Research Director-Institute for Early Childhood

Job Locations
Position Type
Staff (Full-Time)


Who We Are:


National Louis is a 135+ year old university that has been grounded in the values of innovation, access, excellence, and equity from its inception. As an institution, we believe in providing access to educational opportunity and that education is our greatest lever for social and economic mobility. We are a student-focused community that is committed to continuous improvement and superior student service.  We believe that through education we are able to empower change and build healthy communities. Our hard-working community is based on collaboration and respect for all team members and students.


What We Offer:


At National Louis University, we offer our employees an innovative environment to work together and inspire the ideas that will make an impact. As our external environment changes, our employees are provided the opportunities and tools needed to grow both personally and professionally to remain successful. NLU employees and dependents are offered a wide range of benefits, including but not limited to, Health Insurance benefits, Retirement benefits, Paid Time Off and Educational Benefits.


Job Summary:     

The McCormick Institute for Early Childhood at National Louis University offers an exciting new leadership opportunity for a Director for Research. The Director of Research for the Institute of Early Childhood is a senior-level 12-month administrative faculty position reporting to the Executive Director of the Institute. 


We seek a colleague whose research interests include a focus on the efficacy of postsecondary early childhood education teacher preparation, programming and professional development, the impact of effective early childhood leadership, and needs of the workforce. We are especially interested in qualified candidates with a demonstrated commitment and experience working effectively with individuals from diverse backgrounds and members of underrepresented groups, and who have a demonstrated track record of research in early childhood.


The Director of Research for The McCormick Institute for Early Childhood is a senior-level position reporting to the Executive Director of the Institute. The Director advances equity in the field of early childhood education through the development and execution of an applied research agenda that is focused on advancing knowledge of Early Childhood program efficacy as it applies to women of color who have historically been marginalized, under-paid, and unevenly or under-trained. The applied research agenda ensures that the Institute is well positioned to inform policy, advance practice, and to better understand and design innovations that can best meet the needs of a complex, diverse and multi-faceted Early Childhood Workforce, including that of leaders and administrators in the field. In addition, the Director develops, leads, and manages ECE program evaluation across the Institute, designing evaluation plans that ensure comprehensive data collection and analysis that can be used in research initiatives and continuous improvement efforts.  


The Director fosters collaboration among stakeholders interested in applying research to solve issues facing the Early Childhood workforce, ultimately leading to improved outcomes for children, families and communities. The Director has primary responsibility for securing funding required for research projects and disseminates research findings through publications, presentations, and other channels. The Director of Research collaborates with interdisciplinary faculty researchers from across the university, as well as program evaluators, fellows, and graduate students, helping to advance the research capabilities of the Institute and NLU. This role is pivotal in demonstrating the efficacy of practical applications, driving innovation, and fostering collaboration between academia, industry, and advocates/administrative policymakers for the field, ultimately advancing early childhood practice and informing relevant policy.  

Essential Responsibilities

Research Leadership:

  • Develop, lead and manage applied research agenda for the McCormick Institute for Early Childhood.
  • Develop research strategies, objectives, and priorities in alignment with organizational goals and industry needs.
  • Identify emerging trends, challenges, and opportunities for applied research in the field.
  • Foster a culture of innovation and excellence in research.
  • Supervise a core team of researchers who engage in enacting the research agenda for the Institute.

Program Evaluation:

  • Develop, lead, and manage strategic ECE program evaluations across the Institution, designing evaluation plans that ensure comprehensive data collection and analysis that can be used in research initiatives.
  • Prepare evaluation reports and presentations that clearly communicate findings, insights, and recommendations to stakeholders, including program managers, funders, and decision-makers and policy makers.
  • Collaborate with program staff to integrate evaluation findings into program planning, implementation, and improvement efforts.

Funding and Resource Management:

  • Identify funding opportunities and secure research grants, contracts, and sponsorships.
  • Manage research budgets, resources, and expenditures effectively.
  • Ensure compliance with funding regulations and reporting requirements.

Collaboration and Partnership:

  • Establish and maintain collaborative relationships with industry partners, faculty across the institution, and other stakeholders.
  • Facilitate knowledge exchange and technology transfer between academia and industry.
  • Collaborate with interdisciplinary teams of researchers to tackle complex research problems.

Knowledge Dissemination:

  • Publish research findings in peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, and other relevant outlets.
  • Present research findings at conferences, seminars, and industry events.
  • Engage in public outreach and knowledge mobilization activities to communicate research impacts to diverse audiences.

Team Leadership and Mentorship:

  • Provide guidance and support to interdisciplinary faculty researchers from across the university, program evaluators, fellows, and graduate students in their professional development.
  • Foster a collaborative and inclusive research environment that values diversity and equity.

Strategic Planning and Evaluation:

  • Contribute to the development of long-term research strategies and plans.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness and impact of research initiatives through performance metrics and indicators.
  • Identify areas for improvement and implement strategies to enhance research outcomes and productivity.


  • Doctorate Degree in Early Childhood Education, Childhood Development, Development Psychology, Social Psychology, sociology, Educational Leadership, Applied Research, Program Evaluation, Social Sciences, Public Policy, or related required
  • Five plus (5+) years of Research Experience: A demonstrated track record of conducting high-quality research in Early Childhood Education, including publications in peer-reviewed journals, conference presentations, and other scholarly contributions. 
  • Five plus (5+) years of Leadership Experience: Experience in providing leadership and direction in research initiatives, such as leading research teams, managing research projects, or serving in leadership roles within academic or research institutions. 
  • Five plus (5+) years of Grant Funding: Experience in securing research funding through competitive grants, contracts, or other funding mechanisms, demonstrating the ability to develop and manage research proposals and budgets effectively. 
  • Five plus (5+) years of Mentorship and Supervision: Experience in mentoring and supervising interdisciplinary faculty researchers from across the university, program evaluators, fellows, graduate students junior faculty members in research activities, providing guidance and support for their professional development.  
  • Five plus (5+) years Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Experience in collaborating across disciplines or fields of study to address complex research questions or challenges, demonstrating the ability to work effectively in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary teams. 
  • Five plus (5+) years Industry or Community Engagement: Experience in collaborating with industry partners, community organizations, government agencies, or other stakeholders to address real-world problems and apply research findings to practical applications or solutions.
  • Five plus (5+) years Commitment to Equity and Inclusion: Demonstrated commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in research activities and outcomes, including fostering an inclusive research environment and addressing systemic barriers to participation and representation. 


  • Applied Research Leadership & Expertise: Ability to provide strategic direction and leadership in applied research initiatives, guiding the research agenda, setting research priorities, and fostering a culture of innovation and excellence within the organization or academic department. Deep understanding and expertise in the principles, methodologies, and practices of applied research, with a track record of conducting high-quality, impactful research projects in a relevant field or discipline. Commitment to upholding the highest standards of research ethics and integrity, including ensuring compliance with ethical guidelines, protocols, and regulations governing research conduct and participant protection.


  • Grant Writing and Fundraising: Experience in securing research funding through grant writing, proposal development, and fundraising activities, including identifying funding opportunities, crafting compelling proposals, and building relationships with funding agencies and donors. 


  • Evaluation Design: Proficiency in designing comprehensive evaluation plans tailored to the specific objectives, context, and requirements of programs and initiatives, including defining evaluation questions, selecting appropriate methodologies, and developing data collection instruments. 


  • Knowledge Translation and Dissemination: Ability to effectively communicate research findings to diverse audiences through publications, presentations, reports, and other knowledge translation activities, and to facilitate the uptake of research findings by stakeholders and end-users. 


  • Strategic Planning and Evaluation: Capacity to develop and implement strategic plans and performance metrics to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of applied research activities, assess research outcomes, and inform future research directions and resource allocation decisions. 


  • Project Management: Manages each stage of a project to ensure that commitments are met in a manner that is timely and within budget. Clearly defines roles and responsibilities, determines necessary resources, and monitors project performance through appropriate systems and procedures. 



NLU Inclusion Statement:


National Louis University is deeply committed to serving its community, advancing access and equity, and ensuring that all individuals are welcomed and valued.  We are dedicated to fostering a culture where diversity, equity, and inclusion remain at the core of who we are. These are more than just words to us: they are truly a way of life for the NLU community. We recognize that differences in abilities, age, ethnicity, gender (identity and expression), race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and background bring richness to our work environment. We affirm diverse perspectives, innovative contributions, and authentic presentations of self from every member within the NLU community. We believe inclusion is grounded in the actions we intentionally take each day. Our goal is to inspire and empower NLU employees and community members to cultivate an environment where we collectively focus on uplifting and advancing our institutional culture.


Special Instructions

Please Include the following along with your application:
- Resume (Required)
- Cover Letter (Required)


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