Senior Associate - Learning and Evidence

Washington, DC and west coast
Starting salary is commensurate with experience.
Apr 27, 2018
Jun 01, 2018
Senior Associate - Learning and Evidence
Full Time

Organizational Overview

The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) is a national, nonprofit public policy, research and technical assistance organization headquartered in Washington, DC, with offices in New York City and Los Angeles. CSSP is committed to securing equitable opportunities and optimal outcomes for children and families. CSSP strives to achieve this by focusing on the families facing the most significant barriers – including families living in poverty and those whose lives are affected by discrimination based on race, immigration status, sexual orientation and gender identity.

CSSP strives to accomplish its mission by developing and advancing effective public policy; helping to transform public systems to be more preventive, results-oriented, accountable and caring; and supporting local leaders to create the community opportunities, supports, services and environments in which all children and families can thrive. CSSP works in partnership with other national organizations, foundations and governmental and community leaders to test new ideas and approaches, provide technical assistance, generate new evidence and support networks of innovators. All of our work reflects a long-standing organizational commitment to equity and social justice.

Job Description

This is a senior position in CSSP’s Learning and Evidence team, reporting to the Director, Learning and Evidence.  The ideal candidate for this position will be based in CSSP’s Washington, D.C. office but we are open to considering an out-based location on the west coast.    

CSSP’s Learning and Evidence team has both an internal and external focus.  The work of the team strives to:

  • Increase the capacity of CSSP as a learning organization by co-designing learning strategies and supporting and coaching leadership and staff to successfully implement the strategies.
  • Ensure CSSP’s knowledge building for the field is done with rigor and integrity so that CSSP is viewed as a highly credible resource.
  • Meet the current challenge of developing the knowledge base to guide public and philanthropic investments to achieve better results for children, youth, and their families, reliably and at scale, and making this expanded knowledge base broadly available; and
  • Contribute to expanding, support and make more visible the evidence-related approaches, strategies and methodologies that promise to improve results, strengthen accountability, and encourage learning for improvement.   

This work is part of CSSP’s larger mission of improving opportunities and life outcomes for those who face the most significant barriers to success and are most often marginalized, including children and their families living in poverty; racial and ethnic minorities; immigrant and refugee families; and children, youth and families in contact with intervening public systems (e.g., child welfare, juvenile justice and mental health).


Primary Responsibilities

The primary responsibilities of this position are to manage and coordinate CSSP’s work in conjunction with evaluations of complex, multi-site initiatives to improve equitable outcomes for children, youth, families, and communities.  This includes working to advance more equitable, effective, and inclusive forms of learning and evidence development.  Specific responsibilities will include, but not limited to:

  • Designing and leading learning opportunities, identifying new modalities of learning, providing coaching and leadership to staff at all levels to build their competencies and skills, working across teams to build internal capacity.
  • Supporting all CSSP project development to ensure a learning and evidence approach is built into our work.
  • Project management.  This includes managing day-to-day implementation of project requirements of existing CSSP Learning & Evaluation projects and developing work plans, staffing requirements, and budgets for new projects.  For example, duties on a current project include supervising CSSP staff, coordinating the work of a prestigious panel of evaluators on a cutting-edge complex place-based initiative, on-going communication with the funder’s L&E team, directing the synthesis of evaluation findings as part of a shared learning system among participants and stakeholders and reporting to funders.
  • Reviewing and synthesizing findings of evaluations and research with the aim of expanding and enhancing the field’s current knowledge and learning for achieving better, more equitable outcomes for children, youth and families.
  • Project team member responsible for multiple tasks and/or key deliverables such as analytical reports and case studies.
  • Facilitating internal and external groups to achieve results.
  • Developing proposals and writing grant applications to secure new funding.
  • Representing CSSP in national forums including presenting CSSP’s work and linking CSSP’s work with regards to Learning and Evidence with other similar efforts, nationally and at the state and local levels.


Critical Skills and Knowledge Needed for this Position

Applicants should have a minimum of 8 to 10 years of progressive experience in leadership roles, ideally at the national level or with state or local government or with complex or multi-site foundation-sponsored initiatives.  They must be committed to, and have experience and knowledge in, promoting racial equity and in developing strategies to achieve equitable results across racial and ethnic groups. Preferably, the successful candidate will have a masters or doctoral level degree in a relevant field such as, but not limited to, social work, public health, public policy, social science methods, organizational development and learning.  Knowledge, skills and aptitudes that are essential and/or particularly valuable to this position include:

  • Cultural humility. This means understanding and respecting that people have different perspectives on a topic, problem or situation as a result of their background, experience and knowledge and using this understanding to enter into conversations and problem solving with sincere inquiry rather than pre-determined assumptions. It is demonstrated by actively seeking to understand others experiences and frames of reference.
  • Curiosity. This means having the desire to explore multiple possibilities, seeking out new ideas, reframing problems and solutions, adapting approaches and continuously learning.  It also includes actively reflecting on what lessons you have learned and using that knowledge to question your assumptions. It is demonstrated by proactively seeking out feedback from a wide range of sources – individuals most likely to be affected by the designed solution, colleagues both within and outside CSSP and reviewing the existing assembled knowledge base. 
  • Creative facilitation. This means creatively processing different perspectives and deliberating multiple options.  It is demonstrated by orchestrating interaction to find common ground and create ownership that allows groups to move forward to action for better results.
  • Data literacy and evidence.  This means using different kinds of data to accelerate sense making.  It is demonstrated by understanding how to use multiple sources of data to get a better understanding of a challenge and potential solutions to be applied and actively engaging with others to share that understanding in a straightforward, plain speaking way that avoids the use of jargon.
  • Familiarity with critical bodies of knowledge for evidence generation and learning such as emergent learning, improvement science, and implementation science. and
  • Experience and expertise in evaluation design, data collection and analysis, (data collection methods such as questionnaires, in-depth interviews, focus groups and participatory approaches) and development of materials that translate evaluation findings into valuable user-oriented materials.
  • Effective and timely communication including strong writing, oral and analytical skills with proficiency in electronic spreadsheets, questionnaire development and presentation format.
  • Experience in working with and helping to mobilize partners in complex initiatives, public agencies, philanthropies, and the media
  • Knowledge of some or all of the many substantive areas essential for thriving communities that support strong families and contribute to successful outcomes for children, e.g., health and social services, education, housing, food security, neighborhood development, community organization,  resident leadership and engagement and promotion of constituents’ voice, economic development, collaborative decision-making, community capacity building, and other fields.

Compensation and Benefits

Starting salary is commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits provided including short-term and long-term disability, life insurance, health insurance, retirement benefits, generous vacation, sick and holiday leave schedules provided. CSSP is an equal opportunity employer and strongly believes that our organization and our work benefit from the experiences and perspectives of a diverse staff.

How to Apply

Qualified applicants should send cover letter with salary requirements, resume and writing sample to (subject: Senior Associate, Learning and Evidence).



Applications accepted until June 1st or until position is filled.

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