Senior Policy Associate - J-PAL North America

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Published 28 days ago

About J-PAL North America

J-PAL North America, a research center within the Economics department at MIT, seeks a Senior Policy Associate to join its team and contribute to its mission to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. J-PAL North America conducts randomized evaluations, builds partnerships for evidence-informed policymaking, and helps partners scale up effective programs. As a regional office of the global Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, J-PAL North America leverages research by affiliated professors from universities across the world to generate and disseminate rigorous evidence about which anti-poverty social policies work and why. 

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential to address the complex causes and consequences of poverty. To advance our mission, J-PAL North America must draw on diverse experiences from our staff and affiliated researchers in order to ask better questions and identify better solutions. We are working to increase the limited representation of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in the economics profession. Our organization is implementing strategies to attract, develop, and advance a diverse staff and building a pipeline to increase diversity among economic researchers. We are committed to engaging in self-reflection, learning, and dialogue to nurture understanding across differences. Together, we will build an equitable, inclusive culture where everyone is respected, empowered, and heard. To learn more about our work and team culture, see our Join Our Team brochure or visit

 Opportunity Overview

As a member of the J-PAL North America team, you’ll be part of a Nobel-prize winning scientific movement that can transform US policy making. Our Senior Policy Associates play an important part in this work by supporting J-PAL North America’s ongoing partnerships with researchers, policymakers, implementing partners and philanthropic partners. As a Senior Policy Associate, your primary tasks will involve stakeholder engagement, evaluation support, project and process management, policy writing and outreach, and capacity building.  

For our Senior Policy Associate position, we are looking for candidates with an understanding of impact evaluation, familiarity with economics and statistics, knowledge of social policy, public administration, and program implementation, excellent oral and written communication skills, attention to detail, strong project management skills, and who can take ownership of their work independently and collaborate effectively with other members of the team. We seek applicants from diverse backgrounds and especially encourage candidates with lived or direct experience with the social policy issues that J-PAL North America aims to address through its work.  


  • Stakeholder engagement: Support engagements with policymakers, practitioners, and researchers working on randomized evaluations in North America. Build and maintain strong relationships with key partners in government, non-profits, foundations, and the private sector. Hold initial conversations with prospective partners to identify promising opportunities for randomized evaluations or evidence dissemination activities. Organize and attend convenings designed to bring policymakers, practitioners, and researchers together to spur new research collaborations or scale-up collaborations and share policy lessons from completed research. Draft reports to philanthropic funders and policymakers on the progress of evaluations and on lessons learned from program implementation. (25%)
  • Evaluation support: Manage processes related to collaborations with policymakers and practitioners to design randomized evaluations of innovative policies and programs. Explore policies and programs that might benefit from and be well-suited for rigorous evaluation. Share feasibility assessments and initial analyses with policymakers and researchers through in-person meetings, memos, and phone calls. Support partners in identifying their target population, defining eligibility criteria, refining their program’s theory of change, and identifying constraints and potential threats to the integrity of the study. (25%)
  • Project and process management: Manage major projects and processes, including policy outreach webinars and events, stakeholder interviews, Request for Proposal processes, and research agenda development. Maintain funding initiative records and track compliance in Salesforce. (20%)
  • Policy writing and outreach: Draft publications and presentations that summarize and synthesize the policy implications of key research results. Support the policy group in identifying opportunities for informing policy development and strategically sharing evidence with policymakers, philanthropic partners, and other stakeholders. Provide guidance and assistance to practitioners working to scale up evidence-based programs. (20%) 
  • Capacity Building: Create guides, documents, and presentations on research processes and methods that can serve as resources for policymakers and implementing partners who are beginning to work on randomized evaluations. (10%)


  • Commitment to Mission & Values: Cares personally and deeply about policy that has the potential to reduce poverty and the rigorous research that informs it. Demonstrates interest in poverty alleviation in the North American (primarily the United States) context in particular. Demonstrates a commitment to J-PAL North America’s values. 
  • Education: A bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in economics, public policy or administration, statistics, or a closely related field is required, as is training in statistics and quantitative methods and training in effective non-technical writing.   
  • Experience: This position requires 4 years of relevant experience, which can include experience gained through part-time work, college level coursework, related internships, volunteer experiences, research assistant or teaching assistant experience and/or policy work. Project management experience is highly valued. Prior lived or direct experience working with communities of color and/or those experiencing poverty in North America is a plus.
  • Technical Skills: Demonstrates the ability to accurately explain basic concepts related to randomized evaluation, other impact evaluation methodologies, and research generalizability with minimal support. Is able to understand and communicate details on research design, study implementation, results and their implications, and/or data systems on assigned projects. Demonstrates ability to learn and draw general lessons on research design, study implementation, and/or results across studies. Demonstrates ability to develop mastery of a particular subject area. Demonstrate proficiency in using office computer applications, software and systems to perform key responsibilities; demonstrate ability and willingness to learn new computer skills as needed to complete assignments
  • Ownership of Work: Takes responsibility/is accountable for managing their own work with high attention to detail and limited supervision. Manages projects and delegates tasks to other staff. Follows up with staff as needed and ensures that projects are completed on time and at the quality expected. Works independently and balances their own workload. Seeks feedback from managers as needed to re-prioritize or clarify work prior to deadlines being missed. Takes initiative and offers ideas for new ways to approach work; shares knowledge and/or talents with others as needed to complete assigned tasks or projects. 
  • Written Communication: Accurately, succinctly, and persuasively communicates in writing to staff, researchers, and project stakeholders with minimal supervision. Communicates or drafts communications for high-level external audiences with some supervision from senior-level staff. Able to edit the work of other staff and coach more junior staff in written communications. 
  • Oral Communication: Demonstrates strong active listening skills and accurately, succinctly, and persuasively communicates information orally to staff, researchers, and external partners with minimal supervision. Communicates with high-level external partners with direct supervision from senior-level staff. 
  • External Stakeholder Relations: Supports partnership development between researchers and potential implementing partners and/or maintains relationships with existing stakeholders with minimal supervision. Supports partnership development through events and projects. 
  • Task & Project Management: Initiates and manages a process-oriented task, plans and organizes work, delegates appropriately, coordinates with others, establishes appropriate priorities and timelines, exercises follow through, finishes it well, and adds overall value to the team.
  • Problem Solving/Decision Making: Demonstrates adeptness at analyzing facts, judgment, and strong decision-making ability. Responds to problems, issues, and opportunities that are identified by supervisors. Collaborates to identify a solution or response.  
  • People Management: May supervise interns. May serve on hiring committees and provide support to the hiring process. Provides candid feedback to and about colleagues including managers. Seeks feedback and areas for improvement. Willingly receives and acts on feedback.
  • Travel: Willingness and ability to travel as needed locally and in the US (usually minimal) to attend events or participate in meetings. 

About J-PAL North America

J-PAL North America, a research center within the Economics department at MIT, seeks a Senior Policy Associate to join its team and contribute to its mission to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by…

Details at a Glance

  • Time Commitment
    Full Time Schedule
  • Start Date
    July 1, 2021
  • Education
    4-Year Degree Required


Compensation & Benefits

This full-time, exempt position is classified by MIT as a Technical Associate II position and currently offers a fixed market-based salary range that is based on experience.

J-PAL North America staff are MIT employees, which means they are eligible for a wide array of institutional benefits. Some of these MIT benefits include comprehensive health insurance, a 401(k) match up to 5% of salary plus a pension-based retirement plan, tuition assistance up to $5,250 per calendar year, commuter benefits, access to MyLifeServices, a generous vacation policy (3 weeks of paid vacation in your first year, and 4 weeks every year after that, plus an additional 12+ paid Institute-wide holidays per year), paid leave for sick time, maternity and parental leave, back-up child care benefits and much more.

Professional Development

J-PAL North America supports a culture of learning, with opportunities to attend weekly seminars, engage in small-group discussions with other J-PAL staff, participate in workshops, and take classes for credit at MIT or elsewhere with our generous tuition assistance program. Senior Policy Associates have the opportunity to work with J-PAL affiliates and directors, as well as interact with policymakers and practitioners.  

Compensation & Benefits

This full-time, exempt position is classified by MIT as a Technical Associate II position and currently offers a fixed market-based salary range…


Temporarily Remote
Work may be performed anywhere in United States
Associated Location
400 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142, United States

How to Apply

Ready to join a team of collaborative, inclusive, and inquisitive colleagues? Apply now.  

This position will be remote until at least September 7, 2021, and eventually is expected to be based in Cambridge, MA. This position is not eligible for any type of visa sponsorship. Submit an application via MIT’s human resources system. Visit, search for job ID 19495 (Policy Associate - J-PAL North America), and complete an application. In a single PDF uploaded to the resume field, please include:

  1. Cover letter which answers the following questions: 
  2. Tell us about your interest in poverty alleviation in the North America region, especially in the US, and what experiences have you had that demonstrate that you are able to work with communities experiencing poverty?
  3. What experiences have you had with quantitative policy/social science research, and how they have prepared you to be effective in this Senior Policy Associate role?
  4. What experience have you had in communicating effectively with policy and practitioner audiences, including your experience in using inclusive language that resonates with diverse communities?
  5. Resume

We will begin reviewing applications on a rolling basis as we receive them. Short-listed applicants will be asked to complete a technical exercise and phone interview. Finalists will be called for a final interview.

MIT is an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, ancestry, or national or ethnic origin.…

Ready to join a team of collaborative, inclusive, and inquisitive colleagues? Apply now.  

This position will be remote until at least September 7, 2021, and eventually is expected to be…

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