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Senior Research Specialist

A resume and cover letter is required when applying for this position.


The mission of the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) is to advance and transform public health practice by championing performance improvement, strong infrastructure, and innovation. PHAB is the accrediting body for Tribal, state, local, and territorial governmental public health departments in the U.S. Accreditation provides a means for a public health department to identify performance improvement opportunities, to improve management, develop leadership, and improve relationships with members of the community. PHAB is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism (IDEA) and is on an ongoing journey to build an inclusive and welcoming organization.

Position Summary:

The Research and Product Development unit at PHAB engages in both Research & Evaluation (R&E) and developing new products to support public health transformation. The R&E team is focused on building the evidence base for public health practice and assessing accreditation and other programs at PHAB. It involves evaluating PHAB programs to support continuous quality improvement and to understand their impact, as well as a collaborative, five-year evaluation of the CDC’s Public Health Infrastructure Grant (PHIG) program. It entails analysis of data generated by PHAB (e.g., assessments of conformity with PHAB accreditation measures) to better understand public health practice, including identifying promising practices and gaps in health department performance. This information is then used to determine opportunities to develop new resources or to revise the accreditation standards and measures.

The Senior Research Specialist will support PHAB’s R&E and standards development portfolio with an emphasis on public health infrastructure and data modernization evaluation. This includes providing subject matter expertise in data modernization, working with PHIG leadership and staff (at both PHAB and with national partners including the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI)), and working with other consulting organizations on developing and implementing a national evaluation project, as well as analysis of data generated through the accreditation program and other DMI-related initiatives. These efforts will also help inform the development of informatics-related accreditation standards.

This position works under the direction of the Assistant Director for Research and Evaluation of the Research and Product Development unit. Additionally, this position will work across other PHAB units, including with other staff and management/leadership in those units.

They will also participate in the equity-based strategic goal-setting of the unit to meet PHAB’s goals and related metrics.

Position Responsibilities:

Public Health Infrastructure (including Data Modernization Initiative (DMI) Evaluation Program Management and Coordination

  • Contribute to both planning and execution of components of the PHIG evaluation, in close partnership with consulting organizations as well as according to CDC leadership and national partner guidance.
  • Assist in developing and monitoring workplans for evaluation.
  • Manage day-to-day operations of the evaluation program such as communications with consultants/CDC/national partners, tracking deliverables, maintaining records, synthesizing information, and problem solving.
  • Communicate proactively with key internal and external stakeholders to ensure deadlines are on track, communicate any delays, and adjust as needed.
  • Oversee completion, including technical review and guidance, of discrete work products (e.g., evaluation questions, evaluation plan, performance measures, evaluation reports) from consultants.
  • Contribute to reporting and assessing the impact of PHAB’s work related to public health infrastructure and DMI.
  • Participate and contribute substantively to team and partner meetings & lead project meetings, as appropriate.
  • Communicate project needs and updates to PHIG staff at PHAB as well as supervisor to assure consistency/coordination with cross-PHIG evaluation projects.

Strategy and strategic planning

  • Collaborate with partners and provide input on resources to support governmental public health in addressing non-technical challenges of change management, communication, and partnership developments with regards to public health infrastructure and DMI.
  • Stay current with the landscape of the public health infrastructure and DMI field to inform projects, innovations, and standards.
  • Foster relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Represent PHAB in meetings, conference calls, and other activities, as assigned.
  • Proactively contribute to implementation of PHAB’s strategic plan.

Informatics-related Accreditation Standards Development

  • Identify current governmental public health standards and leading practices related to public health data exchange.
  • Analyze data generated through the accreditation program and other DMI-related initiatives, gain and apply perspective of users and decision-makers on potential new standards, and provide subject matter expertise in data modernization.
  • Use current accreditation data, external research, and stakeholder feedback from DMI evaluation, to inform the development of new v2027 accreditation standards related to informatics and DMI (both state/local accreditation as well as Vital Records/Health Statistics accreditation programs).
  • Partner with other PHAB staff and external partners to support their work to draft, seek feedback on/validate, and refine standards for a potential new accreditation program specifically related to surveillance/data modernization.

Other duties as assigned.

Knowledge and Skills required:

  • Advanced degree (Master’s or Doctorate) related to research or evaluation is required;
  • Four or more years of experience working on public health infrastructure projects;
  • Knowledge of current national work on DMI and DMI needs of governmental public health stakeholders;
  • Proficient in program evaluation strategy and methods;
  • Experience overseeing evaluation conducted by others;
  • Experience in contributing to the development of evaluation questions, methods, and stakeholder engagement;
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively with external partners and/or stakeholders to develop common approaches to address complex issues with a strong preference for candidates with public health experience;
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office 365 and remote meeting platforms;
  • General knowledge of and/or experience working with implementation centers/communities of practice, preferred;
  • Experience in DMI/informatics standards development, preferred.

Teamwork, Communications, and Organizational Values

  • Excellent interpersonal, communication, customer-service, and organizational skills.
  • Excellent ability to work with and support small working groups of professionals.
  • Ability to work independently and be self-directed and self-motivated.
  • Excellent ability to handle multiple projects and organize materials and people to achieve outcomes within tight timelines.
  • Ability to think strategically and translate concepts into programs and innovations.
  • Demonstrated experience working collaboratively with peers in a team-oriented environment.
  • Skilled in the use of technology to manage projects and communicate with diverse audiences.
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills as demonstrated by clear record of accomplishment in providing training and informational presentations and developing written guidance, rules and regulations, requirements, or other quasi-regulatory documents;
  • Demonstrated commitment to building PHAB’s aligned and healthy culture, including a commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racism (IDEA);
  • Committed to professional growth and development in order to refine and develop skills and competencies related to: adaptive leadership, program and grants management, innovation, creativity, flexibility, collaboration, strategic thinking, valuing inclusion, diversity, and anti-racism, and implementation of strategy through collaboration in teams and across teams.
  • Ability to travel.

Role Impact:

The Senior Research Specialist contributes to the success of PHAB’s growing R&E portfolio. The incumbent works under the general direction of the Assistant Director of Research & Evaluation and the Vice President of Research and Product Development. The incumbent focuses on providing PHAB with DMI subject matter expertise and process/outcome evaluation skills to drive grant evaluation projects and development of accreditation standards. The Senior Research Specialist contributes to the advancement of PHAB’s mission in accordance with stated goals and workplans, raising the visibility of PHAB’s contributions to advancing public health practice.

DISCLAIMER: The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, and skills required of personnel so classified. All personnel may be required to perform duties outside of their normal responsibilities from time to time, as needed.

PHAB is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism (IDEA) and is engaged in intentional efforts to advance IDEA as an organization. We are committed to creating inclusive and equitable spaces that reflect our values and culture as an organization and to ensure our employees have the most positive experience as a part of PHAB.

HYBRID EMPLOYER ENVIRONMENT: The Public Health Accreditation Board’s staff currently work in a hybrid office environment. At the time of hiring, staff members are asked to elect if they will primarily work from an office in their home or in the headquarters office (currently in Alexandria, VA.) If they elect to work from a home office, they must agree to maintain a professional working environment with a dedicated workspace, including high-speed internet access. All staff are required to participate in in-person staff meetings that occur currently on a semi-annual basis for up to 5 consecutive days. These in-person staff meetings may be increased quarterly, as determined by management. Travel and related expenses for these meetings will be paid for by the employer.

VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS: PHAB recommends but does not require its staff, volunteers, interns, fellows, assignees, and meeting attendees be up to date with an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccination series, including boosters. Other risk-mitigation measures, such as wearing masks in our offices or in meeting settings are also optional.

EEO STATEMENT: PHAB is committed to equal employment opportunity. We do not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition, religious creed, physical disability, mental disability, age, medical conduction (e.g. cancer or a record or history of cancer), marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law. Our management team is dedicated to this policy with respect to recruitment, hiring, placement, promotion, transfer, training, compensation, benefits, employee activities and general treatment during employment.

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