Researcher/Senior Researcher, Democracy Program

New York, NY
Full Time
Mid Level

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. 

Position: Data-driven and interdisciplinary research is crucial to inform the Brennan Center’s work, including our legal and policy recommendations. We seek a Researcher to work primarily in the Voting Rights Program which advocates for free, fair, and accessible elections, with special focus on the ways systemic barriers impede electoral participation by communities of color. The program seeks to bring the ideal of representative self-government closer to reality by eliminating barriers to full and equal political participation, by countering racial discrimination in our electoral and political systems, by ensuring free, fair, accessible and secure election administration, and by striving to ensure that public policy and institutions represent and reflect the diverse voices and interests that make for a rich democracy. The position may also do research on other democracy-related issues.

The Researcher will join a growing and dynamic research team. The Researcher will serve as an essential thought partner and the principal investigator on upcoming quantitative and qualitative research projects to advance the Program’s goals. The Researcher will provide the theory, research design, and statistical analyses as part of this process, and will write or co-author and execute data-driven reports to meet social science peer-review standards, in collaboration with other researchers, attorneys, communications staff, and the leadership of the organization. The Researcher will develop original research ideas and manage multiple, complex research projects to completion, as well as execute research projects as assigned by the Director and Deputy Directors of the Voting Rights Program. 

This position will be based in New York City.

Note: This is a hybrid position. Staff are currently working from home 2 days a week. This position is based in New York City.

Responsibilities will include: 

  • Partner with colleagues to develop and execute significant, original research projects to further Program goals, from inception through design, refinement, testing, and publication. 
  • Conduct literature reviews and distill key information, including complex theoretical concepts and quantitative analyses, into memos for colleagues of other disciplines. 
  • Develop and implement rigorous, original studies, including data cleaning and application of high-level methods 
  • Co-author reports with attorneys and manage such reports to completion, including: public release and rollout of reports, managing edits from peer reviewers and organizational leadership, and meeting with advocates. 
  • Write research sections of policy reports, including clear and accessible methods and innovative policy recommendations 
  • Conduct research for scholarly journals, legislative and executive agency testimony, legal briefs, and other Brennan Center documents. Create engaging and accessible formats to present research conclusions for reports and other publications through public speaking engagements, media appearances, op-eds, attending academic conferences, and engaging the academic community around the country. 
  • Opportunity to speak at congressional briefings and national conferences, speak to reporters, and attend meetings with government officials, when appropriate. 


  • Advanced degree required: Ph.D., Ph.D. candidate, or completion of master’s in social science, public policy, law and society, or related interdisciplinary field 
  • Experience and expertise in developing and leading applied research in the democracy field or other public policy field (e.g., sociology, demography, public health, etc.). Candidates should be comfortable engaging in primary and secondary research, collecting administrative data, and performing original empirical analyses to meet statistical science standards. 
  • Strong fluency with data science techniques, including experience with modern causal identification methodologies. Advanced experience using R or another comparable data analysis program is required.
  • 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 and understanding of racial justice.
  • Commitment to using research as a tool for advancing advocacy goals.
  • Strong writing and communications skills including to audiences outside academia and the candidate’s discipline. 
  • Strong time-management skills balancing multiple projects and ability to meet deadlines. 
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, including proven ability to work effectively with a team and stakeholders, and work collaboratively with editors, other staff, and outside peer reviewers. 
  • Ability to or interest in learning to communicate research and policy findings to broad range of audiences, including policymakers, practitioners, journalists, community-based groups and members of the public. 
  • Commitment to the 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. 

Start Date: The earliest this job will start is July 1, 2022.

Application Instructions 

To apply, visit Please upload the following application materials: resume, cover letter, writing sample (up to 10 pages), coding sample, and contact information for three references. The document can be in Word or a PDF. Also, please carefully read additional instructions below regarding writing and coding sample. 

The writing sample should reflect your quantitative and/or qualitative methods work and can be a graduate school paper, job-related internal memo/draft report/report, or published report or article you authored or led. If applicable, include an internet hyperlink to any published writing sample. 

The coding sample (syntax) should be basic, about 0.5-1 page with examples of typical data cleaning and coding, as well as analyses you have run. 


Compensation and Benefits:

The salary range assigned for this position is $113,000- $140,000. 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.

In addition, this position is part of a bargaining unit represented by the National Organization of Legal Services Workers, UAW local 2320.

Please, no phone calls or faxes; it is strongly preferred that you apply on our website. If you have difficulty with the online system, you may send your application by e-mail to: with ”Researcher/Senior Researcher, Democracy Program" in the subject line, after registering in the online system. 

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 and hires applicants of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, socioeconomic identities and sexual orientations, including people who have been previously incarcerated;
  • 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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