The Learning Policy Institute (LPI)

Position Title: Research Director
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Reports to: President
Application Deadline: Open until filled


The Learning Policy Institute (LPI) conducts and communicates independent, high-quality research to shape education policies and improve learning for each and every child. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, the Institute 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. LPI receives funding from more than a dozen philanthropies, most of which commit multi-year grants. Approximately 50 percent of the organizations funds are for general operating support, providing us significant flexibility in responding to policymakers’ and practitioners needs.


LPI seeks an experienced Research Director to join its team of research, policy, and communications staff. In addition to its staff, LPI also has access to the expert advice of nearly three dozen Senior Fellows representing a range of methodologies and substantive areas, and commissions or subcontracts for research support when appropriate. All research goes through an internal and external peer review process.

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, he or she 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.

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. Reporting to the President of the organization, the Research Director will manage and mentor research and project staff, providing direction and ensuring the rigor and quality of all work. 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. He or she 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 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
  • Passion for and commitment to LPI’s mission
  • 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

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 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.


LPI has retained the services of Insight Executive Search to identify the Research Director. For more information or to apply for the position, please contact:

Aaron Schmidt, President
Insight Executive Search
(949) 281-7525

The Learning Policy Institute is an equal opportunity employer. Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.