Senior Program Officer/Counsel for Legal Research - TRB Technical Activities

Washington D.C.
Apr 26, 2017
Jul 11, 2017
Analyst, Research
Engineering, Research
Full Time

***PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS POSITION WILL START OUT AT 50% TIME. Depending on fundraising, this role may in the future be able to work more than 50%.***

The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Medicine work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine.


The Transportation Research Board (TRB) is a major division of the National Academies. The Board's mission is to provide leadership in transportation innovation and progress through research and information exchange, conducted within a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal. In an objective and interdisciplinary setting, TRB facilitates the sharing of information on transportation practice and policy by researchers and practitioners; stimulates research and offers research management services that promote technical excellence; provides expert advice on transportation policy and programs; and disseminates research results broadly and encourages their implementation.


The TRB Technical Activities Division provides a forum for transportation professionals to identify research needs and to share information on research and issues of interest. The Division’s staff of specialists in each mode and discipline works with a network of volunteers to carry out activities on behalf of TRB sponsors and the transportation community. This network includes members and friends of more than 200 standing committees, supplemented by designated TRB representatives in each state, approximately 150 universities, and 35 transit agencies.




The portfolio of this Senior Program Officer (SPO) involves support for TRB’s activities in the area of transportation law. The SPO’s primary responsibility will be to guide and provide staff support to the standing committees in TRB’s Legal Resources Group. There are currently seven such committees: Transportation Law, Transit and Intermodal Transportation Law, Contract Law, Emerging Technology Law, Environmental Issues in Transportation Law, Eminent Domain and Land Use, and Tort Liability and Risk Management. Responsibilities include: assisting the committees with their activities and acting as the Secretary for the Group Executive Board; serving as the link between the committees and a broad range of other Technical Activities Division standing committees and with the Cooperative Research Programs (CRP), including expert peer review of the CRP legal digest report series; organizing and overseeing the annual Transportation Law Workshop; overseeing the development of the committees’ activities at the TRB Annual Meeting; and overseeing peer review of papers on transportation law topics which may be submitted to TRB’s peer reviewed journal, the Transportation Research Record.


Responsibilities include keeping abreast of issues and technical developments affecting the SPO’s program areas; providing staff support to standing committees and the Group Executive Board that manage these committees; arranging conferences, workshops and elements of the TRB Annual Meeting program; reviewing and processing reports and papers; traveling to state, local, and federal transportation departments, transportation-related industries, and universities to exchange information about problems and potential solutions and about current and proposed research programs; maintaining ongoing relationships with major TRB sponsors; developing new program areas; serving as a topic area liaison to TRB Cooperative Research Programs; responding to inquiries; and performing other related duties as assigned. Also, supervises the work of support and other program staff associated with the program area.




1. Leads convening activities such as forums or workshops. Communicates and coordinates with the committee chairs and other members of the group. Identifies and gathers research materials. Solicits and contacts potential committee members. Facilitates the flow of information among committee members, staff, and other applicable parties.


2. Conducts workshops and/or meetings. Develops budgets, agendas, invites presenters and participants, oversees meeting logistics and multimedia presentations, and prepares written summaries.


3. Prepares background papers and technical summaries. Develops written products (e.g., reports, proceedings, white papers). Drafts and edits materials for publication. For studies and other applicable programs, synthesizes and edits research findings and technical data and determines the relevance of data for purposes of study.


4. Supports committee members, forum members, workshop participants, etc. in all aspects of work. For studies, assistance is provided in preparing draft reports, including writing sections of report based on committee input and review and editing the report for format, consistency, and grammar. Manages the response to review, responds to comments and concerns of editors, and prepares the final manuscript for publication.


5. Responsible for financial management of assigned programs or projects, including overseeing budget and schedule and authorizing expenditures. As required, collaborates with financial staff to ensure compliance.


6. Collaborates with experts and sponsors from federal, state, and local government agencies, foundations, schools, and other organizations. Represents the unit and committee within and outside the National Academies.


7. Maintains ongoing relationships with major sponsors and develops new program areas. Conducts background research on topics for new studies, programs, or activities. Writes prospectuses and proposals for new and continuing funding. Identifies potential sponsors. Raises funds for current and future projects. Negotiates funding with sponsors. Where applicable, manages funder/member/alumni relations.


The position may also require the following tasks, if applicable:


8. Independently manages complex programs or projects. Develops program or project strategy and ensures stated objectives are met. Conducts program evaluations. Activities may include leading studies, research programs, grant programs, fellowship programs, etc.


9. Where applicable, responsible for extensive communications activities related to assigned programs or projects. Publicizes programs and other priorities. Develops complex and content rich materials and websites to provide interest groups with information generated from and for activities.


10. Where applicable, manages dissemination of reports and other types of publications. Prepares dissemination plan and funding proposal. Manages report production activities. Identifies and engages external organizations in dissemination. Prepares dissemination materials. Conducts dissemination meetings.


11. Independently supervises program or project staff. Ensures staff are appropriately trained and plans for staff development. Mentors staff. Initiates personnel actions. Conducts performance reviews. Interprets and ensures consistent application of organizational policies.


The essential job duties described (above) define the required responsibilities of this half-time position. Depending on the interest and abilities of the applicant, the position may be expanded to include developing one or more new programs or activities aimed at strengthening TRB’s role in transformational technologies or other emerging issues and broadening TRB’s sponsor base, partner and stakeholder network, and volunteer participation.





Advanced knowledge of the scientific, technical, or policy issues in a related discipline. Strong program/project management and facilitation skills. Ability to understand and share technical/scientific issues with diverse audiences. Ability to solve problems using originality and ingenuity. Ability to serve as a resource to others in the resolution of complex problems and issues. Ability to operate using substantial latitude for independent judgment and action. Ability to independently develop and manage multiple and complex projects. Ability to work successfully in a team environment and to form and maintain effective teams. Ability to develop relationships with co-workers, employees in other National Academies’ departments, and external constituents through effective communication. Excellent oral and written communication skills with a proven ability to effectively interact with all levels of staff and constituents.





Juris Doctorate from an accredited law school. Education in one or more legal specializations, e.g., real estate, construction, intergovernmental agreements, commercial litigation, personal injury litigation, employment/civil rights, labor, workers' compensation, and/or contracts. Collaborative work with fellow professionals in fields such as civil engineering, policy and planning, and/or transportation law is desired.





Six years of experience in the practice of law after admittance to the bar, two of which were in a supervisory capacity; including related professional experience with demonstrated impact on the advancement of science or policy through the successful completion of National Academies’ activities or equivalent outside activities. Demonstrated high level of proficiency in conveying scientific, technical, and/or policy information in oral and written form. 

If you already have an account created with the Academies, to apply to this position, click “Add to my Jobs” with your login information. If this is your first time applying with the Academies, please click “Apply for this position” below.

Similar jobs