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American Institutes for Research Early Childhood Principal Researcher in Remote, United States

AIR is seeking a Principal Researcher with expertise in early childhood care and education policy and programs and an applied research agenda that advances racial equity, social justice, and cultural and linguistic competence. This position is for AIR's Learning Supports Program Area within the Human Services Division. Learning Supports provides research and technical assistance to federal, state, and local clients, primarily focusing on the supports children need to be ready to learn in the K-12 education system. Our Learning Supports program area uses a proactive and preventative framework to support these content areas:

  • Early childhood

  • English learners

  • Multi-tiered system of support

  • Special education

Our Learning Supports team is driven by our mission to make the world a better, more equitable place through education.

This position has the flexibility to be remote from anywhere in the U.S. or work from one of our U.S. office locations.

About AIR:

Established in 1946, with headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, AIR is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance to solve some of the most urgent challenges in the U.S. and around the world. We advance evidence in the areas of education, health, the workforce, human services, and international development to create a better, more equitable world.

AIR’s commitment to diversity goes beyond legal compliance to its full integration in our strategy, operations, and work environment. At AIR, we define diversity broadly, considering everyone’s unique life and community experiences. We believe that embracing diverse perspectives, abilities/disabilities, racial/ethnic and cultural backgrounds, styles, ages, genders, gender identities and expressions, education backgrounds, and life stories drives innovation and employee engagement. Learn more about AIR's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategy and hear from our staff by clicking here.

The responsibilities for the position include:

  • Provide thought leadership, build capacity and expand eminence in early childhood care and education.

  • Serve on the leadership team for AIR’s early childhood business development team.

  • Support AIR’s growth through business development, including leading and writing proposals for grants or contracts to Federal, state, and local education agencies; foundations; and other clients.

  • Serve as principal investigator and/or project director for large and/or complex research studies, including designing those studies, leading analytical teams, overseeing study tasks, monitoring quality assurance, managing budgets, and fostering client relationships.

  • Mentor junior colleagues by sharing best practices in conducting research, applying evaluation methods, and leading project tasks; modeling effective approaches for solving problems; and providing feedback on their work.

  • Partner with leaders in the program area and broader organization to advance strategic positioning, capture planning, policy/program influence, and talent development.

  • Maintain excellent relationships with funders, clients, and other partners; serve as a primary client contact; and actively grow our portfolio of work through these relationships and by staying abreast of the field's direction.

Education, Knowledge, and Experience:

  • Doctoral degree in child development, developmental psychology, human development, education, public or social policy, economics, or a related field

  • At least 7 years of project leadership experience, including proposal writing, project management, staff supervision, report writing, and external relationship management

  • Reputation for expertise in early childhood care and education or child development, with expertise in equity, social justice, and cultural and linguistic competence, as evidenced through publications/presentations, award of contracts and grants, and overall body of work

  • Proven record of accomplishment leading proposals and winning competitive contracts/grants from various funding organizations (e.g., Federal, state, and local government; foundations)

  • Proven ability to develop staff capacity in research and evaluation design and methods, project management, client relationships, research publication and business development

  • Experience effectively leading and mentoring diverse teams working on research-focused projects and/or tasks within large/complex projects, including managing work to ensure excellence, timeliness, and on-budget execution

  • Expertise in the study of birth to age three policies and programs, Head Start programs, childcare programs and/or family social support services preferred but not required


  • Demonstrated strong writing skills to effectively communicate findings and policy implications from technical research for policymakers and practitioners

  • Excellent interpersonal skills to ensure effective communication with individuals at all levels and from diverse backgrounds, including the capacity to collaborate professionally with clients, federal or foundation project officers, implementing partners, consultants, program leadership staff, and other stakeholders

  • Commitment to AIR’s mission and the application of research findings to contribute to a better, more equitable world


All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, national origin, protected veteran status, or disability.

AIR adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks.

AIR’s Total Rewards Program, is designed to reward our staff competitively and motivate them to achieve our critical mission. This position offers an anticipated annual salary of $150,000 - $180,000. Salary offers are made based on internal equity within the institution and external equity with competitive markets. Please note this is the annual salary range for candidates that are based in the United States.

AIR maintains a drug-free work environment.

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ID: 12714

External Company Name: American Institutes for Research