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2 Oct 2017

Research and Policy Director of Applied Science

Turnaround for Children

Job Description

Director of Applied Science

About Turnaround for Children

Too many students are behind in school and too many schools don’t know what to do about it. Science is key to understanding the problem and key to the solution.

By studying the impact of adversity on the developing brain, Turnaround for Children is on to something big. It is connecting the dots between poverty, stress and academic performance.  Turnaround translates the science that explains the impact of stress on learning and behavior into tools and strategies that teachers and administrators can use to cultivate a safe environment, reduce stress, increase engagement in learning and accelerate healthy student development and academic achievement.

Turnaround acts as a catalyst for change by raising awareness about and addressing the challenges that affect any school facing adversity, particularly those in high-poverty communities. Over the past 15 years, the non-profit has grown from an idea into an organization with a $15.2 million annual operating budget and over 60 employees. Currently, Turnaround partners with 13 schools in New York City, Newark, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. serving more than 5,000 students and 600 teachers. Turnaround is also expanding its reach via partnerships with KIPP D.C. and District of Columbia Public Schools by providing hands-on professional support, coaching and training sessions to leadership teams and educators. Turnaround’s central office is located in midtown Manhattan.


This position is based in New York City.


This is a fully exempt position that is not eligible for overtime.

About the Position

Turnaround is creating a multi-disciplinary team to support the translation and application of science and research to accelerate student development and academic achievement in schools serving high concentrations of children impacted by adversity. This Applied Science and Translation team will function as an organizational hub, facilitating collaboration across internal teams and with external networks of scientists, educators, researchers and other thought leaders. The Applied Science and Translation team will collaborate closely with senior leaders to infuse science and research into all aspects of the organization and maximize impact with our schools and students.

Key Responsibilities (including but not limited to):

We recognize that we are searching within a rapidly emerging new field focused on the application and translation of developmental science to practice in school settings.  As such, we are seeking to hire a Director of Applied Science that will have dynamic complementary collaborations with the Manager of Applied Science to fulfill the team duties outlined below. If you believe that you have experience, skills and a demonstrated track record of success in some subset of the functional areas below (and preferably working knowledge in the other areas), we encourage you to apply.

Science Core

  • Collaborate with an advisory group of leading researchers to establish and maintain a science core that informs Turnaround’s theory of action and guides all aspects of our work.
  • Manage membership of the advisory group, ensuring that the researchers represent the most relevant work to the success of Turnaround’s model
  • Continuously review and curate current literature and emerging research related to our program.
  • Maintain an up-to-date understanding of core concepts and implications for our work with a particular focus on leveraging the science to maximize impact in our schools.

Inquiry and Learning

  • Serve as an internal expert and advocate for inquiry and the application of current research and improvement science principles to support continuous learning and improvement.
  • Support ongoing development and management of formative and summative measures aligned to program implementation and evaluation.

Program Design & Implementation

  • Collaborate with the Program Leadership Team to leverage science in the design and delivery of our program to schools.
  • Develop processes to inform, support and review program design and implementation plans to ensure scientific grounding and support, as well as the connection to rigorous research.
  • Collaborate with Program Team to consider how research-informed interventions can be adapted for our context and to understand the potential impact of these adaptations on measurement and efficacy of the strategy, as well as implications for implementation (i.e. fidelity, dosage, frequency, etc.) and feasibility to maximize anticipated impact.
  • Maintain strong relationships with Program Team members to understand their ongoing needs and identify ways to access relevant expertise, research or other supports.
  • In collaboration with the Program Team, build a feedback loop that empowers our practitioners to share questions, insights and hypotheses from their work in schools that will inform the work of the Applied Science and Translation Team.

Staff Development

  • Build a working knowledge of the science among all Turnaround staff so that everyone becomes sufficiently conversant to incorporate science into everything, from school staff trainings and coaching sessions to press releases and grant proposals.
  • Create systems for assessing learning needs and opportunities within the organization and execute plans for addressing those.
  • Create and deliver learning opportunities to teams across the organization driven by accessible translation of relevant research.
  • Collaborate with leadership to use the science of adult learning to develop / refine professional learning protocols for team and organization-wide trainings

External Affairs

  • Connect Turnaround to the broader science and research community. Collaborate with leadership to manage and access the expertise of the Science Advisory Group and other collaborations, that draw together pertinent research and academic communities around the topic of adversity and learning.
  • Serve as an expert advisor and voice in external affairs, working with the CEO and External Affairs team to craft core messages and, where appropriate, represent Turnaround at public speaking engagements and in written media. Build the capacity for other team members to engage in such opportunities.
  • Collaborate with the Development team to identify and pursue science-based grant opportunities.


Essential Qualifications & Experience:

  • Master’s Degree required, Ph.D. or Ed.D. preferred
  • Minimum of 5 – 7 years of relevant work experience for Director-level position
  • Minimum of 2 years of leadership experience demonstrating the ability to create a vision for a team and to effectively lead others
  • Significant work experience in K-12 classroom and school practice settings, including a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and complexities in these settings and a passionate interest in integrating scientific knowledge with first-hand experience of K-12 settings
  • Demonstrated skills, knowledge and experience in child/adolescent development and/or applied developmental science, specifically including the translation of relevant research into practice in educational settings.
  • Exceptional creative thinking and an ability to leverage science and research to uncover potential opportunities for innovation in practice that will drive accelerated outcomes for students.
  • Experience with cross-functional leadership, change management and/or continuous learning
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills; ability to collaborate and effectively interact with internal teams and external partners
  • A pioneering and inventive spirit, with the ability to shape and define an uncharted, emerging field
  • Personal qualities of integrity, credibility and an unwavering belief in Turnaround’s mission



How to Apply

Apply Now Turnaround for Children is committed to building a culturally diverse and pluralistic team and strongly encourages applications from females, minorities, individuals with disabilities and veteran candidates. All applicants should visit our careers page to apply and must submit a resume together with an in-depth cover letter outlining the ways in which their skills and experience align with our specific needs. Compensation is competitive based on background and experience and includes excellent benefits. Turnaround for Children is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or protected veteran status.

Bureaus: New York. Job Categories: Full-Time. Job Types: Research and Policy.

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