Director of Racial Equity Analytics

Director of Racial Equity Analytics

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.

About REAL

REAL has unique expertise at the intersections of racial equity, data science, policy simulation, and quick-turnaround research across a wide range of program areas, as well as uniquely strong capacity to work simultaneously with government officials and diverse networks of experts, advocates, and practitioners.  REAL was launched in December 2020 with a core team of equity-focused experts and data scientists and supported by project managers. Since then, REAL has successfully attracted significant funding from several philanthropic partners, enabling it to quickly scale its ambition.

For each engagement and analytic product, REAL draws on talent and subject matter expertise from across the Urban Institute.  REAL’s mission is to equip equity-focused changemakers with timely data and analyses to design and advance race-conscious solutions and hold decisionmakers accountable.

Delivering disaggregated data for decision-making. We generate and share real-time data disaggregated by race and ethnicity, across multiple domains, and at the smallest geographies. Having such timely information gives leaders the ability to measure, monitor, and forecast inequities from the outset, as well as when policies or problems unfold.

Sophisticated Methods to Advance Data Disaggregation. REAL works at the leading edge of data science, drawing on tools like matching, imputation, and synthetic datasets to generate disaggregated data where it does not currently exist. Our recently released case study details our approach to imputing race on credit bureau data to demonstrate responsible practice with these techniques.

Ethical Data Practices. REAL is working to ensure that data is not used in ways that reinforce racist narratives, introduce or replicate bias, or violate the privacy or consent of BIPOC people.  We recently developed an Ethics and Empathy Guide for data scientists seeking to use imputation and other methods to append race and ethnicity to data sets that lack this information.  Also, we partnered with Tableau to produce and disseminate the Do No Harm Guide, which helps practitioners apply equity awareness in data visualization.

The Opportunity

Reporting to the Vice President in Urban’s soon to launch Office of Race and Equity Research, The Director of Racial Equity Analytics will, over time, assume leadership of REAL from the current dynamic leadership team and play a critical role in REAL’s work to develop real-time racially disaggregated data and tools to inform race-conscious solutions. This leader will work with colleagues in our data science team and research centers to guide the development of rigorous and timely tools to analyze data across a broad range of policy areas, heighten our ability to listen to the needs of changemakers and translate those needs into responsive solutions that center on racial equity and model the highest standards of community engagement, ethics, and empathy, and continue to grow a rapidly expanding portfolio of projects focused on advising federal and local agencies on methods and tools for equity assessments.

This is a truly unique opportunity to be at the forefront of connecting policymakers to racial equity data in real time while also creating new opportunities for scholars to do this critical work and help build a new field of equity data science.

Key Responsibilities:

The Director will oversee a team of analysts and facilitators, coordinate extensively with peer experts, and maintain a high level of external engagement with government agencies, policymakers, advocates, and funders.

Strategic Leadership

  • Lead and coordinate REAL’s product and tool development efforts and ensure that they deliver on the core values of innovativeness, responsiveness, and highest levels of responsibility and empathy.
  • Lead processes and systems of engagement to maintain active feedback loops and ideation with government agencies, policymakers, advocates, community leaders, and philanthropic leaders.
  • Develop internal capacity for long-term facilitation of collaborative opportunities for racial equity analytics across the range of policy areas and expertise in Urban’s policy centers.
  • Develop framework for establishing impact measurements to track and report REAL’s influence on enhanced racial equity analysis in government agencies and in shaping race-conscious decision-making in communities.

Organizational Management and Coordination

  • Oversee the execution of existing work funded by philanthropic partners.
  • Engage and supervise REAL staff and experts across Urban to deliver on project goals.
  • Partner collaboratively across Urban to source new research and tools, support project ideas, and to execute on the design and production of rigorous research.
  • Track and manage budgets and provide timely substantive financial and program reporting.

External Impact and Relations

  • Strengthen the capacity of government agency staff, policymakers, advocates, community leaders, and movement makers to design race-conscious solutions by equipping them with real time racially disaggregated data at the level of geography that is most relevant to them.
  • Establish, nurture, bridge, and maintain relationships with multi-sector partners, funders, and policymakers in partnership with the external affairs and development teams.
  • Serve as a subject matter expert and thought leader on racial equity, data ethics, or anti-racism including writing and public presentations.
  • Actively pursue opportunities for REAL’s continued growth and influence.

The Director will bring deep expertise in racial equity, data, policymaking, and vision and entrepreneurial capacity to grow this unique and important body of work, exceptional communications skills, including the ability to translate research and data to the public, and the project and team management skills required to conceptualize, implement, and lead complex, large-scale projects.

Additional desired skills, characteristics, and experiences include:

  • A sophisticated understanding of the potential of using new methods to unlock and disaggregate data that helps illuminate inequitable outcomes and highlight paths toward progress.
  • Experience growing and scaling initiatives and programs.
  • Understanding of policymaking and the government agency landscape and ecosystem; with a relevant network and the ability to interact directly with government agencies.
  • Deep and relevant experience with racial equity policies and practices, and a strong perspective on how racial equity data can inform policies that close equity gaps.
  • Proven fundraising success, including connections with established leaders in philanthropy and/or government, and ability to quickly develop a strategy for supporting new work.
  • 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.
  • 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