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SNAP Researcher and Deputy Area Director

Company: Mathematica
Location: Ann Arbor
Posted on: September 22, 2022

Job Description:

Position Description: Mathematica applies expertise at the intersection of data, methods, policy, and practice to improve well-being around the world. We collaborate closely with public- and private-sector partners to translate big questions into deep insights that improve programs, refine strategies, and enhance understanding. Our work yields actionable information to guide decisions in wide-ranging policy areas, from health, education, early childhood, and family support to nutrition, employment, disability, and international development. Mathematica offers our employees competitive salaries, and a comprehensive benefits package, as well as the advantages of being 100 percent employee owned. As an employee stock owner, you will experience financial benefits of ESOP holdings that have increased in tandem with the company's growth and financial strength. You will also be part of an independent, employee-owned firm that is able to define and further our mission, enhance our quality and accountability, and steadily grow our financial strength. Mathematica is seeking Researchers to lead research and evaluation activities to support the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service and state and local agencies that implement the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). We are seeking researchers who will collaborate with clients to analyze SNAP policy and operations to make recommendationsfor improvements; research SNAP policy and procedures; analyze SNAP program data; and lead the development of products, such as reports, briefs, best practices guides, and data visualizations. Researchers are needed to lead projects focused on SNAP but may also support other projects in the area of food assistance, workforce, or family support. Our current work includes projects on topics such as:

  • Working collaboratively with SNAP agencies to iteratively test implementation strategies and gather information on their success, using techniques such as rapid cycle evaluation.
  • Describing and documenting state SNAP policies, guidelines, and processes for making determinations about participants' fitness for work due to health conditions and identifying patterns and trends in these determinations across states.
  • Assessing the implementation, impacts, costs, and benefits of child support cooperation requirements in SNAP designed to increase participation in the child support system, increase the income of families with low income, and reduce the need for public assistance.
  • Providing federal staff with support to conduct research and analysis of SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program data; monitor state E&T programs; and provide federal staff with policy training.
  • Analyzing patterns of food insecurity and SNAP participation in counties experiencing persistent poverty and conducting in-depth interviews with SNAP participants and SNAP-eligible nonparticipants to advance a deeper understanding of the policy-actionable correlates of food insecurity.
  • Assessing how federal, state, and local SNAP E&T agencies collect, validate, and use data for program monitoring and program improvement and what technical assistance is needed.
  • Creating and updating microsimulation models to conduct simulations of the effects of potential policy changes on SNAP eligibility and participation.
  • Examining the implementation and effectiveness of pilots designed to increase employment and earnings of SNAP participants and reduce their need for receiving benefits. The new researcher will join our large interdisciplinary staff of researchers in public policy, sociology, economics, social work, psychology, and data science in the Children, Youth, and Families (CFY) division within the Human Services unit. Researchers will contribute to continuing growth in the CYF division by designing and leading analyses and evaluation activities, identifying and obtaining new opportunities, and mentoring junior staff. Responsibilities
    • Design methods and conduct analyses to evaluate SNAP policies, review and synthesize existing evidence, draft briefs and reports, and develop data visualizations to enhance the accessibility of findings
    • Support SNAP program administrators and policymakers in their decision-making by cleaning, organizing, analyzing, and presenting large amounts of data
    • Engage with FNS and state SNAP staff to understand the challenges they face and develop, implement, or test strategies for improving program performance and services
    • Lead analysis of SNAP data, policy, regulations, and operations
    • Engage with groups of clients and community groups to build trust and rapport, gather input, and provide thoughtful recommendations
    • Communicate with team members, clients, and external experts on design and technical issues, and in project reports and presentations
    • Contribute to business development and proposals for new projects for FNS, other government agencies, and foundations
    • Provide thought leadership in the area of children, youth, and families through communications, publications, and conferences in professional, practitioner, and research settings
    • Present findings and developing innovative approaches to disseminating information to policy, practitioner, and researcher audiences
    • Contribute to the professional development of other research staff working in the CYF division
    • Conduct case studies of state-specific SNAP policies and practices, including performing semi-structured interviews with SNAP agency staff, reviewing state documents describing policies and guidelines, and performing focus groups with program staff to highlight best practices that can be shared with other states
    • Work collaboratively to improve programs using rapid cycle learning to iteratively test implementation strategies and gather information on their success Position Requirements:
      • Ph.D. or equivalent in public policy, social work, economics, sociology, psychology, or a related field; a combination of equivalent education and work experience is acceptable
      • Strong qualitative and/or quantitative analytical skills
      • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including an ability to translate complex research methods and findings in non-technical language to program practitioners, state and federal agency staff, and program funders for a practitioner and policy audience
      • Knowledge of SNAP and other food assistance programs
      • Strong interpersonal skills, including a demonstrated ability to deal tactfully and diplomatically with clients
      • Direct experience working with FNS, other USDA agencies, at the state, regional, and national levels is desirable Researchers are expected to devote most of their time to project leadership projects and engaging in business development. However, Mathematica is also seeking a Deputy Area Director of nutrition research who will contribute to strategic development of the nutrition area under the guidance of the Director. Responsibilities of the Deputy Area Director of the Nutrition Area include:
        • Collaborate with the Nutrition Area Director to develop and execute the strategy, emphasize growth consistent with strategic priorities (such as data analytics, equity, providing technical assistance to program staff, and expanding our advisory services work at FNS)
        • Learn about the nutrition projects and type of work conducted by partners and potential partners
        • Engage with current and potential FNS federal clients to better understand their needs and raise their awareness of our capabilities. Develop an empathetic understanding of these clients
        • Engage with partners and potential partners to develop opportunities for joint proposals and projects
        • Help identify needs for recruiting, staff capacity, and training to support growth
        • Identify thought leadership activities to inform the field and raise our profile with clients
        • Help lead staff meetings to improve client-centered approaches including understanding client needs and developing empathy for clients
        • Foster staff relationships with area clients
        • Contribute to change initiatives and drive adoption of changes that improve our ability to meet existing and emerging client needs
        • Serve in proposal leadership roles on key proposals and provide guidance to proposal teams across FNS program areas, particularly related to insights on client needs and expectations
        • Promote innovation on proposals. Share insights, innovations, and lessons learned across proposal teams Candidates who wish to be considered for the Deputy Area Director position in addition to the SNAP Researcher position should state their interest and describe their experience leading business development and proposals for FNS in the cover letter. Mathematica offers a strong benefits package, which includes a profit-sharing 401(k) plan, health, dental, disability, and life insurance plans, comprehensive paid time off, and tuition benefits. Training and professional development are also provided. We take pride in our employees and in their commitment to excellence. We encourage staff to collaborate in developing creative solutions to difficult problems and to share the responsibility and enjoyment of carrying out complex projects. This collegial spirit has helped us earn our reputation for innovative and high quality work. As a winner of the 'Excellence in Diversity Award,' we know that building an inclusive culture based on the diverse strengths of employees from different backgrounds is key to our success. One of Mathematica's core values is a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our research is more robust because it is informed by a variety of diverse perspectives, and our mission to improve societal well-being is strengthened by a greater understanding of issues and challenges facing the populations we serve. Mathematica's ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion is woven into our everyday actions, policies, and practices-including decisions regarding recruitment, training, compensation, and promotion. We are dedicated to maintaining a work environment in which everyone is treated with respect and dignity. We offer Employee Resources Groups on a variety of topics, local diversity and inclusion activities in each office, and a Diversity council. This position offers an anticipated annual base salary range of $90,000-$130,000. This position may be eligible for a discretionary bonus based on company and individual performance. A cover letter; CV, and a writing sample or presentation on a policy-related topic for a relevant area that demonstrates analysis skills (published report or brief, a meeting design or summary, or a tool or resource for practitioners) must be submitted at the time of application via our online application system. The deadline for applying to be considered for an interview is September 1, 2022. Additionally, three letters of recommendation should be submitted directly by your references to Available locations: Princeton, NJ; Washington, DC; Chicago, IL; Oakland, CA; Cambridge, MA; Seattle, WA; Ann Arbor, MI; remote. Staff located in other parts of the country with established relationships with state and local government or community agencies will also be considered. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran, and basis of disability or any other federal, state or local protected class.

Keywords: Mathematica, Ann Arbor , SNAP Researcher and Deputy Area Director, Executive , Ann Arbor, Michigan

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