Director of Policy, Research and Practice

The Education Trust-Midwest (ETM), a nonprofit education policy, advocacy, and research organization located in metropolitan Detroit, seeks a full-time Director of Policy and Research to join our leadership team.

The Education Trust-Midwest promotes high academic achievement for all Michigan students at all levels—pre-kindergarten through college. The organization is a well-respected and influential research, policy, advocacy, and technical assistance organization that works alongside parents, educators, policymakers, and community and business leaders in transforming Michigan schools and colleges into institutions that serve all students well. Lessons learned in these efforts, together with unflinching data analyses, shape our Michigan-focused research and policy agenda. Our goal is to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement that consign far too many young people—especially those who are black, Latino, American Indian, or from low-income families—to lives on the margin of the American mainstream. Launched in the fall of 2010, ETM is the Midwest division of national The Education Trust, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C. For additional information on The Education Trust-Midwest, please visit


Major Responsibilities

The Director of Policy, Research and Practice is a key member of ETM’s senior leadership and management team. This leader directs the policy and research team, and also works closely with and will manage ETM’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, an ETM practice team focused on working with educators and schools to raise teaching and learning in high-poverty schools in West Michigan. This leader will be based in metropolitan Detroit and must be willing to travel as needed, particularly in Michigan.  

Responsibilities of the role include, but are not limited to:

  • Overall team/department management: Lead the policy and research team in developing policy recommendations on our core issue areas and generate ideas for new policy areas and lines of advocacy work that promise to raise achievement and close gaps. Manage ETM’s practice work at Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, based in West Michigan, and in partnership with the CETL director, support the CETL team’s technical assistance work with districts, schools, principals, and educators to dramatically raise teaching and learning levels for all students in high-poverty communities, including coordination with districts to gather data and track progress, develop and implement equitable and effective improvement initiatives, document the impact of the organization’s work on student learning, and pilot best practices and evidence-based policies at the local level to inform state-level work. Supervise and support the development of the members of the policy and research team, as well as the practice team.
  • Strategy development: Collaborate closely with ETM leadership and teams to develop and execute strategy for accomplishing the organization’s short- and long-term research and advocacy goals. Develop and execute a strategic plan for policy, research, and data and technical assistance partnerships that advances ETM’s mission to raise the achievement of all Michigan students and close achievement gaps.
  • External Engagement and Leadership: Represent ETM in external presentations, including to the Legislature, advocacy organizations, education groups and at major conferences. Convene and serve as the organization’s spokesperson in tables of advocates, practitioners, and key state-level decision makers around policy topics, providing data and policy expertise and effectively building knowledge and advocating for equitable and effective policy decision-making.
  • Research: Initiate, develop and manage new research projects from design through analysis to presentation and communication of findings, with quantitative data from large scale datasets, as well as with qualitative data from schools and districts that have improved or are working to improve.
  • Policy: Work collaboratively with fellow staff members in Michigan, as well as the Washington, D.C. and California offices, to monitor federal, state, and local K-16 policy and quickly respond to legislative and regulatory proposals, inquiries from allies, and other rapid-response opportunities to develop the organization’s position and case to the media and beyond.
  • Content production: Serve as one of ETM’s lead researchers and writers in the development of research briefs, reports, and technical assistance briefs that are aligned with our mission and priorities.
  • Grant Management:  Identify new grant opportunities and contribute to grant writing, tracking, and reporting as well as developing and maintaining relationships with potential and established philanthropic partners.
  • Relationship management: Develop and maintain relationships with external research organizations, universities, and governmental entities and other stakeholders as needed. Work collaboratively with our Government Affairs and Communications teams to monitor and respond to federal, state, and local policies and research relevant to Michigan’s students, including serving as a media spokesperson on those issues.


Qualifications and Experience

We are looking for a combination of the following qualifications and experience:

  • A minimum of five years of professional experience in education policy or research. Additional experience as an educator – in teaching or school leadership – or advocacy is strongly preferred.
  • Advanced degree in education research, education policy, or related fields.
  • A mix of strong analytical, research, and communications skills, with an emphasis on the ability to creatively apply research to policy problems and communicate solutions, both orally and in writing.
  • Deep knowledge of state and federal education policies, including but not limited to teacher quality, standards-based reform, and school accountability.
  • Experience managing a team
  • Strong data analysis skills, including experience working with large scale datasets; familiarity with student assessment data a plus.
  • Expertise in Microsoft Excel required; preferred experience in statistical analysis package such as STATA or SPSS.
  • Ability to communicate complex information, research, and technical details to a variety of different audiences and partners, both verbally and in writing.
  • Highly skilled in communicating and collaborating across sectors outside of the organization and across teams inside the organization.
  • Deep commitment to educational equity and high achievement for all students, particularly for African American, Latino, Native American and low-income children.
  • Ability to travel, particularly to Lansing and Grand Rapids.


Personal Characteristics

  • Passion for improving the educational experiences and outcomes for low-income students and students of color, and an unwavering belief that these students could be much more successful if institutions better served them.
  • Self-starter mentality and the ability to work independently.
  • A demonstrated commitment to excellence, including under tight deadlines.
  • Ability to prioritize competing demands in a changing, highly collaborative environment.
  • Goal-oriented, project-oriented, and achievement-oriented.
  • Flexibility with a strong sense of honor and integrity.
  • A warm, personal style with a good sense of humor.
  • The ability to motivate and inspire.

Compensation & Benefits

The Education Trust-Midwest offers a competitive salary and a comprehensive benefits package – including medical, dental, vision, disability, life insurance, flexible spending account options, a 403(b) plan with employer match, generous parental leave, vacation time, and paid holidays.

Application Process

Click here to apply online. Applicants will be asked to submit a cover letter, resume, writing sample and contact information for three reference. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

About the Organization

 The Education Trust-Midwest, located in Royal Oak, Michigan, is a nonpartisan, data-driven education policy, research and advocacy organization focused on doing what is right for Michigan students. Working for the high academic achievement for all students, our goal is to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement for all students, particularly those who are Black, Latino or from low-income families.

The Education Trust-Midwest is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages diversity in all facets of the organization’s work.