Director, Research & Evaluation

Institutional Research & Planning · Indianapolis, Indiana
Department Institutional Research & Planning
Employment Type Full-Time
Minimum Experience Executive

Organizational Overview:

Established in 2009, Complete College America (CCA) is a bold national advocate for dramatically increasing college completion rates and closing equity gaps by working with states, systems, institutions, and partners to scale highly effective structural reforms and promote policies that improve student success. CCA has become a national leader in the movement to dramatically increase the percent of individuals with a postsecondary credential. Complete College America is organized as an Alliance of 47 states, territories, and higher education consortia where executives have committed to ambitious goals of increasing college completion rates, tracking progress toward their goals and implementing a set of evidence-based practices or “Game Changers” that have proven to dramatically increase college completion rates. Complete College America believes that the most effective way to achieve dramatic improvements in college completion rates is through the implementation of effective strategies at scale.

Complete College America’s national headquarters are located in Indianapolis, Indiana. However, remote employment options may be a consideration.

Position Overview

Complete College America is renowned for its seminal reports and disaggregated data and research which have informed the development of its Game Changer strategies, its support of state and institutional policy implementation, and institution-focused programming and transformation. As CCA celebrates its tenth year of service and support to its 47-member Alliance, policymakers, and the higher education community, CCA is doubling down on its commitment to its data, research and evaluation capacities by hiring a national Director of Research & Evaluation. Toward this end, CCA is seeking a senior level research and evaluation professional who brings strategic leadership, trusted and credible research publications and processes, and adeptness with relationship building and collaboration to fill this role.

Reporting to the CCA Chief of Staff & SVP for Strategy (with a dotted line reporting relationship to the VP for Alliance Engagement & Institutional Transformation), the CCA Director of Research & Evaluation will support Complete College America’s efforts to advocate for strategies, policies and practices which will facilitation college completion in states, regions, and cities, through the provision of actionable data, research and a strong evidence base.

Complete College America seeks a Director of Research & Evaluation to lead the development and execution of the organization’s strategic research agenda focused upon developing a deeper understanding of barriers to and levers for on-time college completion, how states and institutions can design effective programs for closing equity gaps in college completion in America, and how to measure and report progress against clearly-defined outcomes. The successful Director or Research & Evaluation will share knowledge with field-based Strategy Directors, the CCA Alliance, and the higher education community, and other key external stakeholders. The Director of Research & Evaluation will work closely with the Alliance to translate research findings and best practices around evaluation and measurement with the CCA Alliance and other postsecondary stakeholders and partners.

The incumbent will lead efforts to ensure that knowledge in the field and evidence from program and related evaluations, inform and strengthen CCA’s efforts. Toward this end, the Director of R&E will work closely with the VP for Alliance Engagement & Institutional Transformation to inform program design to achieve intended outcomes. The successful Director of R&E will also work with the Communications, Government Relations & Advocacy, and Fundraising teams to translate CCA’s research and evaluation in order to foster awareness of compelling and innovative approaches for facilitating college completion and eliminating equity gaps in college completion.

Roles and Responsibilities

In consultation with the Chief of Staff/SVP, Strategy and the VP, Alliance Engagement & Institutional Transformation:


  • Lead the design, development and implementation of the organization’s strategic research agenda with a focus on sharing insights and developing evaluation and measurement methodology that support the work of the CCA Alliance. Advise the Executive Team and Alliance members on issues related to research, evaluation and measuring impact and outcomes;
  • Provide leadership that enhances alignment of data needs across the organization. Support the organization in collecting data to inform success toward meeting organizational outcomes and targets. Develop and oversee projects to enhance the collection and application of data to rigorously inform the work of CCA and Alliance members;
  • Oversee and lead the data collection and analysis of state completion data, Game Changers implementation and barriers to completion, via strategic partnership with counterparts within national higher education organizations such as SHEEO, BMGF, and National Student Clearinghouse, as well as the CCA Data Lead on the CCA State Alliance teams;
  • Lead large-scale data collection and analyses, using federal, state and institutional data sets to ensure an accurate representation of the data is achieved;
  • Support resource development for research and evaluation and meet, as needed, with funders of varying type;
  • In partnership with the critical internal and external partners, the Complete College America executive and research team, support the translation and dissemination of research and evaluation insights to inform and shape organizational strategies and initiatives and develop new partnerships;
  • Assist in the generation of project reports for funders, senior organizational leadership, and the CCA Board of Directors.
  • Establish and nurture a network of relationships with key practitioners, academic researchers, institutions, donors, government agencies and relevant nonprofit partners to further CCA’s mission and research agenda, and to promote the visibility of college completion and equity gaps within the same, in the public dialogue;
  • Develop and oversee the Research & Evaluation departmental budget;
  • Create, implement and oversee research and evaluation processes, in consultation with organizational leadership, and supervise the simultaneous execution of multiple large, grant?funded research projects;
  • Establish a high standard for data integrity and transparency of data methods used in research and evaluation projects and in external communications. Toward this end, ensure that the organization’s program evaluation activities reflect the highest standards;
  • Identify barriers to effective research and evaluation and advise organizational leadership and others on strategies for mitigating challenges to accomplishing the same;
  • Oversee project staff, including external consultants and cross functional project contributors, as necessary and required, particularly to develop public-facing reports and publications;
  • Represent Complete College America to internal and external audiences;
  • Facilitate the integration of research and evaluation across CCA internal teams (e.g. policy, advocacy, government relations, Alliance engagement, institutional transformation, fundraising, communications, etc.) to coordinate resources and research on issues germane to on-time and equitable college completion, as well as related topics for various initiatives, publications and public education activity;
  • Contribute to the design and maintenance of an effective knowledge management system that supports knowledge-sharing across the CCA Alliance, national office staff and regional team members;
  • Foster a culture of research, innovation and learning with strategic partners, focused on deepening our collective understanding of historical inequities in college success and completion, and new strategic opportunities to better facilitate on-time college completions for historically-underserved and underrepresented groups and advance the implementation of CCA’s Game Changers and other strategic initiatives that facilitate equitable college completion;
  • Ensure project deliverables are aligned to CCA’s strategic plan and annual budget;
  • Oversee research components of all funded projects and activities, including grant funding exclusively designated for evaluation and research or scaled support of the same;
  • Lead the generation of project reports for funders and stakeholders;
  • Monitor and report upon state-level activities and work plans associated with state college completion goals and projects to achieve the same;
  • In partnership with CCA Strategy Directors, design and lead project evaluation and data collection in order to measure the impact of Game Changers and associated strategies (15 to Finish, Purpose First, and MSI). Oversee the implementation of all project evaluation;
  • Develop and continuously improve competencies, tools and resources for data collection, analysis and use in order to recommend changes or improvements in policy and practice, using knowledge from content experts and national best practices;
  • Provide high levels of data, analysis and other assistance in the creation of CCA seminal publications and incisive marketing materials associated with Game Changers and strategies to facilitate equitable, on-time college completions;
  • Proactively communicate with state and institutional-system researchers and institutional planning personnel on organizational research, data collection and other activities and remain responsive and an eager partner to the same;
  • Represent CCA at state, regional, and national meetings, as requested or required by the role;
  • Actively and eagerly participate in the organization’s planning and monitoring of its strategic plan;
  • Other relevant project and administrative duties as needed or assigned.


Qualifications


  • Bachelor’s and Advanced Degrees (required) Terminal Degree (preferred)
  • A minimum of 10 years’ work experience in multi-modal research, program evaluation, and data collection activities, ideally also overseeing the work of others toward the same
  • Experience in higher education research in the non-profit, institutional or governmental realms
  • A diverse, ongoing research agenda and engagement in learning related to current higher education trends
  • Strong oral presentation and written communication skills, along with an extreme comfort and deftness with public speaking before audiences of different types
  • Detail orientation
  • Experience working with and on behalf of underrepresented student populations, as well as a complex understanding of the needs of racial minority, low-income, first-generation, and adult learners
  • An unapologetic and unabashed commitment to equity and equitable outcomes and the ways in which data and research help to inform the achievement of the same
  • Analytical thinker
  • An innovative, solution-oriented thinker that understands complex systems and has strong relationship-building skillsets that lead to high quality organizational practices and results
  • An ability to operate both independently and as a member of a high-functioning, decentralized team
  • Willingness to learn and build new skill sets that are important to achieving work objectives
  • Extensive understanding of Office and research software, including but not limited to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook
  • Willingness and ability to travel as necessary and required for the role.


Physical Demands
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus. The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate. Must possess and maintain a valid Driver’s License. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential duties of this position.

Equal Opportunity Employer
At Complete College America, we strive to attract, develop and retain highly-qualified individuals representing the diversity of America. Toward this end, CCA is committed to creating and maintaining a diverse work environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. Employment policies and decisions at CCA are based upon merit, qualifications, performance and business needs.

All qualified candidates will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, national origin, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth), gender identity or expression, religion, physical or mental disability, medical condition, legally-protected genetic information, marital status, veteran status or sexual orientation.

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  • Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Department
    Institutional Research & Planning
  • Employment Type
    Full-Time
  • Minimum Experience
    Executive