Head of Research

DataKind is looking for a Head of Research!

DataKind is looking for an innovative individual who is ready to make a major impact on our research and implementation strategy and help us deliver on our next decade of data science solutions for positive social impact. If you’re a self-starter eager to turn vision into action, you’re a strong communicator who delights in teaching and sharing knowledge, and you aren’t afraid to dive into new and diverse domains and work with experts in the field, we want to bring you on board!  

This is a new role at DataKind, and you’ll be a key cross-functional collaborator with significant autonomy to design, propose, and implement processes that will ensure DataKind delivers best-in-class data products for the social sector. 


This is a remote position that can be based anywhere in the U.S. and requires the majority of working hours each day to fall between 8am and 6pm Eastern Standard Time. 

Salary Range
$170,000 - $185,000. 

Actual salary from the ranges above will be based on the candidate’s experience and internal salary equity scan of active employee(s) with similar role and experience.

About the Opportunity 

Our growing organization is looking for an established thought leader for the position of Head of Research. As a new position within DataKind, the Head of Research will be a senior thought leader in the organization.

Reporting to the Vice President, Product and Programs and working closely with the Head of Data Science and the Head of Technology, the Head of Research will: 

  1. Author literature reviews, landscapes, policy briefs, and white papers on the potential for data science and other technology mature solutions within social sector domains
  2. Shape the implementation context of solutions for service delivery
  3. Cocreate DataKind’s messaging, communication, and point of view

In addition to research skills, we’re looking for someone who’s excited about external thought leadership and internal cross functional collaboration. 

What You’ll Do

The Head of Research will be responsible for the following in addition to any other project assigned by the manager. Time estimates are approximate.

Research (40% of time)

Direct and establish DataKind’s research practice. Example activities include: 

  • Authoring literature reviews, landscapes, policy briefs, and white papers to advance DataKind’s knowledge and perspective on data science in social sector domains
  • Conducting stakeholder interviews
  • Managing research programs led by DataKind staff or volunteers
  • Authoring implementation research with the intent of external publication
  • Represent DataKind on external platforms such as conferences and podcasts

Service Delivery Implementation (35% of time)

Across DataKind’s product portfolio, ensure that the implementation context is sound for solutions and that clear solution delivery and training support is provided. Example activities include: 

  • Ensure that DataKind prototype programs, product studio, and service implementation practices are grounded in research and follow from learnings in landscape and literature review activities
  • Lead context-specific research for service delivery solutions: working with the Head of Data Science and the Head of Technology, ensure that the solutions are not just high quality, but also contextually appropriate
  • Work closely with solution managers to ensure that solutions are incrementally developed and communicated to implementation partners
  • Be a key representative to philanthropic supporters for service delivery projects
  • Be the lead collaborator with DataKind’s marketing and communications teams to ensure that solutions are frequently and appropriately shared across DataKind channels and shape DataKind’s point of view on implementation reporting

New Practice Development (10% of time)

Collaborate to recognize DataKind’s product strategy. Example activities include: 

  • Engage in early-stage supporter conversations
  • Develop introductory collateral materials for cultivation efforts
  • Collaborate to scope funded bodies of work
  • Participate as the named principal investigator on grant-funded work

Research Team Development and Support (10% of time)

Engage with DataKind volunteers and staff to elevate DataKind’s overall Research practice through training, conversation, and partnership. Example activities include: 

  • Recruit, hire, and manage staff and/or consultant researchers, solution managers, and other support staff as required to meet target deliverables
  • Recruit and select DataKind volunteers to meet project deliverables
  • Provide technical review, thought partnership, and advice for DataKind projects 

Cross-Team Collaboration (5% of time)

Work with DataKind staff teams to ensure that our systems and processes are continuously improved and meet established standards in order to achieve our Research & Practice aims.  Example activities include: 

  • Establish internal best practices on measurement and evaluation for service delivery
  • Work alongside grants managers to manage budgets for technical services within each deliverable
  • Work alongside the Technology, Data Science, and Solution Management teams to ensure successful service delivery and internal cohesion of solutions and approach

How You’ll be Measured

At the end of Year One, the Head of Research will have accomplished the following:

  • Met Research & Practice deliverables for all committed work
  • Ensured timely and proactive communication regarding volunteers, projects, and opportunities such that the DataKind team is able to react and contribute to solutions 
  • Authored at least four pieces of research for DataKind
  • Implemented a cross-departmental Research & Practice strategy for implementation evaluation and communication


Required qualifications: 

  • Alignment with DataKind mission and values, including our commitment to anti-racism
  • Robust portfolio of external publication and presentations in English with demonstrated ability to produce academic-quality written materials. NOTE: you will be asked to submit portfolio samples as part of your application.
  • Documented expertise in: 
    • Technology-driven work and familiarity with data science models, tools and languages (Python, R etc.) through portfolio materials (e.g. GitHub) and participation in interview thought exercises
    • Stakeholder engagement to define problem statements
    • Management of junior and senior team members to include individual contributors and managers
  • Ability to compile and deliver written reports, budget plans and strategy presentations for external audiences
  • Ability to work occasional nights and weekends eastern time for meetings or events with our global community of partners and volunteers.  (e.g. up to four nights or one weekend per month)

Preferred qualifications: 

  • Experience with open source software development and maintainer communities 
  • Previous experience in skilled volunteerism either as a volunteer or staff supporter
  • Academic qualifications in data science (e.g. Masters’ or PhD in a STEM field)
  • Experience with IRB
  • Experience teaching at the post-secondary level (e.g. for continuing education or university courses)

About DataKind

DataKind is a global nonprofit dedicated to harnessing the power of data science and artificial intelligence (AI) in the service of humanity. DataKind matches skilled volunteers from academia and industry with visionary changemakers, collaboratively designing innovative solutions to tough social challenges. 

People are at the center of our process: DataKind follows human-centered design principles that focus on questions such as “why?”, “for whom?” and “should we?” before we get going on the “what?”. We’ll continue our work until all people and all communities can use digital technology for the outcomes they want to see, with an emphasis on including those who have historically been excluded from the technology sector or will be impacted by the intervention. 

Why Work with DataKind

At DataKind, we believe that people are the most important asset to delivering on our mission to collaboratively design data-driven, innovative solutions to tough social challenges. Working with us means that you will have:

  • Flexibility in your working schedule. This includes flexing your schedule, ending your workday early or starting late to care for kids or to walk your dog, etc. It also includes a bi-weekly “Flex Friday,” or shared focused day where no internal meetings are scheduled and staff can dedicate time for writing and other focused required tasks.
  • Generous leave policies: Paid Parental Leave, 14 paid holidays annually and unlimited PTO!
  • Access to an outstanding health plan. We pay 100% of medical, vision, and dental benefits for employees and 70% for spouse and dependent coverage.
  • Support to plan for your future. We offer a 401(k) plan and match employee contributions up to 5% of the annual salary.
  • Opportunities to learn and grow. Each year, we budget funds for each staff person to access ongoing professional development support.
  • Wellness Reimbursement Program. A wellness program that gives employees the ability to request reimbursement for wellness and lifestyle purchases that are meaningful to them like bikeshare/gym memberships, home workout equipment, or home office wifi service.
  • DEI commitment. DataKind is committed to a diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment in both our day-to-day work and via special initiatives that are driven by our DEI Steering Committee.

DataKind is an Equal Opportunity Employer

DataKind is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages candidates from underrepresented groups in tech to apply. DataKind does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, disability, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, pregnancy, or any other protected category. 


Applicants must be currently authorized to work in the United States on a full-time basis.