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Senior Research Associate (Justice Policy Center)

Urban Institute

Urban Institute

Washington, DC, USA
Posted on Tuesday, June 27, 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 https://www.urban.org.

The Opportunity

The Justice Policy Center’s (JPC) mission is to inform solutions to crime and safety challenges in the interests of promoting effectiveness in justice systems and operations; addressing the harms of victimization and justice system involvement; reducing racial and other inequities; strengthening community-led approaches to safety; and promoting justice, dignity, and well-being for all. We conduct objective, rigorous, interdisciplinary research, evaluation, and policy analysis and deliver data-driven recommendations, training, and technical assistance. In carrying out our research, we seek to center the voices, experiences, and perspectives of the people, practitioners, and communities most affected by crime and the criminal legal system.

The JPC is seeking a talented Senior Research Associate with quantitative and methodological expertise who can join the team and work collaboratively with researchers at all levels on a variety of projects. Areas of expertise can include various aspects related to the criminal legal system such as alternatives to arrests and incarceration, data-driven prosecution, community-led approaches to violence and safety, addressing gun violence, and reducing our carceral systems. Further, methodological and quantitative skills may include expertise in cost-benefit analysis, randomized control trials, quasi-experimental methods, survey methodology, community engaged methods, and/or working with large administrative datasets with expertise in linking across system level data. The ideal candidate approaches research with an equity focus.

People from communities that are overrepresented in the criminal legal system and people with direct experience with the criminal legal system are encouraged to apply.

What You’ll Do

  • Lead complex quantitative and/or qualitative research/evaluation methodologies

  • Play a key role the development of proposals, responses to solicitations, and other meaningful business cultivation activities. Key roles include leading the proposal effort as well as possessing the skills and qualifications crucial to the performance of the proposed work.

  • Lead writing and dissemination efforts for key publications including media engagement, presentations, and briefings to share report findings

  • Lead or significantly contribute to research project teams to include: assigning roles and responsibilities; managing team performance; monitoring project progress, budget and schedule; and designing and implementing strategy.

  • Oversee quality control activities for specific projects, including ensuring the accuracy of data management, analysis, and reporting.

  • Supervise researchers and provide guidance and mentorship as necessary.

Who You Are

  • Possess a PhD (preferred) or master’s degree in a relevant social science field (e.g., criminal justice, criminology, public policy) along with 5-10 years of experience, depending upon level of degree completed and the necessary substantive knowledge and skills to successfully perform the duties of the position

  • Possess the following skills:

    • Substantive expertise in a JPC-related topic; and

    • Experience interacting with criminal legal system practitioners and community stakeholders.

  • Be a recognized expert with a reputation for effectively advancing knowledge, policy, or practice at the city, state, or national level.

  • Demonstrate the ability to engage with sophisticated research and connect results to policymaking.

  • Possess excellent management skills, including experience coordinating or staffing high-level advisory groups and interdisciplinary teams, and experience coaching staff and teams to desired outcomes.

  • Demonstrate prior fundraising success and experience growing resources to support knowledge-building, policy analysis, and/or evidence-based policy and practice.

  • Have produced clear, concise, and compelling analysis of complex policy issues and research evidence and have outstanding oral and written communications skills.

  • Exhibit a track record of publication of research findings for multiple audiences through a variety of dissemination outlets from refereed journals to practitioner-oriented briefs.

  • Have a deep understanding of racial equity and justice issues and the ability to help researchers bring an equity and inclusion lens to policy research, weaving that perspective throughout programs of work, and informing how problems are defined and evidence is communicated.

Application instructions

When applying, in addition to a CV/resume and a cover letter, please upload a writing sample that is solely your own work and no longer than 5 pages.

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 $120,000-$160,000. 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 may have the opportunity to be fully remote.

With the conclusion of the government-issued COVID-19 national public health emergency, Urban has updated our COVID-19 safety guidelines. All Urban Institute employees working from our onsite location must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and comply with any masking requirements. Fully vaccinated is defined as receiving the primary series of US approved COVID-19 vaccinations (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen) with the addition of at least 1 COVID-19 booster. Employees who are working onsite may request exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement based on a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief that prevents them from being vaccinated. Where such an exemption is approved, Urban will discuss potential accommodation with the employee. These guidelines do not apply to employees who are teleworking or other offsite staff.


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. The Urban Institute is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer Minorities/Women/Disabilities/Veterans