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Position Description

Vice President and Executive Director, Research & Policy Center

FLSA:          Exempt

Primary Function:

Reporting to the President and CEO and serving as a member of the executive management team, the Vice President and Executive Director of the Chicago Urban League’s Research & Policy Center will help position the organization as a leader in fighting for social and economic equity for Black families and communities. This role enhances the work of the organization as a whole by deepening and broadening its impact through research, partnership, thought leadership and strategic planning support provided to the executive team, program teams and the Research & Policy Center team.

The VP is responsible for developing and overseeing the League’s mission-aligned advocacy and research agendas, program development and strategic project activities, to include: (1) Advocacy: Oversee the development and execution of a thoughtful and pragmatic advocacy policy agenda, coalition strategy and outreach/engagement plan; (2) Branded Research: Oversee the development and execution of a timely, topical research agenda that highlights the strengths, challenges and opportunities facing Black families and communities; (3) Program Development/Evaluation Research: Oversee the development and execution of  the League’s program development, evaluation and performance monitoring processes; (4) Organization Planning and Accountability: Assess, implement and monitor the League’s existing organization-wide strategies and initiatives, helping the organization achieve its mission and deliver on its strategic plan commitments and objectives and (5) Leading the League’s role in the development of policy that impacts the Black community.


Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  1. Advocacy
    • Provide strategic counsel to President/CEO and the executive team on policy and legislative issues at the city, county and state levels;
    • Supervise the Director of Advocacy in developing advocacy strategies, coalition strategies and policy recommendations in our core issue areas;
    • Work collaboratively with our Chief Operating Officer and External Affairs team to release statements, press releases and media pieces that articulate our positions and serve as a media spokesperson on those issues as needed;
    • Pursue opportunities to engage external stakeholders and policy influencers in the League’s advocacy efforts and position the organization as a leading voice on racial equity efforts in Chicago;
    • Cultivate and maintain strategic relationships among key policy makers and government leaders and representing the League to major stakeholders, including elected officials and their staff, nonprofit organizations and other partners.
    • Represent the League at governmental and legislative forums, coalition meetings and similar initiatives, as well as in Springfield or other government functions as needed.
  1. Research
    • Inform the President/CEO and the executive team of research, trends and issues that will impact the work of the organization;
    • Supervise the Director of Research in the development and execution of timely, topical research centered on Black families and communities, to include written issue briefs, research reports and research articles
  1. Program Development and Evaluation Research
    • Supervise the Director of Learning and Evaluation in the development and execution of program development and internal evaluation research and activities designed to monitor and assess the impact of our programs and services
    • Work collaboratively with our programs teams to facilitate bidirectional learning (sharing external research to shape internal programming and policy, reviewing internal knowledge and experiences to shape thought leadership and external policy)
  1. Organization Planning and Accountability
    • Assist the President/CEO and the executive team with landscape and SWOT analyses to help recognize opportunities and threats to the organization
    • Assist the President/CEO and the executive team with projects and activities that help the League pursue organization-wide funding, investments, opportunities and initiatives
    • Assist the President/CEO and the executive team in developing and executing strategy for accomplishing the organization’s short- and long-term organizational goals
    • Work collaboratively with our programs and administrative teams to execute objectives listed in the Chicago Urban League Strategic Plan
  1. Policy Leadership


Direct Reports:

Responsible for the supervision of the Director of Advocacy, the Director of Learning and Evaluation, and the Director of Research. All of these positions are housed in the Research and Policy Center.



To perform the job successfully, an individual should demonstrate the following competencies:

  • Technical/Substantive Skills: Possess the professional knowledge and operational capabilities to perform essential job duties.  Effectively utilizes analytical and strategic thinking skills in the organization.  Candidate should be highly skilled in social science and research methodologies, with an emphasis on participatory, community-based research and evaluation research. Candidate should also have strong skills in qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Excellent written and oral communication skills required. Demonstrated skill and comfort in proactively building relationships with diverse audiences, including community members, public officials, reporters and editors, community leaders, organizational partners and the public.
  • Management of People: Effectively leads, motivates, and directs others in the organization.  Helps to create a work environment that enables individuals to succeed and accomplish individual and organizational goals.  Contributes towards boosting employee productivity and performance.
  • Leadership: Contributes to providing the vision necessary for the success of the organization. Candidate should possess a strong aptitude for strategic planning. Helps to create a culture in which the vision is communicated, understood and pursued productively. Motivates the organization to achieve maximum effectiveness in the attainment of its common goals. Develops people and their capabilities through empowerment, teamwork or other means. Fosters a diverse environment at all levels with open communication. Provides an example of excellent management. Demonstrates integrity and high standards.
  • Accountability: Takes ownership of one’s work and knows how individual contributions effect the work environment; makes realistic timeframes of projects and completes them in a timely manner; understands the chain of supervisory accountability; and understands one’s role and what types of skills, attitude and commitment it takes to be successful.
  • Reliability: Satisfactorily performs work in a timely and consistent manner.  Deals with unexpected circumstances efficiently and effectively.  Responsible for one’s own conduct.
  • Results Orientation: Sets and achieves high performance standards for him/herself and others, concerning outcomes that are important to the organization. Attains clear, concrete, timely and measurable results using multiple disciplines and organization-wide departmental capabilities on a consistent basis.
  • Sense of Urgency: Works hard at getting things done and focuses on achieving goals.  Maintains a pulse on the organization by effectively assessing situations and developing action plans that produces results.  Driven by determination and has high expectations.
  • Communication: Effectively interacts with others and builds rapport in the organization; effectively listens, understands and gives clear communication to make the right decision and then handle situations.
  • Integrity: Conducts one’s self honestly and ensures compliance of organizational policies and procedures; endeavors to protect organizational assets, confidential business information and ensures efficient use; has a strong commitment of doing the right thing; and strives to help others perform their work ethically and safely.
  • Financial Acumen: Understands the financial operational functions of the organization.  Makes timely, strategic and operational decisions by evaluating and managing financial risk based on business principles and practices. Uses sound financial judgment.
  • Team Player: Works cooperatively with others and continuously strives toward collaboration and motivation within a group.  Positively impacts team members by building trust and encouraging others to work together towards a common goal.
  • Innovation/Creativity: Challenges and develops alternatives to traditional business operations. Generates ideas and identifies opportunities that show innovation/creativity. Considers new ideas and perspectives other than their own. Fosters an environment that encourages innovation and creative thinking. Demonstrates the innovation and creativity required in the organization by assertively causing change.


Education and Experience:

Because of its research focus, this position requires graduate-level credentials, which may include a PhD with 3-5 years post-graduate professional experience or a Master’s, J.D. or comparable degree with 10+ years post-graduate professional experience. A minimum of 7-10 years combined experience in applied research (qualitative, quantitative, evaluation), advocacy and/or community engagement, nonprofit programming and a proven track record of seeing projects through from concept to completion is needed to oversee department staff. The ideal candidate will have excellent oral and writing skills, an outgoing personality and ability to think strategically and work collaboratively.


To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to