PRA Executive Director Search
Dear Friends of PRA,
As you have heard, Political Research Associates seeks a strategic, experienced, innovative, and values-aligned Executive Director to succeed Tarso Luís Ramos in 2024 as PRA works to counter the rising tide of authoritarianism and antidemocratic movements.
The Leadership Transition Committee, composed of both PRA board and staff representatives, has worked together with the talented team at Strategies for Social Change (SSC) to develop a leadership profile and job announcement outlining key responsibilities for the role. We drew upon Tarso’s 15 years of experience as Executive Director and recommendations from individuals at all levels of the organization to paint this profile and chart the opportunities awaiting our next Executive Director. Tarso described the challenge best: “to stay focused on the growing infrastructure, influence, and power of racist and patriarchal nationalists when it was an unfashionable thing to do, and pundits around us penned obituaries for White supremacy and the Christian Right.”
Take a look at the leadership profile… Does this sound like you or someone you know?
It’s an exciting time to join our community:
- PRA’s 10-member Board and 28-person staff team, including unionized staff (Washington-Baltimore News Guild, CWA Local 32035), are a wonderfully committed and diversely skilled group, representing many areas of scholarship and sectors of social justice organizing, who consistently sharpen PRA’s practice;
- PRA’s strategic plan and seasoned staff directors are guiding us through our organizational growth and innovation;
- PRA’s new strategic partnerships department is in place to deepen our work with social justice partners and community-based civic engagement groups;
- PRA’s indispensable research is ready to reach more people with the expansion of our already rigorous editorial practices and creative communications efforts; and
- PRA’s supporters have stepped up to provide the organization with 4x the resources to fulfill our mission since 2016.
On behalf of the PRA community, we extend our deep gratitude for Tarso’s outstanding commitment and contributions to multiracial, feminist democracy. We look forward to coming together with the PRA staff, board, and our extended community to celebrate his many accomplishments and indomitable spirit.
Until then, we invite you to share this announcement with your networks to help us spread the word far and wide. Indeed, if you would like to find out more about the position or refer potential candidates, please reach out to SSC to schedule a confidential networking call at PRA-ED@strategiesforsocialchange.com. SSC brings expertise in leadership transitions and deep connections to social justice organizational networks. We are pleased to have a firm deeply aligned with our values shepherding our search and transition process.
Katherine Acey, Incoming Board Chair
Greeley O’Connor, Managing Director
Political Research Associates (PRA) is seeking its next Executive Director to lead the organization at a time when threats of authoritarianism and political violence are rising across the U.S. and the world. This is a unique opportunity for a strategic, compassionate, and dynamic leader to take the helm of a thriving organization as we grow and evolve to respond to changing conditions, introduce new ways of working, and continue to turn research and analysis into action, and catalyze action into power.
About Political Research Associates
Founded in 1981, Political Research Associates (PRA) is a social justice research and strategy center devoted to supporting organizations, civic leaders, journalists, and social sectors that are building a more just and inclusive democratic society. We envision a just and inclusive democratic society free from oppression and exploitation—a society in which supremacist and authoritarian forces no longer wield significant cultural or political power.
We provide changemakers with strategic insights and actionable research in order to identify, disrupt, and compete with movements and institutions that undermine democracy, justice, and human rights. We strategize directly with values-aligned organizing, advocacy, and philanthropic partners. PRA provides expert commentary and background analysis for these partners, as well as local and national journalists and media outlets. PRA produces investigative reports, articles, and tools; publishes the peer-reviewed magazine The Public Eye, and the online outlet Religion Dispatches. PRA will soon roll out new branding that reflects the evolution of the organization.
Our core issue areas span reproductive justice, LGBTQ justice, racial and immigrant justice, civil liberties, and economic justice. Key areas of research include religious and racial nationalism, authoritarianism, and campaigns rooted in gendered, anti-queer bigotry.
PRA’s strategic plan for 2023-2027 identifies four main priorities, and our next Executive Director will be called upon to advance them in concert with the leadership team, staff, and Board of Directors. They are:
- Critical Analysis: Equip social justice organizations, civic leaders, journalists, & other partners with timely, actionable research on antidemocratic, authoritarian, and supremacist trends & movements.
- Narrative Change: Shift the paradigm for how civil society addresses the existential crisis posed by 21st century antidemocratic, authoritarian, and supremacist movements.
- Strategic Partnerships: Partner with justice-oriented groups and organizers at national, state, and local levels on strategies for blocking antidemocratic movements.
- Internal Culture: We will establish the optimal resources, infrastructure, and talent to achieve results in an environment where staff can grow and thrive.
Since 2016, PRA has grown to a $4M+ organization with vital support from foundations (~77 percent) and individuals (~23 percent) who recognize the urgency of our mission. PRA’s high-impact programs and operations are made possible by a talented and committed 28-person team, including unionized staff (Washington-Baltimore News Guild, CWA Local 32035). PRA is governed by a 13-member Board of Directors. We are in the early stages of developing a 501(c)4.
PRA’s next executive leader will join us at a transformational moment in the organization’s work and ensure our ongoing stability and progress. Key responsibilities will include:
POSITIONING | Strengthen PRA’s position as a go-to source for research, and as a thought leader, advocacy partner and capacity builder of movements across a range of issue areas.
REFRAMING | Lead strategic conversations about ways to confront and address antidemocratic, authoritarian, and White supremacy culture that is on the rise in the U.S. and beyond.
STEWARDING | Ensure the financial health of the organization by securing revenue, managing the budget, and working with staff and board members on strategies to grow.
STRATEGIZING | Implement the current strategic plan, evaluate its impact, and continue to innovate new approaches to advance PRA’s mission. The ED is a strategy advisor to department directors and managers.
LIAISING | Build and maintain strong relationships with PRA’s Board of Directors and staff, the staff union, philanthropic partners, advocacy partners, policymakers, journalists/media and other stakeholders.
MANAGING | Hire, manage and nurture a diverse and talented staff team in a manner that is inclusive and sustainable. Ensure productive cross-departmental collaboration (research, communications, development, etc.) with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Currently, four staff members report directly to the ED—the Managing Director, Strategic Partnerships Director, Development Director, and Research Director.
PRA seeks a strategic, experienced, innovative, and values-aligned leader to guide us through the next chapter of the organization as we strive to counter the rising tide of authoritarianism and antidemocratic movements. While no one person is likely to tick every box on our wish list, the successful candidate will demonstrate most of the following qualifications.
LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE | Brings a minimum of 10 years of experience as a senior-level leader in an organization of similar size and complexity as PRA. Although experience specifically as an Executive Director is highly desired, PRA recognizes that many people are structurally excluded from such positions of power, and so we welcome applications from senior leaders who have significantly contributed to the success of an organization or movement and are ready to move into the executive leadership role.
PROGRAM KNOWLEDGE | Holds experience within both research and movement spaces. PRA’s next ED will understand the power that practice-oriented research brings to social justice movements. They will understand the landscape and trends of right-wing authoritarianism, White supremacy, and White nationalism, and the many forms of oppression and exploitation.
VALUES & VISION | Evidences a commitment to social justice with a nuanced and intersectional understanding of power, privilege, and oppression. Exhibits a style of leadership that is decisive and also collaborative, transparent, and open to new ideas. Demonstrates the ability to envision and implement bold, transformative ideas. PRA’s next leader will be comfortable holding ambiguity and complexity, and capable of moving beyond them toward productive partnerships and realized goals.
TEAM LEADERSHIP | Holds a track record as an effective supervisor and team builder in a workplace that prioritizes work-life balance. PRA’s next ED will foster an environment of listening and learning, and respect for the voices and expertise of colleagues, movement partners, and other stakeholders. They will bring self-awareness, self-reflection, flexibility, and a focus on accountability to their role, as they seek to develop the leadership bench of PRA, including supporting and coaching senior staff, and to unify and motivate the staff team behind a shared purpose.
FUNDRAISING, COMMUNICATIONS & RELATIONSHIP BUILDING | Demonstrates the skills to raise $3–$10 million annually in partnership with a dedicated development team. Successful candidates will be adept at building and maintaining quality relationships with funders, as well as diverse allies and partners. They will be effective networkers and show fearlessness when asking for large gifts to advance PRA’s mission. They will be a compelling and authentic spokesperson with the ability to engage a wide-range of audiences at conferences, community meetings, and media appearances.
OPERATIONAL KNOW-HOW | Demonstrates experience as an effective organizational manager who is ready to oversee all areas of the organization, including fiscal planning and management, human resources, technology, safety and security, and legal compliance. Experience working with or within a C4 organization and/or a bargaining unit is a plus.
Compensation & Location
The salary for PRA’s next Executive Director has been set at $170,000 annually. This is a full-time position. PRA launched a 4-day, 32-hour work week pilot in Spring 2023. This position is not part of PRA’s Staff Union (Washington-Baltimore News Guild, CWA Local 32035).
Although PRA currently maintains offices in Somerville, Massachusetts, we are open to considering changes in the future. The majority of our staff team is located on the East Coast, but our next leader may choose to work remotely anywhere in the U.S. The Executive Director is expected to travel regularly to represent the organization at meetings, events, conferences, and other public occasions. If the successful candidate wishes to relocate to be in closer proximity to our headquarters, relocation assistance will be provided.
The compensation package includes generous paid time off for vacation, health, and flexible holidays, as well as 100 percent employer-paid medical, dental, vision, disability, and life insurance. PRA also offers an employer contribution of 5 percent of salary towards a socially responsible retirement fund, access to professional development, and a collaborative working environment with fabulous colleagues.
Commitment to Equity
Political Research Associates is committed to hiring someone with the right mix of experience (both traditional and nontraditional), social justice commitment, and potential to grow with us. We strongly encourage people from communities most negatively affected by authoritarian ideologies and campaigns to apply — particularly Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and multiracial people and people from all communities of color; immigrants; women; feminine-identified people; working class people; formerly incarcerated people; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, intersex, Trans, Two-Spirit, gender queer, and gender non-conforming people. PRA is committed to equal employment opportunities and benefits from having a diverse and inclusive staff.
Employment and promotional opportunities are based upon individual capabilities and qualifications without regard to race, color, religion, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation/affectional preference, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status or any other protected characteristic as established under law.
Application Instructions & Candidate Referrals
Strategies for Social Change® LLC (SSC) is conducting the executive search and transition for PRA. SSC is a woman of color owned, nationally recognized capacity building and leadership development practice dedicated to working with social justice organizations. We invite you to share this position announcement widely. Interested candidates and helpful connectors may also request a confidential networking call with SSC by emailing PRA-ED@strategiesforsocialchange.com. Phone inquiries are discouraged.
The deadline for applications is Friday November 17, 2023 at 5 p.m. ET. Applications should include the items listed below as a single, combined PDF and emailed to PRA-ED@strategiesforsocialchange.com.
- A thoughtful and compelling cover letter (no more than 2 pages) that addresses why you are interested in working with PRA and what relevant qualifications and experience you bring to this role.
- A resume.
- A list of three references, which includes names, affiliation, relationship to you, email addresses and phone numbers. References will not be contacted until the final stage of the search and candidates will be given an opportunity to notify their references in advance.
Again, we ask that you submit all materials as a single PDF. Applications with multiple attachments cannot be accepted. Applicants selected for interviews with PRA’s Board-Staff Leadership Transition Committee will be contacted in December.