Head of Data Products

Center on Rural Innovation

Location: Hartland, VT

Type: Full Time

Education: Master's Degree

Experience: 5 - 10 Years

The Center On Rural Innovation is a nonprofit action tank advancing economic prosperity in rural America through the creation of inclusive digital economy ecosystems that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation. We are seeking an innovative leader who is committed to expanding access to tech jobs for workers living in rural America.

Guided by a strong belief in rural ingenuity and small-town potential, CORI and its collaborating organization, Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc. (RISI), provide strategic support to rural communities wanting to develop inclusive, resilient digital ecosystems. Our systems approach to digital economy ecosystems involves building a nationwide network of local economic change agents; increasing the digital workforce and access to digital jobs both local to rural areas and remote; using mapping and data to highlight rural opportunities; making direct investments in underserved rural entrepreneurs, and closing the digital divide so all Americans can participate in the 21st-century digital economy. We are currently working with 25 towns across 18 states in the Rural Innovation Network to execute this model.

Rural America is home to 15% of the workforce overall, but just 5% of the tech workforce. Smaller populations and lack of broadband in rural areas have historically translated into inequities in access to training in fast-growing tech careers, leading rural employers to outsource their tech demand to the urban market. This has led to a vicious cycle in which there is never enough demand to justify tech training in rural areas, and because training is not available, employers continue to outsource their tech needs. CORI aims to break this cycle by showing that digital economy jobs and tech talent can exist in rural areas, and we are seizing the moment to create a more equitable distribution of accessible future-proof jobs.

The Head of Data Products will lead the Mapping and Data Analytics (MDA) team, part of our Research program. The MDA team provides accessible data, tools, and visualizations to highlight Rural America’s opportunities and challenges to change the narrative of Rural America and empower rural communities to create inclusive digital economies. Our interdisciplinary Research, Mapping, and Data Analytics team members have extensive backgrounds in economics, data science, and social science research. We collaborate closely with our colleagues that work directly with rural leaders across the country in our Rural Innovation Initiative and Rural Innovation Network programs, allowing us to root our work in the experiences and realities of rural communities. We offer unparalleled, independent analysis of rural economic development issues informed by our deep expertise and broad networks. As a result, we are consistently sought out for advice about trends and opportunities in rural development and to offer guidance on positioning in the current narrative and understanding of rural America in the future.

The Head of Data Products will be responsible for ensuring effective planning and execution of data analysis and products, including gathering and prioritizing project and customer requirements, defining the vision scope, and budget, for data projects, and working across MDA, research, broadband, and finance teams to ensure that revenue and customer satisfaction goals are met.

The Head of Data Products will:

  • Work with the MDA team on the vision, goals, scope, and methodology for data projects by understanding the needs of internal and external customers.
  • Manage the recruitment, day-to-day work, and overall performance of MDA team data scientists, software developers, and infrastructure engineers, including conducting performance evaluations, coaching, workload, and project assignments.
  • Oversee the MDA budget and prepares time-cost estimates and project proposals in partnership with researchers, consulting managers, team leads and/or senior leadership.
  • Propose, drive, and implement strategic initiatives (i.e. OKRs) within the MDA team to maximize internal and external client satisfaction, with a focus on achieving revenue targets.
  • Serve as a channel of prioritization and escalation to triage internal and external requests, acting as a liaison to organizational counterparts to ensure new or changes are optimally delegated and delivered upon.
  • Identify communication gaps, manage issue escalations with Team Leads in collaboration with the Director of Research, and provide support to teams balancing multiple priorities.
  • Support the development and implementation of best practice standards for technical operations at CORI/RISI and within the MDA team, including the database and information systems, as well as serving as a liaison with the IT helpdesk support and cybersecurity contractor.


Requirements include:

  • Outgoing, mission-driven personality, able to coordinate at the portfolio level, as well as consult at the system and software levels.
  • Proven track record of working with technical teams and building connections across a complex organization
  • Ability to articulate and address complex technical requirements, ideas, and solutions to both technical and non-technical audiences.
  • Ability to define alternate solutions, resolve conflicts, and create lasting, productive partnerships
  • Familiarity with technical industry standards, including software development lifecycle (SDLC) agile methodologies, DevOps, and/or CI/CD pipelines.
  • Highly organized, reliable, and consistent attention to team dynamics and technical needs.
  • Strong analytical background with a data-driven metrics focus, both qualitative and quantitative.
  • Comfortable in ambiguous situations.

Education and Experience:

Master’s degree in Business or Public Administration with a technical concentration or related degree, or relevant combination of education and experience.

7-10 years of experience working within a Data Science, Information Systems, and/or Software Engineering team.

3-5 years in a leadership or management role supervising technical staff.

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