to the most pressing issues of our time.

Our Mission

To open minds, shape decisions, and offer solutions through economic and social policy research.

Our Values

Whether working with fellow Urban Institute colleagues or partnering with communities, we strive to build teams with diversity of thought, background, and experience. We seek to maintain a culture of mutual respect where everyone feels their contributions are valued.

Our staff members are united by the belief that all people—regardless of income, race or ethnicity, education, or zip code—should have the chance to achieve their highest potential. We are committed to interrogating and mitigating structural racism in society and within our workplace.

In our research, we embrace lived experience as a form of evidence, knowing it is important for conducting high-quality, authentic analysis. Within Urban, we seek to build a culture of belonging, where people feel they can bring their whole selves to work.

Urban does not have an agenda, ideological or otherwise, nor do we take institutional positions on issues. Staff members have autonomy to pursue new ideas, and they are empowered and supported to share their own evidence-based views and policy recommendations.

Experts are committed to following the facts wherever they lead, offering solutions to societal and policy challenges that are rooted in rigorous research. Our strong policies and cultural norms ensure the conclusions of our experts are rooted in evidence and free from outside influence, and that we are transparent about our funding sources.

For more information on the Urban Institute, please visit

The Opportunity

Reporting to the Vice President in the newly launched Office of Race and Equity Research, Urban Institute is looking to bring on either a Senior Research Associate or a Principal Research Associate to help advance our research agenda focused on innovative research and policy solutions to advance racial equity.  Candidates are encouraged to apply at either level and the position can be adjusted to be commensurate with the level of experience of the applicant. 

A Senior Research Associate would be able to lead complex quantitative and/or qualitative research/evaluation methodologies, serve as a subject matter expert within the Office, and conduct a mix of self-directed and collaborative projects.  A Principal Research Associate would exhibit innovation and mastery in leading the design and application of complex quantitative and/ or qualitative methodologies, is recognized as a research expert in their specific area of inquiry, has a demonstrated track record of leading or significantly contributing to multiple research projects, and has demonstrated potential to raise funds (from either government or private sources) to advance bodies of work within the Office.

The Office of Race and Equity Research is an interdisciplinary and cross-Center hub for innovation in research, policy, and practice to drive equitable outcomes. Researchers collaborate with content leaders to harness data across disciplines, disentangle the effects of race, class, and gender, and shift from documenting racial and ethnic disparities to exposing injustices and informing solutions. In this new era, the Urban Institute’s Office of Race and Equity Research seeks to remedy structural inequities and foster prosperity and opportunity for all people. The Office provides research, advisory services, thought partnership, and technical assistance for a wide range of changemakers, including front-line practitioners, advocacy partners, and public officials at all levels of government. The Office also develops catalytic initiatives and builds capacity at Urban and across the field for race and equity research that meets high standards for excellence, accessibility, and policy relevance. To this end, the Office of Race and Equity Research helps researchers partner with communities to elevate lived experience as a vital source of knowledge and authority; draw on innovations in data science to measure equity, design more equitable policies and evaluate their impact; and hold institutions accountable for achieving equity goals.

What You’ll Do:

  • Help build an innovative research agenda that can examine root causes and effects of structural racism, and solutions to persistent inequities.
  • Contribute to the emerging field of equity measurement and analytics.
  • Bring experience pairing policy research with equity analysis.
  • Manage and design all aspects of research projects, including drafting and overseeing IRB submissions, data collection plans, analysis plans, staffing plans, improving team performance (by supervising and coaching individual team members), monitoring project progress, budget, and schedule, and ensuring effective dissemination.
  • Apply an equity lens to project conceptualization, analysis, and dissemination, and support the design and implementation of the Office’s equity research strategy. Stay up to date on research methods to support study of the role of structural racism and the measurement of equitable outcomes. 
  • Serve as a subject matter expert on policy solutions and the development of new bodies of work by understanding, collecting, and translating complex research and policy content on race and equity related research, to identify and recommend best practices in program or policy interventions.
  • Coach and guide team members to equip changemakers with guidance in the form of templates, reports, presentations, toolkits, blogs, data tools, features, and other accessible products.
  • Coach, guide, and mentor early career staff to support their growth and development along Urban’s career pathways.
  • Serve as a key owner or support for project development, business development, original proposals, responses to solicitations, and other business cultivation activities.
  • Work in a collaborative and dynamic environment and can adapt to changing needs and opportunities as they emerge.

What You’ll Experience

No matter your role with Urban, you will contribute to meaningful work that makes a difference for people and communities across the country. And whether you call the Washington, D.C. area or elsewhere home, you can expect to be part of a welcoming and hybrid workplace. We are committed to cultivating a community and working in a manner defined by collaboration, equity, inclusivity, independence, and integrity.

Candidate Profile

We recognize that there is a spectrum of lived and professional experience that will set candidates up for success in this role. While no one candidate will have every experience outlined in the position description, ideal candidates will display the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:

Passion for the Mission

Mission-driven at your core, you believe in the opportunity that the Office of Race and Equity Research has to play a transformative role in its quest to remedy structural inequities and foster prosperity and opportunity for all people. An enthusiastic champion and promoter for the Office, you will create visibility and momentum for its continued impact with a growth mindset and superior, innovative research.

Research Expertise

You have experience designing and executing studies and projects that use multiple research methods (qualitative, quantitative, mixed-methods, community-engaged methods, visualization).  You will have demonstrated ability to communicate sophisticated research and connect results to policymaking. You can translate research and policy data and content into clear, comprehensible products that are accessible to non-technical audiences for use in policy development and practice. You have deep and relevant experience with racial equity practices, and a strong perspective on how racial equity data and research can inform policies that close equity gaps.

Effective Communicator & Relationship Builder

You have excellent oral and written communication skills with an ability to communicate effectively with diverse internal and external audiences. You can deliver presentations and engaging and facilitating communications with external funders, policymakers, government officials, etc. You bring strategic communications experience, including the knowledge to outreach to media and target audiences in the public, business, and nonprofit sectors. A superb collaborator, you have strong interpersonal skills and comfort working both independently and in team environments supporting projects organization wide.

People Manager

You possess excellent management skills and leadership prowess, including a demonstrated ability to supervise and mentor junior staff, as well as experience coordinating or staffing high-level advisory groups and interdisciplinary teams, and experience coaching staff and teams to desired outcomes whether through implicit and explicit authority. You bring an enthusiasm for building healthy teams that allow each member to contribute to their fullest and thrive.

In addition, strong candidates will offer:

  • Proven fundraising orientation and capacity, with experience in identifying, cultivating and securing support for new work.
  • An ability to adapt to changes in work assignments, deadlines, and project management styles.
  • A graduate degree (e.g., MA, MPP, PhD) in public policy, public administration, public health, economics, data science, political science, sociology, ethnic studies, service design or related fields. (Required education and experience may be substituted by an equivalent combination of education and experience deemed sufficient for qualification in the position).
Compensation & Benefits

Urban’s greatest asset is our people.

Urban is committed to supporting our staff’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being through a robust benefits package for yourself, eligible dependents, and domestic partners. It includes generous paid time off, including nine federal holidays, medical (including prescription), dental and vision insurance, and transit benefits. Urban is unique in that we offer 403(b) retirement plan participation immediately after you’re hired and a generous employer contribution after five months of service and 1,000 hours, with immediate vesting. You’ll also have access to a health advocate, personal finance coaching, an Employee Assistance Program, and educational assistance for undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Urban features a competitive compensation for this position, commensurate with the candidate’s skill and experience.


Urban Institute has exclusively retained Koya Partners to help in this hire. To express interest, please submit a compelling letter of interest and resume to Shelby Woods and Molly Brennan, here.

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.

The Urban Institute is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. All qualified candidates will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, gender or gender identity, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, veteran status, pregnancy or family responsibilities, matriculation, disability, political affiliation, or any other protected status under applicable law.

As a federal contractor, Urban will comply with Executive Order (EO) 14042 that requires federal contractors, subcontractors, and their respective employees to comply with Covid-19 vaccinations. All Urban Institute employees must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and comply with masking and distancing requirements, regardless of responsibilities or work location. New hires must also be fully vaccinated before starting work. Employees may request exemption from vaccination against COVID-19 based on either a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief that prevents them from being vaccinated. Where such an exemption is approved, Urban will discuss with each employee potential accommodation.

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

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