Washington D.C. Congressional
A tremendous gap between research and policy communities limits the effectiveness of policymaking and makes government susceptible to misinformation and inefficient use of resources. Researchers are rarely involved in policy efforts because they lack training and opportunities for engaging with the right policymakers at the right time when their subject matter experience could be useful to policy development. The Research-to-Policy Collaboration (RPC) revolutionizes how legislators interact with the research community by providing an agenda-neutral resource for connecting legislative officials with those who specialize in data and scientific study relevant to policymakers’ current policy agendas. Our team sits at the intersection of research and policy by both organizing researchers’ policy engagement as well as evaluating our impact. Our rigorous study has demonstrated that supporting researcher-policymaker interactions can both improve the value and use of research evidence in policy as well as provide a benefit to researchers’ policy skill, engagement, and future research.
We are hiring a Policy Associate who would be trained in this innovative, nonpartisan research translation model. This position provides an opportunity to learn translational skills while working with a legislative audience. The Policy Associate would be supported by a team that does the “legwork” of connecting policymaking staff with researchers, coordinating researchers’ rapid responses, and providing technical assistance to both parties. This is consistent with educational goals of research institutions; therefore, no lobbying occurs as part of this model. We emphasize building trusting relationships between researchers and policymakers. The current project also involves action-oriented data collection in practice that will allow us to improve researcher and policy staff experiences and engagement with one another. Primary aims of this project involve enhancing how RPC leadership and staff engage with these “two communities” (e.g., communication and organizing process), developing technical tools for researchers’ digital policy engagement, and improving racial equity in researchers’ policy engagement experiences. This is an entry-level policy position for an individual who is eager for professional growth.
The Policy Associate implements the Research-to-Policy Collaboration model by connecting and brokering relationships between the research and policy communities. Policy Associates will receive policy training and support to fulfill the responsibilities associated with this position, which include:
- Receive training to implement the relationship brokerage model with fidelity
- Act as relationship broker and build, lead, and maintain partnerships between researchers and policymakers via rapid response meetings to respond to legislative requests for research-based information
- Frequently meet with legislative staff about their policy goals, priorities, and research needs
- Identify and recruit research-oriented professionals with subject matter expertise into RPC’s Raid Response network and coach them in policy engagement
- Write, edit, and review evidence-based communication materials (fact sheets, policy briefs, op-eds, blog posts) tailored for non-academic and congressional audience
- Organize panels, roundtables, or congressional briefings for policymakers
- Conduct outreach with partnering organizations or those engaged in relevant advocacy activities to coordinate our response to legislative requests
- Thorough tracking and reporting of activities, including detailed note-taking and use of data collection systems (e.g., meeting information)
- Work alongside additional trainees affiliated with the Research-to-Policy Collaboration
- Work collaboratively with other Policy Associates and team leads across projects
Skills and Traits Needed by Applicants
Enthusiasm and commitment to accelerating the translation of science to policy.
- Curiosity and a generalist attitude with interest in learning about diverse social policy issues
- Experience in building and maintaining partnerships or collaborations
- Strong diplomatic communication and interpersonal skills
- Solid writing skills tailored for non-academic audience
- A balance of independent initiative that bolsters problem solving while also approaching work with a learning attitude for mentored training in a cutting-edge, novel policy strategy
- Thoughtful interpersonal communication and detailed documentation for coordination across an interactive team
- Though not required, individuals with a Master’s degree or higher, or equivalent experience, are preferred. Experience with scholarly academic literature and/or research methods is also preferred.
- Applicants may have their terminal degrees from any discipline, but degrees in human development, public policy, social work, prevention science, psychology, or public health will be a particularly good fit.
- Although a large portion of work is done remotely, commuting distance to Washington, D.C. is required for in-person meetings. Our team is committed to working according to public health guidelines to protect the health and safety of our employees.
- Remote work requires high-quality, high speed internet connection in a home office.
- Prior collaborative experience and strong interpersonal skill is required, with some policy experience preferred.
Supervision will be provided by RPC leaders Taylor Scott, Ph.D., the RPC Training Director and Assistant Research Professor at Penn State University, and Max Crowley, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Penn State University.
Positions on our team are renewed on an annual basis, contingent on performance and project funding. The current project is funded for at least two years. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. The start date is negotiable, though we anticipate this role either late 2021 or early 2022. Applicants who wish to start in the spring of 2022 are encouraged to apply.
The Policy Associate will receive a competitive salary commiserate with entry level experience ($45,000-$53,000). This also includes full health benefits and access to university resources. Salary increases are considered during annual performance reviews.
Full consideration will be given to those applicants who completely submit all materials via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A complete submission will consist of:
- Cover Letter
- Resume or Curriculum Vitae
- Writing Sample (preferably samples of work directed toward non-academic audience; may include samples of creative/artistic work; 1-2 samples, 35-page cumulative max)
- Three references. Letters may be requested upon review of materials.
Review and Selection
Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Penn State is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
General questions regarding the program may be addressed to:
Taylor Scott, Research Assistant Professor
Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center
College of Health and Human Development
314 Biobehavioral Health Building
University Park, PA 16802