The Wallace Foundation has retained the services of Harris Rand Lusk to conduct this search. Inquiries, nominations, and applications may be directed in confidence to:
Elly Kirschner, Senior Director
Harris Rand Lusk, 260 Madison Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10016
Please send resume and cover letter with “Wallace Research Officer” in the subject line of your email to: email@example.com
Background: The Wallace Foundation, an independent, national philanthropy based in New York City, traces its origins back more than half a century to DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, founders of The Reader’s Digest Association. The Foundation’s work is grounded in their mission to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people, and in the arts for everyone. Their core values guide how they work together and with their partners. The Foundation aspires to create an engaging and inclusive work environment based on mutual trust and respect, and driven by equity, diversity, transparency, collaboration, and continuous learning.
Wallace Philanthropic Strategy
The Wallace Foundation funds the development of long-term, inquiry-led approaches to creating a more equitable society by working in partnership with grantees and others, locally and in the field, to explore and document innovative approaches to important problems of practice. We then take the lessons and evidence from this work and disseminate them to support the spread of evidence-based improvements in policy and practice nationwide. We work in three focus areas: the arts, education leadership, and youth development.
The organizational culture at Wallace prioritizes collaboration: after extensive engagement with actors in the relevant field and with the existing evidence base, cross- functional teams comprised of communications, program, and research staff develop strategies, initiatives, and funding decisions in each focus area. All major decisions are made collaboratively by the cross-unit teams, which allows them to benefit from diverse perspectives and the individual expertise each staff member brings to the work.
Position: The Foundation is seeking a Research Officer who can collaboratively contribute to the development and implementation of learning agenda strategies in the arts, which encompass programs for public arts organizations as well as youth arts programs. This work involves managing a suite of research grants in the arts and participating as an active member of the six-person research unit to develop systems and strategies for supporting equitable and impactful research across the Foundation’s three focus areas.
Currently the Foundation has a portfolio of some two dozen multi-year arts research grants amounting to $19 million dollars. This portfolio is managed by a team, including the Research Officer, Arts; the Wallace Vice President of Research; and a consulting Research Officer in the Arts. Studies vary widely in their purpose and approach, and include:
- A four-year study of a Wallace initiative funding 18 arts organizations to explore the question How arts organizations founded by, with, and for communities of color define and advance their well-being and that of their community;
- A retrospective-longitudinal study of the enduring effects of participation in youth arts programs towards the development of new program metrics for youth arts;
- A fellowship program supporting early career scholars of color conducting qualitative/ethnographic research in arts organizations founded by, for, and with communities of color;
- A human/machine learning approach to developing a literature review about the connection between the arts and youth well-being; and
- A theory development study of how the arts can be leveraged in a rural Mississippi community health program.
The successful candidate for the Research Officer, Arts position must have extensive experience designing and leading a range of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method studies in the context of community-based arts and/or community cultural development efforts, including in the context of arts and culture organizations and programs that have been founded by, for, and with communities of color.
Ideally, candidates will have worked in and with arts organizations of color, published research about the contributions or nature of these organizations, and be excited about the opportunity to fund research that can advance the sector, and the arts ecosystem more broadly, including generating insights into what future research is needed most and why. The foundation is also looking for candidates with a sensitivity to and experience with ensuring that research is done collaboratively with communities of color and creates value for the organizations and communities being studied.
Initial activities for the successful candidate for the Research Officer, Arts position include:
- Joining a team of program, communications, and research officers at the foundation who are implementing a process for the collaborative design of the next Youth Arts initiative. This work is expected to be completed in 2024 with a new funding program launched in early 2025.
- Taking on the regular management of roughly a dozen existing research grants, which involves deeply understanding the purpose and progress of these studies; supporting research implementation as needed; and coordinating the relationship of the research teams with the editorial review processes at Wallace.
- Joining weekly research unit team meetings to share conceptual, logistical, and methodological developments and to reflect on the team’s roles as foundation representatives in supporting the fields in which are funded by the Wallace Foundation, with attention to power and equity.
Manage Research Grants
The Research Officer manages all aspects of assigned research grants, including contracts management; review and analysis of analytic memos, reports, and other research deliverables; and implementing budget or timeline changes. Specifically, they will:
- Participate in RFP development, grantee/contractor selection and award processes
- Foster positive working relationships with grantees/contractors built on trust and transparency
- Monitor grant/contract progress throughout the year
- Build researchers’ understanding of the Foundation’s philanthropic strategy
- Coordinate commissioned researchers’ data collection with relevant program officers
Support Effective Dissemination of Research Results
- Conduct careful reviews of draft research reports and knowledge products to ensure that they are accurate, credible, clear, and meet the Foundation’s quality standards
- Represent the Foundation-funded arts research and overall strategy at conferences, briefings, workshops, and on webinars
Collaborate within Arts Strategy and Implementation Teams
- Bring understanding of the arts and community cultural development research literature to team discussions
- Demonstrate a deep understanding of equity with respect to challenges, trends, leading researchers, and practices in the arts, particularly for arts and culture organizations and programs founded by, for, and with communities of color
- Identify key knowledge gaps and research approaches that could advance policy and practice in the field
- Stay current with relevant arts research literature
Contribute to the Research Unit’s Capacity
- Work collaboratively with research colleagues to stay abreast of emerging research methods and strategies, e.g., new forms of data visualization, research tools or theory development
- Work with colleagues to identify new ways the unit can contribute to the strategy and implementation teams’ work in timely and useful ways
- Provide intellectual and management support to the VP, Research, by keeping her abreast of relevant research findings or developments in the field and possible implications for the work of the Foundation
- Represent the research unit to others inside and outside of the Foundation, and cultivate relationships in external networks and professional associations
Experience and Qualifications
The Research Officer will bring current knowledge of research in community-based arts and community cultural development, as well as a depth of experience with both qualitative and quantitative methods. In addition, they will have:
- A PhD or terminal degree in a relevant social science discipline
- Scholarly history of conducting research and publishing peer-reviewed papers in the context of the arts and/or community cultural development, and preferably in the BIPOC-serving arts ecosystem
- At least 15 years of experience designing and conducting research (serving as a PI, co-PI, or project director) in the context of community-based organizations, including arts-based organizations, using a range of methods
- Experience working in or with arts organizations founded by, for, and with communities of color
- Grasp of the BIPOC arts ecosystem, including current issues it is engaged with, and how research could advance practice and policy
- Excellent writing skills, spanning academic and more public/practitioner related audiences
- Capacity to work productively in a collaborative team structure
- Demonstrated commitment to accountability and transparency
- Excellent conceptual, analytic, and forward-thinking skills
- Exceptional project management skills and ability to multi-task in a fast-paced environment
- Willingness to travel to grantee sites, meetings, conferences, and other events
- Outstanding ability to connect, convey and receive complex ideas, and drive consensus and mutual understanding in writing, speaking, active listening, and synthesis
The Wallace Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to maintaining a diverse workplace where differing perspectives are a source of strength.
Equity at Wallace
Wallace views equity as embedding fairness in the formal and informal systems, structures, and practices of our society, giving all people the opportunities and supports necessary to reach their full potential as human beings. The principles that guide us in our equity journey include:
- Our work foregrounds racial equity but is not limited to it. We are concerned with the marginalization of people based on any element of their identity or circumstances.
- We believe achieving equity requires constructively addressing historical, structural, and systemic causes of racial and other forms of inequity and why they exist.
- Specific definitions of equity will vary from one context to another. As a funder, we are careful to avoid imposing a single definition on grantees.
Compensation and Benefits
The current salary range for this position is $170,998 to $189,998.
A snapshot of our generous benefits package includes a choice of health insurance plans and a healthcare reimbursement account, 403(b) retirement plan with 15% employer contribution upon eligibility, and a community service matching gifts program recognizing employee volunteer hours with a financial contribution to a qualifying non- profit organization.
Our regular schedule includes collaborating in-person Tuesday through Thursday at our office located in downtown Manhattan, and remotely Monday and Friday.