This position can be based in a country where IPA has an office or in New York, NY or Washington, DC.

Innovations for Poverty Action is launching a Human Trafficking Research Initiative to rigorously evaluate programs that aim to work to reduce trafficking and protect victims. The Initiative will foster partnerships between researchers and practitioners; innovate on and improve the research methods for studying this challenging topic; initiate formative pilot testing of programs; and conduct large-scale studies on the efforts to prevent trafficking, prosecute crimes, and protect trafficked persons. Over time the Initiative will likely be combined with other work streams within IPA, including our work on Intimate Partner Violence.

The Initiative Director will work with scientific advisors, Initiative funders, and a multidisciplinary network of leading researchers from public health, law, psychology, political science, sociology, public policy, and economics to encourage and facilitate research on the interventions, systems, settings, and conditions that will enable a reduction in trafficking. The Initiative Director will build relationships with agencies and organizations working on trafficking mitigation and response. The Initiative’s studies will benefit from intensive support from our country offices in regions where IPA has a permanent presence, and in other regions IPA will work with selected researchers from our network to establish plans for high-quality and ethical research.

The Initiative Director provides leadership and strategic guidance for the current execution and future growth of IPA’s trafficking-related research and policy work. This includes wide-ranging work streams from high-level relationship building, research project development and management, financial and grant management, program and donor development, and developing a network of academic researchers. The Initiative Director will work with and grow the pool of affiliated researchers, and will collaborate closely with IPA Country Programs and partners to develop research studies and a strategy to build bodies of evidence to inform policy and practice. To be successful, s/he will need to have strong research experience (ideally using RCTs), have experience in the sector, be a highly dynamic, analytical and driven individual who can build relationships and excel in a range of tasks from working with partners to develop research designs to translating academic research into sensible policy recommendations. We expect that in addition to work on human trafficking the Initiative Director will likely grow to take on oversight of IPA’s Intimate Partner Violence Initiative as well.


Core responsibilities include the following: 

  • Develop the Human Trafficking Research Initiative’s vision, scope, and research agenda;
  • Hire and manage global staff, and support IPA country office staff to develop new studies and implement the Initiative’s research and policy objectives in those countries;
  • Work closely with affiliated principal investigators and attract new ones to identify and develop research opportunities that answer key questions in the sector, with travel as necessary to support project development and set-up;
  • Maintain key relationships among parties including donors, key sectoral partners, internal research and policy leadership, and senior academics around the world;
  • Represent IPA at high-level external policy and research functions and meetings with key players in the sector;
  • Ensure smooth administration of the Program, including financial and administrative oversight, project management, and grant reporting;
  • Lead the development of the Initiative’s researcher and practitioner network and engagement; interfacing with senior researchers in determining key research questions and priorities for the Initiative; engaging with in-country researchers from South Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa to bring a discussion of current evidence into local research and policy debates;
  • Produce original research and/or policy outputs, including research synthesis, in collaboration with the Initiative’s academic lead(s) and the Research & Policy team.
  • Advanced degree in Economics, Public Policy, or a related field.
  • At least five years of work experience in rigorous research or trafficking-related fields; experience in research on intimate partner violence a plus
  • Strategic thinker with strong vision for how to develop key partnerships that will lead to groundbreaking research and position IPA as a major voice in the sector;
  • Experience developing and overseeing field research in developing countries is preferred.
  • Excellent communication, client management and presentation skills;
  • Familiarity with quantitative research, randomized trials, international development programs and trafficking issues;
  • Demonstrated ability to maintain high-level relationships with both western and developing country partners, including donors, international development practitioners, or academic researchers;
  • Experience managing staff and successfully working across teams;
  • Project and grant management experience, including budget management, grant reporting, and coordinating diverse and diffuse co-workers;
  • Demonstrated project management skills, including budgeting, attention to operational and research details, and ability to manage multiple projects efficiently;
  • Experience building a program and/or team a plus;
  • Experience authoring and publishing peer-reviewed academic research in a relevant field a plus;
  • Experience organizing policy events as well as producing policy resources and publications a plus;
  • Experience ensuring high ethical standards in research is a plus.
  • Personal characteristics that are highly valued include analytic ability, curiosity, humor, self-awareness, and humility.
Application Instructions 

To apply click here.

About IPA 

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a research and policy nonprofit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA brings together researchers and decision-makers to design, rigorously evaluate, and refine these solutions and their applications, ensuring that the evidence created is used to improve the lives of the world’s poor. In recent decades, trillions of dollars have been spent on programs designed to reduce global poverty, but clear evidence on which programs succeed is rare, and when evidence does exist, decision-makers often do not know about it. IPA exists to bring together leading researchers and these decision-makers to ensure that the evidence we create leads to tangible impact on the world. Since its founding in 2002, IPA has worked with over 600 leading academics to conduct over 830 evaluations in 52 countries. This research has informed hundreds of successful programs that now impact millions of individuals worldwide. 

Innovations for Poverty Action is an affirmative action equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other protected class. IPA will endeavor to make a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant with a disability unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of our business. If you believe you require such assistance to complete this form or to participate in an interview, please contact us at or via phone at 1-202-386-6200. The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of the work to be performed by the specified position. The statements are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all possible duties, tasks, and responsibilities. Management reserves the right to amend and change responsibilities to meet organizational needs as necessary. Please note that IPA will never request any form of payment from an applicant. Applicants are encouraged to confirm the information listed above with IPA prior to releasing any extensive personal information to the organization. Please direct questions to

** Please note that only qualified applicants will be contacted by the hiring manager.