Requisition ID: req1663
Job Title: Research, Monitoring, and Learning Technical Lead, MacArthur 100&Change
Sector: Program Administration
Employment Category: Fixed Term
Employment Type: Full-Time
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC works with people forced to flee from war, conflict and disaster and the host communities that support them, as well as with those who remain within their homes and communities. At-work today in over 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities, we restore safety, dignity and hope to millions who are uprooted and struggling to endure. IRC reaches over a million children annually with education and child protection programs in 25 countries around the world.
Years of war in Syria have pushed millions from their homes and into poverty, and millions more have become refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and further afield. Equally complex is the emergency in Iraq, where waves of fighting and displacement have overwhelmed infrastructure and services and pushed communities to the brink. The economic, social, and health effects of these dual crises have changed the entire region. In the Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq) IRC responds to displaced people’s acute and longer-term needs with integrated programs that improve health and safety, prioritize children’s education, foster economic wellbeing, and empower communities to regain control over their lives.
Sesame Workshop and IRC have won the inaugural MacArthur Foundation 100&Change competition, a $100 million grant to make measurable progress toward solving a significant problem. The Sesame Seeds program is embarking on a life-changing, five year intervention to bring vital early learning and nurturing care to more than nine million children and families affected by the ongoing civil war in Syria. Among other activities, the program will create multimedia programming for children affected by the conflict. Together with the Sesame Workshop, we will develop a pliant platform to reach young children and their caregivers wherever they are and measure how we impact their lives. For more information, please visit: http://refugee.sesameinternational.org/.
Reporting to the Regional Project Director, the Research, Monitoring, and Learning Technical Lead will manage country-level leads, sit on the senior management team of Sesame Seeds, co-design all research, monitoring, and learning activities, as well as be responsibility for their quality implementation. The research, monitoring, and learning portfolio has five goals:
(1) design appropriate, acceptable programs in terms of content, delivery, and targeting using small-scale testing and prototyping, human-centered design principles, and qualitative methods;
(2) monitor our work in real time, tracking progress against targets, identifying where course correction is needed;
(3) measure the impact of our work on children and their caregivers, using rigorous study designs;
(4) refine our program models so that they are more scalable and cost-efficient via implementation research and prototyping; and
(5) influence best practice in early childhood development monitoring and learning in humanitarian settings. Programming will occur in camp and non-camp settings across Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria, with Syrian refugees as well as host communities.
The Regional Research, Monitoring, and Learning Technical Lead will have primary responsibility for fulfilling these goals within the context of the direct services provided through this project: Sesame Home and Sesame Center. The full Sesame Seeds project is a large project that includes mass media broadcasts as well, which will also be evaluated.
The Research, Monitoring, and Learning Technical Lead is responsible for four key objectives:
- Oversee successful field implementation of research, monitoring and learning activities in line with approved workplans and budgets, and in line with high-quality technical standards;
- Co-design rigorous, but contextually appropriate research, monitoring, and learning activities, in service of the project goals;
- Ensure data are routinely communicated in a relevant and timely manner so that data can be used for subsequent program design and scale up, including with implementing partners and other humanitarian agencies;
- Maintain strong relationships with external evaluators at New York University (NYU) as well as researchers at Sesame Workshop. Sesame Workshop is the prime in the consortium, and so this regional lead will have specific responsibilities with regards to that relationship.
(1) Leadership and management for high quality research, monitoring, and learning
- Provide technical leadership and direction for the design of all research, monitoring, and learning activities. Support IRC and partners to refine a program’s theory of change, identify constraints and potential threats to the integrity of the study, and establish processes that result in high quality data collection. Activities will range from randomized controlled trials, program implementation research, program monitoring of direct service reach, and strengthening monitoring and evaluation systems in collaboration with M&E teams, amongst others.
- Advise and assist on defining project monitoring systems, tools, and indicators. Proving technical guidance and support to Country Programs for use and implementation of these tools.
- Provide technical advice and management support to allow research and/or monitoring staff to implement protocols and plans safely, ethically, and rigorously.
- Lead establishment of research, monitoring, and learning annual workplans, budget, and deliverables. Identify and agree on course corrections with the Regional Project Director and external evaluators to keep priorities on track. Provide oversight and management of research, monitoring, and learning budget and implementation.
- Oversee research, monitoring, and learning staff and operations. Provide supportive management to IRC’s team at country level, including management guidance, technical guidance, and operational troubleshooting.
- Oversee the development of risk mitigation strategies for research.
- Support project staff by creating and maintaining a work environment that promotes teamwork, trust, mutual respect and empowers staff to take responsibility
- Ensure in-country IRB protocols are followed.
- Ensure high-quality data collection and management. Provide training and support to IRC country research teams for data quality control, cleaning, and management.
(2) Translating research into practice
- Assure that research, monitoring, and learning activities provide timely, relevant information for policy-influencing opportunities (governmental or humanitarian) or programming decisions.
- Work with programs, communications, and advocacy to convene policymakers, practitioners, and research to share policy lessons from completed research.
- Work with technical coordinators to assure that data from research and monitoring activities are used to adjust and adapt programming over time.
- Create user-friendly publications and presentations that synthesize and highlight the policy implications of key research results for academic audiences (e.g. journal articles), for practitioners, and for governments.
- Leverage existing IRC staff and partner expertise or build capacity as needed to assure front-line staff participation in the interpretation and application of results, as well as design of research, monitoring, and learning agendas and plans.
(3) Collaboration and accountability with internal stakeholders
- Report to Regional Project Director about progress against approved workplans and budgets through formal and informal debriefings, annual and semi-annual reports;
- Maintain open communication with program leads at the country level in order to assure coherence and reasonable sequencing of work;
- Support in creation of new or use of existing client feedback mechanisms to ensure client feedback is accounted for throughout the project lifecycle.
(4) Collaboration and accountability with external stakeholders
- Establish and maintain solid cooperation with partner organizations and government officials as we design and refine the research, monitoring, and learning agenda, particularly government officials who have oversight of research or human subjects projections;
- Work with partners, governments, and other humanitarian actors to design monitoring systems for Early Childhood Development that are feasible and useful in humanitarian settings;
- Work closely with New York University and Sesame Workshop staff to assure the research, monitoring, and learning agenda is high quality, policy-oriented, ethical, and coherent.
Key Working Relationships:
Position Reports to: Regional Project Director, Sesame Seeds
Position supervises: country-level Sesame Seeds research coordinators and M&E staff, in partnership with country-level program coordinators (matrix management/dual reporting lines)
Indirect Reporting (for technical matters): Senior Director, Research, Evaluation, and Learning (IRC-HQ)
Other Internal and/or external contacts:
- Internal: IRC country program staff; Regional staff such as M&E, Communications and Advocacy; other technical units within IRC (Education, Health, Violence Prevention and Response, Economic Recovery and Development, Governance, Gender Equality)
- External: Senior Director, Research, Sesame Workshop; Managing Director, Sesame Workshop; Project Director, New York University; Host Government officials; implementing partner organizations; community representatives.
- At least 7 years of progressive, relevant work experience. Important that work experience demonstrates technical skills, management skills, operations experience, as well as an understanding of humanitarian contexts. In lieu of 7 years of work experience, can accept 5 years of progressive, relevant work experience and a post-graduate degree.
- Significant training in and a strong technical understanding of randomized impact evaluations, program implementation research (including qualitative and quantitative approaches), and measure development, adaptation, validation. Exposure to monitoring and evaluation methods in a humanitarian context and/or early childhood development is desirable.
- Excellent communication skills, including the ability to communicate effectively in a multi-cultural environment with international and local academic researchers, government officials, NGO partners, study participants, etc.
- Solid organizational skills: the ability to be flexible and work well under pressure, dealing with competing priorities, in a fast-paced team environment.
- Passion for connecting rigorous research to policy makers and practitioners and communicating what works and what does not work in humanitarian contexts.
- Interest in and ability to think and plan at the ‘big picture’ level.
- Demonstrated management and interpersonal skills.
- Solid understanding of the Middle Eastern context, with previous experience working in the region preferred;
- Strong communication and analytical skills, both oral and written.
- Fluency in English is required; knowledge of Arabic is a plus.
- Standard office work environment
- Travel required 25-40%
- Position is based in the IRC Regional Office in Amman