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Senior Project Manager Operations (Research to Action Lab)

Urban Institute

Urban Institute

Washington, DC, USA
Posted on Wednesday, January 25, 2023

About Urban Institute:

At the Urban Institute, we believe in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities. As a nonprofit focusing on social and economic policy, our researchers and policy entrepreneurs open minds, shape decisions, and identify transformative solutions to the most pressing issues of our time.

Our Mission

To open minds, shape decisions, and offer solutions through economic and social policy research.

Our Values

Collaboration, Equity, Inclusivity, Independence, and Integrity

For more information on the Urban Institute, please visit

The Opportunity:

Central to Urban’s mission is fostering a truly inclusive community that ensures ongoing relevance to a changing world. The The Research to Action Lab (LAB) is an innovation hub that draws on the breadth and depth of the Urban Institute’s research insights to catalyze meaningful change for people and communities. Our team tests new strategies and develops cutting-edge tools, programs and trainings, while providing strategic and philanthropic advice to public, nonprofit and private-sector leaders.

The LAB is seeking an energetic, organized, and proactive individual to join the center operations team as a senior project manager. Under the general supervision of the LAB’s Director of Center Operations, the position will provide support throughout the project lifecycle on a diverse portfolio of projects and help lead the operations team’s work on tasks including preparing the business volume for RFP responses and proposals, using Excel templates to build project budgets, facilitating contract and subaward requests, analyzing project spending, and identifying project closeout requirements. This is an ideal position for a professional who is looking for a role to apply existing business operations expertise, mentor more junior operations staff, and grow their skills and responsibilities.

The Operations team applies their expertise in nonprofit management, process improvement, and business operations to interface between the center and the key business offices at Urban (e.g., Accounting, Finance, Grants & Contracts). Members of the Center Operations team are positive problem solvers, collaborative, and rely on one another to brainstorm solutions, yet also work independently to manage several competing deadlines on a daily basis.

*Please note that a cover letter is required to be considered for this position.

What You’ll Do:

  • Contribute as a key member of a small team that serves as the “go-to” people in the LAB for questions regarding contract compliance, project specific tasks, and larger institute initiatives.
  • Routinely assess requests for operations team assistance to determine scope of request, deadlines, and level of urgency and work independently to track, complete, and follow up on assigned tasks.
  • Perform a variety of project and operations management tasks, including budget creation, invoicing, subcontractor management, and financial analysis and small-scale event and meeting planning and logistics.
  • Support LAB staff during proposal development, including reviewing federal, state, local and foundation RFP requirements, compiling budgets (using Excel templates), preparing checklists, managing deadlines, collecting submission packages, and reviewing documents with a strong attention to detail.
  • Work with principal investigators (PIs) and their project staff to ensure they conduct work per scope, deadlines, and budget. This includes applying a solutions-oriented mindset to troubleshoot project issues, conducting award reviews, leading regular meetings between PIs and LAB’s vice president, and reminding PIs about project deadlines and spending.
  • Offer guidance to LAB staff regarding Urban’s business processes such as consultant agreements and subcontracts, including organizing submission materials, corresponding with consultants and contractors, and formatting and editing documents.
  • Communicate effectively with multiple research teams and project leaders and staff in other offices and centers at the institute. Interface with all departments across the organization and center policy area teams to build effective relationships that allow for efficient and productive interactions and collaboration on specific tasks.

Who You Are:

  • Possess a Bachelor’s degree in non-profit management, business, accounting, finance, public administration, public policy, or related field, and 7+ years of related experience and/or training, or a Master's degree in one of these fields and 3+ years of related experience.
  • Bring prior knowledge of the proposal process and display solid experience reading RFPs and pulling necessary requirements for complex, multi-year budgets; experience with government contracting and budgets is preferred but not required. Experience working with Salesforce is preferred but not required.
  • Demonstrate experience with preparation and analysis of business volume and project documentation, including, but not limited to: creating budgets, using enterprise resource planning software to analyze project financials, reviewing grants and contracts for key project requirements, and conducting project risk assessments.
  • Demonstrate strong written and verbal communication skills, including the ability to review a large volume of complex information and distill it into a concise, actionable summary.
  • Show strong organizational skills and attention to detail, as well as the proven ability to multitask, set priorities, and work as an individual and as part of a team.
  • Have experience working effectively on multiple projects or assignments and helping manage the work of a team across competing priorities and tasks.
  • Exhibit a willingness to adapt to changing priorities and learn new processes and software programs.
  • Demonstrate high proficiency in Microsoft Office products including MS Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Exhibit advanced skills in Excel functions such as writing formulas and data manipulation. Ability and experience working with Smartsheet, JIRA or other project management tools.

What You’ll Experience:

No matter your role with Urban, you will contribute to meaningful work that makes a difference for people and communities across the country. And whether you call the Washington, DC area or elsewhere home, you can expect to be part of a welcoming and hybrid workplace. We are committed to cultivating a community and working in a manner defined by collaboration, equity, inclusivity, independence, and integrity.

Urban’s greatest asset is our people.

The target salary range for this position is $80,000 - $115,000. Salary offered is commensurate with experience and considers internal equity. Candidates from diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply. Salaries are just one component of Urban Institute’s total compensation package.

Urban is committed to supporting our staff’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being through a robust benefits package for yourself, eligible dependents, and domestic partners. It includes generous paid time off, including nine federal holidays, medical (including prescription), dental and vision insurance, and transit benefits. Urban is unique in that we offer 403(b) retirement plan participation immediately after you’re hired and a generous employer contribution after six months of service and 500 hours, with immediate vesting. You’ll also have access to a health advocate, personal finance coaching, an Employee Assistance Program, and educational assistance for undergraduate and graduate degree programs. This position has the opportunity to be fully remote.

All Urban Institute employees must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and comply with masking and distancing requirements, regardless of responsibilities or work location. New hires must also be fully vaccinated before starting work. Employees may request exemption from vaccination against COVID-19 based on either a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief that prevents them from being vaccinated. Where such an exemption is approved, Urban will discuss with each employee potential accommodation.

The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of the work being performed by the people assigned. This posting is not an exhaustive list of all duties, responsibilities, and requirements. Urban management reserves the right to amend and change duties, responsibilities, and requirements to meet business and organizational needs as necessary.

The Urban Institute is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. All qualified candidates will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, gender or gender identity, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, veteran status, pregnancy or family responsibilities, matriculation, disability, political affiliation, or any other protected status under applicable law.