Principal Communication Researcher

Job Location US-MD-Rockville
Job ID
Job Location
United States
Communications/Marketing/Public Relations


The American Institutes for Research (AIR), one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations founded more than 60 years ago, conducts and applies the best behavioral and social science research to improve people’s lives, especially the disadvantaged. Within AIR’s Policy, Practice, and Systems Change (PP&SC) Service Area, we address social challenges in health, education, and workforce solutions across the U.S. and abroad.

In the health area, AIR’s work promotes health (physical, social, emotional and mental); prevents illness, injury, and violence; and provides better and more efficient health care. Our work in education addresses all areas of teaching and learning from pre-K through higher education in such areas as early childhood education, special education, science, technology, engineering, and math, English language learners, college and career pathways, and so much more. To address workforce challenges, we provide preparation and training and analyze needs in particular industries. All strategies aim to be culturally and linguistically competent.

AIR is seeking a Principal Communication Expert with the background and experience to build and lead efforts both domestically and internationally in building the evidence base for and designing and evaluating major communication and behavior change campaigns, with a primary focus on health and well-being. To the extent that there are opportunities to apply these skills to our education and workforce areas, this person would be the lead in doing so.

This position will be responsible for leading new business development, and development of strategies and proposals to major federal agencies, states and foundations. He/she will also oversee staff and projects working on large-scale communication and behavior-change projects. AIR is seeking an experienced communications expert, also skillful in new areas of digital communication, and with the ability to conduct the formative research, conceptualize creative strategies to reach key audiences, and to evaluate and assess progress. Prior experience with a similar firm doing business in this marketplace will be an asset.


• Lead in developing a future vision to grow more AIR work in design, delivery, and evaluation of communication campaigns, with strong theoretical grounding and skills in new digital channels.
• Cultivate federal agency, state and foundation clients
• Work with staff to conceptualize and write winning proposals
• Oversee and play a role on current projects
• Design and conduct strategic and effective formative research and design evaluation plans and tools to support communication activities.
• As necessary, develop research protocols, screeners, Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) applications; conduct communication research through focus groups, • In-depth Interviews, surveys, etc.
• Design and conduct or direct formative research activities to describe segmented audiences and test messages and concepts, including using new online research tools to conduct formative research and usability studies.
• Based on health communication, behavior change, and/or social marketing theory, design and implement process and outcome evaluation to guide campaigns and communication activities across various projects and in various communication channels.
• Identify and design metrics and data collection efforts to evaluate the process and impact of multi-channel (including digital) communication activities.
• Identify and cultivate key partner organizations and consultants for successful bids.
• Give presentations at national conferences.
• Publish articles and monographs.


• PhD with emphasis on communication and behavior-change research and application to improve health and well-being, and other topics.
• Minimum of 10+ years of experience working in a similar competitive Federal environment.
• Knowledge and application of current research in effective communication strategies to increase awareness and change behaviors across varied communication channels, including social media.
• Ability to utilize communication, behavior change, and social marketing theories to guide strategies.
• Current journal publications.
• Demonstrated leadership and entrepreneurial experience to conceptualize a vision and develop strategies to build new bodies of work.
• Track record of successful business development, including proposal development, for major federal agencies and foundations.
• Proven leadership and interpersonal skills to lead teams.
• Good skills in project-based technologies that support the work.
• Availability and flexibility to travel nationally.



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