Director of Federal Equity Initiatives

Director of Federal Equity Initiatives

Urban Institute

Washington, DC   |   September 14, 2021

About Urban Institute

Urban’s Mission and Strategy: At the Urban Institute, we believe in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities. As a nonprofit focusing on social and economic policy, our researchers and policy entrepreneurs open minds, shape decisions, and identify transformative solutions to the most pressing issues of our time.

In 2019, Urban launched a Next50 strategy to bring forth evidence to help changemakers catalyze and accelerate solutions by: leveraging cutting-edge technology and data science, understanding and confronting structural racism and inequities of all kinds, and delivering timely, relevant, and actionable research findings to influencers – be they in communities, capitals, boardrooms, or wherever innovators are pursuing bold ideas.

A Focus on Equity: Urban has committed to expanding capacity and building bodies of work to address structural racism and discrimination and increase racial justice and equity across all the domains in which Urban works. Our short-term goal is to work with changemakers to expose and reverse prevailing racist patterns and practices in order to ensure that our nation’s recovery leads to more equitable economic and health outcomes without deepening entrenched racial ethnic inequalities. Ultimately, however, by actively confronting the ways in which public policy has been shaped by racism both in design and implementation, we seek nothing short of achieving long-term, systemic change in policy.

Urban is especially interested in expanding its capacity and building bodies of work that equip leaders and communities with the data and evidence needed to expose patterns of structural racism and advance bold remedies. Like others at Urban, leaders whose work centers on equity will have the opportunity for collaboration with, and support from, a new Office of Race and Equity Research. The office also works with teams from across Urban including our Community Engaged Methods Group, Structural Racism Resource Project, and Racial Equity Analytics Lab.

The Opportunity

Reporting to the Vice President in Urban’s soon to launch Office of Race and Equity Research and working in close partnership with colleagues in the Office of Race and Equity Research and across Urban, The Director of Federal Equity Initiatives will lead existing, and develop new major research and policy programs to inform the federal government’s work to promote equity, ensuring that federal policymakers consider the impact of legislation and executive actions on equity.

Key Responsibilities:

The Director of Federal Equity Initiatives will have two primary responsibilities:

Direct the Racial Equity Scoring Initiative, a partnership between Urban and PolicyLink.

To ensure the federal government serves us all, we must better understand and assess whether every policy proposed would advance or impede racial equity. Just as budget scoring provides estimates of the fiscal impacts of legislation, and increasingly policymakers are able to consider the distributional impact of policy by income, the Racial Equity Scoring Initiative seeks to develop the analytic methods to make it possible, over time, to design a scoring system to measure racial equity impacts in federal legislation.

Lead ORER’s engagement with executive branch efforts to advance racial equity.

The Biden Administration’s series of Executive Orders (EOs), including the Day 1 Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government have helped to open a window opportunity to develop field capacity for embedding racial equity in decision-making across sectors. There is a current and future need for racial equity analytics, guidance, and data. The Director, Federal Equity Initiatives will leverage Urban’s deep expertise and capacity to help meet this need, in partnership with the incoming Director of Racial Equity Analytics, with the ultimate goal of providing leaders with information and tools that can help them fulfill the EOs’ aspiration to systematically embed racial equity in the policymaking process.


The ideal candidate will bring an expert-level understanding of federal policymaking – both executive and legislative, including relevant contacts and the ability to engage with leaders inside Congress and the administration as well as externally, with key stakeholders. They will bring a deep understanding of how research and evidence can be most impactful for federal policymakers, exceptional analytical skills, and the ability to successfully translate data and evidence to non-experts.

Additional desired skills, characteristics, and experiences include:

  • A sophisticated understanding of legislative scoring and policy assessment, including the work of the Congressional Budget Office, Office of Management and Budget, Budget Committees, and Joint Committee on Taxation.
  • A deep belief in and excitement for the work that the Office of Race and Equity Research will do and the desire to help build a growing field of study and research application.
  • Deep and relevant experience with racial equity and a strong perspective on how data on race and equity can inform policies that close equity gaps.
  • Candidates need not be a researcher but must be able to meaningfully engage with highly technical research, comfortably discuss research methodologies and rigorous use of data, and create connections relevant research, social and economic trends, and policymaking.
  • Proven fundraising success, including connections with established leaders in philanthropy and/or government, and ability to quickly develop a strategy for supporting new work.
  • Growth mindset with excitement to co-create something new with internal and external partners, ambition for impact, and a strong sense of a theory of change.
  • Proven management skills including experience coordinating or staffing high-level advisory groups, managing interdisciplinary teams of staff at multiple levels of experience, and successfully leading large-scale projects.
  • Experience coaching staff and teams to desired outcomes through both implicit and explicit authority.
  • Outstanding oral and written communications skills, including the ability to produce clear, concise, and compelling analysis of complex policy issues and research evidence.
  • Experience with strategic communications, including outreach to media and target audiences in the public, business, and nonprofit sectors and serving as a spokesperson for Urban and its projects and initiatives.
  • Possess a graduate degree (in a field related to public policy or social science fields) and have a combination of at least 10 years of post-graduate education and experience in government, practice or philanthropy, and a recognized expert with a reputation for effectively advancing knowledge, policy, or practice at the city, state, or national level.
Compensation & Benefits

The expected salary range for this role is between $180,000 and $220,000, commensurate with experience. Urban is committed to supporting our staff’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being through a robust benefits package for yourself, eligible dependents, and domestic partners. It includes generous paid time off, including nine federal holidays, medical (including prescription), dental and vision insurance, and transit benefits. Urban is unique in that we offer 403(b) retirement plan participation immediately upon hire and a generous employer contribution after five months of service and 1,000 hours, with immediate vesting. You’ll also have access to a health advocate, personal finance coaching, an Employee Assistance Program, and educational assistance for undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Molly Brennan and Shelby Woods are leading this search. Please make recommendations or express your interest in this role here or email [email protected]. All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

The Urban Institute is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity without regard for race, ethnicity, gender, protected veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other protected status under applicable law.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world. For more information about Koya Partners, visit