Senior Director of Research


Who We Are

Think of Us (TOU) operates as an R+D lab for child welfare. We take on strategic projects with the goal of causing “good trouble” and, ultimately, driving concrete, structural changes in policy, practice, resource flows, power dynamics, relationships and mental models. Our ultimate goal is to integrate Lived Experience at every level, ensuring everyone touched by the system has the conditions they need to Heal, Develop and Thrive.

We work across the ecosystem of current and former foster youth, child welfare workers, philanthropists and policymakers to Spark, Support and Drive to systematically center lived experience touched by the system.

Examples of what this looks like include:

Note: Most of our roles are fully remote. A select few are based in DC or LA, which will be specified in the job description if applicable.

The Role

In May 2022, Think of Us launched its new research and policy center, the Center for Lived Experience.  We believe, at our core, that those closest to the problem have the answers to solving it.  As such, the Center exists to demonstrate how to operationalize and implement centering lived experience in the research and design of child welfare policy and programming.

The participatory research and data efforts of the Center aim to design and lead lived experience-driven research that informs critical movements in child welfare–from kinship care to child protective investigations, mental and behavioral health, legal supports, and other crucial areas.

Reporting to the Vice President of Solutions and Practices, the Senior Director of Research will lead a team that demonstrates how research can be used to elevate the voices of those with lived experience, inform policy and programmatic efforts, and shift the needle in child welfare. A strong candidate will love being a part of the “building stage” of organizations, and get excited by the idea of creating structure and results from a myriad of ideas and opportunities.


Strategy and Design: 

  • Support the strategic expansion of our research portfolio
  • Lead conversations and workshops with both our TOU executive and senior leaders as well as strategic external partners to meet their research needs and align with our internal priorities
  • Define our internal staffing structure and hiring plan, and recruit contractors, fellows, and other positions to support the scaling of our research work

Research and Project Scoping: 

  • Plan for and define the research scope for projects
  • Develop research proposals that include study design, methodology, analysis plan and budgets accordingly
  • Evaluate incoming research opportunities against our capacity

Research Execution: 

  • Oversee the execution of research projects, from planning, to participant recruiting, data collection, analysis and synthesis, and dissemination
  • Provide guidance and support to research team members
  • Ensure the production of high-quality research deliverables, including reports, presentations, and other artifacts

Research Operations: 

  • Lead the growing research team, promoting a culture that reflects the principles of TOU and balances opportunities with capacity
  • Complete a review of our existing research tools and approaches
  • Consolidate and build out the next iteration of our internal research policies, protocols, operations, and infrastructure to aid in the scaling of our research efforts
  • Ensure that the research operations and project management tools in place are properly utilized and leveraged by the research team and other relevant colleagues
  • Manage a fulltime team of two: Senior Manager of Research, and Manager for Lived Experience & Research. Manage research fellows and/or consulting firms when hired

Communication and Writing: 

  • Craft compelling stories and narratives, uplifting our research findings and work for grant proposals, case studies, and public-facing artifacts
  • Define and execute against the vision for how our research findings and approach to centering lived experience will be shared externally with the broader child welfare, social sector, and research fields
  • Write articles, blog posts, or other publications and participate in speaking engagements or other opportunities to disseminate our work to critical audiences and partners 


About You
  • Organized: you work and think in a methodical way; and prioritize and manage your work schedule and load to meet critical deadlines. 
  • Articulate: you can express complex ideas easily and effectively; you communicate with ease and clarity
  • Collaborative: you find common ground in completing tasks and solving problems, and work synergistically for mutual benefit.
  • Ethical: you use good judgment in maintaining confidentiality & maintain high standards of conduct despite pressure; you act objectively and inspire trust. 
  • Quality Commitment: you keep up quality standards and avoid shortcuts that may adversely impact high quality. 
  • Goal Oriented: you use a systematic process to develop plans and achieve specific outcomes, and concentrate
  • Continuous Learner: you drive to learn and stay current professionally, you solicit feedback and deal constructively with criticism. 


Research Experience:

  • 9+ years of mixed methods research planning and execution, specifically in the social sector
  • Demonstrated track record of conducting exceptional and groundbreaking research, including using qualitative, participatory and quantitative research methods 
  • Prior experience working with vulnerable populations and deploying trauma-informed approaches to conducting research
  • Exposure to research justice frameworks, for example anti-oppressive research, feminist research, Indigenous research, activist and militant research, and other research justice frameworks that offer critiques of the structural inequities typically reproduced in research
  • Management experience, including managing a growing research team

Project Management and Communications Skills:

  • Strong project management, partner management, and team management skills
  • Excellent communication skills and ability to translate findings and data into compelling and understandable information, including through writing reports and making presentations


  • Fluency in GSuite and other tech tools like Asana + Slack
  • Familiarity with transcription and qualitative data analysis tools and software like and Atlas.ti
  • Fluency with quantitative data analysis and statistical tools and software like SPSS or Stata


  • Deep commitment to our mission and nuanced understanding of systemic, structural oppression and inequity
  • Unwavering commitment to centering the voices and experiences of people with lived experience in every part of the work

Lived Experience:

  • Personal lived experience in child welfare desired


  • Fluency in languages other than English, particularly Spanish preferred

Perks / Timings / Salary

  • We provide generous health, dental, & vision coverage for you and dependents as well as a 401k plan for your pre-tax retirement contributions
  • We're a remote team with schedule flexibility
  • We have a flexible vacation policy
  • We hold monthly organization-wide learning sessions to deepen our understanding of the Lived Experience of foster youth and also on topics outside of foster care to build culture of curiosity and growth
  • We provide the opportunity for you to interact with leading voices in government, foundations, the nonprofit world, and entertainment working to reform foster care

This role is a full-time remote position with domestic travel (expected ~30% time)


This role has a salary range of $125,000-$145,000. We are looking to fill this position immediately - applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.