Director of Research

New York, NY
Full Time

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve the systems of democracy and justice in the United States. We work to hold our political institutions and laws accountable to the twin American ideals of democracy and equal justice for all. The Brennan Center’s work ranges from voting rights to census protection, from ending mass incarceration to preserving constitutional protections in the fight against terrorism. Part think tank, part advocacy group, part cutting-edge communications hub, we start with rigorous research. We craft innovative policies. And we fight for them—in the courts, in Congress and the states, and the court of public opinion.

Over the past several years, the Brennan Center has significantly expanded its capacity to develop and execute original research projects to further the organization’s program goals. Our growing cohort of research professionals includes four Ph.D.- or Masters’-level Research Fellows, two Research Associates, and a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, embedded in various program teams. To help manage this exciting growth in our research output and build the capacities we need, the Brennan Center is now looking to hire an outstanding leader in the field to serve as our first Director of Research.

Note: This position is based in New York City. Staff currently work in the office 3 days a week. 


Reporting to the Vice President for Program Initiatives, the Director of Research will be responsible for overseeing methodologies for all Brennan Center research projects based in the social and data sciences to ensure quality and rigor at every step of the process. The Director will help program leaders execute their research agenda, maintaining a “dotted line” supervisory relationship to program-based researchers through a system of matrix management. A successful candidate will foster a collaborative work environment, working in close cooperation with the relevant program managers to oversee the research process. The Director will also be tasked with building a research department. Responsibilities for the position include:

  • Supporting research professionals and their supervisors at key stages of the process to help guide and shape research projects – from inception through design, refinement, testing, and publication – to ensure that published research meets widely accepted standards of originality, reliability, and ethics in the given discipline.
  • Reviewing and advising on the methodology of all data-driven research projects, papers, and studies.
  • Providing technical assistance and support to program staff and managers.
  • Developing and supervising the organization’s peer review processes.
  • Building and leading a core research department that builds the Brennan Center’s capacity in data science, enhances our research output, manages centralized resources, maintains the organization’s research agenda, and ensures the security of our data. This core team will include associates and support staff as needed to assist in the performance of these tasks. The Director will also have the opportunity to build a team of research professionals assigned to work on projects conceived and supervised by the Director.
  • Supporting the community of Brennan Center research professionals by hosting regular team meetings and workshops and by making sure they have appropriate opportunities to showcase their work before internal and external audiences.
  • Helping to develop and retain talent through ongoing mentoring, training, and assistance with professional development.
  • Managing relationships with relevant external organizations (including Institutional Review Boards) to facilitate the approval, conduct, deployment, and review of research projects.
  • Keeping executive leadership apprised of the status of all research projects.


  • A Ph.D. in social science, public policy, law and society, or related interdisciplinary field and at least ten years of full-time applied social sciences research experience, including staff management, publications, data analysis, and/or leading research.
  • Significant experience and expertise in developing and leading applied mixed methods research in the democracy field or other public policy field (e.g., sociology, criminology, demography, public health, etc.).
  • Strong publication track record in scholarly journals, books, and/or reports.
  • Strong fluency with data science techniques, and advanced experience using R, Stata, SPSS, or another comparable data analysis program. Advanced knowledge of Excel.
  • Fluency with qualitative methods and approaches, including genuine engagement with impacted communities.
  • Exceptional attention to detail and accuracy in all work that could be used or published, with proven ability to plan for and demonstrate peer review and other techniques for bulletproofing findings.
  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice and understanding of how to engage in research through an equity approach that can address structural inequities across race, gender, class, sexual orientation, etc.
  • Strong management skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, including proven ability to work effectively with program leaders and key expert stakeholders, and to work collaboratively with editors, other staff, and outside peer reviewers to support program goals.
  • Commitment to the mission and values of the Brennan Center.

The Brennan Center is committed to advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace. We continuously work with our staff to find new ways to increase diversity and to build and cultivate an inclusive and equitable work environment, where everyone can be their true self and feel a strong sense of belonging. As such, we seek to hire employees who have a commitment to and/or experience with diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, we expect employees to participate/contribute with DEI initiatives or activities with recruitment, retention, and workplace culture. 


To apply, please visit upload the following application materials: cover letter, resume, two writing samples (up to 10 pages each) and contact information for three references.

Applications without all of the previously listed materials will not be considered. If you have difficulty with the online system, you may send your application by e-mail to: with “Director of Research” in the subject line, after registering in the online system.

Compensation and Benefits:

The salary range assigned for this position is $205,000 – $220,000. We determine our salary ranges based on market competitiveness and internal equity for each job. The salary offered a selected candidate will be contingent upon the candidate’s qualifications and internal equity considerations. Additionally, we offer a very robust and competitive array of benefits such as a generous time off program, 401k plan, comprehensive health insurance (medical, dental, and vision), and wellness and office perks.

Note: The Brennan Center is committed to public health and to the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues and visitors.  As such, we have adopted a policy requiring all employees working in the New York and Washington, DC offices to be vaccinated against COVID-19, including having a booster, or to meet the legal guidelines for an exemption.

The Brennan Center for Justice is committed to a workplace based on equal opportunity and a strong belief in the increased effectiveness that comes from a diverse workforce. To this end, Brennan Center

  • Welcomes applicants with disabilities and applicants of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, socioeconomic identities, sexual orientations, and national origin or citizenship, including people who have been previously incarcerated;
  • Hires diverse candidates and works to improve our recruitment practices to allow for such
  • Creates a workplace where true diversity is fostered and different perspectives are valued and freely exchanged;
  • Ensures that all members of the Brennan Center community feel welcome and respected, and have equal opportunities to thrive and advance within the institution; and
  • Is committed to supporting low-income communities and communities of color particularly affected by social inequities.

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