Center on Rural Innovation
The Center on Rural Innovation (CORI), a dynamic social enterprise solving America’s rural economic crisis by empowering small towns to build thriving digital economies, is seeking nominations and applications for the position of Director of Knowledge and Research.
Guided by a belief in rural ingenuity and small-town potential, CORI and its sister organization, Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc (RISI) , support communities wanting to evolve into inclusive, resilient digital ecosystems. Our comprehensive systems approach to building digital economy ecosystems involves building a nationwide network of local economic change agents; using mapping and data to highlight rural opportunities; making direct investment in underserved rural entrepreneurs; and closing the digital divide so all Americans can participate in the 21st century digital economy.
Founded in 2017 in Hartland, Vermont, CORI and RISI have grown into dynamic enterprises bridging rural America to the future of work, and building scalable support for rural entrepreneurs in the digital space. The enterprises support communities through a comprehensive set of strategies, including the Rural Innovation Initiative (RII) and Rural Innovation Network (RIN), broadband strategies and consulting, mapping and data analytics, and the CORI Innovation Fund (CIF).
In the past year, CORI and RISI have been awarded significant funding from national foundations and the Economic Development Administration to undertake national-level research focused on areas ranging from changing rural narratives through data visualization to understanding how the changing economic landscape in rural America should inform federal economic development investments. We are now seeking a strong research and strategic leader to bring this research practice to the next level.
COVID-19 has challenged assumptions about where digital economy jobs and tech talent can exist, and we are seizing the moment to create a more equitable distribution of these high-paying jobs. Recognizing the diversity of rural communities, CORI and RISI have called for transformative action to address the tremendous disparities communities face and are actively working internally and externally to further transformation efforts. Across the varied challenges, CORI and RISI partner with rural community leaders and employers to build capacity to develop digital economy ecosystems.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FACING THE DIRECTOR OF KNOWLEDGE AND RESEARCH
The Director of Knowledge and Research will collaboratively set a vision for CORI and RISI’s research needs, and build and lead a team that will engage in the following areas:
Rural-focused research and knowledge advancement
Synthesize learning to advance field knowledge and understanding of strategies and practices in rural digital economy ecosystem development and broadband deployment. The Director will lead knowledge management practices to document effective ecosystem building approaches in a rural context, with a clear focus on equity and inclusion, converting organizational learning into actionable best practices and toolkits, insights, and strategies. The Director will collaborate with the Director of Communications to raise awareness of CORI and RISI’s work and deliver learning and analysis to advance knowledge in the field, inform policy makers, network developers, investors and others, and shift the national narrative on the potential for rural digital economies. They will also be responsible for leading existing and future projects related to advancing field knowledge.
Internal knowledge management
Grow and manage a team and internal assets for increasingly efficient research efforts. The Director will recruit, develop, and empower a diverse and multi-disciplinary team as our research capabilities grow, help CORI and RISI synthesize internal and network learning as well as broader field research to advance the national dialogue about rural communities. To do this, the Director will lead the development of internal team assets for increasingly efficient research and data analysis.
While no one candidate will embody all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
- Commitment to the belief that rural America provides real economic opportunity and that sustainable, future-focused development is necessary to bridge geographic and economic divides facing our country.
- Experience conducting regional economic research and evaluation of programs, including familiarity with quantitative analysis of economic indicators using a variety of public and private sources and qualitative research methods including conducting interview and case studies. An ability to write clear analytic research with an eye to actionable results.
- Ph.D. in economics, public policy, or a related field — including rural sociology, geography, and regional planning — preferred in order to serve as a PI on multiple grant funded projects. A Master’s degree with extensive research experience will also be considered.
- Experience in a leadership capacity in a relevant discipline gained within an academic or think tank environment preferred.
- Experience working for or with the government sector is a plus.
- Extensive publication history in economics, public policy, or a related field, e.g., rural sociology, regional planning.
- Experience synthesizing learning for best practices and the ability to develop systems, tools and frameworks to support program staff in documenting learnings. Strong writing skills and the ability to work collaboratively with a communications team to deliver learning internally
- Experience growing partnerships for learning dissemination to the field – including identifying and securing partnership to advance system change strategies focusing on policy change, narrative shift efforts and driving a research agenda
- Excellent client relationship skills to understand needs, align on deliverables, and execute according to schedule. A strong customer service mindset for both internal and external stakeholders, with the ability to calibrate expectations and deliver products on time. The ability to do customer discovery and understand relevant data needs for local economic development professionals.
- Previous experience effectively managing, developing, and growing a diverse team(s) of researchers and other subject matter experts to maximize talent, collaboration, and project management. Comfort working in a dynamic, fast-growing organization.
- Proven experience working with communities that are racially, geographically, and socioeconomically diverse. The ability to lead cross team discussions on conceptual topics like ideas, theories, methods, as well as personal experiences arising from work with communities.
- The ability to interact with and communicate to a wide variety of audiences, including community organization leaders, large tech companies, economic development officials, and rural employers and employees. Ability to synthesize findings and convert theoretical ideas in ways that are accessible to staff, community partners, policy makers and thought leaders.
- Willingness to travel to conduct and present research once pandemic-related restrictions are lifted.
Competencies and Skills
- Collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data
- Translate analysis into policy recommendations
- Design and achieve strategic goals and objectives
- Design and manage a research project on-time and on-budget
- Build and maintain relationships with research partners and funders
- Build a high-performing research team and develop the skills and competencies of junior team members
COMPENSATION & CULTURE
The salary range for this position is $100,000-$130,000. CORI offers a range of benefits including health insurance, employer matched 401K, and personal and professional development opportunities, among others.
You’ll enjoy working at CORI/RISI if:
- You like strategizing in a converted general store building conference room, over a locally brewed beverage, or while grabbing lunch at the new downtown café.
- You value an entrepreneurial culture that encourages teammates to think boldly, take risks, and learn from experience.
- You appreciate an independent work environment that supports diverse work styles and preferences.
- You want to be part of a collaborative and interested team that finds opportunities to engage each other and have fun (whether in the office or dialing in).
- You like the idea of an open and transparent organization that embraces honest conversations and new ideas.
More information about CORI may be found at: https://ruralinnovationstrategies.com/.