Director of Research

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) seeks a Director of Research with strong research and advocacy skills who will support a cohesive vision of research across NELP as a central strategy to advance our mission. The Director will also incubate cross-cutting and emerging areas of research, developing persuasive analyses of public policies, data, labor market conditions, and employment laws through a racial equity framework. This is an extraordinary opportunity to leverage your talent and join a team that ensures progressive and impactful worker-driven policies are at the forefront of current and future worker rights in the U.S. labor market.

Who We Are

Founded in 1969, the nonprofit National Employment Law Project (NELP) is a leading advocacy organization with the mission to build a just and inclusive economy where all workers have expansive rights and thrive in good jobs. Together with local, state, and national partners, NELP advances its mission through transformative legal and policy solutions, research, capacity building, and communications. Our victories over the last decade have impacted the lives of an estimated 100 million workers and their families. We lead and collaborate in fights for higher pay and just benefits, secure and safe jobs, and support at each stage in a worker’s life. We build worker power and we challenge rules that allow corporate harm and undue power. We are transforming precarious work by raising the floor so that every job is a good job and everyone who wants a job can have one. Together over the next decade, we will build Black, immigrant worker power and advance transformative solutions to achieve racial and economic justice. For more information, read our annual reports and explore our website:

NELP has a team of 45 staff people based across offices in New York City, Washington D.C., and Berkeley, CA, with a 12-person Board of Directors, an annual budget of $14M, and hundreds of partners in the field with whom we work to further our mission.

What You Will Do

You may be based in any of NELP’s three office locations (Berkeley, California; New York City; or Washington D.C.) and will report to the Chief of Strategy. You will work in conjunction with NELP’s staff of lawyers, policy experts, researchers, and strategic communications experts. As Director of Research, your role will involve coordinating work between NELP’s leadership and research staff housed in six program teams, developing strategic cross-team research projects, and identifying new NELP-wide research projects.  Your work includes:

  • Engaging with organizational leadership and staff to develop NELP’s vision and implementation plan for research, which will both shape and be responsive to organizational strategies within a racial equity framework.
  • Engaging with NELP research staff as they advance campaign and issue area goals by being a thought partner (e.g., providing feedback on research design, helping to identify data sources), resource, peer reviewer, and refining research protocols.
  • Staying abreast of newly published research relevant to NELP’s work and helping NELP to integrate learnings into our work and vision.
  • Exploring and implementing strategies for NELP to boost the reach and impact of its research, such as collaborations with academic and other researchers, the creation of research project advisory bodies, the development of a “research fellows” program that would serve as a research pipeline for the larger movement, and other approaches.
  • Engaging with allies to identify opportunities for collaboration with an eye toward NELP’s role in the racial and economic justice ecosystem.
  • Elevating our impact and reach by authoring original research products combining empirical work and policy analysis that center racial equity; plus, drafting reports, op-eds, blogs, and educational materials to amplify our policy agenda.
  • Designing, implementing, analyzing, and synthesizing the results of surveys, focus groups, interviews, or participatory research to ensure our policy agenda is responsive to the needs and experiences of workers of color and amplifies the lived expertise of Black, immigrant workers.
  • Conducting literature reviews and data analysis to support amicus briefs and strategic litigation.
  • Representing NELP in coalitions, public forums, legislative and agency hearings, and in the media.

Who You Are

We understand that the right candidate may not have all these qualities below; however, we are seeking a commitment and excitement to build your skills or experiences in these areas:

  • You have ten+ years’ research experience working with unions, worker centers, and/or other membership-based grassroots organizations; or in the area of labor and employment rights, civil rights and racial justice, or other social or economic justice issues. Orientation toward building worker power and fighting for racial and economic justice with your research is a plus.
  • You have a PhD or Master’s degree in policy, public administration, labor studies, sociology, economics, or a related social sciences field, or equivalent experience.
  • You are detail-oriented and skilled at designing and implementing high-quality, thorough research and data analysis; training and experience using SPSS, Stata, R, or other statistical packages, designing quantitative and qualitative research projects, and using government survey and administrative data is preferred. Training and experience in survey research methods, qualitative research methods, spatial analysis and/or data visualization, and corporate financial analysis is a plus.
  • You have the ability and enthusiasm for developing a vision and strategies for advancing workers’ rights that lay the foundation for long-term economic security for Black, immigrant, and other workers of color, and their families, while being able to realize that ambitious vision.
  • You have strong campaign and project management skills and are able to prioritize effectively. You are a strategic and clear-headed thinker and doer, have experience managing multiple projects, overseeing and tracking details, and a record of achieving timely results.
  • You are a leader who fosters trust and transparency across lines of difference by listening deeply, and offers direct, honest feedback with compassion and clarity of purpose.
  • You are a relationship-builder and have a proven track record of cultivating relationships to advance research priorities, including with academics, labor, national policy groups, worker centers, or other allies.
  • You are a skilled communicator in written products, with a demonstrated ability to convey complex concepts, technical information, and data in compelling and digestible work products such as memos, reports, op-eds, toolkits, and/or issue briefs; for example, you have experience developing research briefs and policy memos with compelling visuals for the general public.
  • You are adept at engaging with the media, presenting, and/or testifying.
  • You have strong racial equity competencies and center your role and work in an analysis and understanding of how race and power shape systems in our society and culture and are continuously learning, reflecting, and growing; you support a feedback culture and operate constructively across lines of difference.
  • You operate with a commitment to excellence, integrity, diplomacy, humility, and camaraderie.

Start Date, Location, Compensation and Benefits: 

In response to the pandemic, all staff are currently working remotely and are not traveling. When conditions are amenable, the position will require some travel. Candidates must be able to work from one of our three offices (Berkeley, New York City, or Washington D.C.) at the point that we return to working in the office. The start date will be in early 2022; if an earlier or different date is preferred, we can accommodate.

This position is in NELP’s bargaining unit, represented by National Organization of Legal Service Workers, UAW Local 2320. Classification and compensation for NELP bargaining unit positions is commensurate with relevant experience and education and based on NELP’s collectively bargained scales. Based on our union scale, here are some examples of 2022 salaries for a Director of Research:

  • with a relevant Master’s degree and 10 years of post-graduate relevant experience, the salary will be $98,700; at 12 years, then $104,000;
  • with a relevant Ph.D.  and 12 years of post-graduate relevant experience, the salary will be $114,300; at 14 years, then $119,100.

Based on the union scale, if an individual candidate’s education or experience is higher than an example, the salary will be higher; conversely, with less education or experience, the salary is lower. Compensation also includes an excellent comprehensive benefits package, including full coverage of family health insurance, a medical reimbursement plan, generous vacation and sick leave (totaling 43 days per year,) plus additional organization-wide holidays, significant contribution from employer to a retirement plan (both an unelected contribution and employer match), 12 weeks paid parental leave, and student loan repayment assistance for qualifying participants.

To Apply:

Through our online database, submit a cover letter and resume. If you have questions regarding this announcement, please forward those to, noting “Director of Research” in the subject line. No phone calls or other email inquiries please. We will consider applications on a rolling basis.

NELP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and an equal opportunity, fair chance, affirmative action employer, committed to building a diverse and inclusive workforce.  All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without regard to race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, prior record of arrest or conviction, citizenship status, current employment status, or caregiver status. 

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