Senior Program Officer, Research Measurement & Evaluation, Pacific Northwest
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Seattle, WA, United States
This new Senior Measurement, Learning & Evaluation Program Officer position on the Pacific Northwest team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will join with the team’s existing MLE staff to help define and shape measurement, learning, and evaluation activities of a holistic, integrated, place-based approach to increasing educational success for youth who are furthest from opportunity in Washington State. The work covers the four distinct but related strategic foci of the PNW team, including Early Learning, Pre-K through 5th grade, Charter Schools and Family Homelessness. All work is rooted in a commitment to the belief that race, gender and income should not be the determinants of success in life. This position requires an advanced understanding of research methodologies and the application of research findings to field-based practices, evaluation strategies and tactics, and knowledge management and dissemination of research findings that advance insight into replication of promising and evidence-based practices. The successful candidate will have established a strong academic training or background in research and evaluation, along with an interest and willingness to be part of a creative and innovative team focused on maximizing the effectiveness of philanthropic sector investments. While specific experience with research, measurement, evaluation, and learning activities focused on families, communities and schools is desirable, it is not essential.
Strategically design, manage and monitor research, measurement, learning, and evaluation activities for the Pacific Northwest (PNW) Initiative and its strategies. Responsible for strategically developing and managing a portfolio of complex grants and contracts requiring high-level partner and contract management skills, monitoring, and evaluation. Most projects require a deep level of engagement to ensure that strategic and tactical level goals, outcomes measures and metrics are clearly defined and linked to overarching frameworks progress stays on track, and deliverables meet the foundation’s standards. In addition, this role requires deep engagement with research partners and grantees and provides considerable statistical, research, and evaluation design expertise in order to help partners produce relevant and high-quality work.
- Lead and carry out development and implementation and monitoring of internally and externally focused research, evaluation and learning activities focused on rapid feedback as well as longer-term research and evaluation projects. Engage with research partners to provide considerable statistical, research and evaluation design expertise in order to help them produce relevant and high-quality work;
- Work as an embedded lead for research, measurement and evaluation with program teams to develop and manage clear measurement models and research, measurement, learning and evaluation activities related to their strategies, refine and monitor research and evaluation goals and implementation plans;
- Contribute to the design of new strategies, portfolio development, cross cutting data initiatives with focus on coherent, integrated theories of change, measurable impact models, scaling, collaborations and implementation plans to ensure long-term sustainability and impact;
- Collaborate across program teams to research, architect, engineer and configure complex database solutions to specified requirements in support of program outcomes and goals;
- Solely, or directly leads a team to develop, manage and implement evaluation strategies in service of program goals, and negotiate, execute and conduct and manage complex, performance-based contracts/grants;
- Collect, analyze and summarize external research, identifying relevance and applicability to team-specific MLE activities;
- Consult with partners to maximize impact of projects and ensure optimal learning. This may include: site visits, convening meetings of key stakeholders, shaping reports on key findings and coordinating on dissemination plans;
- Promote effective knowledge management activities, including translation of research knowledge to practice environments, and other activities to promote utility of research-generated knowledge in field settings;
- Review contract, RFP & grant proposals; provide clear, concise & insightful written analyses & recommendations for funding including drafting & editing proposal summaries, managing complex RFP processes;
- As needed, serve as a liaison to the foundation’s Strategy, Measurement, and Evaluation team and the range of internal foundation measurement and learning teams and work groups, interpreting PNW and USP activities;
- This role is responsible for high quality interactions and clear and consistent communications with grantees and partners in the field;
- This role manages people and is responsible for hiring the talent needed to achieve our goals, ensuring successful employee onboarding, communicating performance expectations, creating goal alignment, integrating project and change management, giving and seeking feedback, providing coaching, measuring progress and holding people accountable, supporting employee development, and recognizing achievement and lessons learned.
Leadership and Culture
We believe that energized people, working well together, fueled by great leadership in an inclusive environment in which they thrive, will do phenomenal things.
Core Knowledge and Skills
- In-depth knowledge of statistical methods, formative, summative and additive evaluation designs, qualitative and quantitative research methods, data collection and management, education policy and practice. Excellent written & oral communications skills effective with a broad & diverse audience. Recognized internally & externally by the global professional community as an expert within a particular specialized field. Ability to -prioritize, focus & achieve results. Ideally, RM&E SPOs will also be adept working diplomatically with partners and subjects of evaluations who are anxious about being evaluated or regard the work as a diversion from more pressing obligations;
- Work on complex matters or unique issues of ending family homelessness, strengthening community capacities, and/or scaling and spreading education reform policy & practices to strategic locations. Analyzing situations that require evaluation of intangibles including contextual influences and consequences that are beyond the immediate problem or issue at hand. Exercising independent judgment in developing methods, techniques and evaluating criteria for obtaining results. Recognizing when a situation requires the attention of management/leadership. Seek and consider multiple points of view and opinions before making decisions;
- Deciding (a) who/when to approach external stakeholders to develop grant opportunities or to form strategic partnerships; (b) on the crafting of grant and contract opportunities within the boundaries of the Foundation's strategic priorities; (c) on how funding should be allocated within the grant-making/contract pipeline; and (d) on the content of external convenings;
- Serve as point of contact on portfolio-related issues for key stakeholders. Represent the Foundation with stakeholders; grantees, other funders, universities, think tanks, government agencies). May serve on boards & working groups. Support Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) communities within Pacific Northwest, College Ready, Post-Secondary, US Program, and foundation-wide;
- Requires interaction and providing guidance to partner districts, counties and the State of Washington about capacity and system needs and data management solutions, often interfacing with senior leaders in those environments. Develop and maintain relationships with key local, regional and national intermediary organizations. In general all interactions require conciseness, negotiation skills, diplomacy, good judgment on how much information to convey and when, and the ability to cultivate trust in order to maintain the relationship;
- Problems are highly complex; decisions are made only after extensive research and consultation with others. Examples:
- Which propensity-matching algorithm is optimal for use in an evaluation study?
- What are the components of an evaluation framework that can be adopted by PNW?
- Which evaluation theory is most appropriate for social change initiatives in complex or uncertain environments?
- When is item response theory a preferred method of measurement over classical test theory?
- When are hierarchical linear models appropriate for research design?
Education and Experience
- Master’s Degree in relevant field with 11+ years of experience. Ph.D. (an advanced degree in statistics, measurement, evaluation or a related field) preferred;
- This role requires an advanced degree in statistics or a related field and the ability to engage at a deep level with high-level researchers and evaluators at top national firms. It calls for the ability to translate technical information for BMFG management and education practitioners.