Senior Program Officer, State Data

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Washington, DC or Seattle, WA
Date Posted:  November 17, 2020
Closing Date:  December 11, 2020

Division Summary

The foundation’s U.S. Program (USP) works to expand access to life-changing opportunities. That’s why our primary focus in education is ensuring that all students – especially Black and Latino students, and students experiencing poverty – have an opportunity to earn a degree or certificate that prepares them for a successful career and fulfilling life. But often, education isn’t enough. Factors outside of schools and the classroom have an enormous impact on a student’s success. That’s why we’re also supporting efforts by public officials and community groups to better understand and advance economic mobility, leading to permanent ladders out of poverty for families and communities, such that race, ethnicity, and income are no longer predictors of outcomes.

We hope to help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty that prevents families and communities from accessing opportunities to reach their full potential by improving education systems so that more students get on track to obtain a postsecondary credential with labor market value. Our goal is to make sure that race, ethnicity, and income are no longer predictors of outcomes. The U.S. Program works on five key drivers toward our goal:

  • Ensure early childhood learning systems provide high-quality early learning experiences for young children.

  • Support schools in our K12 system in their work to improve student outcomes.

  • Transform colleges and universities to increase student success and eliminate attainment gaps.

  • Partner with stakeholders to ensure more effective collaborations to increase mobility from poverty, including a focus on data and evidence to close knowledge gaps and help leaders from various sectors work together to achieve even greater impact.

  • In our home state of Washington, improve education from preschool through college, preventing family homelessness, and strengthening community engagement, in order to ensure that every child has a chance to reach their full potential.

Team Summary

The goal of the USP Data Strategy is to drive improvements in the education-to-workforce data ecosystem that will provide practitioners and policymakers with the information they need to answer critical questions about student progress and to implement evidence-based reforms that equitably improve education outcomes, especially for Black, Latino, and low-income students.

Job Description Summary

The Senior Program Officer, State Data reports to the Deputy Director, USP Data and will work on the U.S. Program Data team. In this role, you will lead the state data portfolio for the USP Data Strategy, which focuses on modernizing state P20W data systems in key focus states (e.g., Texas, California, Washington) to improve data quality, access, and use to support programmatic and policy efforts to equitably improve student outcomes across the education-to-workforce pipeline. The work entails partnering with states and solution providers to amplify public demand for improvements in P20W systems, implement industry-grade P20W system updates, open and equalize access to P20W data while ensuring privacy and security, and build capacity to use P20W data for research, policy, and practice. In addition to developing and maintaining relationships with state agency partners and state intermediaries (e.g., SHEEO, CCSSO), you will also be responsible for fostering strategic partnerships between the foundation, public sector agencies, and technology companies to advance the work.

Core Responsibilities

  • Negotiate, execute, and manage a complex portfolio of grants or performance-based contracts to facilitate state P20W data infrastructure improvements and use in collaboration with and in support of teams across the U.S. Program (e.g., Early Learning, K12 Education, Pathways, Washington State) and U.S. Policy, Advocacy, and Communications on the North America team. Review letters of inquiry and grant proposals and provide clear, concise and insightful written analyses and recommendations for funding.

  • Consult with grantees and other partners to maximize impact of projects and ensure grants are meeting strategy goals. This may include: reviewing grantee progress, budgets, and deliverables; conducting site visits; providing operational guidance; and convening meetings of key partners.

  • Develop, manage, resource, and implement a program that aligns with foundation strategy and is operationally integrated with other foundation programs. Contribute to the refinement of existing strategies, collaborations and implementation plans to ensure long-term sustainability and impact.

  • Represent the U.S. Program and the foundation through clear and consistent communication with grantees and partners related to P20W data. Develop and manage strong partnerships and relationships outside the organization, including government and industry partners.

  • Serve as technical resource to U.S. Program teams and leadership on state P20W data.

Core Knowledge and Skills

  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience with US education and workforce data systems required.

  • Subject matter expertise on state P20W data systems required, including but not limited to the availability, coverage, definitions, and use cases for key sources as well as privacy and security. Specialization in K12 data and data systems preferred.

  • Experience using cloud-based analytical tools with large administrative data sets like P20W data systems preferred.

  • Strong desire to improve state P20W data quality, access, and use with demonstrated knowledge of related data issues, including key research, policies, and debates in the field.

  • Strong interest and experience in deploying data to identify and address equity gaps for Black, Latino, and low-income students along the education-to-workforce pipeline.

  • Knowledge of how different communities and stakeholders engage with state data systems, and incorporating demand and needs into the work.

  • Demonstrated ability to work with a variety of local, state, and federal/national entities and grantees as well as private sector entities.

  • Strong project and relationship management skills necessary to lead projects requiring deep engagement and collaboration across internal and external partners to ensure milestones are clearly defined, progress stays on track, and deliverables meet standards to advance the US Program Data strategy.

Core Capabilities for Success in This Role

  • DEI Mindset: Seeks input from and values the uniqueness of people of different groups and cultures. Works effectively with individuals of diverse cultures, interpersonal styles, abilities, motivations, or backgrounds. Challenges practices or policies that may be exclusionary; proven commitment to race and income equality; experience with using data to identify and address equity gaps by race and income in education.

  • Project Management: Demonstrated project management skills and a successful track record of leading multiple projects at a time including planning, organizing, directing, supervising and accomplishing the goals of a project(s) requirements and activities to meet objectives within the constraints of schedules and budgets.

  • Collaboration/ Relationship Building: Develops and maintains effective working relationships with team members, internal partners and others using strong interpersonal skills. Excellence in using informal influence and non-positional leadership to accomplish work, ability to build trust, team leader and player who motivates and educates other team members and understands the value of interpersonal relationship building. Works well in a complex, matrixed environment.

  • Communication and Presentation Skills: Strong written and verbal communication with clarity and thoroughness to optimize audience understanding. Communicates information in a clear, concise, and timely manner. Ability to effectively facilitate, manage and summarize divergent points of view to advance the thinking of the group, synthesize and extract meaning from complex bodies of work and effectively communicate key takeaways for diverse audiences. Demonstrates effective speaking and presentation skills, including visually presenting information.

  • Business Innovation / Strategic Agility: Looks for new or alternative ideas from a wide range of sources; monitors developments and looks for applications to support current and future business needs and opportunities.  Anticipates future consequences and trends accurately, has broad knowledge and perspective; verbalizes and projects credible pictures and visions of possibilities.

  • Problem Solving / Results Orientation: Asks good questions and probes all sources for answers; sees underlying or hidden patterns; looks beyond the obvious and doesn’t stop at the first answer. Uses rigorous logic and methods to analyze and understand why problems occur; generates and implements creative, cost effective and realistic solutions.

  • Adaptability: Is flexible, maintains effectiveness by adjusting behavior, work routines, and habits to meet a goal and/or changing circumstances. Is seen as balanced despite the conflicting demands of the situation. Highly self-activating and efficient; goes to where the work is; brings others along.

Education and Experience

  • Advanced degree in education, related social sciences, or data science with 7+ years of relevant experience

  • Experience working with state P20W data systems required, specialization in K12 data and data systems preferred

  • Experience with using cloud-based analytical tools with large administrative data sets preferred