The Pew Charitable Trusts

Officer, Student Loan Research

1 month ago(12/17/2017 11:42 AM)
Job ID
Program-Research & Science
The Pew Charitable Trusts


The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and invigorate civic life.


We are an independent nonprofit organization – the sole beneficiary of seven individual trusts established between 1948 and 1979 by two sons and two daughters of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph N. Pew and his wife, Mary Anderson Pew.


Our work lays the foundation for effective policy solutions by informing and engaging citizens, linking diverse interests to pursue common cause and insisting on tangible results. Our projects encourage efficient, responsive governments – at the local, state, national and international levels – serving the public interests.


With offices in Philadelphia, Washington DC, Australia, Brussels and London, and with additional staff in other regions of the United States and around the globe, Pew provides an exciting learning environment and the opportunity to work with highly talented individuals. We are a dynamic, rapidly evolving organization that values creativity and innovative thinking and fosters strong teamwork with mutual respect.


Project Overview: 
The student loan research project is a new project slated for launch in January 2018. This project will be housed in the Research and Science unit and led by the director of Pew’s fiscal federalism initiatives. It will provide research and analysis that will inform the public and the policy process on the challenges of two issues: default on student loans and veterans’ higher education debt. The project will use a variety of methodologies including survey research, focus groups, and analysis of existing data sets. In addition, it will have a robust outreach strategy that includes hosting convenings of major stakeholders, media outreach, and partnerships in the larger higher education, student loans, and veterans’ research communities.


Position Overview:
The officer will work with the initiative’s senior manager and director to develop and implement the project’s research agenda. This includes doing independent research as well as guiding teams of researchers; authoring and co-authoring research papers, issue briefs, and other materials; providing leadership and guidance for and critically reviewing all project research products; overseeing contracts; helping implement the initiative’s communications and outreach strategy, which includes serving as a spokesperson when appropriate; and presenting research findings at conferences and in other appropriate venues.


The officer will be based in Pew’s Washington, DC office, report to the senior manager, and work closely with team members as well as other Pew colleagues in communications, research review and support, government relations, human resources, legal, and other areas. The position has a set time frame that could be extended based on the success of the program, funding sources, and board decisions on continued support.



  • Working with the senior manager and director, develop and lead a higher education- and student loan-related research agenda implemented through a combination of internal original research and research contracts. Such research may involve developing or collecting original data through focus groups, in-depth interviews, and surveys; creation of research databases from existing sources; and analysis of existing data sets.
  • Based on the initiative’s goals, create and maintain a prioritized list of research projects and design a research agenda with timelines and strategies to achieve the goals.
  • Execute the research including authoring, co-authoring, and/or guiding major research reports and issue briefs and/or contracting with outside experts.
  • Identify and explore additional research, presentation, and partnership opportunities that will further illuminate higher education-related topics of interest for key audiences and fit strategically into the overall portfolio.
  • Ensure work is methodologically sound and responds to relevant and timely policy questions. Critically review research methodologies and fact-check materials produced by contractors and other staff. Manage the external peer review process and internal review process for project deliverables.
  • Ensure that all products and presentations are clear, accessible, and compelling for a policymaker and public audience and maintain the academic rigor for an audience of experts.
  • Identify appropriate researchers and experts for research contracts; evaluate proposals for research contracts; execute contracts; and monitor progress to ensure products are high quality, use rigorous analysis, meet the contract's objectives, and are delivered on time and within budget. 


  • Work with the senior manager to develop and execute the initiative’s communications and outreach strategy. Collaborate with communications, government relations, and other departments to prepare materials for target audiences and identify opportunities to engage policy makers and other stakeholders and highlight the initiative’s research. Assist with drafting documents regarding the initiative’s research including outreach plans, fact sheets, press releases, executive summaries, etc.
  • Help build and maintain a network of private sector, state, and federal experts for the initiative.
  • Support team-sponsored convenings of stakeholders, experts, and the public—including agenda development, conducting background research, securing speakers and experts, and preparing materials for briefings and events.
  • Cultivate and maintain a broad knowledge of relevant higher education policy discussions and research methodologies and practices. Be aware of relevant governmental and private sector developments in the field through systematic literature reviews, original research, and policy analysis of emerging issues, including staying current on legislative proposals before Congress and administrative and regulatory actions by the Executive branch.
  • Represent the initiative publicly at relevant conferences, seminars, and other external events, presenting and helping to disseminate the initiative’s research.
  • Serve as a spokesperson to the media on the initiative's research, providing interviews for print, television, social media, and radio as appropriate.
  • Participate with Pew colleagues on collaborative work and work with management on development of new research proposals, particularly with regard to this line of work. 
  • Contribute to and participate in tasks of the initiative and the unit as assigned, as well as broader Pew-wide projects as needed.


  • Bachelor’s degree required. An advanced degree with a significant research focus in public policy, public administration, or economics preferred.
  • Minimum of eight years of work experience – with a substantial amount of time and focus spent on higher education or related issues – is required. Experience at federal level and with federal higher education programs a plus. An understanding of student loans and/or veterans’ higher education issues a plus.
  • Strong research, analytical and quantitative skills. Proficiency with Microsoft Excel; and expertise in at least one statistical software program (e.g., Stata, R, SPSS) required. Proficiency with data visualization software (e.g. Tableau) a plus. 
  • Familiarity with major data sets related to student loans (e.g. NPSAS), and with survey design and execution strongly preferred. 
  • Experience designing, conducting, managing, and analyzing qualitative research projects (e.g. focus groups, in-depth interviews) preferred.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage complex research projects and lead teams of researchers. 
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills, including an ability to synthesize issues and research findings clearly and effectively and translate complex concepts for a policymaking audience. Ability to write quickly and succinctly as well as to revise and edit based on input from a range of reviewers.
  • Strong interpersonal skills. Able to develop and manage productive and collaborative relationships both internally and externally.
  • Ability to meet both individual and team goals in a professional and timely manner.
  • Proven ability to operate as a team player, think strategically and creatively, adjust to changing circumstances, organize time efficiently, meet multiple deadlines while remaining attentive to details, and support others to do the same.
  • Strong political awareness, with a non-partisan perspective and approach.
  • Ability to fit into a creative, fast-paced, and highly professional culture which emphasizes excellence, collegiality and teamwork. 
  • Commitment to non-partisan research.


Occasional travel to relevant national/regional conferences and for outreach to external audiences to promote the initiative’s work.


As this is a full-time position, we offer a competitive salary and complete benefit program, including: comprehensive, affordable health care through medical, dental and vision coverage; financial security with life and disability insurance; opportunities to save using health savings and flexible spending accounts; retirement benefits to help prepare for the future; and work/life benefits to help you maintain a good balance.


The Pew Charitable Trusts is an equal opportunity employer, committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. Pew considers qualified applicants for employment without regard to age, sex, ethnicity, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity, military/veteran status, or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.



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