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MPC is now accepting applications for a full-time Director of Research

MPC offers unpaid Research Assistant positions and an unpaid Development Intern position. We are now accepting applications for Fall 2018 (details below). 

Director of Research

MPC is hiring a full-time Director of Research responsible for the oversight, execution and growth of all of the organization’s research activities. The Director of Research provides cross-organizational leadership to enable MPC to create a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous region. 

MPC is seeking a highly motivated individual with a background in public policy research. Strong writing, external relationship-building, project management, analytical and policy development skills are required. The ability to work in teams and lead others is essential. The position offers the opportunity to work closely with multiple colleagues, functions and teams, both internally and externally. 

The Director of Research contributes to the development of organization-wide research strategies and ensures that all research activities are advancing the goals within MPC’s annual workplan. This position supervises a Research Associate and several undergraduate and/or graduate student research interns, and shapes research products of a range of project-specific staff.

Primary responsibilities:

  • Direct the organization’s research on topical areas including: housing, community and economic development; natural resources, water policy and stormwater; transportation and infrastructure finance; government effectiveness; land use; demographic trends; and more.
    • Work with staff, interns, partner organizations and consultants to identify, scope and execute MPC’s research agenda
    • Conduct primary quantitative and qualitative research and produce products for dissemination
  • Share research results in a number of formats, including MPC’s Regionalist newsletter, blogs, publications, journal articles, presentations, social media and donor reports
  • Direct and shape the production of a State of the Region report on key regional vitality and quality of life measures to coincide with MPC’s 85th anniversary in March 2019
  • Track region-wide data trends and analyze large datasets specific to MPC’s program priorities
  • Broaden MPC’s network of government, business, academic, civic and media partners to support MPC’s role as a convener and thought-leader on regional challenges
  • Work closely with MPC’s communication’s team to share primary research and articles with a variety of audiences, including elected officials and the media
  • Manage external consultants, both paid and pro-bono
  • Collaborate with MPC staff and volunteers on media inquiries, talking points, blog content, presentation collateral, etc.


MPC seeks an organized, high-energy individual who thrives in a collegial work environment and is able to juggle multiple deadlines. The ideal candidate holds a degree in an area requiring integrative and analytical thinking (e.g. Social Sciences, Economics, Finance, Statistics, Public Policy, Journalism, Urban Planning or other relevant field) and has at least five years of relevant work experience.

Knowledge, skills and abilities:

  • Demonstrable team management expertise
  • Strong quantitative and analytical skills (i.e. familiarity with platforms such as Microsoft Access, ArcGIS, etc.)
  • Extensive knowledge of dataset content/availability and strong ability to quickly gather and analyze large datasets
  • Established credibility through an innovative portfolio of research and policy work that complements MPC’s mission
  • Ability to multi-task among competing, often changing needs
  • Knowledge of relevant actors, institutions and the political process in Illinois and the Chicago region
  • Excellent communications, both oral and written, to convey complex data and information to the public and audiences with different levels of expertise
  • Ability to engage and motivate colleagues and volunteers at all levels
  • Entrepreneurial self-starter who can work independently and in teams to deliver high-quality work on deadline in a fast-paced, intellectually stimulating environment
  • Mature judgement
  • Curiosity about challenges facing the Chicago region and ideas for solutions
  • Passionate about the body of issues that MPC addresses and commitment to supporting the organization’s mission
  • High degree of professionalism with a demonstrated ability to manage responsibilities with alacrity, integrity and tact

The ideal candidate will also have the following core competencies of highly successful MPC employees:

  • Entrepreneurial: a self-starter, able to proactively identify, prioritize and complete tasks, handle multiple projects and deadlines and work in a fast-paced environment, able to chart a course and map out the path to a problem solution, and extremely detail-oriented
  • Relationship Builder: able to develop sincere connections and establish rapport with diverse groups and individuals, able to maintain and cultivate relationships even during conflict
  • Passionate, Eager and Positive: passionate about the issues that MPC addresses and committed to supporting the organization’s mission, able to contribute positively to group problem solving, always seeking solutions, volunteering and taking initiative
  • Curious: demonstrates desire for lifelong learning and self-improvement, engaged in the news and current events, not afraid to ask why and seek to understand context
  • Team Player:capable and willing to work collaboratively with staff and volunteers, consult the team for guidance, value positive contributions, tap strengths of all staff and ask for help when needed
  • Strong Communicator: an excellent writer and communicator who can competently represent the organization and its work to the public, board members, donors and audiences of all kinds
  • Analytical Thinker: able to identify root causes and causal relationships, challenge assumptions and identify pros and cons of possible paths forward
  • Socially and Emotionally Intelligent: able to read people and situations, anticipate reactions, read between the lines, and be aware of emotional reactions

How to apply:

Please send the following materials by e-mail to manager@metroplanning.org: 

  1. A cover letter detailing how your experience relates to the job description; 
  2. Your résumé;
  3. A brief writing sample; and 
  4. Three professional references.

Skyler Larrimore 
Metropolitan Planning Council
140 S. Dearborn, Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603

No phone calls please.  For more information on MPC, please visit our website: www.metroplanning.org

MPC is proud to be an equal opportunity employer.

Research Assistant

We are now accepting applications for Fall 2018 Research Assistants. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all positions are filled. 

Current needs: 

Research assistants (RAs) play an important role at MPC, offering essential support for our projects, working with staff on a daily basis, attending meetings, and learning about how urban planning/policy works in the real world. We especially like RA applicants who are talented writers, investigators, communicators, and/or GIS users.

Overall program: 

MPC’s volunteer research assistants are a vital part of the organization’s success. Depending on the project at hand, RAs conduct original research, write blog posts and case studies, organize community meetings, perform GIS and quantitative analysis and a range of other work.

You may apply for an RA position at any time, but as a general guideline new RAs start around May 1, September 1 and January 2. Candidates receiving school credit or compensation through a fellowship program will receive preference in staffing decisions, but all are welcome to apply. Fall and winter RAs are expected to commit at least two full days of work per week, and summer RAs at least three.

How to Apply: 

The priority application deadline for Summer 2018 has passed, but applications will be accepted on a rolling basis for Fall 2018 until all positions are filled.  If you are interested in a position, please send the following materials by e-mail to manager@metroplanning.org:

  1. A current resume;
  2. A cover letter articulating your specific interest in MPC, the current projects you have the most interest in and what you believe you can add to them, and a proposed schedule; and
  3. A short (2-3 page) writing sample, and if applicable, examples of geospatial analysis or design work.

No phone calls please. For more information on MPC, please visit our website: www.metroplanning.org

Notices for available positions at MPC are posted here.

Submit applications by e-mail or mail only; no phone calls please.

MPC is proud to be an equal opportunity employer.

This page can be found online at http://www.metroplanning.org/about/Employment0.html

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616 info@metroplanning.org

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Shaping a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous greater Chicago region

For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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