Director of Research Planning and Operations

Resources for the Future (RFF)
Washington, DC, United States
Position Type: 
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


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Resources for the Future (RFF) is an independent, nonprofit research institution in Washington, DC. Our mission is to improve environmental, energy, and natural resource decisions through impartial economic research and policy engagement.

The Director of Research Planning and Operations is part of the Research Department and is responsible for the department’s financial planning, human resource planning and other general management functions. The Director provides senior-level expertise, contributes to the development of strategies that drive organizational success, and oversees the day-to-day operations that successfully achieve those strategies. The Director also works closely with the development department and researchers in supporting the organization’s fundraising through government grants, and therefore has a coordinating reporting line to the Vice President of Development and/or his/her designee.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

Strategic Planning and Metrics

  • Support the Vice President and Senior Director of Research and Policy Engagement in developing and implementing an overall strategy for research, fundraising, and communication activities.
  • Collaborate with Finance, Human Resources, and IT to ensure research priorities and requirements are clearly understood and are integrated into the institution's plans, and to ensure that Finance, Human Resources, and IT infrastructure are effectively supporting research’s evolving needs.
  • Provide guidance to VP and Senior Director on metrics monitoring and reporting related to the financial and human capital health of the department, and ensure accurate and insightful reporting on these issues for internal and external stakeholders.

Budget and Financial Management

  • Work with the Senior Director and the Vice President to provide quality stewardship of the program’s resources, both financial and human capital.
  • Develop the annual department budget, in conjunction with Senior Director, Vice President, and Finance and Administration and Development teams. 
  • Work closely with the Senior Director and Finance and Administration, manage and track researcher coverage, budget and project spending, balance of restricted vs. unrestricted spending, requests for cost share, and other needs identified by Finance and Administration, and work with Senior Director and Vice President to make adjustments to funding allocations. Ensure rates of researcher spending reflects budget assumptions and project efforts.
  • Work with the Senior Director to advise researchers on best use of RFF funds, resolve questions and issues, help inform determinations and decisions on how to spend funding.

Research Management and Support

  • Oversee the department’s personnel management processes, including recruiting and hiring, performance management, promotions, and retention.
  • Support the Senior Director in establishing and implementing orientation and mentoring programs for new research staff.

Fundraising and Grants Management

  • Working with the Vice President for Development (and/or his/her designee) manage RFF’s government grants processes, including working with researchers on proposal development and grant reporting, working with Finance and Administration on proposal submission, and award processing, identifying and communicating new grant opportunities, and ensuring stewardship of existing awards, as well as implementing process improvements to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. Serve as main point of contact within research for government proposal submission and grant reporting procedures.
  • Lead a cross-departmental team to ensure the efficient and effective management and stewardship of government grants.
  • Assist researchers in complying with grant financial requirements. Work with Finance and Administration to track remaining funds available and prepare internal and review external fiscal reports; communicate routinely with researchers regarding available fund balances and spend-down plans.
  • Ensure effective internal communication around awarded grants, within research and with other departments, to maximize opportunities.
  • Working with the Vice President for Development and research leadership, develop strategies for increasing government grant funding and effectively stewarding government donors (under the direction of Development).
  • Support researchers, working with the Vice President and Senior Director as warranted, in thinking through the resources that will be required to deliver the impact for major proposals, including personnel in research and communications, external expertise, travel, meetings, etc.  Work with Finance and Administration to develop proposal budget
  • Ensure compliance with all relevant Development Department policies and procedures and make recommendations for guidelines specific to the US government grants portfolio.


  • Master’s degree or equivalent experience with strong background in economics, environmental or natural sciences, policy analysis or management. Experience in nonprofit management and/or finance and/or fundraising preferred.
  • Must have demonstrated ability to independently initiate and manage tasks, with a high degree of detail and process orientation.
  • Must have demonstrated ability to set priorities in a heavy workload setting.
  • Shares RFF’s values and the Development Office’s commitment to building an institutional culture of philanthropy through transparency, ethics, service, and leadership. 
  • Must have proven ability to conceive and write grant proposals and funder reports.
  • Must have outstanding writing, proofreading, editing skills, and an interest in complex energy and environmental policy problems amenable to interdisciplinary analysis.
  • Must have excellent verbal communication skills and capacity to prepare and give presentations with a high level of professionalism.
  • Must be familiar with Microsoft Office, Outlook and the family of database software. Helpful to be familiar with Raiser’s Edge and HTML coding.
  • Thrives in a high-performing, fast-paced environment with multiple projects and priorities occurring simultaneously.
  • Comfortable with ambiguity, ability to change course quickly based on new insights.
  • Ability to juggle multiple tasks, reporting lines, and demands.
  • Ability to exercise judgment, discretion, initiative, diplomacy and tact in a wide variety of settings.
  • Flawless attention to detail.
  • Ability to maintain a punctual and regular work schedule.
  • Ability to maintain a collegial, supportive, positive, and flexible demeanor.

All interested applicants for this role should submit a thoughtful cover letter and current resume via include your salary requirements in your cover letter.

We look for candidates who are already authorized to work in the U.S. and are not able to offer visa sponsorship for this position.

RFF benefits include a collegial environment, 20 days annual leave, 13 days sick leave, 3 days family medical leave, 10 paid holidays, medical insurance, educational assistance, and commuter benefits.

Due to the anticipated volume of interest, we are unable to respond to telephone or email inquiries regarding this position.

RFF is an equal opportunity employer. Women, minorities and veterans are encouraged to apply.